Winter Citrus

Winter Citrus

photo Marina Oliphant

Citrus must be the perfect winter crop. All that freshly squeezed vitamin C, just when we need it the most. In winter, citrus can be used in many different ways to add some zing to your cooking. The next time you roast a chicken, simply stuff a whole lemon into the cavity. The aroma will fill the kitchen and delicately flavour the roast and the gravy. Some grated rind, mixed with herbs and softened butter, stuffed under the skin, is delicious. Add some preserved lemon rind to your next casserole. Its subtle and complex flavours are completely different from fresh lemon. Remember to scrape away the flesh as you only use the rind. Gremolata is traditionally added to osso bucco. Made from finely chopped parsley, garlic and grated lemon rind, its vibrant fresh flavours provide contrast and balance to the rich stew. An old classic, Duck a l’orange makes a comeback with my simplified recipe. The rich meat contrasts well with the slightly bitter Seville marmalade: a simple and smart dinner for entertaining. But surely, one of the best ways to enjoy citrus in winter is a lemon delicious pudding. Quick to whip up, this old fashioned dessert has no fancy ingredients. During cooking, the pudding cleverly makes its own creamy, lemony sauce beneath the soft, cakey topping. And if you’re lucky enough to have a cumquat tree in the backyard, why not harvest the fruit and make some preserves? Whilst marmalades are more difficult than jams, cumquat marmalade is easy. No need to worry about separating the pips and tying in muslin bags. I find that they dislodge during the rapid boiling, making it easy to scoop them out at the end. A jar of homemade marmalade is like sunshine in a bottle, so stock up for winter.

Easy Duck a l’orange

photo Marina Oliphant

Duck a l’orange makes a comeback with this simple recipe. For a slightly different flavour, you can substitute cumquat marmalade in the sauce.

Serves 4

4 duck Maryland (or duck breasts)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 oranges

4 tablespoons honey

4 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 shallots, finely diced

4 tbsp Seville orange marmalade

400ml chicken stock

steamed miniature asparagus to serve

green salad to serve

Method: How to make Gordon’s duck a l’orange

Preheat oven to 200C fan forced.

Using a sharp knife, lightly score the skin of the duck, then season with salt and pepper. Place on an oven tray and cook for 15 -20 minutes, until cooked through. Remove, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest.

Peel the zest from both oranges then cut into matchsticks. Blanch the zest in boiling water for 3 minutes. Segment the oranges and reserve the juices.

Heat the honey in a large heavy-based frypan over moderate heat. Add the vinegar, shallots, reserved orange juice, marmalade, stock and blanched orange zest. Return to low heat and allow to simmer gently to reduce for 6-8 minutes.

Place the cooked duck, along with any juices, in the pan and heat through, turning to coat both sides. Add the segmented orange pieces to the orange sauce.

Serve the duck with a crisp, green salad and steamed asparagus.

Cumquat marmalade

photo Marina Oliphant

This is a good marmalade for beginners, as it isn’t too fiddly. I find it easy to leave all the pips in (as they contain pectin, which helps set the marmalade). Simply remove the pips with a slotted spoon, whilst the marmalade boils, or at the end. It is important to cook preserves over a high heat so they boil rapidly. Use the biggest hotplate you have. A wide, heavy based pot is ideal.

1 kg cumquats

5 cups water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

5 cups sugar

Cut cumquats in quarters. Place in a large bowl with water, cover with cling film and stand in a cool place overnight.

Transfer mixture to a large saucepan and stir in lemon juice. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes until cumquats are soft. Add sugar, stir over heat without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil over high heat, then continue to cook, uncovered, without stirring for about 20 minutes or until marmalade jells when tested. To test if the marmalade is ready, place a teaspoon of marmalade onto a cold saucer and place in freezer for 2 minutes. Remove from freezer and press your finger gently against the marmalade to see if it wrinkles and has formed a skin. If not, keep cooking the marmalade for another five minutes, then retest. When ready, remove from heat and allow to settle for 10 minutes. Scoop out any pips at this stage and discard. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

Makes 7 cups.

