dips & spreads

how to make an avocado rose

23rd January 2022

These avocado roses may look difficult, but it is only a few simple steps. I like to use them when I need a simple but impressive salad. Sometimes, I thinly slice fennel or cucumber, add a few small bitter leaves from the garden, a few cubes of feta and place a few of these avocado roses on top with a squeeze of lemon to keep it nice and bright, a few rounds of salt, pepper, a sprinkle of za’atar, lemon zest and toasted seeds and you have a glorious salad to accompany your other dishes.


  • Use an avocado that is not too ripe; otherwise, it will be soft and squishy but must be firm enough that the skin peels away easily.
  • Sprinkle lemon juice to keep the avocado from changing colour.
  • Here’s an easy how-to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJGu9EcNu2Q


how to make an avocado rose


1 ripe and firm medium avocado


1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit by using the knife to pierce the seed with a good amount of force. The seed should easily lift out with a wiggle or two.

2. Remove the skin. If the avocado is a good balance of not too ripe and not too firm, the skin should lift up easily.

3. Slice across. Lay the avocado halves flat side down, and make thin slices across the avocado, repeating down the entire fruit from end to end. Aim for each piece to be between 2-3 mm thick.

4. Fan the slices out. Keeping the pieces touching each other, gently move the slices diagonally until the slices form a thin line.

5. Roll into a spiral. Start curling the fruit inwards on itself at one end. Continue rolling the slices until your avocado flower begins to take shape. Ensure it is neatly twisted around itself in a compact circle.

6. Douse the avocado rose in lemon or lime juice. As the avocado sits in the open air, it oxidizes and develops brown spots. The acid in the lemon juice will prevent this from happening until you are ready to eat it.


roasted red pepper walnut spread

1st July 2016

roasted red pepper

One of the (much well received) additions to our table recently is this roasted red pepper walnut spread.  This is one recipe I have made quite a few times as an entree, spread or more filling side dish to an otherwise light salad based meal. Whatever the occasion, time of day or audience I can almost always be assured of…’mmm…whats in this?!’. My answer has always been…’Oh, I’ll post it on my blog’. So here it is.

If there is one vegetable when roasted that brings its goodness, it’s a roasted bell pepper.  After being roasted in the oven, the skin becomes charred, wrinkly and the inside sheds its blistered skin – emerging more succulent and sweeter than the raw version. The transformation is magical and delicious.


-a garden edging its way into Summer

red pepper

roasted red pepper walnut spread

Makes about 2 cups

I  have been looking for another tasty dip other than the usual hummus or guacamole we serve so often here, and one that satisfies the matured taste buds of young adults.  The roasted pepper adds a distinct sweetness and the toasted walnuts and breadcrumbs balance out that sweetness.  It is great served as a dip, as a spread on sandwiches or over a base for a pizza.

Recipe from 101 cookbooks – Heidi Swanson.


3 medium/450g red pepper

¾ cup/70g walnuts

¼ cup/25g whole-grain bread crumbs

½ tsp crushed red chilli flakes

½ tsp whole cumin seeds

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

2 Tbsp honey/pomegranate molasses

4 Tbsp tomato paste

½ tsp fine-grain rock salt


1.  Preheat the oven to 410F/210C.

2.  Place the whole peppers on a rimmed tray lined with a baking sheet.  Roast, until the skin has become charred, and wrinkled, 50 to 60 minutes.  While the peppers roast, place a few slices of sourdough bread in the oven and toast until crunchy, approximately 20 minutes, also place the walnuts into the oven to toast for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

3.  When the pepper is ready, remove from the oven and gather up the corners of the baking sheet from the tray and wrap the peppers (use a kitchen towel to help if it is too hot).  This will steam them enabling the skins to easily peel off.  Cool until you can handle them, about 15 minutes, then remove the skin, seeds, and stems.   Keep the liquid from the peppers to add to the processor.  Set aside.

4.  Dry roast the cumin seeds in a small pan, when lightly toasted turn off the heat and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle.  Set aside.

