Notes for apple crumble

Why put chilli in stewed apples? Because this is a dish eaten with tea and the chilli adds a moreish taste which goes with tea the same way a curry does.

Note: when stewing apples, you need to stir often as they cook quickest on the bottom and otherwise you will end up with a combination of mush and half crunchy apple – of course, that may be exactly what you want!

For one standard pie dish:

For the filling:

  • 6 granny smiths peeled, cored and sliced
  • dash of water
  • sugar to taste – with sweeter apples maybe none
  • cloves
  • freshly ground cinammon
  • a few dried chillies crushed/crumbled

Bring to boil in saucepan, they don’t take long to soften, stir once or twice.

For the topping (I didn’t measure the ingredients):

  • whole oats
  • sugar
  • dessicated coconut
  • powdered ginger
  • cinammon
  • finely chopped pecans
  • butter in small pieces

Preheat oven to 180C

  • Butter pie dish and add apples, take out cloves.
  • Mix all ingredients for topping and rub in butter. It will be dry in parts and lumpy
  • Spread over apples

Bake until topping looks ready.

Serve piping hot with natural thick yoghurt. Yoghurt could be cream, creme fraiche or icecream.

Had half for dessert, the rest will be breakfast in the morning.

Added: I have also made this with no sugar on granny smiths, and with treacle instead of sugar on the crumble. If using treacle add after you have rubbed in the butter.

Yet another thing to do with avo at b/f

Butter toast. Vegemite it. Add slices of avo.


I was very diffident the first time I tried it. But apparently vegemite binds well with fat – hence the great combination vegemite and cheese – and, avo being so oily, perhaps that’s why it works.

Or….who cares why. Just eat it.

Eggs and yoghurt in Peter Gordon’s style

We used to regularly eat at the Providores and Tapa Room when in London, but at some point we realised that the only dish we really REALLY wanted was the ‘Turkish Eggs‘. And that being the case, why couldn’t we make such a simple dish ourselves?

Fast forward some years and finally we’ve done it, more or less as per the link above.

Ingredients for two

  • four pieces of toast
  • 4 eggs
  • about half a cup of strained yoghurt, room temperature
  • finely chopped or crushed garlic
  • a teensy amount of chilli
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • parsley or chives


  • mix the yoghurt with a little olive oil and the garlic in a serving bowl
  • bring water to a gentle simmer in a wide pan and gently slide in eggs from a saucer
  • make the toast
  • on a low heat melt the butter and swish in the chilli when melted. Turn off the heat, but you can leave the butter there to stay warm


On the toast place the eggs, which you removed with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with the butter. The yoghurt can be placed on top or on the side. A little finely chopped parsley or chives can be strewn across the eggs and butter if desired. We didn’t today.

This is somewhat different to how it is done in Providores where the eggs and yoghurt concoction is served in a bowl with toast on the side. As you please.

Thoughts on poaching eggs

This was my first time trying the wide pan and gentle poaching. Usually I do the ferociously boiling deep pan with the vortex and all that. But I find it really stressful, timing has to be perfect, it’s hard to see what’s going on, and after removal the egg still cooks fairly quickly, not surprising given what it’s been subjected to.

I thought I hadn’t put enough water in the wide pan today – the tips of the yolks were slightly exposed. But in the end I simply ladled water gently over the yolks and that worked a treat. At the end it was easy to see that the eggs were ready and they didn’t firm up as they were being eaten, which I attribute to the more gentle cooking.

Word of the day: GENTLE. This is a recipe that needs things to be done gently! But also quickly, if not frantically. You want everything to be hot when you are serving.

I didn’t add any of those things that are supposed to help the eggs during the poaching and mine behaved well.

Don’t forget

You have to make the tea whilst all this is going on…what would such a meal be like without tea?




Avocado on a mortgage

You can do this: go out, avo, juice, coffee $25 x 2 or….

  • Ciabatta from Lucia’s at the Market – perfect ciabatta $6.90 does practically an infinite amount of toast, so I’m saying…$1
  • Avocado, one Hass, lovely taste, right size $2
  • Harissa $1
  • Feta $1
  • Lemon 50c
  • Eggs x 4: $2
  • OJ freshly squeezed $2
  • Coffee/tea $1

Cost in the vicinity of $12, rounding up for butter, power, milk…

I don’t believe we need a recipe for this one. For posterity I note that we used biona organic harissa from the UK and it is really nice, none of the harsh vinegar aspect one generally gets from jarred harissa. Due to the situation which developed last time I made it myself, when Manny kindly offered to deseed 70 bird’s eye chillies, we now buy it premade.