To sterilise jars – wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse. Place upside down on tray in warm oven for 20 minutes. Useful to keep in oven whilst making the marmalade

Lemon and lime delicious

photo Marina Oliphant

Reacquaint yourself with this old fashioned favourite. Just what you need when the weather turns chilly. It is so simple and easy to make.

60g softened butter, plus extra for greasing dishes

1 ½ cups caster sugar

3 eggs, separated

4 tbs self raising flour

1 ½ cups milk

zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 ½ lemons

zest and juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter small ramekins, place in a large baking pan and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add egg yolks.

Add flour and milk alternately to make a smooth batter.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.

Stir in combined juice and zest.

Pout into prepared dishes.

Place dishes in baking pan and pour in hot water to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake in oven until set and browned, for 30 minutes for individual dishes and up to one hour for a large dish. Carefully remove from water bath before serving.

serves 6.

Lemon tartlets

Lemon curd:

275ml lemon juice

Grated rind of 3 lemons

5 large eggs

200g unsalted butter

500g sugar

Tartlet pastry:

170g flour

80g icing sugar

2 tablespoons ground almonds

100g chilled butter, chopped

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon chilled water


  1. To make lemon curd, place juice, rind, butter and sugar in the top of a double saucepan and simmer over moderate heat until melted and combined.
  2. Beat eggs and strain through a  sieve into lemon mixture.
  3. Cook gently until mixture thickens, stirring continuously.
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  5. To make pastry, process flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and butter in a food processor until well combined.
  6. Add egg yolk and water and process until pastry just begins to hold together.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
  8. Roll out pastry thinly and cut into circles to line tartlet tins.
  9. Blind bake at 190C for 10 minutes until pastry is pale fawn and crisp.
  10. When cool, place spoonfuls of lemon curd in each tartlet.

Makes about 24 tartlets.


authentic mexican

Authentic Mexican

I love getting a new cookbook. I read them from cover to cover, much like a good novel, as I delve into the techniques and imagine the flavours, cooking the many delicious recipes all in my head. An old friend in America recently sent me a Mexican cookbook, featuring authentic Mexican recipes.

I’ve always loved the idea of Mexican food, with its bold fresh flavours, yet I knew that I was missing the real thing. Now, as I read through the book, it was being slowly revealed and I couldn’t wait to get started. Firstly, it meant searching for a good food store that had the right ingredients. Luckily, in Melbourne, we have Casa Iberica in Fitzroy. You can also find good quality Mexican sauces and spice blends in good food stores and supermarkets, so keep an eye out. Ordering packaged food online is another option.

Start your Mexican cooking with the roasted tomato chipotle sauce. Chipotles are jalapeno chillies that have been dried. I found some tinned in an adobo sauce, a red chilli marinade that gives a rich and complex flavour. Roasting the tomatoes and garlic gives added depth to the sauce. Next, add some meat or beans to the sauce to create a delicious filling for tacos. I used shredded pork, but you could even use a roast chicken. A fresh, simple salsa tops it off. Serve with extra hot sauce if you like it spicy. I prefer soft tortillas and have to admit that I have bought a tortilla press to make my own (and it’s easy). You can also buy excellent quality soft tortillas at supermarkets and food stores.

Be sure to try the refried beans. A quick and easy recipe, flavoured with chorizo, that can be served as part of your Mexican feast.

Roasted tomato chipotle sauce

Use this authentic Mexican sauce as the basis for your tacos fillings. Try with shredded roast chicken, beef mince or even firm fish pieces. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week. The chillies are spicy, so you may only need one or two.

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

9 roma tomatoes

3 chipotle chillies in Adobo sauce (available from Casa Iberica)

1 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

Heat a heavy based pan over high heat, add the unpeeled garlic and roast for 15 minutes, turning half way through, until the outside is blackened. Remove from heat, squeeze the garlic out of the skins and roughly chop. Discard the skins.

Place whole tomatoes under an oven grill and cook until the skins are dark and blistered, turn and cook on the other side. Remove from grill, allow to cool, then peel and discard skins.

Place peeled tomatoes and garlic in a food processor and blend. Add chillies, one at a time, and process to combine. I suggest that you taste the sauce and only add more chillies if you like it hot and spicy. One or two chillies may be enough.

