Home Again Recipes. Pumpkin and Haloumi Salad and Nasi Goreng Ikan

After six weeks of travelling, it takes a while to adjust to the rhythm of cooking your own meals, let alone all those other tedious tasks, such as bed making and house cleaning. Where are those fairies who come and clean up? Home cooking routines return more quickly; after all, we do need to eat at least twice a day. After purchasing one packet of inedible bread, the sourdough starter was revived and our breads are back on the table, using a variation of this recipe. I dehydrated my sourdough starter (Celia’s method can be found here) back in July, but then discovered that one very kind sir kept my fridge dwelling starter, Sorella, alive, replenishing her each week while visiting to feed my other animals.

Sourdough loaves, one for now, one for the freezer
Sourdough loaves, one for now, one for the freezer.

Home made food tastes glorious, modest yet satisfying and comforting, filling that yearning for more olive oil and cheese that is missing in most Asian diets. And then there’s the wine- beautiful Australian and New Zealand wines at an affordable price. The Spring garden is neglected, with only leeks, celery and herbs ready for picking, while our hens keep pumping out eggs, now far too many for our own needs. It is with these modest supplies and a well stocked pantry of basics ( lentils, rice, pasta, dried beans, olive oil, cheese) that we can eat well for very little.

A garden full of leeks.
A garden full of leeks.

My budget dishes this week included a Flamiche, a leek based quiche, enabling me to make a dent in the leek and egg bounty.  A leek and potato Vichyssoise for the export market (my mother), a lentil shepherd’s pie with Kumara mash, (my $1 per person comfort food), a salad of baked pumpkin with haloumi, the pumpkins left over from last Autumn’s harvest screaming to be used. Haloumi can be picked up in 1 kilo jars at Bas foods for around $10, another pantry/fridge essential for a quick salad. A purchase of 400 grs of Dory fish fillets was stretched over three meals: 200 gr went into a Vietnamese caramel claypot, (still trying to perfect this method of cooking), 100 gr accompanied some fresh mussels in a Pasta Marinara, and the last 100gr added more flavour to a Balinese nasi goreng ikan.

Haloumi and Pumpkin Salad

  • a generous chunk of Kent pumpkin, cut into 5 cm cubes
  • haloumi cheese
  • olive oil
  • salad leaves
  • 1 small cucumber
  • EV olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  1. Toss the pumpkin cubes in a little olive oil, season, then bake for around 20 minutes, stirring or turning over once during cooking.  I often bake extra to stash in the fridge for a pumpkin risotto or a pumpkin and caramelised onion pasta or topping for a foccaccia. Cool the pumpkin.
  2. Cut the Haloumi into strips and fry in olive oil until golden on both sides.
  3. Refresh chosen salad leaves and dry.  Cut the cucumber into long thin edges. Toss the leaves and cucumber in a bowl with salt flakes, a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Plate the leaves, cover with baked pumpkin cubes, and haloumi strips. Add ground pepper and another drizzle of oil.

    Haloumi and baked pumpkin salad
    Haloumi and baked pumpkin salad

Nasi Goreng Ikan ( Fried rice with fish, Indonesian style)

I became quite fond of this simple dish and ordered it often in a little Balinese Warung by the sea. My version includes some sliced fresh turmeric, as I believe all the healthy hype surrounding this little tuber, despite my general cynicism regarding supposed ‘superfoods’. The Balinese always colour their seafood nasi with red, simply using tomato ketchup from a bottle. I used some bottled tomato passata. The choice is yours- use what’s on hand.


Nasi Goreng Ikan Recipe- serves 2-3.


  • left over steamed white rice, cooled. (one cup of uncooked rice will make a large nasi goreng for two or three)
  • a little neutral flavoured oil, not olive oil
  • one fish fillet (100g or so) of boneless fish, for example Dory, chopped into small 2 cm chunks.
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 small purple shallots, chopped.
  • a small finger of fresh turmeric, scrubbed, finely sliced or grated
  • a small knob of ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 small kaffir lime leaves, centre vein removed, shredded
  • 1/2 red capsicum, finely sliced or 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 small birds eye chilli, finely sliced (optional)
  •  some greens, for example, 1 cup of finely shredded cabbage or wombok
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 Tbs tomato passata or tomato ketchup
  • 1 Tbs  ketchap manis
  • lime wedges to serve
  1. Heat the wok on a strong, high gas flame, add  two or so dessertspoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the aromatics- garlic, ginger, shallot, turmeric, chilli, and kaffir leaves. Stir and toss for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the fish, toss about until opaque, then add the capsicum and cabbage.
  3. Add the rice, breaking up large clumps with your hands, then stir fry the rice through the vegetables, tossing well as you go and colouring all the rice.
  4. Add the sauces, toss further, then season with pepper.
  5. Serve with lime wedges.
A simple lunch. Nasi Goreng with fish

A nasi goreng has a wetter, denser consistency than its Chinese cousins.

Nasi Goreng Ikan

Thanks Peter, from Tropical Bliss B & B, for the delivery of fresh turmeric from your northern paradise.

