Hot Stuff

A soft wind blew in from the Pacific. I stood away from my children, who ran giddily around the playground. The breeze kissed me, eased into my bloodstream and wrapped around my nerve endings. It smoothed its hot fingers softly over my hair and every once-resistant part of me. I held my head up to accept the full embrace. I had never felt so well, so at one, and so at home.

That was the first paragraph from chapter 4 of my book, but it’s time for me to stop pimping my work and to simply tempt and share with you some of the 21 great recipes that  inspired me to write a story around them. I won’t give the travellers’ tales away, but you can sample three chapters for free if you click on this link to my book at  (ophs! I’ve done it again!)

This recipe and subsequent story was in response to a sabbatical that my family and I spent in Brisbane, Australia in 2006. I was simply staggered by this huge and impressive land, the Aussies too took my breath away with their kindness, fearlessness, freshness and great humour. I could still sense the pioneer spirit in the people; we’d arrived with just 25 kg of baggage each, but within a few hours of our arrival at our rented house the whole street had mobilised and had offered us beds, pans and even a plastic christmas tree.

A scrumptious salad inspired by the tastes, textures and diversity of Australia
A sumptuous salad inspired by the tastes, textures and diversity of Australia

 Recipe for The Great Australian Bite

There are three layers to the salad (I was only there for seven months) but you can add as many as you like.

Cook 5dl of basmati rice in 7.5dl of salted boiling water. Bring to the boil, cover and turn the heat down to the lowest setting for 12 minutes. Place the freshly cooked rice in a mound on a large, round dish. Place one roughly cubed aubergine, two red, two green and two yellow peppers sliced lengthways, one finely chopped red chilli, two large roughly chopped red onions and one roughly sliced courgette in a large baking tray, season with sea salt and black pepper and sprinkle nigella (black cumin) seeds over. Pour a good glug of olive oil over and coat all the vegetables by mixing with your hands. Cook in a very hot oven or grill until all the vegetables are roasted and sizzling. Turn the oven off and add the five chopped garlic cloves, mix around and place some baby cherry tomatoes still on the vine on top, place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Pile the vegetables and precious cooking juices on top of the mound of rice. Chop and crumble 250g of creamy feta cheese and place on the salad, sprinkle fresh coriander over, squeeze one lemon over the salad and decorate with another sliced one. Finally, add a few healthy glugs of olive oil and freshly ground salt and pepper. Take the salad outside with some crusty bread, chilled Australian white wine and your best mates!

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