Heat oil in a wide based pan, add sauce and cook over medium heat to thicken. Add salt to season, if required.

The sauce is now ready to be used or refrigerated for a later date.

Serves four.

Soft tacos with smoky shredded pork

The sweet, tender shredded pork and the smoky flavour of the chipotles make a delicious combination in a soft tortilla. The raisins and almonds provide an interesting and unexpected texture, balancing the heat with sweetness.

800g boneless pork shoulder

4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 onion, peeled and cut in half

sea salt to season

2 tbsp olive oil

tomato chipotle sauce (see recipe above)

½ (half) cup raisins

100g toasted flaked almonds

to serve:

16 corn tortillas

Mexican salsa (see recipe)


hot sauce (optional)

Place the pork in a medium saucepan with the garlic and onion. Cover with water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1½ (one and a half) hours on medium low heat, until the pork is really tender. Allow to cool a little, then shred with your fingers. Reserve the broth for another use.

Heat olive oil in a heavy based pan, add the pork and cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until the pork is crispy and golden. Add the tomato chipotle sauce, raisins and almonds and cook for a further 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

To serve, wrap the tortillas in two stacks in clean teatowels and steam in a chinese steamer basket to heat through for a few minutes (or microwave on a plate covered with clingfilm for about 20 seconds).

Place a large spoonful of filling in each warm tortilla, top with some salsa or guacamole and serve with extra hot sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Salsa Mexicana

A fresh and zingy salsa to add to tacos. Also delicious with grilled fish or meat. Jalapeno chillies are available from markets and supermarkets. If you can’t find fresh jalapenos, use good quality pickled jalapenos in a jar, found in the Mexican section of the supermarket.

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 fresh jalapeno chilli, chopped (or substitute jalapeno in a jar)

¼ (quarter) cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 large white onion, diced

2 tsp fresh lime juice

sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Allow the flavours to infuse.

Makes approximately 1 ½ cups.

Refried beans with chorizo

Refried, or recooked beans, are quick and easy to make. Choose the chorizo, depending on how spicy you want it to be.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 spicy chorizo sausage, semi cured (approx 320g)

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 x 400g organic red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

sea salt to season

fresh cheese* or feta, crumbled to serve

coriander sprigs, to serve

Squeeze small chunks of chorizo out of the casing and set aside.

Heat oil in a frypan and gently fry the chorizo for 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes to soften. Add the beans and mash roughly with a potato masher, or the back of a wooden spoon. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Taste and season with salt, if required.

Spoon out into a large serving bowl and top with crumbled cheese and coriander.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

*Fresh cheese is available from Casa Iberica. It is a mild cheese. You could substitute mozzarella. In this recipe, feta gives an interesting, if not authentic, flavour.

great roasts

Great roasts


Turn your next meal into an occasion by cooking a roast. They’re easier than you might think. But, what is the difference between a good roast and a great roast? Firstly, get the best piece of meat that you can afford. Meat on the bone is great for roasting, as there’s loads of flavour and the meat is less likely to dry out. A whole chicken is perfect. Try free range, organic if possible, and you’ll really notice the difference in flavour. Start roasting the bird breast side down to ensure moist meat whilst the legs are cooking. I like Nigella’s tip for roasting two chooks at once –after all, you’ve already got the oven on anyway. That takes care of chicken sandwiches for the week. Don’t forget to use the leftover carcasses to make stock.

Pork belly is an economical cut that makes a sensational roast. Try my tip of first roasting the skin side down, for crispy crackling. It’s also important to dry out the skin first. Place uncovered in the fridge for a day if possible, as the cold air will help dry out the skin (this is also good for chicken). Rubbing with salt also helps.

Lamb shoulder is another cut enjoying popularity at the moment. I like to roast it for three hours or so, until it is really tender and the meat is falling off the bone. Add lots of herbs and spices and watch the complex flavours develop over the long cooking time.

One of the most important tips is to let the meat rest. Fifteen minutes is sufficient to allow the meat to relax and the juices to disperse evenly. Cover your roast and set aside in a warm spot, so it doesn’t lose too much heat.

