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springtime, damona cheese and a pizza

Spring is in the air and the forecast of a couple of days of 19 degrees gave me the idea of firing up the pizza oven. So yesterday I made a batch of no knead dough to ferment overnight.

Today dawned grey and drizzly, not normally the time I’d make a pizza out of doors, but the dough was perfect so I braved the blustery drizzle to cook my pizza. Luckily it only takes a few minutes. Of course it being Melbourne weather it rained precisely for those few minutes! 🙂

I wanted to try out some smoked mozzarella from Damona that I’d bought with pizza in mind. I’d tried the Damona cheeses when they first arrived but the one I had was coconut flavoured so I was unimpressed and never tried them again. They seem to have fixed that. The smoked mozzarella is really good, lightly smoked and it melts well.

I made a simple pizza with olive oil, garlic, fresh tomatoes, the smoked mozzarella and lots of chopped fresh parsley from the garden where it is currently running rampant.

blackened brussels sprouts, garlic and almonds

I’m not fond of winter, it’s cold with short days. But it is completely redeemed by being the season of brussels sprouts.

I know some people hate them, but they REALLY are great fried or roasted.

This time I pan-fried them in a little olive oil with garlic and chopped dry roasted almonds. A lovely combination of flavours and texture.

This works as a vegetable side dish or with some pasta.

I ate it with some pasta and a sprinkling of Vegusto Piquant cheese. I didn’t photograph it before I scoffed it down.


blackened brussels sprouts, garlic and almonds
prep time
cook time
total time
serves: 1
  • ½ tbs oil
  • 8 Brussels sprouts per person
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 dry roasted almonds
  1. Prepare the sprouts by removing the bottoms and any ratty looking outer leaves.
  2. Slice them vertically into 3mm slices.
  3. Heat the oil and fry the sprouts over a medium heat until they start to blacken and are tender.
  4. Add the garlic and fry for 30 secs.
  5. If the sprouts are still not tender put a tablespoon or two of water into the pan and cook until the water evaporates.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Add the chopped almonds and toss to combine.
  8. Serve as a dish on its own or with pasta.


Toulouse Lautrec Gratin of Pumpkin

After a year of not cooking much and not blogging at all due to illness, I’m ready to start again.

We celebrated the return of two of my sisters from overseas and the end of my treatment for cancer with a family dinner. As usual we all brought a part of the meal.

This time I made a dish I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages – the Toulouse Lautrec Gratin of Pumpkin from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. It is a delicious dish of pumpkin, layered with an onion and tomato sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. It is actually a recipe from Henri Toulouse Lautrec that was part of a collection of recipes published by his friend.

It normally forms part of our family Christmas lunch and I’m not sure why I hardly ever make it at other times, other than that it is a bit lengthy to make. I’ve simplified the original recipe a bit, it calls for the pumpkin to be floured and fried. I’ve changed this to roasting the pumpkin instead. I also cut the pumpkin a little thicker and use more tomato for a slightly wetter dish.



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Toulouse Lautrec Gratin of Pumpkin
prep time
cook time
total time
serves: 6
  • 1 kg piece of pumpkin ( I use Kent/Jap pumpkin)
  • 2 onions
  • 2 400g cans of tomato (or fresh equivalent)
  • Oil spray
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh breadcrumbs
  1. Peel, seed and slice the pumpkin into slices about 7-10 mm thick.
  2. Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet and spray with oil.
  3. Bake in an oven at 180 degrees C until just short of tender.
  4. Meanwhile slice and fry the onions in oil until soft.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5-10 mins to reduce a little.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Layer the pumpkin and tomato mix in a baking dish starting and finishing with a tomato layer.
  8. Top with breadcrumbs, spray the the top with oil and bake at 180 degrees C until the top is golden.


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