Friday, March 20, 2015

Every year throughout the warmer months we always have a few chilli plants on the go. It amazing how many chilli's can grow on the one plant throughout the season!

The ones that I find grow the easiest and are the most eaten in our household are the jalapeno variety. I find them just the right amount of heat (call me a wuss!) and they have that lovely chilli flavour and smell.

These warmer months, however don't last forever, so for the last few years I've found myself pickling and jarring them to keep in the pantry to use through the year without having to buy them.

Here is my simple recipe to have you growing, pickling and enjoying your home-grown chilli's long after the growing season has passed.

These also make great gifts, and alot of people love the effort that goes into homemade products.

1 Cup White vinegar
1 Cup Water
1.5 TBSP salt and sugar
1 TBSP whole peppercorns
5-6 Whole cloves
2 Garlic cloves
1 Star anise
2 Cups Jalapeno chilli's

Wash your preserving jars and lids then bring them to the boil in a large soup/preserving pot for 5 minutes. Set aside until filling stage.

Simmer all the ingredients, except chilli's for 2-3 minutes until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add chilli's (you can chop them up, like I have, or leave them whole) and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn off heat and set side for 10 minutes.

Using tongs, drain jars and lids and carefully ladle or spoon chillies into the jars and well as the liquid. Be sure to add the peppercorns and spices as these will only add flavour as they develop.

Fill to 1cm below the top and screw the lid on and invert. It pays to use good thick oven mitts doing this process as the jars and liquid are very hot! Always make sure the jars are just as hot as the contents going in or else this will result in the jars cracking.

Leave the jars upside down until they're completely cool. The lids should have sealed and you can now store these in your pantry or give out as little gifts.

This recipe has enough liquid for 3-4 250ml preserving jars.

Friday, March 6, 2015

I catch up with my friend Brooke of Cooking 101 regularly and so far our destination of choice seems to be the Swan valley.

Scouring through the entertainment book I notice Stewarts at Brookleigh Estate. I often share their specials on my page and have been to a friends wedding here a few years ago so we decided to hit this place up.

Located towards the back end of the valley on Great Northern Highway, its a bit further out than most of the wineries and restaurants but is an easy scenic drive.

Stewarts restaurant is nestled on the property of Brookleigh Equestrian Estate, which is very picturesque and very popular for weddings.

I was a happy girl looking at the wine list when I saw Forest Hill Estate 2012 Reisling, my most favourite wine that I first tasted when I went down to Denmark for the WA Signature Dish Competiton. After we came back from Denmark I was looking in all the small boutique wine stores around Perth for this little gem with no luck. $38 a bottle was a great price and we happily sipped on this throughout out lunch.

We both agreed to share the Scallops for entrĂ©e which were fresh from Rotto and served with saganaki haloumi and sauce vierge. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the haloumi added a nice saltyness to them. This dish was very much enjoyed on both parts.

For mains Brooke chose the Confit Duck leg. This looked amazing on the plate and definitely a filling meal with the large portion size. It came with roasted beetroot, broccolini and balsamic.


For my mains I couldn't go past the gnocchi. If there's gnocchi on the menu I find it hard to choose other things. This gnocchi was served with a generous pile of mushrooms, spinach, brown butter and parmesan.

The gnocchi was nice and the portion size again was big, I couldn't finish it all! I polished off as much as I could, though.

After lunch the waiter asked us if we could be tempted with dessert; yes we could...and we did! So glad we did too, we ordered the churros to share and eagerly awaited it's arrival. Stewarts definitely delivered with this dessert beauty.

Fresh churros with dark chocolate dipping sauce cleverly poured into egg shells. We got stuck in straight away (after photos of course) and loved every bit of it!

Stewarts had been on my 'to try' list for a while and the visit was most definitely worth the wait. I'll be back here again and know I wont be disappointed!

Stewarts are also affiliated with the Entertainment Book, we used our gold card and received the relevant discount.

Stewart's at Brookleigh on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How To Pack the Perfect Picnic

Summer does not last all year, so it’s important to take advantage of the nice weather as much as possible while it’s here. Have you thought about taking your meals outdoors?

Perth has some gorgeous picnic spots, from the beautiful gardens at Burswood Park and the sheltered picnic tables at the Bibra Lake Reserve to the Queen’s Gardens and of course the beautiful Swan Valley. Lilac Hill Park in the Swan Valley is great for both family picnics and romantic afternoon lunches in the park - it has a stunning picnic area on the river. See a full list of parks and picnic areas in the Swan Valley

The Main Dish

When it comes to picnic food, simple and clean is the best way to go. Choose something healthy that you can prepare at home and bring to your picnic spot that won't require an extreme temperature, lots of dishes or utensils, or a big clean up.

Sandwiches are a delicious staple for any Perth picnic. You can pack the toppings separately, and have everyone build their own sandwich outdoors.

Stop at your local deli for some fresh meats, cheeses, and veggies. In your picnic basket, include onions, lettuce, slices of your favourite cheese, a tomato, some pickles and perhaps some avocado to spread on top.

The bonus here is that a make-your-own-sandwich picnic allows everyone, even the picky eaters, to eat what they like, there are few dishes and utensils required, and almost no clean up.

The Side Dish

Even if you add veggies to your main dish, it’s always nice to have a side dish that is healthier than potato chips. Potato salad or fruit salad can both be prepared at home, stored in a dish and served on a plate without making a mess.

If you're in a rush or looking for finger foods, cutting up some fresh fruit and vegetables requires little preparation and little clean-up. If you want to spice it up a little bit, you could make some homemade vegetable dip to be shared. Try baby carrots and hummus, grapes, berries, or even chunks of cheese with crackers.

Picnic Beverages 

While water is always a great option, it can be nice to dress up a picnic with something sweet to quench your thirst. Pink lemonade made from fresh lemons, water, and sugar to taste is perfect for the summer sun whether your picnic is for a date or a day out with friends/family. 

Remember that mixing a drink like homemade lemonade is a great way to get your kids involved in preparing for the picnic! Partially freezing your drinks before you pack your picnic helps minimise the risk of spilling while keeping your drinks colder for longer, even if they're left sitting in the sun.

For store-bought drinks and other items just remember that a bottle or can opener may be needed, so it’s always good to have them in the picnic bag, just in case!


No picnic is complete without a tasty snack for dessert, and these homemade dark chocolate cookies definitely make the cut.

The recipe is simple - it only has six ingredients! You'll need dark chocolate, butter, sugar, two eggs, baking powder, and flour.

The best way to keep your cookies fresh on a picnic is to pack them in an airtight container with a piece of stale bread - it keeps your cookies fresh and soft until you are ready to eat them. 

When it comes to dessert, try to avoid solid chocolate or frosting, both of which could melt in the sun. Store bought or homemade cookies, brownies, or even more fresh fruit can also be a great picnic dessert. 

Kid-Friendly Munchies

Picnics are a great way to get the kids outdoors and to explore a new place around Perth. However, kids can be messy even at home, so it's usually better to keep it simple. Fresh cut local fruit or veggies are a good option, or, if you want to let the kids help with the preparation, consider a simple recipe like devilled eggs or homemade fruit, nut and seed bars.

Author Bio: This post was written by Jodee Wearne, the owner and manager of
Just In Time Gourmet in Perth. Jodee and her family, love heading out on picnics which is why they have created a speciality range of gourmet picnic hampers to tempt the taste buds, which can be delivered directly to your door (with free Perth metro delivery!) – see these here.