A little silliness. This comes from one of my absolutely favourite reference books, the Woman’s Mirror Cookbook, circa 1930. Take in the words, ignore the recipe, and you’ll know why some forms of cooking lost their way in the old days.

‘Scallops,’ it says, ‘those bivalves with fan-shaped fluted shells often left lying by fishermen on [...]

Old-fashioned tomato sauce

We probably eat tomato sauce more than anything else in the world; yet so few of us bother to make it ourselves. For something so simple, such lack of interest is remarkable. And now that the microwave is so much part of our lives, you can put it together more quickly, more simply and with [...]

‘Instant’ chilli sauce

This sauce is best when tomatoes are in season, and the best tomatoes for any sauce are the Roma variety. Chop about six tomatoes roughly, and throw them into the microwave. Give the tomatoes a good sprinkle with your best olive oil. When the mix has started to bubble, add a few pinches of salt [...]

Raspberry and muscat sauce

This is one of the great dessert sauces, a must with any chocolate, or any ice cream. The muscat must be of the best quality, from north-east Victoria.

500g raspberries, fresh or frozen

200 ml good quality muscat

The better the quality, as ever, the better the flavour of the sauce

50-60g sugar, or to taste

If the raspberries are [...]

A caramel and Calvados sauce

These unlikely partners came together through not unusual means. I was wiping a plate clean of caramel sauce with one hand, and hanging on to a glass of Calvados with the other. As soon as the two met on the palate, 1 knew it was the start of something beautiful. Calvados is the subtle flavour [...]

Hot chocolate, with or without whisky

We all know that hot chocolate is a mix of Ovaltine or Milo and boiled milk and sugar, don’t we? Such is the way we have developed that the beauties of long ago have been cut about and replaced with packets and pacy preparations.

Look again, and go back to the roots of hot chocolate. Give [...]

Raspberry jam, or gooseberry jam, from fresh or frozen berries

Taking frozen berries for jam displays as sensible a use of the brain as I could imagine. The fruit freezes perfectly, provided you are going to cook it, or use it as a sauce, and with the wonderful microwave, you have a brilliant, shiny jam within an hour – even in the depths of winter, [...]

Lemonade from loaded lemon trees

I have a complex about lemons. No matter where I live I am surrounded by lemon trees abundant with fruit, while my feeble, ever optimistic attempts to grow the trees turn into spindly, barren jokes. Every day, summer, winter, spring, I make the long trek to the back of the yard – yes, the tree [...]

Apricot jam

Apricots make the most glorious jam, but only . rarely do they set sufficiently, or last all that long. The microwave fixes that, and eliminates all the agony of stirring and watching and waiting, and getting bored, and seeing all your preparation burnt away.

1 kg (with seeds removed) of cleaned apricots, preferably those from the [...]

Cumquat marmalade, a dream

Pick up a cumquat. Bite into it. That’s it. Now again, with gusto. Bitter? Sour? Both? Think about it for a few minutes. As those original flavours dissipate, what comes through as well. A perfume? An underlying sweetness? What you have done is to work out the sort of flavours you want, and those you [...]