5.  Using a food processor attached with an S blade, process the bread crumbs, when coarsely ground, measure out a ¼ cup and return to the processor, add the chilli flakes and walnuts and process until the walnuts are roughly ground.

roasted red pepper ingredients

6.  Add the cumin seeds, olive oil, honey, tomato paste, salt and skinned peppers with their roasting liquid, process until everything is well incorporated and you have a smooth consistency.

7.  Garnish with basil leaves, extra walnuts, and drizzle with olive oil.  Serve with fresh crackers, toasted bread, or with freshly made chapati.


Goodness shared by Stacey

artichokes with a tahini – sesame dipping sauce

17th April 2016


A particular favourite with my daughter.

mandala edge


mandala edge

This is another recipe which was created for the Holmes Place magazine as an ongoing concept of seasonal ‘superfoods’ throughout the year.

Globe artichokes, with their sharp, sometimes prickly edged ‘petals’ are actually the plant’s flower buds and will open up into showy mauve thistle heads.  When picked young as in this recipe, their heads are small and tight, they can be eaten in their entirety.  The real treasure – lies hidden.  This is found by removing all the petals and ‘furry ‘choke within, revealing the grey-green tender heart.

When buying artichokes, choose those which the petals are still rather closed, not open.  They will be more fresh and tender.  Buying in season and buying fresh you will benefit more times over from their amazing health benefits.  Not only being full of fibre, they also have the highest level of antioxidants out of all vegetables, a good source of Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, folate, and iron.  They are also very good for the liver and were used for centuries as a traditional liver tonic.


artichokes with a tahini – sesame dipping sauce

Serves 4


8 medium artichokes (Depending on how big your artichokes are, I offer two artichoke globes per person.)

to cook 

1.  In a large pot on medium heat, add enough water to cover the artichokes, add a bay leaf and a slice of lemon. (This adds a nice flavour to the artichokes.) Leave to heat while you prepare the artichokes.

2.  If using large globes, cut the thorn tips off all the leaves using a pair of scissors – not necessary when using smaller globes.  Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem. Trim off the bottom, leaving about an inch of the artichoke stem.  The stem is more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, edible if you remove the tough outer layer using a vegetable peeler. Cut off 1-centimetre off the tip of each artichoke, then rinse the artichokes in cold water.  Open up the petals a little so that the water does get inside more easily.

3.  Add the artichokes to the boiling water.  Cover, and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, (depending on the size of the artichokes) or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off and a knife tip goes easily into the base of the artichoke.

artichoke in pot

to serve 

Artichokes can be eaten cold or hot. Serve them with your favourite sauces, melted ghee, mayonnaise, a simple mix of olive oil, salt and lemon or a sesame dipping sauce – like the one below. I usually choose a few to satisfy each member of my family.

tahini – sesame dipping sauce

2 Tbsp sesame seeds – I used an even amount of white & black

¼ cup tahini

1 Tbsp rice vinegar or umeboshi plum vinegar

1 Tbsp tamari

1 Tbsp honey

cup water

1.  In a high-speed blender, add the sesame seeds and grind until they are roughly ground.

2.  Add the tahini, vinegar, tamari, oil and water, and blend until well mixed.

Depending on the preferred thickness of the tahini, you may need to add more water. I like the consistency quite thick. I tend to double the recipe and use leftovers as a salad dressing or served with brown rice and sautéed vegetables.


to eat 

1.  Pull off the outer petals, one at a time, starting at the base and dip in the sauce, then bite off the soft part found at the base of each leaf. Discard and compost the tough leaves in a pile as you go.

2.  When all the leaves have been enjoyed, you will come to the choke, with a spoon scrape out and discard the fuzzy part covering the artichoke heart, the remaining is the heart.  The treasure! Savour, dip and enjoy the journey.

to eat 1

Reference: ‘Tender’-Nigel Slater

Goodness shared from Stacey

avocado with a tomato mustard seed salsa

8th October 2013

It seems as though we’ve wobbled back into Summer again after a week of misty, drizzly rain and endless fog which dissolved all my Summer vegetables into a slimy, gooey mess in just under a week…..

