Category Archives: cooking

Pat’s best ever tomato relish recipe

Oooooo you should smell the house at the moment. Our daughter Maddy has already bagzed a jar.

It’s tomato season and no-one made a better tomato relish than Steve’s mum, Pat. The extended family is salivating as I write. I can sense it. They’re dreaming of Aga stoves and cutlets cooked in lard, slathered in tomato relish.

Look at the windfall of tomatoes that landed on our doorstep during the week. Thank you Mr Jones.

home grown tomatoes

But before they go in the pot they have to be skinned. Just make a little cross on their bottom and dip them for a couple of minutes in a pot of boiling water.

how to skin tomatoes

It’s a bit fiddly, but if you let them cool, the skin should come away easily. In truth it’s a pain in the arse but once this bit’s done the rest is easy.

skinning the tomatoes

Get your spices together.

the spices for tomato relish

And don’t do what I did.
Read the recipe, and don’t put them all in at the same time.


Here’s how you’re meant to do it …


Pat’s Tomato Relish (I think this might actually come from the CWA cookbook. In fact I’m sure it does. I hope you don’t mind girls. As I write this I’m thinking Pat did more than her fair share of work for the CWA over the years, so I figure she’s probably entitled to nick a recipe or two)

6 lb (2.7 kg) tomatoes
2 lb (900 g) onions, halved and sliced thinly
1/2 cup salt


white vinegar to cover

1  & 1/2 lb (700 g) white sugar
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 dessertspoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons cornflour

1 t mace
1 t white pepper
1 t ground cloves
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t ground ginger

Cut a small cross on the base of each tomato and place them into a pot of boiling hot water. Skin them. Chop them roughly, removing any hard pithy bits.

2. Place tomatoes in a big pot with the sliced onions and salt. Cover with water and allow to stand overnight.

3. Next morning, pour off the brine and almost cover the pulp with white vinegar. Bring to the boil.

4.  Add the sugar and stir well.

5. Mix the curry powder, mustard and cornflour into a smooth paste with a little cold vinegar.

6. Stir the paste into the boiling mixture until it thickens and allow to boil for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (Don’t do what I did and throw all the spices in at this point – not that it really matters) 

7. When the mixture has thickened up but is still juicy and liquidy, add all the spices. Stir in well and bottle.

8. Will keep for years. (Not in a Hogan house it won’t)


Absolutely delicious on Butch’s lamb cutlets.

tomato relish in the jar

Don’t you love how recipes and a kitchen filled with the delicious smells of the past can bring someone a little closer?

With love from our family to yours.

Enjoy x


Winter, slow cooking and a favourite Osso Bucco recipe …

It had to come eventually.

Winter that is.

gremolata for the osso bucco

We’ve been enjoying the mildest autumn and first month of winter. Many plants in the garden are yet to be cut by frost but all that changed in the last 24 hours. Yesterday afternoon the clouds rolled in with winds that had the gum trees rocking and last night the hills surrounding Bathurst have been covered in snow. The Bathurst valley and Bathurst itself rarely get snow but as I look out the window it’s teetering. It’s bleak and bitingly cold. Steve has been in Sydney for a couple of days couch surfing his way around the city catching up with friends and our daughter, Maddy. Darce is making the most of school holidays and has run away disappeared out west with friends. So I’ve been lying around reading in bed, being really lazy, letting the house turn to rack and ruin, enjoying a television free zone, listening to music and doing a bit of slow cooking.

We’re in one pot territory, my favourite place to be in the kitchen, especially when winter hits.

