Category Archives: cooking

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,


Rain washed eggplant patties with a dash of thunder…

We had an almighty storm this afternoon.

rain washed eggplants

But I have a deadline for a travel writing competition tomorrow and I was on a mission to come up with a recipe.

Nothing was going to stand in my way ;)


“I swear I didn’t piss myself. Suh!”

The garden is just bursting at the moment  so I wanted to work with what we had on hand.


There are three components to the competition. A couple of small written pieces which I’ve done.

The third is a recipe.

My recipe needed to channel Marcella Hazan because I am setting out to win a trip to Emilia-Romagna, her birthplace … Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast, Bologna the fat, the Morandi Museum … to walk those orchards and drink that purple wine first hand.

basil, eggplants and dripping grapevines

Can you imagine…

The sun comes out

I have a thing for purple. It’s a family joke.

So after the deluge when the sun set the whole garden sparkling, Steve and I did a dash to the vegie patch and we loaded up with eggplants and basil and I set out to adapt a recipe of Marcella’s for Eggplant Patties with Parsley, Garlic and Parmesan.  Only I wanted to try it with basil.

So I roasted our eggplants, rain washed, whole and untrimmed in a hot hot oven. Top rack. With a tray underneath to catch any spills. For about 40 minutes.

eggplants cooling

Then when they were cool enough to handle I skinned them, moozhed them up a bit and set them in a colander for 15 minutes giving them a push every so often to squeeze out more juice.

eggplants draining

And while that was going on I smashed up lots of fresh basil (what would amount to about 3 tablespoons worth), bashed it with salt and 2 garlic cloves – basically a pesto mix without the pine nuts and oil.

pesto mix

And then I mixed that with an egg, about half a cup of fresh breadcrumbs and 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Plus some freshly ground black pepper.

breadcrumbs, egg, pesto mix and parmo

Cut the drained eggplant very fine and mixed everything together.

Tested for salt and pepper.

Shaped the mix into patties (you might have to add some more breadcrumbs – I did), about 2 inches wide and 1/2 an inch thick.

Heated some vegetable oil* (or alternative) in a shallow pan and when it was nice and hot, doused the patties in plain flour, dusted them off very gently and dropped them into the oil to brown.

eggplant patties

Oh, and added a dash of thunder. You can’t forget the thunder!

In Marcella’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking she says of these … “They are floured and browned in hot oil and they taste very, very good.” 

She doesn’t often give two ‘verys’.

I’d add a third.

They tasted very, very, very good.

By this stage, the kitchen was a mess, the air was sweet, my head was full of thoughts of Italy and a trip to the bottle shop was called for.

And look what Bathurst turned up … a rain washed eggplant sky.

an eggplant sky

Belissimo. x


*I have a problem with vegetable oil after becoming aware that most veg. oils are made with palm oil. 90% of orang-utans habitat has been lost to palm oil plantations so try and find a substitute if you can.

This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan’s, on page 498 of the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. If you don’t own it, consider buying it. It’s amazing.

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