But now, these last few days, and at this moment, it is warm, golden, sunny and still perfect beach and garden weather…..

What does one do and say with all this gracious light?  You smile and say thank-you…..

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 

“Thank you”,  

that would suffice.

~Meister Eckhart~



avocado with a tomato MUSTARD SEED salsa

Makes about 2 cups

Inspired by supernatural every day

The success of this recipe is buying ripe avocados when in season and to be perfectly creamy in texture, when they are creamy in texture, they meld with the simplicity and subtleness of the rest of the ingredients.  

The second time I made this, I had an abundance of cucumbers in the garden which you see in the photos, but my favourite and preferred way of making this are with just the tomatoes as in the recipe below.


4 medium ripe avocados

juice & zest of 1 lemon (lemon zest set aside)

sprinkling rock salt

for the tomato salsa 

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

salt and pepper to taste

juice of ½ lemon, or to taste

lemon zest from 1 lemon

for the voggarane

1 Tbsp peanut oil/ghee

1 tsp black mustard seeds

a small fresh green chilli, finely chopped (optional) 


1.  Cut each avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, add the lemon juice and salt, then mash the avocados a bit with a fork, or for big quantities, a potato masher works well. Don’t overdo it – you want the mixture to be quite chunky.  Set aside.

2.  Prepare the tomato salsa, chop the tomatoes into small pieces and finely chop the coriander. Place in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze generously with lemon – mix well.

3.  Place the avocado mixture into a bowl or plate.  Using a spoon, create a hole in the centre for the tomato salsa to sit in. Scoop the tomato salsa into the centre of the plate.

5.  Prepare the voggarane, heat the oil/ghee in a small pan; when hot, add the mustard seeds and finely chopped chilli; when the mustard seeds start to sputter and pop, turn off the heat and pour over the avocado and tomato salsa.

6.  Sprinkle with the lemon zest.  Find a sunny spot to sit and enjoy with these crackers or with slices of your favourite bread.

Variation, after the mustard seeds pop, stir in finely chopped fennel, fry until translucent and slightly charred.

Goodness shared from Stacey

herb & olive ricotta

16th July 2010

10 for dinner on a cold, Wintry night.  Main? Check. Dessert? Check. Starter????? Soup? Perhaps.  However, my mind was set on a nibble type of dish that could be shared.  Something other than a cheese or antipasto platter.  Lovely in Summer, but on a cold, Wintry night, not an ideal choice.   Hunting through my Donna Hay magazines, I found in the Autumn 2010 issue, a chilli baked ricotta dish.   Perfect.   Whipped up that one, and then tried another variation, which was my favourite of the two.  Kalamata olives, fresh thyme, oregano, and of course, ricotta.  Simple, yet a wonderful combination.

Preparation-wise, this is a very versatile dish.  It can be prepared just before baking, on the day or one or two days before needed.  If made ahead of time, the flavours have time to infuse throughout the cheese.   You can also pre-bake the dish after it has had time to sit, then reheat when required.  It could also be served in individual pots for each guest, rather than shared.  Any variation of flavours would work.

baked herb & olive ricotta


 250g ricotta

Approx. 10 Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

extra olives, quartered/halved lengthways for decoration

approx. ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves

approx. ½ tsp fresh oregano leaves

fresh cracked black pepper

olive oil, to grease dish


1.  Lightly grease small flan or souffle ovenproof ceramic dish with olive oil.  I used a 12cm flan and an 8cm souffle dish.   Use whatever you have.

2.  Add all ingredients, except olives for decoration, into a bowl.  Mix together so all ingredients are incorporated well.

3.  Spoon into dishes, top with extra olives and thyme sprigs.  Store in fridge until ready for baking (up to 2 days) or bake immediately.

4.  When ready for baking (depending upon need or preference), preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until top is puffed and golden.

