Zucchini flower fritters

If you have zucchini plants in your garden at the moment then it’s well and truly time to enjoy both the zucchini and their flowers. The flowers should be picked early in the morning whilst they’re wide open and crisp. I only pick the male flowers which are the ones that grow on the stems of the plant (the female flowers are those attached to the zucchini themselves- they are good to use if you’re making stuffed flowers with the zucchini attached to them).



The flowers are quite delicate so must be handled with care and they are a haven for insects so ensure that you wash them thoroughly. The stamens must be removed from the middle of the flower before you can use them.

To make these fritters really tasty you need to use a generous amount of basil, red onion, Pecorino cheese and grated zucchini (from the garden if you have them). I shallow fry them in sunflower oil as it has a high smoke point and I find much less oil is absorbed than if you were to use olive oil.

They make a great starter to any summer time meal or you can enjoy them as a snack. Try the recipe out and let me know what you think!


Makes 20 fritters


15 zucchini flowers, stamens removed then thoroughly washed

1 1/2 cups basil, thoroughly washed and roughly torn up

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese

2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

2/3 cup wholemeal plain flour

1 1/3 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup water

Sunflower oil, for shallow frying


1. Gently tear the zucchini flowers into strips, then place them in a large bowl.


2. Next add the torn up basil, the diced onion and the grated zucchini.


3. Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste, then add the grated Pecorino cheese.

4. Add the lightly beaten eggs then mix everything together with a fork to ensure that the mixture is evenly combined.


5. Now add both types of flour along with the water and mix again with a fork until everything is thoroughly combined. The batter should be thick yet wet. If it’s dry, add a little more water but be careful not to make it runny.


6. Once the batter is the right consistency, heat the sunflower oil in a large fry pan. You only need enough oil for shallow-frying. While it’s heating up, line a couple of large plates with paper towels.

7. Once the oil is hot enough, place spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and shape them into fritters. Try not to overcrowd the pan (I separated mine after I took this photo- it’s hard to fry things and remember to take photo’s too!)



8. Once the bottom of the fritters are golden, flip all the fritters over and fry them until the other side is golden too.

9. When ready, quickly remove them from the fry pan and place them on the plates lined with paper towel which you prepared earlier. Cover the fritters with paper towels and gently press down on them to soak up any excess oil.

10. Repeat the above process with the remainder of the batter.

11. Allow the fritters to cool down for a minute then serve.


*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!

Beef stuffed eggplants

Stuffing vegetables is a very common practice in all of the Mediterranean. Eggplants, capsicums, zucchini, tomatoes or even vine leaves can be stuffed with a meat or rice filling and then baked in the oven. They make a wonderful side dish and can be enjoyed all year round, using whichever vegetable is in season at the time.

Beef stuffed eggplants

My favourite vegetable to enjoy stuffed with beef are eggplants, which are currently in season in Melbourne. Eggplants contain bitter substances which must be drawn out before you cook them. This is done by a process known as degorging, where you cut the eggplant open, sprinkle it with salt and then wait for liquid containing the bitter substances to form on the surface- this liquid is then rinsed away and the eggplants are patted dry.

The filling for these eggplants is basically a meatball mixture, with the addition of the pulp from the inside of the eggplants. As always, the filling tastes better if you make your own fresh breadcrumbs. All you need to do is toast some old bread (in this instance I used wholemeal multigrain bread), roughly tear it up then process it in a food processor until you’ve got breadcrumbs.

Makes 8 serves


4 large eggplants, washed and stems cut off


Olive oil

800g minced beef

2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 red onion, peeled and finely diced

1 cup freshly-made breadcrumbs

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup parsley, chopped

Freshly-ground black pepper

2/3 cup tomato and herb sauce


1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways. Then using a knife, remove the pulp from the middle of each eggplant half, leaving the shells about 1cm thick. Take care not to cut through the shells as you don’t want any of the filling to fall out. Reserve the pulp.


2. Sprinkle salt over the 8 eggplant shells, then place them in a colander in your sink to allow the bitterness to be drawn out (this may take an hour or so).

3. While the eggplants are degorging, prepare the filling. Begin by roughly dicing the eggplant pulp.


4. Next, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, then add the eggplant pulp and gently sauté it until it becomes golden and tender. Remove it from the heat.


5. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and lightly drizzle it with olive oil.


6. In a large bowl, add the minced beef, eggs, red onion, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and the cooked pulp. Season with freshly-ground black pepper, then stir it well to combine.


7. Once the bitter liquid has formed on the surface of the eggplant shells, rinse it off then gently pat them dry with some paper towel.

8. Evenly fill each eggplant shell with the beef mixture, pressing it down with a fork. Place the filled eggplants in the baking tray in a single layer.


9. Spoon about one tablespoon or so of sauce over each of the eggplants. If you like you can also sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over the sauce.