Sam’s roast chicken with potatoes and lemon

photo Marina Oliphant

This is a simple mid week family roast dinner. I like to use white pepper to season the skin. Cooking the potatoes with the chicken gives them the most delicious flavour. To make a simple gravy whilst the chicken is resting, use the cooking juices and add 1-2 tbsp corn flour dissolved in a little cold water. Heat and stir to thicken.

1 Free range organic chicken (about 2kg)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

1 tbsp fresh thyme, oregano or tarragon

½ (half) preserved lemon skin, sliced

6 nicola potatoes

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup hot water

sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Preheat oven to 200C fan forced (220C conventional).

Rinse the chicken under cold water, then pat dry with paper towel.

Place chicken, breast side down, into a baking dish, pop garlic, herbs and preserved lemon inside bird cavity.

Peel and quarter the potatoes lengthwise (large chip size) and arrange potatoes around chicken.

Pour lemon juice over chicken and potatoes, then place squeezed lemon halves inside the chicken.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Pour hot water into dish.

Roast for 30 minutes then turn chicken over.  Roast for another hour, adding water if it dries out. Insert a skewer between the leg and thigh to check the meat. The juices will be clear if cooked. If they’re still pink, allow more cooking time.

Remove from oven and rest, loosely covered with foil, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, return potatoes to oven to allow to crisp up.

Serves 4-6.

slow roasted lamb shoulder with chilli and sage

photo Marina Oliphant

I tried this dish at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Masterclass. The rich flavour of the lamb is balanced with the bold flavours of chilli, garlic and sage. I have added the sweetness of roasted grapes.

1 shoulder of lamb, bone in, about 2kg

salt and pepper to season

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 head garlic, cut in half

1 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves

3 bay leaves

6 good quality anchovy fillets

½ cup red wine vinegar

small bunch red grapes

Preheat oven to 160C fan forced (180C conventional).

Ask your butcher to cut the lamb through the bone, on the underside, at intervals. Trim off most of the surface fat, then season well with salt and pepper. Heat a large frypan, add oil and brown the lamb on all sides for 10 minutes, until well browned.

Place browned meat in a roasting pan and add the remaining ingredients, reserving the grapes to add later.

Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 3 hours, basting with the pan juices every 30 minutes or so.

Remove the foil, add grapes and cook for a further 30 minutes.

The lamb should be meltingly tender by now. If not, cook further until tender.

serves 4-6.

Crisp pork belly with apple and fennel coleslaw

photo Marina Oliphant

The delicious, asian style coleslaw balances the richness of the pork.

1.5 kg Pork Belly, thick end, bones removed

2 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp olive oil

black pepper to season


½ (half) cup Brown Sugar

¼ (quarter) cup Red Wine Vinegar

2 tbsp honey

2 Star Anise

1 Cinnamon Stick

1 tbsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed

2 bay leaves


½ (half) cup rice wine vinegar

½ (half) tsp salt

½ (half) tsp sichuan pepper

3 tbsp sugar

1 red onion

1 baby fennel

¼ (quarter) savoy cabbage

1 lebanese cucumber

2 radish

2 red apples

1 green chilli

1 cup picked fresh coriander sprigs

Ask your butcher to score the skin of the pork belly (if you are doing this yourself, use a very sharp Stanley knife). Rub sea salt into pork skin and refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes to dry out the skin.

Pre-heat oven to 220C.

Wipe sea salt off pork skin with kitchen paper and dry really well.

Drizzle a large roasting dish with olive oil.  Put the pork belly in, skin side down, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Roast in oven for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 190C and roast for another 1 ½ hours. Carefully turn the pork belly over and roast for another 30 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and crunchy.

Remove from the oven.  Do not cover.  Rest for 15 minutes.

Whilst the pork is cooking, make the sauce and the salad.

Place all the sauce ingredients in a small pot and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until thickened.

For the salad, place vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl. Finely slice the red onion and fennel with a mandoline or V slicer, and place in vinegar to soften.

Use a mandoline to finely slice the cabbage, cucumber, radish, apples and green chilli. Place in a serving bowl and toss with the coriander. Just before serving, add the onion and fennel with the vinegar and toss to combine.

Carve pork into thick slices, drizzle with sauce and serve with salad.

Serves 4-6.