Category Archives: Preserves


Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce

BTCH10-Sauce-web IMG_20170505_0943013/4 cup (190ml) good quality Bourbon such as Jack Daniel’s

1/2 onion, minced fine (grating the onion works well)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups tomato sauce

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/3 cup (80ml) cider vinegar

1/4 cup (60ml) Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup (110g) packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/3 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat on your stove combine the onion, honey, garlic and bourbon.

Simmer for 10 minutes or until onion is soft and translucent. Add the pepper, salt, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and Tabasco sauce.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Run sauce through a strainer or blitz with a stick blender for a smooth sauce.

Bottle in sterilized class and store in fridge.

Sweet and Sour Plum Sauce

Sauce-Bottle-filledSweet and sour plum sauce has so many uses. This recipe is slightly on the tart side and this allows us to add additional sweetness to meats and vegetables to individual tastes. 


If you are thinking about dipping your crispy, fried pork tenderloin, marinating roast chicken or basting your slow-cooked ribs in plum sauce, you have the right idea. Plum sauce, in its more tangy versions like this recipe can act as a fruity barbecue sauce to dress up grilled meats. 


Throw together sugar peas, sliced carrots, baby corn, water chestnuts, broccoli and cauliflower florets in a large wok with a dash of olive oil. Cook these vegetables on a medium-high heat and stir in several tablespoons of sweet plum sauce with a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes for some spice. Mix thoroughly and allow to marinate for several minutes over low heat , then serve. 

Makes about 1.5 litres 


2.75 kg (6 lb) plums
1.75 litres (8 cups) white or cider vinegar
3 cups unprocessed brown sugar
50 g garlic
2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp sea salt


Sauce-LabeledPut all the ingredients into a preserving pan and bring the pot to the boil, stirring frequently. 

Boil steadily and as the stones rise or are released from the fruit pull them out of the sauce with a slotted spoon. Place the stones in a sieve resting over the simmering sauce to allow any juices to drain back into the sauce. 

Simmer until mixture is pulpy and then press through a colander or coarse sieve. 

Return sauce to pan and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. 

Pour into hot, sterilised bottles and seal. Let the plum sauce rest on your pantry for about 1 month to let the flavours balance and develop.

Is Eating Seasonal and Local Expensive Part One Getting Started

Chicken-Lemon_Honey_Ch-SkewAs a seasonal fresh chef I get told all the time that “we can’t eat local and seasonal fresh, it costs too much”. 

I have to say, this is not true and it can be made a reality with a little understanding on how to buy in season. Seasonal food is better for you and the planet , plenty of nutrients and flavour ! 

Eating locally supports the economy you live in or are close to. It also supports local and smaller farms who are farming sustainably 

Eating seasonally also reduces food costs because when we buy what is abundant and in season, the supply is higher and this means the cost of the food is lower. This enables you to buy better quality items while stretching your food dollars. Often they will have specials and you can buy up on, blanch vegetables and freeze for later use. 

When I say local I don’t mean at the supermarket, I mean from your local farmers markets or green grocer. The benefit of buying from these two is that either they have grown the produce themselves or they have sourced from local suppliers and can tell you where it has come from. 

When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive.  It’s the basic law of supply and demand, and when crops are in season you’ll be rewarded financially by purchasing what’s growing now. 

Ok, How Do I Start? 

Planning Your Weeks Meals 

The first thing I suggest is to start a meal plan for the coming week. I do these late in the week in the evening so I can take advantage of the farmers markets and green grocers. 

You can download a A4 weekly meal planning chart here….   

When you are starting chat with family and find out what they want over the next week and make a list of the meal suggestions. 

Spend time each week looking for recipes. The internet is great for this. Remember to bookmark sites you like to you can get back to them quickly. 

Decide what to prepare. I find it helpful to think in terms of categories, for example: 

Soup or Salad

Ethnic styled meals like Italian meatballs, curries etc



Quick & Easy. 

Ethnic – you could divide it into cooking styles 

grilling & BBQ’s




If I pick one from each category, there’s sufficient variety that my family won’t complain, and by putting the Quick & Easy meals (tacos, hamburgers, spaghetti) on harried days, dinner will get done on time. 

Save one day a week for a new dish from a cookbook or a food blog if you like to try new things. If it’s from a blog, make sure you print out the recipe and keep it with your menu plan or in a notebook just for that purpose. 

