Which Potato should I use?

Written by . Saturday, 30 July 2011


Potatoes are one of the world’s largest non-grain crops. They are cheap, entirely fat & cholesterol free and can be cooked and eaten in so many different ways. The trick however is knowing which potatoes are best for what dish.

There are 2 types of Australian potatoes: 

1) Starchy Potatoes which are low in moisture & sugar – Good to BAKE / MASH / FRY / ROAST

 2) Waxy Potatoes which are high in moisture & low in starch – Good to BOIL / SLOW COOK


Here is a quick run-down on some common varieties and what they are best used for:


Bintje Creamy fleshed, firm textured and ideal for frying. In season all year round and has a long shelf life.
Golden Delight A great all-rounder good for mashing, baking or frying.

Steam or Boil (and Salads):

Potato_bintjev2Bintje Creamy fleshed, firm textured and ideal for use in salads. In season all year round and has a long shelf life.
Kipfler Finger shaped & knobbly with yellow skin & flesh. Use this buttery-flavoured variety for salads, steaming, boiling or roasting
Nadine Firm white flesh, good for microwaving or boiling
Pink Eye (also known as Southern Gold) Waxy, nutty flavoured flesh that’s good for salads, boiling, steaming or baking.

Mash or Bake:

Potatoe_pink_eyeColiban Floury, white flesh ideal for mashing & baking- perfect for chippes!
King Edward An old variety with white flesh, floury texture & pink markings. Good for baking or mashing
Pink Eye (also known as Southern Gold) Waxy, nutty flavoured flesh that’s good for salads, boiling, steaming or baking.


All Rounder:

Potato_dutchcreamv2Desiree Waxy flesh that is good for boiling, mashing, salads or roasting (not frying)
Dutch Creams Large oval shape with white flesh, thin skin & lovely buttery taste
Golden Delight Yellow smooth skin with a cream flesh – a great all-rounder
Red Rascal Crisp, flavoursome flesh that’s good for boiling, mashing, roasting or frying.
Royal Blue Distinctive purple potato with white flesh that’s a great all-rounder
Sebago Long or oval shaped with white flesh. Great all-rounder
Pontiac White flesh, pink skin (not frying)

• Green potatoes are those that have been exposed to light during their growth. It can be harmful in large quantities and is best not to eat them
• It is ok to eat sprouting potatoes so long as you take the sprout out
• Many nutrients lie just under the skin of the potato so it is best to peel only a thin layer or scrub well and keep the skin on
• Potatoes are a carbohydrate rich food but also a source of vitamin C, protein & folate
• Potatoes are 80% water

Research with thanks to Aus Veg & PMC WA

Hearty Beef Bortsch

Written by . Tuesday, 26 July 2011

If you love beetroot and hearty soups then this is the Winter warmer for you! Not only is it a little bit different, but healthy and delicious. As with most soups it taste even better a few days later. I hope you enjoy it too.

400g beef osso bucco (beef shanks)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion diced
Dill, chopped
2 medium sized beetroot, raw & grated
1 carrot grated
1 tbspn. tomato paste
4 large tomatoes diced
1 quarter piece of white cabbage
1 pint vegetable stock
½ pint water
Salt & pepper to taste
Sour cream to serve

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and add the onion, dill and meat until sealed well

Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes and some water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the temperature and simmer for around 1 ½ hours

Bortsch_prepAdd the sliced white cabbage and season to taste. In a separate pan, lightly fry the raw grated carrot and beetroot together with the tomato paste

Bortsch_platedOnce this has softened slightly add the mixture into the soup. Cook for a further 30 mins.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Serves 4.

Recipe thanks to Luigi’s Tastes of Italy blog

Over the coming months Local Market Guide will be sending a handful of shoppers out to local Sydney produce markets. The result we hope is to tell you about the huge variety of fresh & gourmet produce available as well as a peek into other people’s shopping baskets and what they do with it!

I started the ball rolling myself this week at Northside Produce Markets – held on the 3rd Saturday of each month at Miller Street North Sydney. For those who haven’t been there, it is great to go to a market where there is ample space to get around and also plenty of tables and grassy slopes to park yourself at for a coffee and bite to eat.

My shopping List: No list – I just bought a few things that caught my eye. That’s generally how I shop at the markets.

1. Whole Smoked Rainbow Trout – Goulburn River Trout @ $11
Buy it ready to eat. I warmed it slightly & served it with corn & zucchini fritters and a homemade horseradish cream (sour cream with a teaspoon of horseradish). Great to share as an entrée or served whole on a platter to nibble at with friends over a drink.   July_033v2

2. Homemade Zucchini & Corn Fritters by Carmel @ $5
Freshly baked and packed in stacks of 5 this was the perfect entrée with the trout. You could even cut them up and serve in canape size pieces. Gluten free available

3. Onion Jam – The Maybole Pantry @ $11 July_031v2
Made with red onions, figs, balsamic vinegar & a bit of chilli.
Yumo! Haven’t been able to stop eating it. It is sweet yet has bite to it too. Great with cheese, cooked meats, ham sandwiches..Check out their citrus jams as well. They have a delicious Mandarin Jam.

4. Coconut & Caramel Truffle Chocolates / Chilli & Lime Truffle with Almond Nougatine – Gumnut Chocolates @ $6 Chocolates_rotatedv3
It was nice to try something different – the chilli & lime had a punch which was balanced out by the citrus flavour and the coconut & caramel were smooth and just as moreish.
Gumnut offer a great selection of gift boxes or you can make your own up. Next time I’m going back to try the biscuits! 

5. Caramel Popcorn – Sweetness The Patisserie @ $6
Sweet, crunchy & very indulgent.
The beautifully packaged products make for the perfect gift. There were so many temptations to choose from including mini macaroons & their signature marshmallows, available in endless flavours. Try the passionfruit!


