Winter Tricks In My Kitchen, July 2016

Winter time and the living is – expensive. Electricity prices have increased at nearly four times the rate of inflation over the last 5 years and will probably continue to do so. One solution to the soaring power bills stemming from heating, lighting and the immoderate use of the oven, is to run away to a warmer place, preferably somewhere in Asia, where the living is cheaper and the climate is tropical. Another is to stay cocooned in a doona all day, watching  addictive Icelandic Noir drama series that makes the Australian winter look tropical. Then, like many others, you could traipse around a heated shopping centre all day, drinking coffee and playing with your smart phone. Or you could make a conscious effort to adopt some energy saving routines, at least when it comes to routines in the kitchen. This post is a reminder to myself about energy use.

Foccaccia con Zucca e Cipolle

  • After baking, use the residual heat of the oven to make other basic things for the week.
  • Boiling water is a huge energy waster. Fill up a Chinese thermos with green tea.
  • Always cook too many beans. Finding a stash of pre-cooked cannellini and borlotti beans or chick peas in a zip lock bag in the freezer is like finding a golden nugget. Soup making  becomes a breeze. Two of my winter favourite  bean based soups can be found here and here.
  • Add barley to root vegetable soups. What is it about Barley Soup that warms us up, both physically and emotionally?
  • If you have just split open a large pumpkin and are baking chunks for a recipe, double the quantity and store the leftovers in a covered bowl in the fridge. Stuff the pieces, along with fetta and herbs, into filo pastry triangles, add them to a risotto, use them with cooked lentils in a pastie, or toss them through barley to make a winter salad with spinach and nuts. Or head to Ottolenghi land and make this or this.

    filo pastry with baked pumpkin, goats cheese, herbs, honey drizzle.
    Filo pastry with baked pumpkin, goat’s fetta, herbs, honey drizzle.
  • Always double the pizza dough, whatever quantity you decide to make. Most weeks I make a 500g batch of yeasted pizza dough using this recipe. If the hungry hordes don’t visit, I stretch and shape half the risen dough to make one 35 cm pizza, more than enough for two hungry people, then stash the other half in a zip lock bag in the freezer. Then it’s simply a matter of defrosting the dough, bringing it back to room temperature, and shaping it into a slice baking tin, allowing for another short rise, before dimpling the top with oil, salt and herbs or other leftovers.
Left over dough becomes tomorrow’s foccaccia.

Pumpkin, Red Onion and Sage Foccaccia

  • risen dough, made from 250 gr baker’s white flour
  • EV olive oil
  • one red onion finely sliced
  • 1 cup pre- roasted diced pumpkin
  • sage leaves
  • coarsely ground sea salt

Preheat oven 200 c FF. Oil a small slab tin ( 26 cm X 17 cm) and stretch the dough to roughly fit. Leave for 30 minutes or more, covered with a tea towel. Push the dough into the corners of the tin and using your fingers, make small indentations in the dough to carry the oil and salt. Brush on a generous amount of olive oil, letting it pool a little in the indentations. Spread on the finely cut onions, then the pumpkin, then some sage leaves, then plenty of coarsely ground salt. Bake for around 15 minutes, check on the colour of top and bottom, and cook a further 5 minutes if needed.

This month, Maureen is taking a break from hosting In My Kitchen, but the series still goes on. Below you can find an informal link up to some other IMK posts for this month:












53 thoughts on “Winter Tricks In My Kitchen, July 2016”

  1. It is the middle of summer here in Florida, but these recipes sound so good!! I have two Marcella cookbooks and really quite like them. I am Italian on my dad’s side so her recipes remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen. Good stuff, Francesca. Bread, soup, wine? Yes, please.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your ideas about bringing the dough back to life from the freezer Francisca. I stumbled across a recipe for a pizza dough which makes in 1 hour with yeast of course , not a scone dough. The secret is to add a teaspoon or so of sugar to the tepid water and yeast, then in 1 hour you have a pizza to eat. I hate all the waiting. Mine makes 2 pizzas and I’m gonna make it today.😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All yeasted recipes use a little sugar as this helps activate the yeast. The longer you let the dough rise, the better it is. Also, be wary of dough that use too much dry active yeast. They get puffy at the expense of flavour and are also rather hard to digest. Just a little note- the famous Woodstock pizzeria in Brunswick rises their dough for 72 hours! Wow, now that;s a dough I want to make. The longer and slower the rise, the better it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll let you know tonight. I am a good judge of taste and will be trying this quicker method – it’s from a famous NY pizza house. It only uses 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dry yeast for 1 or 2 pizzas and water has to be a little warmer.