10. Cover the tray with foil and bake at 190°C for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake them for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.


*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!


I’m quite proud of my Tiramisù recipe; it’s always a winner with my family and friends and makes for an impressive finish to any dinner party. There’s no denying that Tiramisù is a rich dessert and thus I only make it once or twice per year. I use slim savoiardi biscuits so that the portions are not too large when I serve it.


A proper Tiramisù is made with mascarpone and espresso coffee- not cream cheese and instant coffee! You also need some alcohol in the coffee mixture; I personally use marsala and French brandy but some other people use things like Tia Maria or Kahlua- the choice is up to you but I find marsala and brandy work really well together.

Tiramisù ingredients

It’s absolutely imperative that you make Tiramisù a day or two ahead of time. It tastes so much better and everything will set nicely if you do- otherwise the mascarpone mixture can be a bit runny. I like to serve Tiramisù with a couple of fresh strawberries when they’re in season.

This recipe will make one large tray of Tiramisù. I use a 35x24x5cm glass tray.


450ml espresso coffee

125ml marsala

50ml brandy

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

300g savoiardi biscuits (buy the slim-sized ones)

5 large free-range eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

500g mascarpone

100g dark chocolate, grated

Cocoa powder


1. In a large bowl, pour in the coffee, marsala, brandy and vanilla essence and give it a stir.

2. Using an electric beater, beat the egg yolks and caster sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Then gently fold in the mascarpone using a spatula.

3. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the mascarpone mixture.


4. Dust the base of the glass tray with some cocoa powder and then sprinkle over some of the grated dark chocolate.


5. Now quickly dip some of the savoiardi biscuits, one by one, in the coffee mixture. Ensure that you wet both sides of each biscuit but don’t over soak them or they will crumble.


6. After quickly dipping each biscuit in the coffee mixture arrange them neatly in the tray. You may have to break a few of the biscuits so that they fit.


7. Now spread some of the mascarpone mixture evenly over the biscuit layer.


8. Now dust the mascarpone layer with cocoa powder and sprinkle over some more grated dark chocolate.

9. Then add another layer of biscuits that have been dipped in the coffee mixture, then spread the remainder of the mascarpone mixture on top and then dust the top with more cocoa powder and the remaining grated dark chocolate.

10. Cover the tray tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!

Vegan sweet potato gnocchi

I fondly remember making gnocchi when I was little with my mum. I remember starting off with just rolling the gnocchi for her into logs, then as I got older I learnt how to cut and curl them as well. It wasn’t until this year though that I started making them entirely by myself- I never really understood how to get the ratio of potatoes to flour right as mum would always make enough for about 20 people!

I’m using sweet potatoes in this recipe and I’m not using eggs. Without eggs gnocchi are softer and a bit more delicate to work with; with eggs they’re firmer and hold their shape better when they cook but are also heavier. I’ve opted for the no-eggs option so that more people can use this recipe. These gnocchi go well with a meat sauce as well as with a simple tomato and herb sauce. You could also make these using purple sweet potatoes- the colour is quite dramatic!

Sweet potato gnocchi

The trick with gnocchi is to let the potatoes cool completely down after you’ve passed them through a potato ricer. When they’re cool they take less flour so they’ll be lighter to eat. You also need to keep flouring them as you go so that they don’t stick together.

Serves 4


1.5kg sweet potatoes

650g ’00’ flour, plus extra for rolling out the gnocchi

1 teaspoon salt


1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to the boil, covered, then slightly remove the lid and allow to boil until tender. (Alternatively, you could cook the potatoes in the microwave- I’m told it takes about 6 minutes or so).

2. Once cooked, drain out the water and return the potatoes to the pan and cover with a lid. It’s important to keep them hot as it’ll make it easier to peel them. One by one, take a potato out of the pan and peel off the skin using a knife.

3. Place the peeled potato into a potato ricer and push it through.


4. Repeat with the remaining peeled potatoes.

5. Add the salt and mix through using a fork. Now let the mixture cool completely down.


6. Once the potatoes are cool, add the flour and mix it evenly through (I used a fork in the beginning and then kneaded it with my hands). You may need a little more or a little less flour than the quantity I have given, depending on how moist the potatoes are. Sweet potatoes are a lot softer than normal potatoes so I found that I needed a lot more flour than expected. You want the dough to be somewhat firm but not too hard, otherwise the gnocchi will be far too heavy.


7. Take a handful of the dough and place it on a floured board. Using both hands, roll the dough out into a log shape, then sprinkle it with a little flour.


8. Repeat the process with the remainder of the dough, ensuring that you keep adding flour to the board and that you sprinkle each log with flour so that it doesn’t become sticky.

