Katie Bell makes the most wonderful Anzac biscuits. She is very much a seat of her pants cook, though she objects strenuously when I alter one of her recipes. Here is her recipe, more or less verbatim.


‘I never get two batches the same; that is the fun of it. I suppose it has something to do with the amount of golden syrup I use.’

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup sugar

1 cup plain flour

¾ cup desiccated coconut

1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

2 tablespoons boiling water

125g butter

1 tablespoon golden syrup (I use more, sometimes 2 tablespoon-ish!!!!)

Combine rolled oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut. Combine butter and golden syrup, stir over gentle heat until melted.

Mix soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture. Stir into dry ingredients.

Spoon dessertspoons of mixture onto greased oven trays. (They spread even more if extra golden syrup is used, so separate them well).

Bake in a slow oven (150C) for 20 minutes or until they look cooked.

Makes about 6 large cookie/biscuits.

Before you begin: Cooking your greens.

Did you know that you should never cook green vegetables with the lid on the saucepan?

Or that vegetables that grow beneath the ground such as potatoes, carrots etc. should always be started in cold water and that vegetables that grow above the ground such as beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage should be started in boiling water?

Green beans

Did you know cutting a cross in the bottom of a Brussel sprout does not help it cook more evenly (unless steamed)? You are better off simply cutting the BS in half to cook.

Before you begin: Freezing stuff

92047481_10158216893007154_3520284757785051136_oBefore you freeze anything at all, think about the quantities in which you may want to use it later. This applies equally to meat, fish, and to such things as demi-glace, jus, gravy, stock and pureed fruit.

Generally speaking less is better.

There have been many occasions when I have had to thaw twice as much meat as I needed, twice as much demi-glace (that really is a waste) and up to four times as much stock.

None of these should be re-frozen, and none keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Even soup should not be frozen in large quantities unless it is for a specific occasion. Plastic containers with a 2 cup or 500ml capacity are a good investment. Make sure they are stackable. I thought Mrs. Crockett containers were great when I first discovered them, now I realise that they are far too big.

IMG_2167If you get an over abundance of limes or lemons, squeeze them and make small ice cubes. Use them for margaritas, Damascus slings or thai dressings. So much better than fake/concentrate juice.

Survivor tips for newbie chefs in Covid

I have just been laughing at a great YouTube guy who is hilariously teaching you how to cook some pretty simple stuff. And it made me think about mum’s cookbook and some of the really easy recipes in there as well as some pretty nifty tips that might be handy in our time of boredom.

As so many of us are doing, I’m using isolation time to look at the always therelist of things to do given time. Yes I am working from home but I am finding I do have more hours in the day thanks to no commute. One on my Corona list is progressing the Never Ending Cookbook By Mum by a few recipes.

Started before the age of MasterChef and MyKitchenRules, the recipes here are timeless classics. But they are of a style of cooking that doesn’t get the ratings – most ‘reality’ shows expecting Michelin starred sophisticated (performance art) experiences every time.

The recipes here are from 60s-2010 (50 years). There’s one from a CWA (Country Womens’ Association) recipe book which looks post WWII as well as some Ascot Kindergarten ones from the 70s.

They represent the ‘best of home style cooking’ – full of flavour, sometimes a splash more brandy than called for. These recipes they have all been dined on, praised and sometimes burnt by mum, me and my sisters too.

So while I’m not going to spend my free time doing awesome video productions, I will make sure I post a one of mum’s gem tips or an easy peasy recipe.

Anyway, to get on with the show, please enjoy mum’s tips on freezing stuff.

Herbed Citrus Salad with Tahini Dressing and Greens

This salad is deceptively simple. A mix of ruby red grapefruit and Cara Cara and mandarin oranges is the centerpiece, but the complex flavors come from tossing the fruit with fresh tarragon, parsley, and spring mix dressed in an irresistibly smoky tahini dressing. Citrus and herbs: the remedy for winter boredom.