  4. Running away to warmer climes where the cost of living is cheaper sound brilliant. However, not always an option… So, great cooking tips with those winter staples – soup and bread. Will need to try those pumpkin phyllo triangles. We make little tartlets with a similar filling, but with the addition of a pinch of smoked paprika. Keep warm!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesterday at 4 pm it was down to 7C. Many think of Australia as a warm place but in Melbourne we have extremes of temperature. I will be running away to Vietnam in a few weeks.


  5. Good reminders for more conscious living and consumption. I tend to use my slow cooker so much that I’m sure it saves money compared to running the oven. That focaccia looks delicious. My first foray into spelt focaccia was ok, but I need some practice! We are traveling to warmer parts of the world next week and frankly, I’m not looking forward to it. I always enjoy winter in Alice. Thanks for the IMK post and links Francesca.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful winter foodie pics 🔥Whatever the season making extra, stashing, then finding it when needed for extra, inspiration or a quick meal is gold for me. Even though our household numbers 2 I persist in cooking for a few more. Baked pumpkin is gold. Our gas ovens -house & vans- also act as room heaters. When at home I use the crockpot at offpeak electricity times. Last week I wandered into a caravan park amenities block in Mackay and found a lady doing her ironing, accompanied by the familiar aroma of corned beef simmering in a crock pot in the adjacent camp kitchen. Your coping strategies are appealing but I’m pleased to see you’re headed to warmer climes before the dreaded month of August.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great tips Francesca! I always cook too much, old habits die hard, but I love the stash of tidbits I end up with in the freezer. I usually bake off extra pizza base dough and freeze the ready to go bases. I’m sure it would be much better freshly cooked, definitely giving that a go. It sounds as if Victoria is having a hard winter, Brissy is at it’s best right now…..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well what can I say except ‘yes’ to all of the above. I am very conscious of power prices given that we have solar panels and for the first time in 5 years, have started having to pay our bill due to the soaring prices. I work from home a few days a week now and the house it very cold as it’s not set up for winter. I sit in the study, all closed up and remain there all day to contain warmth in one room. I’m a big fan of using the oven’s excess heat including drying out the stale sourdough for crackers and cooking pumpkin seeds for snack. Thanks for the link back : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have finally got a winter ‘up there’? Pumpkin seeds- something I should do but always seem pre-occupied with all the other mad stuff going on.


  9. That is really lovely that you are doing some informal In My Kitchen while Maureen is unwell. And your foccaccia looks delicious – baking is one of the joys of winter. Luckily my gas supply keens up from using too much – ie if I have too many gas jets on at once, one is bound to go out 😦 I love having leftover roast pumpkin the fridge and need to get into some barley soups.


    1. I’m so sorry that I can’t comment on your blog directly Johanna. I have tried so many times and the comment form goes around and around and never sends.


        1. I’ll give it another go. I think it’s because I have an ancient Blogger site and it keeps wanting to revert to that when I sign in and out. Also, I can’t seem to find a like button on your site.


    1. Hi Shaheen, I have added you to the list. Your have some wonderful products in your kitchen this month. The red lentil fusilli especially takes my fancy.


  10. You are wonderful to take on the IMK organization. I enjoyed everyone’s posts. I’ll be thinking about a post on my own kitchen’s state of being this month, now that I know you have it underway. Thanks!

    best… mae at

    Liked by 1 person

  11. All most excellent ideas for saving energy. I love the idea of snuggling contentedly in a doona, but my smalls wouldn’t grant me the peace to do so for long periods! We wear layers instead of turning on the heat. Like you, we cook in batches and use the oven to it’s full capacity when it’s on. I agree that finding pre-cooked beans is an absolute win! Although Brisbane winter has finally hit and I’m feeling the cold I’ve discovered if I just *start*, it’s easier to go on. Hanging laundry with frozen fingers isn’t my idea of fun, but the house feels so much warmer when I get to come back inside! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to imagine frozen fingers in Brisbane Lisa. My friends up there kept complaining about the endless summer. The best thing we ever did was install double glazing. Now the house stays warm and is much cooler in summer too. The wearing of layers is an excellent idea. Our daily temps lately reach a max of 13c on a good day. If it’s sunny, all is well. The wind is the killer.


    2. Lisa, I have tried three times to make a little comment on your blog, but no matter what I do, your site will not recognise my wordpress sign in name.


      1. Really? I’ll have to look into that. I suspect the problem is blogger and I should bite the bullet and move to WP, but… effort. Thank you for trying anyway 🙂


  12. The cost of utilities in Australia generally is much higher I think compared to other countries. There seems to be no ceiling to what the energy companies can charge – whatever they can get away with I guess! I feel a bit slack now not getting a post together as well – next month maybe!


  13. All true Nancy. Hmm, you could whip a quick IMK if you are in the mood. This is an informal ink up only- no dates and no rules. Then I’m off to Vietnam for a long spell.


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