I don’t usually make many sweet treats because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. However, there are times I do crave something sweet. I love these date balls as I get to stave off the cravings with a big nutritional hit.
These energy balls fuel your body with superfoods, filling an empty tum and providing energy to burn.
1 cup of dry dates (about 30) soaked in water for 3 – 5 hours 2 tablespoons of honey 1/4 cup chia seeds 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped 1/2 cup shredded coconut 1 1/2 cups almond flour
Drain the water from the dates, reserving 1/4 cup of water.
Put the dates, reserved water and the honey into a small food processor/blender. Process until smooth, or leave it a little lumpy with tasty date chunks.
Pour the date mix into a bowl and add the chia seeds. Mix the chia seeds well. Let it sit for two minutes.
Add the almond flour, cinnamon, pecans and shredded coconut to the bowl, and mix well.
Roll the dough into bite-size balls and coat with your choice of finely crushed pecans, shredded coconut or cinnamon, or leave them plain.
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Traditional damper, developed by the Aussie stockmen, is made with plain flour and water and typically cooked in the ashes or coals of a campfire. Nowadays, there are hundreds of variations to the original recipe.
I usually make beer damper, just flour and beer. However, on a recent road trip from Darwin to Adelaide, I decided to try something different and threw in a heap of fruit, nuts and cinnamon for a sweet treat.
Chocka-block full of fruit, nuts and seeds, I didn’t bother adding a sweetener. I got Dwayne, who likes things a little sweeter than me, to add his sweetener with honey or jam. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and enjoy my damper with dripping hot butter.
Our Camp Kitchen
I made this yummy fruit and nut damper when camping at Burra Creek Gorge with Dwayne, our friends Kate and Martin, and their dog Boris.
Mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon or your hands and shape into a cob shape.
Line the camp oven with grease baking paper or a layer of flour to stop the damper from sticking.
Put the damper in the camp oven, put the lid on and coat the lid with hot coals.
To cook the damper with hot coals.
If you want to cook on coals from a campfire, you need to burn large logs to create hot coals. It can take an hour or so for your campfire to make enough coals to cook upon. Be sure to factor the process of producing the embers into your prep and cooking time. Alternatively, if you have time limits or a lack of good wood, use heat-beads as they heat up quickly and hold their heat well.
The easiest way to cook in a camp oven over hot coals is to lift the coals out of the fire with a long-handled shovel. Select a safe place next to the fire and put a small amount of *coals on the ground. Place the camp oven onto the coals. Get some more coals from the fire to place on top of the oven. Getting the right amount of coals is not always easy. Be aware of cooking the damper too hot and burning it. It will take some experimentation to get the temperature right. Therefore, check the damper after 10 minutes to make sure you are not cooking it too hot or not hot enough.
*You only need a small number of coals under the camp oven or none at all. Too many, and you will burn the bottom of the damper.
Many factors determine the heat of the coals, such as ambient temperature and wind. If you have wind, the coals will cook hotter. Make allowances for wind by reducing the number of coals used.
The time it takes to cook the damper is directly related to how hot you cook it. It should take approximately 30-40 minutes. You can tell when the damper is cooked by tapping on the top. If it sounds hollow, it is ready. Alternatively, stick a knife in it, and if it comes out clean, it should be ready.
Serve with butter, maple syrup, jam and cream, chopped fruit or any other topping you desire.
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Breakfast in New Zealand, the land of my birth, is as varied as the eclectic variety of people representing ‘Kiwis’. Porridge, fruits and yoghurts are popular, as are eggs Benedict and French toast. However, it’s the addition of lambs fry and bacon, savoury mince, and corn fritters on the menu, that indeed reveals you are dining in a New Zealand cafe.
The last time I was in New Zealand, my dad and I breakfasted in Ahuriri, Napier. Dad ordered the corn fritters, served with bacon, avocado and sour cream, and seeing that he enjoyed it so much, I remarked that I could teach him how to make them at home. Therefore this recipe is dedicated to my dad…. time to cook breakfast old boy.
I decided upon serving my corn fritters with avocado, bacon, an egg for additional protein, and warm tomato relish. Make the relish first and have it slowly simmering on the stovetop while you make the fritters. Once cooked (keep fritters warm in the oven), but before you cook the eggs, take the tomato relish from the heat and allow to cool slightly, while you fry or poach your eggs. The following recipe will feed four people.
For the warm tomato relish
1 tablespoon olive oil 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/2 a small onion, finely chopped (approximately 3 tablespoons) 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 2 teaspoons brown sugar (loosely packed) 1 teaspoon dijon mustard Salt to taste
Heat oil in a small saucepan and lightly sauté the garlic and onion for a minute or two, do not brown.
Add the tomatoes, pepper, vinegar, sugar and mustard, and simmer gently, occasionally stirring, while you make the fritters. Add water as necessary.
Remove from heat for a few minutes before serving.
For the corn fritters
¾ cup plain flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper 1 egg, beaten 440g can cream-style corn 440g corn kernels 3 spring onions, finely sliced
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a bowl.
Add the egg, mixing well to combine. Stir in the creamed corn, corn kernels and the spring onion.
