Category Archives: cooking

Mrs Jones’s whizzy whizzed cucumber relish recipe made with Mr Jones’s home grown cucumbers

These Jones’s I speak of are unrelated. But they both hail from a period in our younger lives when we danced in the dirt at the O’Connell Hotel on a Sunday afternoon and played house in a little cottage just up the road of an evening. Steve and I and a crazy, spotty dog called Floyd.

Across the courtyard lived our glamorous friend Lorraine who whizzy whizzed things up in the kitchen, from the garden, inspired by Elizabeth David, and who, together with her husband Ted, left their indelible mark on us.

This is one of Rainie’s recipes. Captured on the hop, for nothing is ever written down.  Or measured.

cucumber relish


Our friend, Mr Jones (not Mrs Jones’s Mr Jones but the dancing in the dirt Mr Jones) dropped a bounty of home grown cucumbers into us during the week. They are not the normal egg cucumbers I use but any will do.

cucumber skins

cucumbers and pot

diced cucumbers

cucumbers into pot

Chopped and covered in malt vinegar.

brown vinegar

With a wicked amount of sugar.

mountains of sugar

And a cacophony of spices.


Brought to the boil and simmered for a gentle couple of hours.

With a little bit of cheese, a sprig of something pretty from the garden, an old silver fork, some swing playing in the background – it becomes for us, just one of those personal little moments that are imbued with so much more than what’s on the plate.

It’s part of the great pleasure of cooking for me. The stories behind a recipe. The smells that whizzy whiz you back to happy times.

on a plate

I hope you’ve all had some precious downtime over the holidays. Our Christmas has been very chilled this year. A little salt water. A little time together as a family. I have been driving everyone crazy (including our neighbours) with the soundtrack from Mad Bastards, a film shot in the Kimberly region of Western Australia in 2010. It’s become our soundtrack for the holidays, or as Alex Lloyd and the Pigrim brothers would put it, for “the season of the lulling.” I can’t get it enough of it. Here’s a taste.  And another one from Kasey Chamber and Shane Nicholson – Sleeping Cold.  And just one more, The Pigram Brothers and Alex Lloyd’s though it’s a little different than the actual soundtrack version Nothing Really Matters … here ha ha .  I’ll go now.


Lorraine’s Cucumber Relish

Malt vinegar to cover
Egg cucumbers, sliced into quarters
Pepper and salt (I add about 20 black peppercorns as well)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 fresh ginger slices
2 fresh basil sprigs
Heaps of sugar ( I would have used 750g for this big pot)
5 bay leaves
10 whole cloves
Big teaspoon of curry powder (I add more – to taste)
A touch of honey.


  1. Wash and slice and chop the cucumbers.
  2. Just cover them with malt vinegar.
  3. Add everything else.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer away gently for a couple of hours.
  5. Sterilise some jars in the oven and seal while relish is hot.

Adjust the seasonings as you wish. It will taste pretty zingy/sharp but there needs to be a sweetness there as well. So add some more sugar if you think it’s too vinegary. But bear in mind that it will mellow in the jars so don’t make it sickly sweet. It needs a vinegary edge.




Wishing you only good things for the coming year.




Fork me now omelette. She’s quick, she’s easy and she’s a little bit sassy.

We have a little black market thing going. I can’t reveal too much but we have a friend with happy chooks “somewhere south of Bathurst” who every couple of weeks delivers to our door the freshest, yellowest, fork me now eggs you’ve ever tasted.

We also have a little no carb thing going. Some days it works. Somedays not. But this is my favourite way to start a well intentioned no carb day. Having said that, I’m a chilli fiend. You might want to hold back on the chilli if it’s not you’re thing.

We were served this every morning at the Jackaranda Guesthouse in Delhi, a lovely B&B in Greater Kailash, a suburb just south of central Delhi. If you’re ever looking for a nice place to stay, it’s a good spot – markets and restaurants just a couple of blocks away.

Very finely – and I mean very finely and evenly – chop some tomatoes, French shallots, green capsicum and Thai green chilli.

I’ve tried it with other chillies but it just doesn’t taste the same. So now, when I find Thai greens in the shop, I buy a few and pop them in a freezer bag. I’ve also tried it with onion and it’s not the same either. So stick to the script with this one …


Two eggs. Don’t fork them too much. Just a little.

lightly fork the eggs

Tip them into a lightly oiled frypan and swirl it around so the eggs spread evenly.

