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pumpkin sourdough scrolls

The macadamias are just getting cured enough to start using now, and the pumpkin stack on the verandah shows no signs of going down. This recipe makes 10.  That many is easy to make and they are at their best fresh.  And they are a bit too good.  If you make more everyone will just eat them, and unless you have a big household you really can’t call 20 in a day Witches Kitchen healthy.  Can you now.

The Recipe:

The pumpkin brioche:

It starts with a cup of fed, frothy sourdough starter, so I start the night before by feeding the sourdough culture with a cup of 50/50 by volume bakers flour and water. Then I leave a cup of the fed starter in a mixing bowl with a clean cloth over the top on the kitchen bench overnight.

To the frothy starter, blend together and add:

  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • a dessertspoon of soft butter
  • a dessertspoon of brown sugar
  • a scant teaspoon salt

(I like roast pumpkin better for puree because it is a little bit drier and more intense, but it isn’t worth putting the oven on for just that.  I put a tray in with the dinner the night before, but you could also use steamed pumpkin).

Then add enough baker’s flour to make a sticky dough – around 2 cups but it will vary depending on the pumpkin and the size of your egg and how generous you are with the butter.  Let that sit for half an hour or so, then scrape it out onto a floured benchtop, sprinkle flour on top, and knead briefly.  You will find that half an hour makes a big difference – the dough will still be soft but more springy than sticky and you should be able to knead it into a smooth ball.

Oil a large bowl with melted butter or a nice, mild flavoured oil like macadamia oil.  Swirl the dough ball around in it to coat, cover the bowl with a clean cloth, and leave out on the benchtop to prove. If the day is warm this should take around 6 hours but sourdough has its own temperament.

The macadamia filling:

Blend together

  • ½ cup macadamias
  • 1 egg
  • 1 dessertspoon butter
  • 1 desserspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

My stick blender will handle macadamias, but you could also just use a mortar and pestle.  You want it the texture of crunchy peanut butter.


On a well floured benchtop, knead the pumpkin dough briefly then roll it out into a rectangle 1 cm thick , 40 cm long and about 25 cm wide.

Spread thinly with the filling leaving 2 cm at the end for sealing the scrolls.

Starting from the short side, roll up the 40 cm to form a log. Wet the end and press to stick.

Cut into 2.5 cm thick slices, and arrange the slices in an oiled baking tin so they are just touching.

Leave to prove for another couple of hours till the scrolls are about double in height.

Bake in a moderate oven for around half an hour till they are just browning and sound a bit hollow when tapped.


green olive and macadamia tapenade

It’s pretty well the end of the macadamia season.  They last in shell for several months more, but fresh ones are so much better.  We have several macadamia trees and I use a lot of them.   My maca cracker is one of the few kitchen tools allowed to  live on my kitchen bench!  Having a tool that makes the hard hard shells easy to crack turns them from something you’d only go to the bother with for a special recipe, to something I regularly add to breakfast  crumble topping for fruit and yoghurt, or cook with.  Most people don’t put fresh nuts on the routine shopping list, but they are really good for you – there’s some very good science that just a handful of nuts a day makes a huge difference. Macas substitute really well for pine nuts in recipes, which is a good thing for me because I don’t have any pine nut trees and they are fearsomely expensive.

The other inspiration for this is that our olives are ready for eating.  We have a dozen huge jars which feels very decadent.  Back in midwinter I drained off the brine and covered them with olive oil.  We’ve been eating them since and they’re getting better and better. Trouble is, I’m not a huge fan of green olives.  The black ones go into antipasti or salads as they are, or marinated in preserved lemon, garlic and herbs.  But the green ones need a bit of tarting up.

The Recipe

  • Deseed 200 grams of olives, which will yield about ¾ cup of olive flesh.
  • Toast about half a cup of macadamia kernels, roughly chopped, in a heavy pan for just a few minutes till they start to colour.
  • Blend with
    • the  juice and finely grated rind from ¼ lemon,
    • a dessertspoon of capers,
    • an anchovy (or not),
    • and enough olive oil to make a good texture

It goes really well with the sweetness of sun-dried tomatoes.  Sometimes I roughly chop them into the tapenade itself, or serve them on top of it or on the side.



kale pesto

In the scale of foods that are Popeye worthy, kale is about as dense a source of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants as you can get, including Vitamin K which is important for bone density and for brain health, and Vitamin A which is important for skin and eyes. But more uniquely, it’s also a source of some important anti-cancer phytochemicals.