5.  Serve immediately with crusty, toasted parmesan bread strips or torn pieces of a good Sourdough bread.   Can be reheated after baking.

Goodness shared from Donna

“I am happy!!” almond sunflower hummus

18th May 2010


This recipe was inspired by a raw food book called “I am Grateful ” – Recipes and Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude by Terces Engelhart.   All the recipes in this book and on the menu in their cafe have self-affirming names like “I am adoring”, “I am loved” or “I am fulfilled”. This hummus is “I am Happy”.   Terces says, “The Cafe Gratitude menu allows you to start practising saying something new and affirming about yourself by simply placing your order and encouraging customers to order what they want in life.  Then, when the servers bring their food and drinks, they place them down, saying, ” You are adoring, “You are loved,” or “You are fulfilled,” and, of course, “You are happy!”

So when you make this hummus, say to yourself, “I AM HAPPY!!!”  What a great way to approach food.  The book was a present given to me by Anna when she returned from a trip to California.  She said the food in this restaurant was amazing, joy-filled and delicious.  There is also a recipe using the left-over almond pulp and finely chopped pine nuts.  This mixture can be used in nori rolls instead of rice.  I haven’t tried this yet, but it does sound delicious, even more so by adding sprouts, avocado and grated carrot.

You can be creative and add all sorts of things to this hummus to give it a different colour, taste and texture.


almond sunflower hummus

Makes about 1½ cups


½ cup sunflower seeds (soaked for at least 4 hours)

¼ cup almond pulp from making almond milk  ( If using whole almonds, soak overnight with the sunflower seeds and peel before grinding)

1 medium zucchini (about 1 cup of sliced zucchini rounds)

– ½ cup raw tahini

zest & juice of one lemon

1 tsp grated fresh turmeric

1 tsp cumin powder (cumin seeds, dry roasted and then ground roughly in a mortar & pestle)

¼ cup almond milk/water

2 Tbsp fresh coriander

salt & pepper to taste


1.  In a food processor, process the almond pulp and soaked sunflower seeds until roughly ground.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and begin again to puree the ingredients, adding the almond milk until you reach a creamy texture (or one you desire).

3.  Taste the hummus and adjust any desired ingredients – lemon juice, cumin, olive oil.

4.  Drizzle with olive oil, dust with more cumin, and sprinkle with hot paprika.

‘Can you see the source of happiness is being happy?’ …Cafe Gratitude…


Goodness shared from Stacey

spicy avocado yoghurt puree

11th January 2010

There are two things I missed most when I was in India. My beautiful, quiet, calm, abundant green garden which gently holds my heart when I spend time in it.  And the most beautiful fruit existing…..avocado!

They are also a part of our garden, as we have at least ten trees. This is the season for them. So when I arrived home from India at 5 o’clock in the morning, I waited and waited and waited until the first morning, golden light appeared, and I went out and picked a basket full from the trees. That week, I had to wait patiently for them to ripen.  After enjoying them daily, I remembered this wonderful dish that my friend Anna had created.  It goes so well with this kichadi, Donna’s baked potatoes, roasted vegetables or any rice dish.


The avocado is one of the world’s most perfect foods.  They contain a high amount of fruit oil at their peak, a relatively rare element that gives the avocado its smooth, mellow taste, nut-like flavour, and high energy value.  They have a perfectly balanced pH, neither acid nor alkaline, are easily digested, and are rich in mineral elements that regulate body functions and stimulate growth. Especially noteworthy are its iron and copper contents, which aid in red blood regeneration and prevent nutritional anaemia.  One of the most valuable sources of organic fat and protein, avocados, a regular part of your daily diet, will improve hair and skin quality and soothe the digestive tract.

spicy avocado yoghurt puree

Lately, I have been making a dairy-free version by omitting the yoghurt and increasing the avocados to four, adding a big handful of coriander and mint, the juice of a lemon or two, half a chilli, salt and pepper to taste and blend to the desired consistency.