It’s so good we’ve been having it for dinner too. Sliced tomato on top is an excellent addition if the mortgage repayments permit.

Breakfast banana pancakes

My friend Wren introduced me to these which are surprisingly good and easy and healthy.

banana pancakes


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • cinammon


Mash bananas, beat eggs, mix all ingredients together.

Fry as one would a normal pancake. They will go brown on each side.


You can serve these so many ways. If the banana is properly ripe, you certainly don’t need any additional sweetening ingredient. If you ask me, maple syrup would be overkill.

I served them with drained yoghurt to which I’d added some apple juice. Any sort of fruit can be added on top. Today strawberries because they are so cheap right now: Italian, 4CHF/kg and quite nice at that price. But you do get what you pay for. The 9CHF for 500g strawberries from Provence are 4 times as good!

For the future: I wondered about separating the whites and whipping them stiff before folding them in, with the intention of making these lighter. I’m curious to see how that turns out.

Reminder: I made a complete hash out of turning these. Hence the strategically placed yoghurt.


Indian pancakes

I’ve had some besan flour sitting about for a while now and finally got around to trying Indian pancakes yesterday.

Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe from World Vegetarian Cooking¬†was my first reference, but it is quickly obvious that one doesn’t need a recipe.

Ingredients for 8 pancakes

  • 2 cups of flour, sieved to remove lumps
  • dry spices such as salt, pepper, tumeric, chilli, garam masala, cumin ground or whole
  • 2 cups of water
  • wet ingredients might include garlic, ginger, spring onions, finely chopped tomatoes, coriander, or spinach wilted in a little water, thoroughly drained and chopped.


Mix the dry spices into the flour and then the flour and water: it is suggested that this is done slowly, eradicating lumps being more easily done when the mixture is less runny. Mix in wet things.

I was cooking for two and used two pans at a time. Otherwise leave in a warm oven while you are making the rest. Heat non-stick pans (mine are about 6″ at the base circumference) with a teensy bit of oil at a medium high heat. Put into each in a few tablespoons of the mixture, mixing it just before as the solids sink. Swirl the mixture to the edges of the pan. The base will turn reddish brown in places and around the edges when ready to flip. It will be about a couple of minutes each side.

From the pan food: we ate these in the kitchen while waiting for the next ones to cook.


What you put in the basic mixture will depend on what you are doing with them. We had the pancakes quite plain yesterday, by way of wet ingredients only spring onion, because we were having them with a vegetable dahl and a chickpea dish with a chutney on the side.

Half the batter then sat overnight and we knocked off the rest for dinner. In this case I added spinach and spring onions to the mix. We had a simple yoghurt, tomato and mustard seed dish on the side.

You can stuff and fold them if you wish.

This is fabulously easy, lends itself to ‘what’s in the cupboard?’, cheap, uses very little oil.


I could easily imagine these for breakfast, if the mixture’s already prepared. One of MJ’s suggestions is sesame seeds, added to the top before flipping, they’ll get nicely toasted. She also points out that you can omit all the Indian spices and make these a more European thing, but I love the Indianness.




Porridge again

I had never made my own porridge until I left Melbourne. Why make one’s own when near to hand is the wonderful porridge with caramelised bananas at Cafe Panette, or the classic with cream and brown sugar at Batch. Or a slightly jazzed up version at Richmond Hill Larder. At the moment it is:

Porridge popped: quinoa and oats with pear & raisin compote, honey oats crumble, labna, drizzle of honey 13.0

I have been to posh places in London where porridge is treated like dirt – do I mean they turn it into mud? Well, they might as well, since they serve up a luke warm sludge that tastes no better than it looks. Why put it on the menu if you aren’t going to respect it? In Melbourne porridge has to taste good and look good.

I make this variant quite often: soak oats in a liberal quantity of apple juice – I can get bio at my local market.

Do that overnight and then at breakfast time heat with milk added to taste and chopped ripe banana. This absolutely needs no sugar added as the apple juice is so very sweet.

Milk for the table and that’s it.

Ah, but there is nothing like sitting in a beautiful cafe having other people fussing over your breakfast. For porridge, I like this post which showcases how you get it in Melbourne’s cafes.