It’s also really easy to grow over winter and we eat lots of it,  in soups and stews, tempura and pakora,  pasta and noodle dishes, stuffed and baked and very lightly steamed.  But this is probably my best recipe for bulk kale in a dish you’re happy to eat regularly.

Spelt Fettucini

It really does only take minutes to handmake small quantities of pasta.  If I had to feed a large family, I might baulk at it, and no doubt it would be better pasta if I used all the Masterchef tricks of kneading and resting and laminating.  But if I am thinking about a quick easy dinner for just us, quick easy handmade pasta is a hundred times better than bought pasta, even if it wouldn’t impress Matt.

I get to use one of our proper free range real eggs, and just for a change I used wholemeal spelt flour for this one.

In the food processor, blend:

  • one large egg
  • ½ cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • a swig of olive oil
  • good pinch salt

Blend until it comes together into a soft dough.  It needs to be not sticky but soft.

Flour the workbench and knead very briefly, kneading in enough more flour to make a smooth, non-sticky dough. It will look like quite a small dough ball, but a little bit goes a long way.  Let it rest for a few minutes, covered with a wet bowl or cup, while you make the pesto and boil the water, then roll it out and cut into noodles.

Kale Pesto

Dry roast ½ cup roughly chopped macadamia kernels by cooking them, stirring constantly, in a heavy fry pan for just a couple of minutes till they get a touch of brown.  Be careful not to burn them. Dry roasting makes a huge difference.

You can wipe out the food processor if you like, but you don’t need to wash it.  Blend together, scraping down the sides with a spatula a couple of times:

  •  ½ cup dry roasted macadamia kernels
  • 40 gm parmesan cheese
  • clove of garlic
  • pinch salt
  • 8 cavolo nero kale leaves stripped from their central vein
  • enough olive oil to make a pesto texture

At the very end, add two pieces (about 20 grams) preserved lemon, and just pulse it in to chop it fine rather than blend it in. (Alternatively, you can just chop it fine and stir it in).  If you don’t have any preserved lemon, you can substitute juice of ¼ fresh lemon, but the preserved lemon really works.

Cooking and Assembling:

The pasta dough has been resting while you make the pesto, so the next step is to roll it out.  You will find that if you flour the benchtop and keep flipping it, you can roll the dough out very fine without it sticking.  The finer the better.  If you go to the effort of rolling it out, then folding it into a block and rolling it out again, you get a denser, more al dente pasta.  But if you are going for quick and easy, rolling it out once is fine.

Sprinkle flour over the top of the rolled out dough, then roll it into a log.  Using a sharp knife, cut into noodles. You will find that if you have floured between the layers well enough, the noodles will separate nicely.

Cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes till they rise to the top.   Drain in a colander then return to the pot and stir through as much of the pesto as you like, more or less as you like it. ( The left over pesto will keep in the fridge for a week, and is wonderful on sandwiches or under a poached egg.) Serve hot with a grating of parmesan on top.


nut and see sourdough

My 11 Grain Sourdough is still my daily bread. I make a small loaf a couple of times a week.  It tastes wonderful, and it’s super healthy with lots of low GI complex whole grains.  But most weeks I do something else as well just for variety.  Sourdough Pita and Seedy Sourdough Crispbread are very regular, Sourdough Naan Bread fairly common.  And this latest one has been a regular regular lately, and will likely stay regular till the macadamia season is over.   Macas, besides tasting wonderful, are really good for heart health,   – there’s some very good science that just a handful of nuts a day makes a huge difference. But mostly, it’s just because it’s so decadently delicious!

The Recipe:

The recipe makes a small loaf, which is all I usually make at once.  You only need very thin slices – it’s so rich – so it goes a long way.