Mix up your ingredients and sprinkle them evenly over the omelette.

Fold over and over again.


fold the omelette

It’s as simple as that. But very tasty.

spicy omelette

Spicy Delhi Omelette

2 large teaspoons of finely chopped..
ripe tomato
green capsicum
and French shallot


A little finely chopped Thai green chilli – to taste.
2 eggs.

That’s it! Enjoy.

And if you have a favourite omelette combo, please feel free to share.



Traditional spaghetti alla marinara … in which Paolo reveals his mother’s secret ingredient

I learn something in the kitchen every time we visit these guys.

They are great cooks. Not flash chefs, just seriously good cooks, using the best of what’s on hand which in Liguria tends towards vegetables, seafood and salads.

In nine days at Sottovalle, we did 2700kms worth of day trips into the mountains and all along the coastline. Long, happy days filled with good food, big walks and plenty of laughter. But today was a rest day.

The boys had been sent down to Aquarta Scrivia earlier in the morning to get some seafood – any excuse to visit ‘The Office’ – read plane tree covered cafe spilling with pastries.

The recipe is below but I’m going to point out a few tips I learnt along the way …

It all starts with parsley and one and a half small cloves of garlic. Don’t overdo the garlic. Chop together finely and divide into two. One half is held back and added right at the end.


Now the secret ingredient…

2 anchovy fillets (under salt!) washed and rinsed three times under water.

(A later P.S. to this … I can’t find anchovies under salt so I’ve used the little ones in oil. I’ve made it twice and the second time I used about 8 little anchovies and it benefited from the extras)


chilli jar

Normally I would heat my pan and then add my first ingredients. But no!

Put them into a cold pan and VERY, VERY gently bring up the temperature and fry them off.

gently frying

If the garlic burns you MUST start again.

frying off parsley garlic anchovies chilli

Mussels, clams and prawns measured by the handful.

clams mussels prawns

Clams soaked in salt water to get rid of any muck.

Mussels steamed in a separate pan. Remove from their shells and don’t keep the juice. These guys regard it as dirty.

clams soaking


The squid is very gently fried and then the temperature turned off till we are ready with everything else.

frying off the squid

Get yourself a couple of handy prawn peelers.

steve and paolo peeling prawns


Back on the heat and the mussels and clams are added.

mussels added

clams added

Throw in the prawns, a few chopped tomatoes, a little glass of white wine and cover till the clam shells open.

tomatoes and parsley and garlic

table and garden

Meanwhile bring your pasta water to the boil and you know when they say “Add salt.”  Add salt!


When the pasta is cooked and stirred in with the seafood, that’s the moment to add your remaining garlic and parsley. It adds a note of freshness right at the end.



Find yourself a pretty setting and some good company.


And allora! Spaghetti alla marinara Forest View B&B style courtesy of Louise & Paolo and Paolo’s mama.

louise and paolo


Thanks for sharing lovelies.

Enjoy  xx


Spaghetti alla Marinara

1 and 1/2 cloves of garlic
A small handful of fresh parsley
2 anchovies (under salt!) washed and rinsed three times in fresh water
(If you can’t get them under salt I used 8 small ones in oil)
1 chopped, dried red chilli
Extra virgin olive oil

A handful of prawns (when peeled)
A handful of squid
2 handfuls of clams
2 handfuls of mussels

1 little glass of white wine, say …  half an Australian glass of white wine.

A handful of chopped fresh tomato.




1. Cover the base of a fry pan in extra virgin olive oil. No heat yet.

2. Chop the garlic and parsley finely and add half to the pan. Reserve the other half till the end.

3. Wash the anchovies three times under fresh water. Chop and add to pan.

4. Chop 1 dried red chilli and add to the pan.

5. Very gently bring the heat up and fry and stir till the anchovies dissolve into the mix. The mixture MUST NOT burn. If it does you MUST start again. It’s a very gentle process.

6. Add your chopped squid to the pan and fry gently.

7. Add the prawns and mussels. Stir gently.

8. Add the clams, tomatoes and white wine. 

9. Stir and cover till clam shells open.

10.Turn off heat till pasta is al dente.


Meanwhile …

11. Bring pasta water to boil. Add plenty of salt. Cook spaghetti till al dente.

12. Drain spaghetti. Pour into the seafood pan.

13. Add the remaining chopped parsley and garlic and toss gently.

13. Pour into a warmed platter and serve.

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