Sourdough Pancakes by the Sea

As Shrove Tuesday rears its sweet head on the calendar, traditionally a day of feasting before the leanness of Lent begins, pancakes make an appearance, which means sourdough pancakes for me. Far more digestible than your average pancake, crepe or pikelet, they offer an extra bonus to sourdough bread makers who often find their sourdough starter building up in the fridge.

Dry mixture for pancakes, with recipe on the lid.
Dry mixture for pancakes, with recipe on the lid.

Before heading off to the beach camp each weekend, I refresh some sourdough starter with a little flour and water and pop it in a screw top jar. At the same time, I mix  and sift the dry ingredients into another jar. Half an hour before the sleepy heads emerge from their tents, the components are mixed and left to sit for 1/2 hour or more.

Celia’s Sourdough Pancakes.

The dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

The wet ingredients

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 egg
  • 1½  cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and sifted baking soda.  Pour the sourdough starter, milk and egg into a large mixing bowl and mix well with a whisk or electric mixer until combined. Gradually scatter in the dry ingredients, mixing constantly to avoid lumps. Finally, stir in the melted butter.  Allow the batter to rest for at least half an hour before cooking.

Sourdough pancakes, cherry jam. Camping breakfast.

Getting back to Lent, a time of reflection and examination of the wrongs that need to be addressed, I am attempting to give up plastic for Lent. If you think this is easy, read the following article:


Cherry Jam and cream or lemon and butter?
Cherry jam and cream or lemon and butter?

In My Kitchen: December 2015


Christmas is at my place this year and there’s no getting out of it, after successfully hand-balling the event to my niece last year. The good thing about rotating the venue is that you get to go insane only once in every four or five years. In the off years, it’s easy street, making a plate or two to take along to someone else’s Christmas nightmare, although there might be a long drive involved and a discussion about who will be the DD ( Designated Driver) for the day. The pre-Christmas heeby-jeebies involve gutting fridges to create more space, re-arranging furniture to house enough tables for 30 guests, counting cutlery, glasses, plates, chairs, and lots of cleaning. Then there’s calling in the window man, procrastinating by writing blogs, and having the occasional terse conversation with the relaxed one, Mr T.

Ironing the linen, counting the plates.
Ironing the linen, counting the plates.

Inside or outside, that is the question. For those readers living in the Northern Hemisphere, your weather is predictably cold. Here in Melbourne, we can enjoy four seasons in one day. There could be a tropical storm, starting with humid weather, followed by 150 mm of torrential rain, or a heat wave of over 40ºc (104ºF), accompanied by wind gusts of over 60 kmh. It could also be freezing cold, with horizontal winds carrying ice straight from Antarctica. That’s Melbourne for you. We will be inside!


I have trialled a few recipes along the way and stashed finger foods in the freezer. These vegetarian sausage rolls will come out on Christmas Eve if they haven’t been eaten beforehand.

Vegetarian sausage rolls
Vegetarian sausage rolls

Stashing slabs of pre-cooked pizza makes things easy for those summer nights when I can’t be bothered cooking. My new approach to sourdough bread- making is to make one kilo of dough, using 500 g for a loaf of bread, and the remaining 500 g for a tray of Roman style pizza to freeze. I pull some out of the freezer, let it defrost on the bench, dress it with whatever’s on hand and pop into a hot oven for 5-10 minutes or until the topping is cooked.

I purchased this huge baking tray for bake ahead pizze. It sells as a Baklava tray, and comes from Bas foods in Brunswick. This will be the perfect size for a monster Pissaladiere.


I learnt sourdough breadmaking when Celia sent me some of her starter 18 months ago. She has an excellent and very simple on-line tutorial to follow. Are you ready to give it a go? I have prepared some packets of dried sourdough starter to send out to anyone who would like some. My current sourdough starter, Sorella, is a clone of Celia’s Priscilla, and a very reliable starter she is too. The dried starter wakes up very easily and comes with a list of instructions. If you would like a packet, leave a comment below and I will send you some. You can stash this starter in your fridge until you have a quiet moment.

Sorella, the Sourdough Starter
Sorella, the Sourdough Starter

I plan to make more of these Cuddureddi Siciliani biscuits one week before Christmas. They keep really well for a few weeks and the last batch I made seemed to get better with age. A small cellophane pack of them would make a great gift too. Recipe here.

Cudureddi Siciliani
Cuddureddi Siciliani

I will serve them on this lovely plate given to me by Barnadi a few years ago, which only comes out for birthdays and Christmas. It reminds me of some antique Dutch willow pattern plates I bought in Solo, Java many years ago. Barnadi must have known as this one is the same colour.


And finally, a big round of applause to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, who has hosted this monthly event for the last five years. Celia is passing the baton to Maureen http://www.orgasmicchef.com/ who will do an excellent job, I am sure. But don’t worry, Celia will still be around. Thank you Celia for your support, friendship, inspiration, mentoring and generosity as host of this incredible community. I joined IMK exactly two years ago and have enjoyed every single month- writing, choosing stuff, and reading the posts of other like-minded souls. I have learnt to make sourdough bread, found out about gadgets, enamel ware, baking paraphernalia and sources of ingredients. I have also learnt more about blogging, connecting, reciprocating, waking up early, and mindfulness too.  Thank you my friend.