9. Using a sharp knife, cut each log into small pieces, about 1 inch long.


10. Then flour a gnocchi board and 2 trays.


11. One by one, roll each piece of dough up the gnocchi board and let them fall onto the floured trays. If you don’t have a gnocchi board, you could do this using a fork.


The aim is to get a pattern on one side and a small cavity on the other side (as below). The cavity helps the gnocchi hold more sauce and doing this step also makes them look prettier!


12. Once you’ve curled all of the gnocchi, sprinkle them all with a little more flour.


13. Cook the gnocchi immediately in a large saucepan filled with salted boiling water. You’ll need to cook them in a few batches. Once they float to the surface they’re cooked; remove them from the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Place them in bowls and coat with a sauce of your choice, then serve immediately.


*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!

Spinach and ricotta ravioli

After recently making a batch of fresh pasta I thought I’d have a go at making some ravioli with a spinach and ricotta filling. When making ravioli at home you can either use molds to get perfectly shaped ravioli or you can simply spoon dollops of filling intermittently along a fresh sheet of pasta, fold the pasta sheet over, seal it and then cut it using a pastry cutter. I’m all for rustic looking food and using as little utensils as possible so I’ll be describing the latter method in this recipe. And as you can see below, they don’t look too shabby at all!


In regards to the filling, I’d recommend choosing a bunch of fresh spinach with smallish leaves as they’ll be more tender. Go to your local deli and buy fresh ricotta that’s cut straight from the round; it’s a bit drier than ricotta from a tub and tastes a lot better in my opinion. If you buy ricotta in a tub make sure that you drain away as much of the liquid as possible. If possible, freshly grate your Parmesan cheese and nutmeg and grind your black pepper for the filling; your ravioli will taste much better if you do.

Before you get started you’ll also need a pastry cutter, a pastry brush and a small bowl of cold water. It’s important to work quickly so that your pasta sheets don’t dry out (ideally, have your filling prepared and covered in the fridge before you start rolling out your pasta sheets).

These ravioli are typically served with a sage and butter sauce but a simple tomato and herb sauce would also be nice. They taste so much better than bought ravioli and really aren’t that hard to make so I’d highly recommend giving this recipe a go!

This quantity serves 6-8 people


1 quantity of fresh pasta, rolled out to the narrowest setting

1 bunch fresh spinach (approximately 800g), bottom of stalks chopped off

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

350g ricotta (freshly cut from a round at your local deli)

1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

1 large free-range egg

Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

A pinch of salt

A pinch of grated nutmeg


1. Thoroughly wash the spinach in your sink with cold water at least 2-3 times to remove any dirt.

2. Briefly heat the oil and garlic in a fry pan over a medium heat, then add the freshly washed spinach and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Don’t worry if your pan is overflowing as the spinach will start to wilt in a minute or so.


3. Turn the spinach with a spatula once the leaves at the bottom start to wilt and taste it after 3-4 minutes to see if it’s cooked. Once it is, remove from the heat and allow to cool down.

4. Using your hands, wring as much water as possible out of the cooled spinach and then place it on a clean chopping board. Chop it up as finely as possible.

5. In a large bowl, add the ricotta and mash it with a fork. Then add the chopped spinach, egg, Parmesan cheese, a pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg and freshly-ground pepper to taste. Mix it all together until all the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the filling.


6. Lay out a sheet of fresh pasta on a floured work surface. Place spoonfuls of the mixture along the sheet at 5 cm intervals, about one-third in from the edge of the sheet.


7. Now lightly dip your pastry brush in the bowl of cold water and use it to brush the edges of the pasta sheet and around each dollop of filling.

8. Fold over the wider part of the pasta sheet and seal the edges by firmly pressing down along the edge with your fingers.


9. Now press down on the pasta in between the dollops of filling to help individually seal the ravioli.


10. Using a pastry cutter, cut between each dollop of filling to make individual ravioli.


11. Now turn your ravioli clockwise and cut along the top edge of the ravioli with your pastry cutter. Then press around the filling with your fingers to ensure they’re sealed and to get rid of any air bubbles.


12. Once you’ve cut all the ravioli, place them on a lightly-floured tray.


13. Repeat the above process with the remaining pasta sheets and filling.

14. Cook the ravioli immediately in small batches in a saucepan of salted boiling water. Fresh pasta cooks a lot faster than dry pasta so taste them after about 5 minutes to see if they’re done. As you can see below, they hold their shape really well when cooked (if you over cook them the filling will seep out). Take them out with a slotted spoon and toss them in a sauce of your choice, then serve immediately.


*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!

Fresh pasta

Making your own pasta is a lot easier than you may think; all you need is a manual pasta machine, flour, eggs and a little salt and away you go. A good manual pasta machine costs around $100 and is a worthy investment. Mum’s had her Imperia machine for 40 years now and it’s never let her down. It’s obviously going to make life easier than trying to make pasta with a rolling pin and it also provides a great workout for your arm muscles!