And this is the recipe I always turn to. Osso Bucco. I’ve been cooking this for nearly 20 years. It’s a beauty. Easy too.

raw vegies for osso bucco

chopped vegies


I didn’t have any dried basil so I just used some fresh but I don’t think it works nearly as well as the dried for this dish.

in the pot

osso bucco finished dish

Osso Bucco

3-4 veal shanks sawn in half (I generally get the butcher to slice these for me about an inch thick)
1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil)
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups stock (I use chicken)
salt and pepper
plain flour
3 onions sliced
2 carrots sliced (I used 6 small ones)
3 sticks of celery diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic
a pinch of basil and thyme (dried is best)
a big piece of lemon rind
155g tomato paste

penne pasta

To serve:
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

1. Heat some of the oil in a wide frying pan and fry sliced onions gently until soft and turning golden. Place in the base of a large saucepan.

2. Gently sauté sliced carrots and chopped celery. Add to onions.

3. Roll veal in seasoned flour (plain flour with salt and pepper). Dust off and brown in oil.

4. Arrange browned shanks on top of veggies. Add bay leaf, crushed garlic, thyme, basil, lemon rind.

5. Mix tomato paste with white wine and stock. Add to saucepan.

6. Add more stock if necessary.

7. Bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 4 hours or till meat is almost falling off the bones. Skim the fat. Remove the bones and tap the marrow out into the sauce. Test for seasoning. Add pepper and salt to taste.

8. Cook penne till al dente. Plate up and sprinkle with finely chopped celery and lemon rind.

(The original recipe which came from Maddy’s babysitter Jo – if you happen upon this Jo I hope you don’t mind me sharing it – says adds the celery and lemon rind ten minutes before serving but I like the freshness of the lemon and the crunch of the celery so I add it to the plate. Jo’s recipe also calls for risotto but I cheat and just serve it with a little pasta.)

As with most things like this, it’s always better the next day, or the next.

Speaking of meat and lemons these older posts might give you a smile …

Is it wrong to have two butchers? The confession.

… a tale of a little lemon tree and has my husband been taking the piss?

During the week I went to a lecture up at the uni and heard Australian social researcher, Hugh Mackay, speak about his new book The Good Life. It was an interesting and confronting assessment of the west’s pursuit of happiness and excellence and perfection, a pursuit that is unsurprisingly bringing neither lasting happiness nor any genuine meaning to people’s lives. At the tail end of question time the issue of social media started to raise its head and later in the evening I sowed the seeds with Hugh to do an interview here on the blog – to tease it out a bit more – to discuss how things like blogs and social media might be fuelling unrealistic benchmarks and setting people up for disappointments. Anyway he’s on the road for a couple of weeks but I’ll keep you posted. I’m about half way through the book and am really enjoying his insightful observations of what, he believes, makes a life worth living. He is a writer I admire very much.

Stay warm Aussie friends. Northerners, enjoy that sunshine :)

And I hope you enjoy the Osso Bucco.



A Sunday drive to The Zin House in Mudgee

I’ve been looking forward to sharing The Zin House with you.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing it first hand myself.

Set amidst the Zinfandel vineyard of Lowe Wines just outside of Mudgee, I knew it would be special.

the zin house kitchen reflected in old mirror

The Zin House is the new restaurant of Kim Currie, a highly respected chef in our part of the world. Together we’ve been creating The Zin House brand and website over the past few weeks.

zin house menu

If I had a restaurant I would like it to feel like this … long farmhouse tables …

the zin house interior

Everything on the menu proudly sourced from regional producers, friends, from the farm and organic garden …

zin house menu

Food so fresh it needs only the simplest preparation…

ryolstone olive oil

touches of pink

Food that tastes like real food. Butter that tastes like real butter.

the zin house courses

Warm autumn tones, an eye for art, soft light …


Beautiful wines, a generosity of spirit … from the heart and on the plate.

Unhurried. Just as a weekend lunch should be.

museum room and persimmon tree

I knew it would be special Kim but I had no idea it would be quite so lovely.

kim currie cooking at the zin house

Well done girl. Not a bad effort for a kiwi ;)

The Zin House
329 Tinja Lane,

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    Hi I’m Margaret. I live in Australia.
    I sprinkle creative magic onto businesses
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