2 large ripe avocados

½ – 1 cup full-fat yoghurt

¼ cup coriander, chopped

¼ cup mint, chopped

½ small red chilli – stalk removed, seeds intact (whole chilli if you like spicy foods)


1.  Seed the avocados and scrape the flesh into a bowl.

2.  Add the yoghurt, mint, coriander and chilli and blend until creamy using a hand blender.  All ingredients can be blended in a mini food processor or blender, whatever you have available.


Avocado health benefits from ‘Whole Foods Companion – A Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers & Lovers of Natural Foods’ – Dianne Onstad

Shared goodness from Stacey

red lentil hummus – two ways

18th December 2009


Sometimes hummus made from chickpeas can be quite heavy, as well as, a long wait for the chickpeas to be soaked and then cooked.  This recipe is a light and very quick alternative.

I am giving two recipes here;

  • One, which I make often, where the lentils are cooked and taste similar to regular hummus. It takes only 20 minutes to prepare.
  • The second recipe involves soaking and sprouting with no cooking involved.  This one has a taste of its own.


cooked red lentil hummus

Red lentils cook very fast – 15 minutes without soaking.  You can also use the yellow split moong dal instead of red lentils, as they cook almost as fast and don’t require soaking.

preparation 20 minutes

makes 2 cups 


1 cup red lentils/split moong dal

½ cup tahini

½ tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp spicy paprika (optional)

juice of one lemon

salt and pepper


1.  In a saucepan, rinse the lentils until the water runs clear, drain, barely cover with water, then simmer covered until the lentils are soft and have a mushy consistency – 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so all the lentils cook.  Try not to be tempted to add more water. Drain the lentils, keeping any excess water to add later.

2.  In a small pan, lightly dry-fry the cumin seeds, then grind in a mortar and pestle.

3.  Add the cumin, salt, lemon juice and tahini to the cooked lentils and using an immersion hand blender, blend all ingredients until you reach a creamy texture (or one you desire).

4.  Taste the hummus and adjust any ingredients to your liking – lemon juice, tahini, cumin, salt or pepper.  Trickle with olive oil, dust with spicy paprika and garnish with fresh garden coriander.

Serve with sliced carrot, beetroot and crunchy fennel pieces.


Sprouting is germination, a process where all the vitamins, minerals,  proteins, and essential acids that lay dormant in raw seeds, grains, and beans activate and multiply.  Sprouting also eliminates certain acids and toxins in plant life that would otherwise interfere with digestion.

Serves 4


1 cup sprouted red lentils (soaked and sprouted as below)

½ cup tahini

½ tsp freshly ground cumin

juice one lemon

salt and pepper

filtered water


1. To sprout the lentils, place the lentils in a bowl and, with filtered water, soak overnight or for at least 7 hours.

2.  Once soaked, place a colander over a bowl and drain all the water.  Leave the lentils in the colander overnight.

3.  Rinse the lentils and allow them to sit overnight again. The lentils should start to sprout a tail. This takes about 2 days. The longer the tail grows, the more water it retains, which means less flavour.

4. To prepare the hummus in a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients and add water until you reach a creamy texture (or one you desire).

5.  Taste the hummus and adjust any ingredients to your liking – lemon juice, tahini, cumin, salt or pepper.

Trickle with olive oil, dust with hot paprika and sprinkle with nuts or seeds of choice.


Shared goodness from Stacey

making hummus in India

24th November 2009

Now I know I promised some delicious Indian dishes when I was in India, but during my stay, I enjoyed someone else making them, rather than me cooking them.  My dear friend Mary had organised a wonderful Indian lady with a huge smile to cook lunch for us.   We were quite a big group of  6 hungry adults and 4 hungry, very appreciative children.  Each day, there was a new dish, more delicious than the next.  Each day there was a soupy dal, rice, two types of vegetable palya (a dry vegetable dish)and either chapati or rice rotti.  The chapati went very well with the hummus.

When packing for India, I packed a huge jar of tahini to experiment with a hummus recipe that was given to me by some experts in this field (thank you, Noa and Tal).  Also, it is one way that I know the children will get a good dose of protein while we are in Mysore, in the South of India.