With thanks Elizabeth Stark



For the tahini dressing:

  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • Finely grated zest of 1 tangerine, plus 1/4 cup of the juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • Water, as needed

For the salad:

  • 1 ruby red grapefruit
  • 1 Cara Cara orange
  • 1 mandarin orange
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 4 cups spring mix or baby lettuce
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper



  1. Make the dressing:Place the shallot, tangerine zest and juice, lemon juice, honey, salt, and chili powder in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to give shallots time to marinate. Whisk in the tahini until mixture is emulsified. If dressing is too thick, add a drizzle of water to thin.
  2. Make the salad:To prep the citrus, trim the top and bottom from each piece of fruit. Then, with downward strokes, cut remaining peel off in strips, removing peel and white pith and revealing the citrus flesh. Cut off any remaining pith. Slice citrus crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Sprinkle the tarragon and parsley over both sides of the citrus rounds.
  3. Place the greens in a medium bowl. Drizzle in a few tablespoons dressing and toss. Arrange the greens on a platter or plate and top with the citrus rounds. Finish with another drizzle of tahini dressing, sprinkle with the pomegranate arils if using, and finish with a few twists of freshly ground pepper.


Make ahead: This salad is best eaten fresh, but the citrus can be sliced and the dressing can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored separately in the refrigerator


Spicy chorizo sausage with roasted macadamia nut Gnocchi

This is a variation on the River Café Gnocchi with Chestnut and Sausage recipe to suit Australian pantries. Sarah adapted this many years ago when competing with an advertising agency friend in a ‘Cook Off’ when she realised the effort involved in peeling and roasting chestnuts was not necessarily worth the reward. It certainly puts a completely new bent on the original recipe. Certainly, you can’t go past the unique flavour of macadamia nuts and, when combined with caramelised fennel in the tomato sauce, you can’t go wrong!

Potato gnocchi for 6 (See Pasta section). Note that the gnocchi available in supermarkets these days is also fine if you don’t want to make your own. It certainly reduces the preparation time of this meal down to nothing!


200g roasted unsalted macadamia nuts (shelled)

150 g butter

4 fresh chorizo sausages (available from good gourmet butchers), peeled and torn/sliced into thumb sized pieces

1-1/2 large fennel bulbs very finely sliced using thin mandolin

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

2 dried red chillies, crumbled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves

150ml red wine

1 dessertspoon caramelised fig balsamic vinegar (Optional)

1x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes

1 x jar of passata (use own discretion whether this additional tomato sauce is required)

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

1 handful fresh sage leaves on stems for garnish

3 tablespoons butter

100g Parmesan, freshly grated

[Note from Sarah] To minimise the number of cleaning required, I use the minimum number of pans. To do this in a single medium, thick-bottomed frying pan I follow this order:

  1. Roast off macadamias – this can be done in a dry frying pan either on the stove top or in the oven (as long as your fry pan does not have a plastic handle). Due to the natural oils in the macadamias additional oil is not required. Make sure to turn the nuts frequently so they do not burn.
  2. Fry off sage leaves on stems for garnish in 3 tablespoons of butter – allow the sage to crisp up and then let sit on paper towels to soak up excess butter. Set aside for garnish
  3. Caramelise the thinly sliced fennel in 150 g butter – do not allow to burn. Set aside to return to sauce towards the end.

For the sauce, melt the butter and fry the sausage meat, stirring and breaking it up over a medium heat to allow the juices to evaporate and the meat to begin to brown. Add the garlic, chilli and chopped (fresh) sage. Add caramelised fennel.

Pour in the wine and increase the heat until the wine evaporates. Add the tomatoes with half their juices. Add balsamic vinegar if including. Add remaining juice from tomatoes and top up with Passata if necessary. Lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Just prior to stirring in the sauce with the gnocchi, add the roasted macadamia nuts into the sauce.

Cook the gnocchi in batches in a generous amount of boiling salted water. They are ready when they bob up to the surface of the simmering water.

Serve gnocchi with the sauce, topped with grated Parmesan and the crispy sage leaves. Break some sage leaves up and sprinkle and leave a few whole leaves for garnish.

Serves 6.