Spray a large fry pan with oil spray and heat. Carefully spoon fritter mixture into the pan, creating two or three fritters about eight centimetres in diameter. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side.
Remove from the pan, place on a plate with absorbent paper, put it into the oven, set on low, and keep warm. Repeat until you have eight fritters.
8 rashers of bacon, cooked to your liking 4 eggs, cooked to your liking 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Place two corn fritters in the middle of each plate, top with sliced avocado, bacon and an egg. Finish with a couple of spoonfuls of tomato relish.
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I’m not sure where the term ‘Eggs in Purgatory’ originated. Does it refer to the bubbling red tomato sauce? I’m not sure. However, this recipe is perfect for cooking in the camp oven over a campfire. Perfect for an Aussie bush brunch, this dish is high in protein and super tasty.
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Red onion, finely chopped
3 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Can of tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs
1/2 – 1 Teaspoon dried, crushed chilli
1/2 Teaspoon beef/veg stock powder
1 Can of mixed beans
Cracked black pepper
Heat the camp oven in the campfire* and heat oil. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until onion is translucent.
Add the tomatoes, herbs, chilli and stock powder, and cook for a few minutes until tomatoes start to thicken.
Add the beans and cook for a few more minutes.
Crack eggs into the tomato bean mix, and sprinkle with grated cheese and black pepper.
Put the lid on the camp oven. Top the camp oven with hot coals and cook at moderate temperature until eggs are cooked to your liking.
*Sautéing over the fire in a camp oven can be uncomfortably hot. There are several ways I cook with an open pot, depending on what sort of fireplace we have (e.g. iron fire pit or open fire). One way is to hang your camp oven over the fire with a tripod or, in our case, a star-dropper. Another way is to take a shovel load of coals from the firepit and, in a safe place near the fire, place them on the ground, put your camp oven on top and cook over the coals.
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Well, they are as Australian as cows. But no, camels are not native to Australia, but we do have our own particular camel… The Feral Camel.
There are reportedly over a million feral camels roaming Australia. First introduced to Australia in the 1840s, camels, imported from India and Afghanistan, were used as ‘beasts of burden’ during the exploration and settlement of Australia, especially in arid areas.
Camels were released into the wild after motorised transport replaced the use of camels in the early 20th century. The releases, as well as escaped or stolen camels, resulted in a fast-growing feral population.
500g minced camel
1/2 small brown onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped or crushed
2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely cracked
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup of fine bread crumbs
Mix all the “patty” ingredients well, using your hands, until very well blended. Shape into four patties.
Heat your hot-plate (or the lid of your camp oven) until hot and spray with oil. Cook the patties over a small fire or coals until cooked through and browned. Remove the patties and keep warm. Cook the bacon and fry the eggs.
To create the perfect Aussie burger halve the hamburger bun and spread the bottom half with mustard and tomato sauce and spread mayonnaise on the top half.
Then start to stack you burger ingredients on the bottom half of the hamburger bun. First the meat patty, then the cheese, bacon, onion, tomato, beetroot, pickles and lettuce. Slap the top half of the bun on top and bon appétit or as the Aussie’s say “dig in!”
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When we left Darwin I had some pastry and feta leftover and wasn’t sure what to use it for. Once I had taken stock of what our esky held I decided to cook quiche. I had never baked quiche in the camp oven before, so I was thrilled that it turned out so well. Very delicious!
10 sheets of filo pastry
1 onion, chopped
250g bacon, chopped
1/2 cup of milk
60g feta, chopped into small pieces
60g baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
Prepare the camp oven. *Camp oven should be oiled. With two strips of baking paper line the bottom and sides of the camp oven, this will help get the quiche out when it is ready. Then line the camp oven with pastry going up the sides by 1 or 2 inches. The depth of your quiche will depend on the size of your camp oven. For this recipe, I used a 9-quart camp oven and the quiche was about an inch high.
Saute the bacon and onion in a frypan and set aside.
Whisk the eggs and the milk.
Add the feta, spinach, bacon and onion to the eggs and mix well.
Pour the egg mixture into the prepared quiche base, spread evenly, using a fork. Top with grated cheese and cracked pepper.
Cooking in a camp oven
To bake the quiche, we put a few hot coals or heat beads under the pot (our camp oven has three short legs) and about three times as much on top of the camp oven. Check after 15 minutes to see if you have the right amount of heat. If you think you need a higher temperature, add and few coals (if cooking too hot, remove coals). We cooked ours quite slow, and it took about an hour. We will cook it a little hotter the next time, but thought since it was our first time baking a quiche, to err on the side of caution.
Cooking in your oven – Cook for 35 – 45 minutes at 190 degrees celsius.
Note: *We always wash our camp oven when we are finished with it, heat it over the fire to dry and then rub oil into it using a paper towel until well coated – if you do that at the end of every use you will find your camp oven will be ready for use every time you want it and it will not rust.
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I got this recipe from my mother-in-law years ago. I’m not sure where she got it from, but these stuffed chillies became a staple on our picnic days, or as finger food with guests on our boat. Serve them hot as a light meal with salad, or serve at room temperature as finger food. Easy to prepare ahead of time; these stuffed chillies will be a hit!