There are a few secrets to this recipe;

  • bicarbonate of soda for a softer chickpea
  • good quality traditional tahini
  • ice water to create an aerated, creamy hummus.

P1020314IMG_3292Scan 141720002


Makes about 2½ cups


1¼ cup dried chickpeas

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ cup good quality tahini

salt to taste

juice from ½ lemon, approximately 2 Tbsp, plus more if needed

½ cup ice water

to garnish

1 large ripe tomato

¼ tsp sweet paprika


1.  Soak the chickpeas and bicarb of soda overnight with double their volume in water.

2. Drain, rinse and place in a large pot, and generously cover with water, bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.

3.  Simmer until the chickpeas are soft, about 2 – 3 hours, depending on the brand and freshness of your chickpeas. You will need to add more water as they simmer.  Once done, the chickpeas should be quite soft but not mushy – drain and set aside.

prepare the hummus 

4.  Dry roast the cumin seeds in a small pan; when lightly toasted, turn off the heat and grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

5.  Measure out 2 cups chickpeas/350g (any remaining chickpeas can be used as garnish) and place in a food processor attached with an S-blade; run the machine, stopping and scraping down the sides occasionally until the beans are crumbly.

6.  Pour in tahini, add ground cumin, lemon juice, and salt, and blend again until well combined.  With the machine still running, start drizzling in the ice water so that the hummus starts to become fluffy and aerated. Depending on the chickpeas, you may not use all the water or need more.

7.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes; taste and adjust to your own personal taste by adding more tahini, lemon, or salt.

8.  To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl, add any leftover chickpeas, cut the tomato in half, and grate each half on a medium grater directly into the hummus. Grate until all the pulp and juices are out, and you’re just left with the peel, which you discard. Drizzle with olive oil, more lemon juice, and a sprinkling of sweet paprika. You could also garnish with toasted black sesame seeds or an assortment of sprouts.

Serve with freshly made chapati or pita bread.

I have been sautéing on very high heat – mildly spiced long green peppers, sautéed until slightly charred. 

Shared goodness from Stacey

roasted aubergine with yoghurt & Indian spices

1st August 2009


Before leaving for our summer holiday in Australia, I had a lot of aubergines in the garden, and needed to find ways to use them, hence why another post where they feature as the main ingredient.

Hamilton Island, Qld Australia

This is roasted eggplant with spice-infused ghee, braised tomatoes, yoghurt and fresh coriander.   I serve it as a side dish to any simple dal and grain, and it goes well with oven-roasted potatoes or as a dip with crunchy vegetables, small cold cucumber slices are especially nice.

roasted aubergine with yoghurt & Indian spices

Inspired by The Vegetable Table by Yamuna Devi

Makes approximately 1½ cups


1 large aubergine

⅓ – ½ cup Greek yoghurt

salt to taste

½ cup finely chopped fresh coriander


1 Tbsp ghee/oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

tsp asafoetida powder

tsp red pepper flakes

¼ tsp turmeric powder

5 small cherry tomatoes, finely chopped


1.  Cook the aubergine over a gas flame or electric grill as described in the recipe for baba ghanoush, until the skin blackens and blisters and the inside flesh is very soft; 10 – 20 minutes.


2.  Slit the eggplant and scoop the flesh into a bowl, removing the charred skin; allow to sit in a strainer for a few minutes to allow the juice to leak out and drain away as this is quite bitter.  Drain out the bitter juice, place the flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork.

prepare the voggarane

3.  Heat the ghee; when hot, add cumin seeds – fry until golden, then add the asafoetida, red pepper flakes, turmeric and, within seconds, the tomatoes. Fry until the tomatoes are slightly broken down, 3 – 4 minutes, then add to the aubergine.

4.  Season with salt and stir in the yoghurt and fresh coriander.  Drizzle with ghee before serving, and garnish with more fresh coriander.

Serve warm or at room temperature with chapati or your favourite grain dish.


Goodness shared by Stacey

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