Sitar’s butter chicken

While this isn’t mums and certainly made for our Aussie tastes it is still the best Butter Chicken in Brisbane. 

Sitar originally a one off restaurant in Albion is now a mini franchise in Brisbane. Fortunately it seems that the butter chicken recipe is part of the franchise because it’s been consistently good at 3 locations.

I am copying it to the cookbook in fear that Sitar might one day decide to remove it from their site! 

Ingredients :

1 whole chicken 

2 tomatoes puree in a blender

2 onions, chopped 

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste 

15 cashew nuts paste 

1 ½ tbsp butter 

3 tbsp cream 

1 tsp chilli powder 

Oil for frying 

salt to taste 

For the marinade :

1 tbsp tandoori masala 
½ tbsp garam masala (cloves, cinnamon and cardamom powdered) 

2 tbsp lime juice 

½ tsp jeera 

5 tbsp yoghurt


Marinate the chicken in the marinade for 1 whole hour. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chicken for 10 minutes. 

Remove the chicken and keep aside. In the remaining oil fry add the chopped onions till golden , then add the ginger-garlic paste and fry sprinkling little water now and then, till the oil separates. 

Add the cashew paste, chilli powder, tomato paste and cook for 10 mins. 

Add the butter and the cream and the chicken. Mix well and cook till done. Garnish with coriander.


Pea and ham soup

This is Grandma’s recipe.

Ham bones, or a combination of ham and bacon bones
2 onions, quartered
A few sticks of celery
3 or 4 large fresh carrots, grated
Several packets of split peas, green or yellow, or a combination of both (the colour of the peas doesn’t affect the flavour of the soup, only its colour)
1 teaspoon prepared hot English mustard
Additional ham, finely chopped

Remove any good ham that may be left on the bones, and set aside. Place bones in a large saucepan or stockpot with the onions and the celery. Cover with water, and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that may form on the surface. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 4 – 5 hours, skimming when necessary. When you are happy with the colour and depth of the stock, strain it into a clean container and refrigerate so that fat can be easily removed.

Soak peas in cold water overnight, removing any black ones that will float to the surface when the peas are stirred.

Return the stock (with fat removed) to a heavy based casserole which has been greased on the bottom to stop the peas sticking during cooking. Add the strained peas, grated carrots and hot English mustard. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer slowly until the peas have lost their definition and soup has become thick. Take care that it does not burn on the bottom as the burnt bits will affect both the taste and the appearance of the soup. Lastly, add the chopped ham and stir in well. The soup should be thick, so don’t stint on the peas.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Pumpkin and stilton soup

This one is a slight variation on the pumpkin soup theme. Of course, it isn’t strictly necessary to use Stilton; any good local blue cheese would work just as well. Or nearly as well!

500g pumpkin, preferably Queensland Blue, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
250g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
250g leeks, washed and sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 litres chicken stock
Nutmeg, freshly grated
Pinch of paprika
30g Stilton, crumbled
¼ cup cream, at room temperature.

Melt butter in a heavy-based casserole, add garlic and leeks and cook gently until limp and transparent. Add pumpkin and carrot and stir to coat. Add chicken stock and spices, cover and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender. Cool and puree in a food processor or pass through a mouli.

Season and re-heat as required.

To serve, combine the Stilton and cream in a food processor. Ladle soup into bowls and swirl some of the Stilton mixture through each serving.

Serves 6 – 8.

Many thanks to Nadine from Feast Photography for the photo.

Mum’s letter to us

I thought tonight was appropriate to share mum’s letter which accompanied each of our first versions of the Never Ending Cookbook. Given it was written on Christmas Day 1999, I can well imagine it being sometime past middnight (since this first edition was wrapped and ready on Christmas morning), her sitting with a Scotch on one side, ashtray on the other in her study and typing out these words of wisdom.

I’m full of admiration for her insights into fads and phases and I can just imagine what she would think of us all with our slow cookers and Thermomixes!

The original word document is long since gone from the computer – a virus took out her entire hard drive shortly after she died, so my apologies for the scan. Having her ‘mum’ signature makes it pretty special though. xxx