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon sugar
Split each chilli lengthways to create a pocket, leaving ends intact. Remove and discard the seeds and pith.
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Using a teaspoon, fill each chilli with the mince mixture until slightly bulging — smooth filling with the back of a wet spoon.
Heat some oil in a large frying pan on medium. Add chillies, mince side down, and cook for 5 minutes until lightly brown, turn over and cook chilli side down until cooked all the way through.
To make the sauce, place all ingredients into a small saucepan. Stir on high heat until boiling. Reduce to low heat and simmer for a minute or two until it thickens. Arrange chillies on a plate and pour the sauce over them. Sprinkle with chopped coriander.
*Make mini meatballs with any leftover mince mix.
*Concentrated tamarind sauce can be used instead of tamarind paste.
*Hot chilli sauce can replace the Sambal Oelek
*Use a mix of red and green chillies for an appealing look.
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I made this onion jam to eat with an English specialty… toad-in-the-hole. Now that I have discovered that it is so easy to make, I will keep some of this yummy concoction in my fridge at all times. This would be just as delicious with a cheese plate or on sandwiches of roast meat. Yum yum, making myself hungry!
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of butter
2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup of caster sugar
1 cup of red wine
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and sugar to oil and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in red wine and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is evaporated (about 15 to 20 minutes).
Place in a serving bowl and serve with sandwiches, flans, cheese plates or my yummy toad-in-the-hole (recipe coming soon).
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As we have spent a lot of time in Thailand over the last four years, I find myself cooking many Thai style meals. I usually shop at the local SuperCheap (a Thai supermarket) and use primarily local Asian vegetables and fruits in our meals.
For over a year now I have regularly seen banana flowers in the veggie section and finally decided to make a banana blossom salad. Using the traditional flavours of Thai cuisine this what I came up with…
3 Tablespoons lime juice 2 Tablespoons fish sauce 1 Tablespoon palm sugar* 1 Tablespoon chilli paste or chilli jam 3 Tablespoons coconut cream
1 banana blossom 1 large red chilli 1 large green chilli 1 small carrot (or 1/2 a large carrot) 2 spring onions bean shoots 4 Tablespoons of Asian fried shallots 2 Tablespoons of crushed peanuts**
Mix the lime sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar and chilli paste in a bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add coconut cream and blend well. Check for the right balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy. Adjust as needed (fish sauce – salty, sugar – sweet, lime juice – sour and chilli paste – spicy). Set aside.
Cut the chillies lengthwise, remove the seeds and pith. Slice the chillies thinly and add to a large mixing bowl. Grate the carrot and add to the mixing bowl. Finely slice the spring onion and, along with the bean shoots, add to the dish. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze some lemon or lime juice into it. Remove the outer leaves of the banana blossom until all dark leaves have been removed. Keep the best two outer leaves for serving. Cut the blossom lengthwise and remove inner core. Finely slice the blossom and place each slice in the water as you do so, to stop it going black.
Strain the blossom and add to the mixing bowl, add the dressing and two tablespoons of the fried onion and mix well.
Place two clean banana blossom leaves on plates and heap with the salad. Garnish with a tablespoon each of fried onion and peanuts.
*Use soft brown sugar instead of palm sugar
**I didn’t have peanuts so used a seed mix with the salad in the photos. Peanuts would definitely suit the taste better.
Chilli paste, chilli jam and Asian fried shallots found in Asian grocery stores.
This recipe will serve two as a meal or four to six as a side dish.
Add cooked prawns to make it a meal.
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Larb Moo Tod are Thai-style fried pork balls. Made with similar flavours like the popular larb moo which is a Thai (or initially a Laos) salad made with pork mince and herbs, they are delicious. We first tried these pork balls at “The Deck” which is the restaurant/bar at Phuket Yacht Haven Marina. We both love these tasty morsels, so I set to work decoding the Larb Moo Tod ingredients. Below is the recipe I created, and Dwayne and I both think it tastes as good as the original.
3 Tbsp raw glutinous or sticky rice
4 lemongrass stems (soft white part only)
1 clove of garlic
1 small red onion, finely diced
8 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced and diced
1 red chilli, finely diced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Lime
1 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
Oil for deep-frying
Firstly you need to roast and grind the rice (Khao Khua). Heat a wok to medium heat and add the rice. Cook while frequently stirring until the grains are toasted and golden; this will take about 5 minutes and might smoke a little. Let the rice cool down for a few minutes before grinding it, with a mortar and pestle, into a coarse powder (or you can use a spice grinder).
Using a mortar and pestle (or a food processor) mince up lemongrass and garlic and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
Add to mixing bowl all remaining ingredients (apart from the oil) and mix well to combine.
With wet hands, shape the mixture into small balls (don’t be fussy any shape will do!). Heat enough oil in a wok to deep-fry the balls in batches.
Fry the lab moo balls for approximately 5 – 7 minutes, until crispy, browned and cooked through.
Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and place on paper towels to drain.