It’s porridge time in my neighbourhood

Need I start by mentioning that in Switzerland you can’t get porridge out. The one time I’ve seen it on the menu I attempted to order it at 9.30am but it ‘wasn’t ready yet’. I don’t understand what that means. Maybe it’s a brunch item hereabouts. Me, I want it when it is dark and cold at 7am…which is what I’ve just been doing.

I use whole bio oats. Melt a little butter in a small saucepan, add oats and water to just cover. Bring to boil, then take off the heat and sit, covered, to quick soak. If you are more thoughtful than I, you can simply soak in water the night before.

Have a shower and get dressed. Well, that’s what I did. Answer your mail. Take the dog out so he can ablute on somebody else’s garden. When you get back:

Generously cover with milk – this really depends on how you like your porridge as an eating process. Do you want it quite thick, adding cold milk as you go? Do you want to eat it exactly as it comes out of the pot? If you are circumspect in the first place you can always add more milk to the pot as you go.

Strew with brown sugar – that is, sugar to taste – bring to boil and turn to low. Stir now and then.

Slice a banana or two.

In a small non-stick fryingpan melt butter and add bananas. Also strew with brown sugar. Stir as the contents heat and bubble. When you please – for me this was a couple of minutes – add the contents to the porridge, stir, simmer a while longer. In all about ten minutes.

Equally the caramelised banana can be served on top of the porridge.

You can entirely forget the whole banana idea and simply serve with pouring cream and more brown sugar. Makes winter worth it.

If you make a vegan version of this, please don’t tell me. I’m not sleeping well as it is.

Strawberries on Toast

Leave right now if you aren’t super skilled in the kitchen. This will be right over your head.


Really nice fruit bread, not horrible fruit bread from a plastic bag found in the supermarket
Really nice strawberries
Really good butter

Got the theme here? We want best ingredients.


Toast bread
While bread is toasting, wash and dry and slice some strawberries


When toast is finished, butter toast and put the strawberries on top




Experiment as yet untried

Add freshly ground pepper on top

Hunting for Anglo-Saxon bread in Geneva

One of the things we all most miss when away from home is the bread we are used to. I’ve never really understood why I’m supposed to be all excited here about French bread. I guess that’s partly because the breads I miss most are all Italian. Fancy living in a place where Italian is a national language, but the Italian bread’s no good. Even more surprisingly, when I went to Venice a couple of years ago the bread was no good there either. Maybe it’s the Cornish pasty syndrome all over again, the idea that tradition is more strongly protected away from home and so the Italians in Australia do things better than in Italy.

Another serious bread problem here is getting good white Anglo-Saxon bread, something for which local Australians and English yearn. That, I’ve finally found this year. Globus does a loaf called Jasper which is perfect for white bread occasions. A steak sandwich for example. My steak sandwiches are made with fillet steak and who wants a tough sourdough messing with that delicate meat?

Another is Joe’s Muffins. I’m surprised to see I haven’t yet posted about these. It is a staple on the breakfast menu at Cafe Panette opposite the South Melbourne market. I have a strong distaste for those things in plastic packets that are called English muffins, so I started a trend in my circle of friends to have this on sourdough instead. But much better again is good plain white bread so my happiness was great when I discovered, finally, something that would pass the test here. Jasper bread. Yum. By the way, some French places have a thing they call English bread. It is always dire, avoid at all costs.

Preheat an oven and while that’s happening, layer from the bottom up:

a piece of toast, buttered if you like
avocado, sliced and squashed down onto the toast or mashed
the very nicest tomato deseeded and sliced
bacon which you have first fried: you can dice this or leave it as larger pieces.
cheddar cheese, sliced

As usual, the plainer the fare, the more it rests on the quality of its ingredients. I wouldn’t make this without the best bread, tomatoes and bacon. Avocado is either good or bad. And the cheddar is a matter of personal opinion.

Pop this into the oven until the cheese has melted. The reason I think this is better on soft English style white bread is the thickness and layers. If you really have to hack through strong bread to get a mouth-sized portion of this, by the time you’d done it, you’re building up a sweat and everything has capsized into a mess – and breakfast, as somebody wise should have once said, is not meant to be a time of struggle. Perhaps life isn’t meant to be easy, but surely, Mr Fraser, we are talking about life as it develops after breakfast.