Imperia pasta machine

Why bother making fresh pasta? Well, it’s silky smooth, melts in your mouth and it’s rather cheap to make. It’s perfect for special occasions or if you simply want to try something new on the weekend. It’s easy to make by yourself or you can get your family or friends involved too. Sure dry pasta is great for everyday use but there’s something special about making fresh pasta and seeing how much everyone enjoys it- I think the effort is well worth it.

This recipe can be used to make pasta sheets for lasagna, ravioli or you can go one step further and pass it through the fettuccine or spaghetti cutting section of the machine. My rule of thumb for fresh pasta is to use 1 large free-range egg for every 100 grams of flour, in addition to a ¼ teaspoon or so of salt. You’ll then need a bit more flour for machining the pasta. This quantity is then multiplied depending on how many people you’re cooking for. Speaking from experience, if you’re cooking for a large number of people and wanted to multiply this recipe by 10 for example, I would highly recommend making it in 2 lots as it’ll be a lot easier to combine and knead the dough in smaller quantities.

Make sure that the work surface used is at a comfortable height for yourself as you’ll be machining for a while so you don’t want to strain any muscles. I find kitchen benches too high in general so I clamp our machine to our wooden kitchen table. Also, cover your work area with a clean tablecloth- it’ll make cleaning up so much easier at the end as you’re going to have flour everywhere!

I’m going to do my best now to describe the method using photo’s to help me. I’ll be honest and say that it took me a few go’s under mum’s guidance to understand how pasta should look and feel as you’re machining it but I’m now confident enough to make it on my own. I’ll try explain the method as best as I can but if you have any questions please comment below and I’ll try to help out.


This quantity makes about 500 grams or so of pasta.


400g ’00’ flour, plus extra for machining the dough

4 large free-range eggs

1 teaspoon salt


1. Add the flour to a large bowl and then stir in the salt.

2. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs in.

3. Using a fork, beat the eggs and then start mixing them through the flour. IMG_7252

4. Then using your hands (make sure they’re clean!) start combining the mixture into a ball.IMG_7253

5. Once you’ve formed a ball, start kneading the dough. You will need to knead it for a little while to increase the strength of the gluten in the flour and will know when it’s ready as you’ll have a nice smooth ball of dough.IMG_7254

6. When it’s done, wrap it tightly in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

7. After an hour, remove the dough from the cling wrap and cut it into 8 even-sized pieces. Lightly flour your work  surface.


8. Starting with one of the pieces, roughly form it into a rectangular shape in your hands. Then place it on your work surface, flour it on both sides and then try flattening it out as much as possible with the palm of your hand. This is done to enable it to fit through the rollers in the machine.IMG_7260

9. Have your machine set on the widest setting (the width is adjusted by a knob on the side of the machine- turning it towards you increment by increment decreases the space between the rollers- see photo below).IMG_7206

10. Pass the piece of dough through the machine.IMG_7262

11. Then lightly flour the dough again, fold the dough in half and pass it through again. IMG_7265

12. Continue doing this until the sheet appears smooth. You’ll often find that an air bubble will form and will pop on the last time before it’s ready. Once the sheet is done, place it to the side and lightly flour it.IMG_7268

13. Take the next piece of dough and repeat the above process. Do this for all 8 pieces of dough.

14. Once you’ve got 8 small smooth sheets ready, turn the knob on your machine to the next increment which is slightly narrower.


15. Repeat the above process of lightly flouring each sheet, folding it in half and passing it through the machine until it looks smooth and you hear that popping sound. You probably won’t have to pass each sheet through as many times as the first setting though from now on.

16. Once you’ve passed through all the sheets on the second setting, move down to the third and repeat the process again. Continue this all the way through to the narrowest setting of the machine. Ensure that you’re lightly flouring the pasta whenever it feels sticky as you don’t want it to stick to the rollers in the machine (a pasta machine is never washed; it is merely dusted with a small brush that comes with the machine- if you washed it the rollers would lose their smoothness).


17. By the end you should have 8 long, silky smooth sheets of pasta. These can now be used for lasagna or ravioli. If you want to make fettuccine or spaghetti, simply pass the sheets through the cutters on the machine.


*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!

Walnut, garlic and parsley cheese spread

Looking for a quick and delicious snack? Something to serve to guests coming over this weekend? Try this walnut, garlic and cheese spread! It’s made using low-fat cream cheese and only took a few minutes to put together. It’s great on crackers and will keep in the fridge for a few days (if it lasts that long!)



250g low-fat cream cheese

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. Scoop the cream cheese into a bowl and mash with a fork to soften it.

2. Add the chopped walnuts, parsley and garlic.

3. Stir using a fork to combine the ingredients.

4. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until needed.

*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!