First the starter, taken out of the fridge before I go to bed and fed with a mug of baker’s flour mixed with a mug of water.  A cup and a half of it put back in a container with a loosely fitting lid in the fridge.  The rest (about a cup and a half full) left in a bowl covered with a tea towel on the bench overnight.

In the morning I add a couple of handfuls of roughly chopped macadamia kernels, and a handful each of whole pepitas, sunflower seeds, black sesame seeds, and crushed linseeds, and a couple of spoonfuls of poppy seeds.

Stir this lot in, along with a teaspoon of sea salt, and enough unbleached baker’s flour (high gluten flour) to make a smooth dough.

Put a slurp of oil in a bowl, roll the dough round in it, then leave to sit on the kitchen bench, covered with a cloth, for the day.  I can get macadamia oil in bulk from my local wholefoods store, so that’s the oil I use for this.

By the afternoon, the dough has doubled in size. I lightly flour the bench top and give it a very quick knead, put it into an oiled bread tin, and slash the top.

About an hour and a half to two hours later in this warm weather it is ready to bake.  It goes in a cold oven set to medium hot, and takes around an hour to bake so it sounds hollow when knocked and has a nice brown crust on top.

It’s good fresh or toasted, with sweet or savory topping – but I have to say my favourite is toasted till the macas have just a bit of colour, and spread with local honey.



sun dried tomato tapenade

This is the third of my “Food to Share” series, with the main ingredient inspired by this week’s heat wave tomato sun drying binge.  The heat wave ended yesterday, and the day was cool and misty rain all day. Lovely weather, but I had a tray of tomatoes semi-sun dried, nearly but not quite dry enough for me to feel comfortable storing them in oil.  My basic rule for storing things safely in oil is that if the food would store safely out of the oil, it’s fine.  So tomatoes dried to the leather stage, where, so long as they were kept dry they would not go mildewy, are fine. But semi-sun-dried tomatoes that would go off if they weren’t under oil, should be stored in the fridge, and even then not for too long.  Foods with a high acid content are safe for longer, and this tapenade would probably last for weeks, but the experiment will never get a chance to run in my household!

Everything on this platter is in glut in my garden at present:

  • Sliced fresh Roma and yellow tomatoes
  • Sliced fresh cucumber – the first of the Suyo Long.  The flavour is lovely, but I’ll wait to see how the plant performs before adding it to the favourites
  • Blanched Blue Lake beans
  • Chargrilled eggplant and tromboncino
  • Homemade polenta (I had some sweet corn that we didn’t get around to eating, and it had overmatured)
  • And the star – sundried tomato tapenade

Served with sourdough crostini.

 Sundried Tomato Tapenade Recipe:

In the food processor, blend together:

  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes (dried to soft leather, not crisp)
  • 6 green olives, deseeded
  • 6 macadamia nuts, lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup fresh sweet basil
  • good tasting virgin olive oil -about 4 dessertspoons, but it will vary depending on how dry your tomatoes are

The flavour is intense and wonderful on crostini or chargrilled vegetables.  I can imagine it would go amazingly well with bocconcini too.  Or on Turkish bread as a base for a Mediterranean-style lunch roll.



I’ve been waiting for this Tuesday Night Vego Challenge moment. I made it this time last year intending to post the recipe, but I was never quite happy enough with it to post it. This time though, I’ve think I’ve nailed a satay sauce based on macadamias and with no coconut milk.  So much so that we’ve gone for it several days in a row. Canned coconut milk is not a local ingredient for me, and I avoid canned foods as much as I can, both because the resource costs of canning are silly, and because I don’t trust the BPA in can linings.  Macadamias though are local.  Peanuts would be too, but macas are easier for me to grow.

The sweet spot where all the ingredients line up in season together for me is late winter/early spring, when the macadamias are just finishing but the egg glut is just starting,  there are lots of sweet baby vegies perfect for steaming, and the weather starts to feel like salad days again.

This one has so many superfoods in it that I’m not even going to list them. And probably in a pretty perfect balance too.

The Recipe:

For two adult serves.

Part One: The Vegies

Part one is just a salad of lightly steamed spring vegies with optional extras like boiled eggs.

If you are good at multitasking, you can juggle this at the same time as making the satay sauce that is the real star of the dish.