To help with herbs and seasonings have a look at my blog on herb and spice blends that makes cooking a lot easier. 

Start a Meal Calendar.

Now that you’re getting inspired in what to eat, start a calendar of what you’d like to cook over the next few days or few weeks and mix and match meal requests from family and friends. 

Kids-in-KitchenThis is also a great way of getting kids in the kitchen helping meals that they love. They can start with washing vegetables, mixing things together, cracking eggs and loads more. This gives them pride in what has been cook and what they are eating. 

Choose a shopping day and make a shopping list. 

This makes it easier to plan where you need to go and this can save a lot of time and money. 

Check what’s on sale. 

This works in with meal planning and your shopping. When you are making the shopping list check your pantry and add to the list anything that needs to be re-stocked. 

Plan for leftovers.

This is a very good way to eat fresh and save money through buying when things are on special. I regularly cook one or two big healthy casseroles or ragus at the beginning of the week and eat off them all week long for lunch. 

Some people can only eat leftovers for a single night. There are many ways that we can have the leftovers in different ways. I will delve into this in another post. 

Be strategic about freezing.

The freezer is your friend. Actually, it’s the friend of future you. Make a double batch of that sauce you love, some stocks half or all for later. Make a double batch of soup, stew, chicken cacciatore — throw it in the freezer. Let a month go by, and those leftovers will look fresh and tasty! 

Don’t overstuff the refrigerator.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your fridge is over-full. Also, things get hidden in the back. Don’t let things go bad. Keep your fridge airy and light, with a sensible, realistic amount of food in it. 

Keep a well-stocked pantry.

Meals are easier and quicker to prepare if you keep your pantry well-stocked. Don’t run out of olive oil at inconvenient moments. Have spices and herbs ready to season and flavour dishes you are cooking.

Quick Homemade Apple Jelly


2 oven sterilized jam jars with lids
4 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
2 tbsp raw honey
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
6 whole cloves


Soften unflavored gelatin in 1/2 of the apple juice. Bring remaining 1 1/2 cups of juice to a boil. 

Remove from heat and add softened gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Add honey, cloves  and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. 

Remove the jars from the oven and fill to within 3-5mm (1/8inch) top of jar. Place lids on jars and screw hand tight. 

Keep in refrigerator.

Home Made Sun-dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Dried_Roma_TomatoesIts easy to make your own sun-dried tomatoes at home with no special equipment. 

Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, seasoned will add a wonderful gourmet touch with great flavour to many dishes and salads and are a great saving as the prices at the supermarket or store can be very exorbitant!  The quality can be better than any you’ve bought as well. They make excellent gifts too. 

This method is so easy, anyone can do this!  It’s a great thing to do with your kids! 


Any quantity, ripe, but not over ripe are what to use firm. The yield varies considerably depending upon the moisture content of the tomatoes, which depends upon the type of tomato and the weather and how ripe they are.  

I like to use Roma (Italian) tomatoes and they have low levels of seed and have lower moisture when they are just ripe. 

Typically yield is 2 cups of dried tomatoes from 2 kg (4.4 lb) of tomatoes. 


2 kg (4.4lb) Roma (Italian) tomatoes

1 tsp each of thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil mixed together

Coarse salt

3 cups red wine vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil, about 500-600 ml (2 1/2 cups). I use The Village Press Barnea Olive Oil


Preheat your oven to 100 degrees Celsius (210 degrees F) 

Check all the tomatoes and remove any bruises with a sharp knife. 

Wash, pad dry, remove the stems and half the Roma tomatoes. Of course you can also use regular tomatoes, just slice them in quarters if they are large. *Scoop out most of the seeds and sprinkle with salt and leave them skin side up so that the excess liquid from the tomatoes can drain out. Let this sit for about 15-20 minutes. Drain off any moisture that has gathered in the tomato halves. This gets rid of the moisture and reduces the time in the oven. 

Cover a large baking tray (sheet) with olive oil and arrange tomatoes cut-side up. 

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and if you like to, with dried herbs. I use  thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil to give them an Italian taste. 

Dry in the preheated oven for 4-6 hours. Times and temperature may vary based on your oven, the size of the tomatoes and of course how moist they are. Just try and find out what works best for you. Check tomatoes after a couple of hours to see how the progress is going. As you check after about 4 hours remove any that are dry as you don’t want to over dry. Even though they may all be about the same size some may dry faster than others. 

