food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘australian food

warrigal spinach

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Warrigal spinach, is a bush food native to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Chile and Argentina. Captain Cook ate it aboard  the Endeavour to prevent scurvy and Joseph Banks took it back to England to cultivate.

The plant is drought resistant, thrives on neglect, self seeds and grows so fast that it can be harvested in a few weeks. It’s flavour is similar to spinach and it can be used in much the same way as it’s namesake. Like spinach it contains oxalates which can be removed by blanching. Try it in a pie with feta, in fritters, cannelloni, dumplings or a pesto. Here is a simple stir-fry for an Asian meal.

Wash and dry the Warrigal spinach and finely dice 2 cloves of garlic. Heat some oil in a wok until very hot and briefly add the garlic before adding the Warrigal spinach. Cook, stirring, until the stems are cooked and not too tough. Add some dried chilli flakes to taste and season with salt and ground white pepper. Serve hot.


Written by michelle picker

February 7, 2018 at 12:53 am

blood limes

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I’ve been interested in native Australian finger limes for a while so I chose to plant a blood lime as it suits the cool climate here. A cross between red finger lime and Ellendale mandarin, their colour ranges from lime to burgundy and they’re a little sweeter then standard limes. The skin and flesh can both be eaten and the juice is both in and around the little vesicles which pop in your mouth. As they’re so small, I thought laterally about how to juice them and I came up with the idea of a garlic press! It’s a bit like a mini Mexican-style lime squeezer and as long as it’s stainless steel the garlic taste won’t linger.


I decided to make a blood lime and coconut ice cream. First, squeeze the limes (any limes will work) and keep the skins. Measure 2 cups of milk and take out 2 tablespoons to make a slurry with 2 tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch) and set this aside. Heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan with 1¼ cups of heavy cream, ⅔ of a cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of glucose, 1 cup of desicaated coconut and all the lime skins. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour in the cornflour slurry. Stir and return to the heat to thicken. Meanwhile heat the lime juice with 2 tablespoons of sugar until the sugar has dissolved. In another bowl whisk 3 tablespoons of softened cream cheese with ⅛ of a teaspoon of salt. Pour the hot milk mixture and the lime syrup into the bowl and mix until smooth. Cool the mixture down by placing the bowl in an ice bath. When the mixture is cold, strain to remove the coconut and lime skins and it’s ready to churn.


Written by michelle picker

August 31, 2017 at 5:28 am

classic vanilla slice

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Those of you who grew up in Australia will know this slice with it’s thick, yellow, cream-free custard sandwiched between two layers of flaky pastry and topped with passionfruit icing. A glorious, messy treat!


Preheat your oven to 200ºC (390ºF). Take 2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry and (on lined or greased baking sheets) bake for 10-15 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and gently flatten with a clean chopping board. Line a square cake tin with paper, making sure the paper protrudes above the top edges and lay the first sheet of pastry in the bottom of the tin. Now in a saucepan combine 1⅓ cups of caster sugar, 1 cup of cornflour and ¾ of a cup of vanilla custard powder. Slowly add 4½ cups of milk until you have a smooth mixture. Add 75g (2¾ oz) of chopped butter and cook over low heat, stirring, until very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence or paste and a few drops of yellow food colouring (optional). Spread this custard evenly over the pastry in the cake tin and set in the fridge. Before serving place the second pastry square on top. To make the passionfruit icing, mix 2½ cups of pure icing sugar with 2 teaspoons of butter and the pulp from 3 fresh passionfruit. Spread this icing over the top pastry sheet and allow to set before serving.

Written by michelle picker

March 23, 2016 at 5:47 am