  • I put some baby beets on first in the pressure cooker, cooked them for a couple of minutes,
  • then let the pressure off and added some whole baby carrots and halved baby leeks, cooked them for a couple of minutes,
  • then let the pressure off and added peas, snow peas, broccoli, chinese cabbage and a couple of stalks of asparagus,
  • brought that up to pressure, turned it off and let it sit while the rest came together.

At the same time, I put two of our little bantam eggs for each of us on to boil.  I tried to choose the oldest of them so they would be easier to peel.

Part 2: The Satay Sauce

Dry roast half a cup of roughly chopped macadamias in a heavy frypan for just a couple of minutes till they start to turn light gold.

Tip them into a mortar and pestle and grind to a paste. (A food processor just doesn’t do it – they need to be ground. It only takes a couple of minutes with a mortar and pestle though.)

Add a little oil to the fry pan and sauté together:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • a marble sized knob of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • a marble sized knob of fresh turmeric, chopped fine (or substitute a half a teaspoon of powder)
  • one chili (more or less, depending on how hot your chilis are and how spicy you like your food.

As soon as the onion is translucent, tip all this in with the macadamia paste and blend together.  I can use my stick blender directly in the bowl of the mortar and pestle, but you use what you have.


  • Juice of a lime (or you can substitute  about 30 ml lemon juice)
  • a scant teaspoon of soy sauce
  • enough water to make a smooth sauce (about 4 tablespoons)

Taste and adjust the lime and soy to taste.  You may like to add a tiny pinch of brown sugar, or not – I don’t add sugar – the macas make it quite sweet enough for me.


Peel and halve the eggs and the beets.  Arrange the vegetables on serving plates and smother in the sauce.  Serve any leftover sauce on the side.



And why not?

Just because they look like party food doesn’t mean they can’t be really healthy, low fat, midweek dinner food. And I love the social aspect of all just sitting round the table sharing one platter, rather than individual plates. Everyone has their own favourites. Conversation flows. It’s nice.

Half an hour? OK, well, I cheated.   I made the sourdough pita on the weekend and just freshened it up by wrapping in a clean moist tea towel and steaming in the oven for a few minutes.  And though it came together in half an hour at the end, but there was a bit of pre-thinking in it, so it fits the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules only with a (fair) bit of creative license!

Charring the Eggplant and Capsicum

The main part of this meal is charring the eggplant and capsicum.  I do this sometimes directly over the flame on my gas oven:

But it is nicer, faster and easier over the wood fired Japanese Hibachi.

Whichever way, the aim is a large eggplant and a large capsicum (or equivalent smaller ones) and three or four cloves of garlic with blackened, charred skin.

Put them straight away into a container with a lid and allow to cool in their own steam until cool enough to handle.

Then gently peel off the blackened skin.  You needn’t stress about getting every little bit – a bit left on doesn’t hurt – it adds to the flavour.  But you want to remove most.

This is the only really laborious part of the whole dinner, and the charring does totally change the flavours, making them sweet and complex and  delicious.


Blend together:

  • eggplant, roasted and skinned
  • a clove of roasted skinned garlic
  • 3 dsp tahini
  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Roasted Capsicum and Macadamia Dip

Blend together:

  • 1 large capsicum, roasted and skinned
  • 1 skinned tomato (dunk in boiling water and the skin will come off easily)
  • a clove of roasted skinned garlic
  • ¹/3 cup macadamia kernels (or substitute whatever nut is in season in your part of the world)
  • a little swig of olive oil
  • salt to taste


This is basically the same recipe I posted for pea hummus a few months ago, but using chick peas (garbanzos) instead of peas.  I put the peas on to soak overnight, pressure cooked them for 15 minutes in the morning, turned them off just before I left for work, and left them in the closed pressure cooker for the day.  Then it was just a matter of blending:

  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas (garbanzos)
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 50 ml lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
  • 2 big dessertspoons tahini
  • enough water to make a smooth dip consistency

I served the three dips with a little tomato and basil salad and pita bread.



It’s nut season.  Here it’s macadamia nuts, but further south it will be almonds and hazelnuts. We’re getting decent harvests from our trees now, and I’m loving learning to use them in savory food as well as baking. Pesto is a bit of a staple, and nut based curry and satay sauces, but I’m only just getting into extending the range.