Note:  Its very important that once the tomatoes are placed in the oven that you do not touch them with your hands. Use clean thongs as required. This is a safety against the tomatoes getting contaminated. 

Once all the tomatoes have dried heat the red wine vinegar in a large pot to a boil  and blanch the dried tomatoes for 1 minute. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and drain well. The vinegar acts as a preservative and gives added flavour to the tomatoes. 

The vinegar bath made a lot of sense, since the Botulinum bacteria grow well in anaerobic, that is to say oxygen free, and low acid environment. Giving the dried tomato pieces a bath of boiling vinegar not only sterilizes the dried tomatoes to kill surface bacteria, but also raises the acidity level of sweet tomatoes to lessen the chance of Botulinum growing in the jar later. 

Layer the tomatoes into warm sterilized jars. Slowly pour warm olive oil into the jars, pressing down on the tomatoes slightly with a wooden spoon. Make sure that the tomatoes are completely submerged under the oil at all times, or they will be exposed to air and potential bacteria growth. When you are packing them in the jars make sure you do not touch them with your hands, use tongs or a spoon.

Cap the jars tightly and place them in a cool spot overnight. The next day, check the level of the oil and add more to the jars if the tomatoes are poking out of the oil. Check the jars two or three more times, adding more oil if necessary.

Recap the jars and store them in a cool place for 2 weeks before using. Refrigerate after opening and bring the tomatoes to room temperature before serving. 

Keep the tomatoes in the fridge and use within 4 weeks. I make batched as I am getting to the end of the previous batch. 

If you’d really like to do it the sun-dried way then you can leave it in the sun for up to two days, taking them in at night. 

* To seed a tomato, cut it in half lengthwise, push your thumb into the cavity and force the seeds of the tomato. This is best done over a compost pail or sink with a garbage disposal.

Balsamic Onion Marmalade

I love the taste of sweet caramelized onions. I also introduce a tang to the sweetness by adding some balsamic vinegar.
Makes about 2 cups (500ml).
1 tbsp olive oil
1 dsp butter
4 large onions, thinly sliced (cut onions in ½ then cut into thin slices. What I call ½ rings)
3 cloves garlic diced fine
½ tsp dried rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 tsp mustard seed (lightly ground in a mortar to crack the seeds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup raw honey
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan (I use my Dutch oven) over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the butter first to the oil then the onions, garlic, mustard seeds, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until the onions are nice and soft. I use plenty of salt as it helps lift the moisture from the onions.
Once the onions are soft add the sugar and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook stirring frequently for about 10 minutes until onions appear dry.Add vinegar and bay leaves and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until onions are soft and almost dry. Remove the bay leaves and serve warm or at room temperature. You can bottle in warmed jars and store in the fridge for 4-6 weeks.

Traditional Tomato Relish – Gluten Free

Jimmy’s Easy Tomato Relish


I love my relishes and I have been making this tomato relish recipe since I was a kid. I make several batches a year and I vary the amount of chilies to make different levels of spicy taste depending on peoples choice. When people hear that I am making this relish they are usually lining up for their jar. I usually make two lots of this at a time. I have two stock pots and have them bubbling at the same time.


This recipe is a very traditional relish recipe using tomatoes, onions, curry powder and white vinegar.
1.5 kg tomatoes, blanched, skinned and quartered
4 onions, quartered
2 tablespoons salt
2 cups raw sugar
2 & 1/4 cups white vinegar
3 chillies
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour or coconut flour for paleo
1/4 cup white vinegar
Layer the tomatoes and onions into a non-metallic bowl, sprinkle with some salt as you make each layer. Cover and leave for 12 hours. Drain off as much of the liquid that has formed.
Put vegetables, sugar, first measure of the white vinegar and chilies into a preserving pan. Boil gently for 1 & 1/2 hours, stirring frequently. Keep a close eye on it towards the end as it will thicken up and because of the sugar it can burn on the bottom of the put. Also be careful not to splash yourself as the simmering mixture is very hot.
Mix mustard, curry, flour and second measure of vinegar to a smooth paste and stir this into the relish and boil for another 15 min. Stir frequently.
Pack into sterilised jars, and let them cool. Once they have cooled completely seal them, label them with the date made and store in a dark cool place.
Makes about 4 x 350ml jars
Notes: I sometimes add 4 tablespoons of tomato concentrate when I start to cook to boost the tomato flavour. You can also add a couple of Bay leaves and remove then before you bottle the relish.