Nuts are calorie dense but also really really nutrient dense. Super food sources of whole range of vitamins and minerals, as well as protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, and monounsaturated, good fats. Even if you don’t grow them, you’re likely to be able to pick up fresh in season nuts in shell from Farmers Markets or wholefoods retailers at the moment.

I’ve tried these in a lot of versions.  They’re good just plain, or with basil and semi-sundried tomatoes, or with chili and garlic, but these parsley and lemon ones are our favourites.

The Recipe:

Nut Rice Balls

Makes around 13 balls,  probably about three adult serves.  They make great leftovers for lunch.

Cook ½ cup brown rice in 1½ cups of water with a little salt, to give you just over a cup of cooked rice.  In a pressure cooker, this takes 15 minutes so the whole recipe is do-able in less than half an hour. How I love my pressure cooker!

While the rice is cooking crack enough macadamias to give 1 cup of whole maca kernels, or about ¾ cup of chopped nuts. How I love my Maca Cracker!

Mince the macadamias with the rice, along with

  • one egg
  • one onion,
  • a good handful of Italian parsley, and
  • a scant teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest.

My trusty Braun food processor will do this in one lot, but it’s a heavy load. If you’re not sure, rather than risk burning out the motor, do it in a few batches. Or use a mincer. (I know this is getting boring now, but how I love my Braun processor).

The aim is a coarse meal, a bit like the texture of couscous. Using wet hands, squeeze spoonfuls of mixture together into small patties, about the diameter of an egg. Shallow fry in hot olive oil for a few minutes each side till crisp and golden.

Roast Vegetable Salad:

I served these with roast vegetable salad, and if you are going to go that way, to do it in half an hour, you need to get the rice on first, then get the vegetables on to roast.

The recipe is very simply a tray of vegetables, chopped reasonably small, tossed in olive oil and some herbs, and roasted in a hot oven. I used a beetroot, a carrot,  a parsnip, a red onion, and a trombochino zucchini, tossed in oregano and lemon basil, for this batch.

Allow the vegetables to cool a little, then toss with salad greens, sliced cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. Dress with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Did you do a Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week? Links welcome.



It’s not as photogenic as it was delicious.  Green beans in a creamy, nut based mild curry sauce. I quite like creamy curries but most are based on coconut cream or real cream.  Both are a bit too high in saturated fats (and kilojoules) for everyday, mid-week eating.  Fresh coconuts are also well out of my “locavore” range, and canned coconut cream is oily and BPA is oil soluble.  All reasons why curries with coconut cream are eating out special occasion foods in my world.

Luckily for me, you can make korma style curries using nuts and yoghurt to make them creamy.  Traditionally it is cashew nuts, but macadamias are just coming into season here and my first pick is dry and ready to use.  Further south, almonds are also now in season. As well as loads of nutrients, nuts have monounsaturated, good fats, and there’s good evidence that macas work as well as the “clinically proven to lower cholesterol” margarines.

The Recipe:

  • In a large pot, dry roast:
  • ½ cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Shake the pot to toast them evenly, and as soon as the seeds start popping, add
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 big teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 big teaspoon of crated fresh turmeric (or half a teaspoon turmeric powder)
  • 1 to 3 fresh chilis, (depending on how hot your chilis are and how hot you like your curry) roughly chopped
  • Cook for a couple of minutes, then tip the lot into a blender or food processor.  Wash out the  pot with ½ cup water and add that to the blender.  Blend on high for a few minutes, till it is really smooth and creamy.
  • Meanwhile, add a little olive oil to the pot and saute one diced onion until translucent.
  • Top and tail and chop 300 grams of green beans, (my Blue Lake french beans work really well in this), add to the onions, and pour in the sauce from the blender.  Use another ½ cup of water to rinse out the blender and add it.
  • Simmer gently for around 20 minutes until the beans are tender. Taste and add salt to taste.
  • Take off the heat and stir in ½ cup of low fat Greek yoghurt and ½ cup chopped coriander.
  • Serve over rice with a little coriander to garnish.
Did you do the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week? Links welcome.