Next produce market at North Sydney – Saturday 20th August

It is too easy to pick up a commercial cleaning agent off the supermarket shelf and not even think twice about the active ingredients they contain and the harm they may cause to both ourselves and the environment. What happened to the good old home remedies our grandmothers swore by? Remedy_GROUP-SHOT_500pixelsv2

Lesley Barnes started researching and producing Remedy household products over 8 years ago. Her products have evolved today to a successful and popular range of natural cleaning agents which are mostly olive oil based and mixed with a variety of eucalyptus and essential oils. You could even say that Lesley was well ahead of her time – motivated to create multipurpose products that are made entirely of natural ingredients, are safe, non-toxic and bio-degradable.

It is no surprise that Remedy’s best seller is Re:Everyday which is a eucalyptus base multi-purpose cleaner with anti-bacterial properties. You don’t have to use much, and as I discovered recently it is perfect for everything from my wooden floorboards to benches, sinks and even to keep the ants away!

There are also plenty of other great products: RE: Wool, RE: Hands and Re: Dishes with Lemon Myrtle and Lemon Lime essential oils to name a few. Of course, it is only fair that when we think of ourselves that we consider our four legged furry friends, and that’s exactly what Remedy has done with Re: Dog. The natural blend of eucalyptus, jojoba oil and neem oil helps to keep their coat and skin healthy as well as repel fleas, ticks and insects.

The philosophy ‘Clean without Harm’ and the product are one and the same, and they even smell great too. The products are reasonably priced and there are also some great gift packages available. Keep an eye out, Lesley isn’t stopping there – she has some great new ideas in motion!

Available at EQ Village Markets, Orange Grove & Hornsby Organic Food Markets

Like the sound of an indoor market where you can finish up with a glass of vino and a hot Sunday lunch? The Designer Fashion Market at Gymea Tradies is definitely worth a visit. bec_tradies_market-4v2

The market has been operating in its current location since March and features around 20-25 local and emerging designers. It’s great to see such a good variety of stalls and a spacious set-up that is conducive to a yarn with the designer themselves. It is after all a Sunday!

The stalls are all beautifully displayed and include everything from baby & kidswear to one-off tops and accessories, shoes & bags.

bec_8v2For the shoe lovers choose between the high heeled sexy colourful shoes & boots by danYelle or the fabulous Fabz, designer flats that fold up, great for travelling or wearing home after a the races. ‘Alicia Jane Designs’ have gorgeous hair clips & accessories adorned with feminine fabrics and handmade silk flowers, and to dress up your wardrobe ‘TT Treasures’ have unique & elegant jewellery making subtle statements with their semi-precious stones, crystals and beads.


There are constantly new stallholders, this month there is even one for the boys. Chris Robinson’s menswear label ‘Fressh’ will showcase a funky combination of surf, skate & street casualwear.

The Designer Fashion Market is run by the Business Enterprise Centre for the Sutherland & St George area, primarily giving support to small and local businesses. For budding designers this market is particularly attractive if you are looking for guidance in building your brand & business as well as access to training and government resources.

Don’t miss the next market – Sunday 17th July from 10am to 4pm.  BEC

A delicious and easy tart for those who love goats cheese and mushies. The perfect entree or lunch served with a fresh green salad on the side.

Pastry: You can also substitute with puff pastry 
1 cup flour
½ cup self-raising flour
90g softened butter
1 dessert spoon sugar
4 tablespoons iced water
Salt & pepper

Rub the butter into the rest of the ingredients until it is well blended. Knead the mixture well. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
NB: You can make the pastry the day before and keep in in the fridge wrapped in glad wrap – always a good idea if you have guests

25 g butter
1 clove garlic chopped finely
2 shallots finely chopped
300g fresh wild mushrooms (I used Chestnuts and a few white cups to bulk it out – you can use other wild mushrooms such as French chanterelles)
2 large eggs
200g soft goats cheese   Doughv2
100ml cream
Squeeze of lemon juice
Handful of parsley chopped
¼ cup pinenuts, slightly toasted & crushed
Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 190C

Roll out the pastry and place in a 25cm round tin or quiche dish. Press the pastry into the tin, leaving a little hanging over the edge. Line the pastry with foil and fill with baking beads (or rice / risotto) and cook for 15 mins until the sides are lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.Take out the foil and baking beads and place in the oven for a further 5 mins.
Reduce the oven to 170C

Heat the butter in a pan and gently fry the garlic & shallots until they have softened. Add the mushrooms together with some salt & pepper. Once the juices have been cooked off, stir in the parsley and the lemon juice and remove from heat. Cooking_Mushiesv2

Beat the eggs, goats cheese, cream and salt & pepper to taste in a bowl until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pastry case then add the mushroom mixture on top. Sprinkle the crushed pine nuts on top and bake for 20-25 mins until set and the pastry is golden in colour.

Recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay – Published in The Sunday Times Aug 09


There are so many flavoursome varieties of mushrooms available in Australia yet rarely do we vary from the trusty white mushrooms that are so readily available. In fact let’s be honest, if you are anything like me you don’t really know which varieties are best for what dish. 

Last week I met with Peter from The Mushroom Depot at EQ Village Markets on Wednesday (also at Orange Grove on Saturdays & Frenchs Forest on Sundays). Peter sells a large variety of locally grown and freshly picked chemical free mushies. His supply comes from the foot of the Blue Mountains as well as the famous Li Sun Mittagong tunnel which has been cultivating mushrooms for decades. The disused railway tunnel offers the perfect conditions in which to grow mushrooms offering a similar environment to overseas mountains in Japan, China and Korea.

Whilst mushrooms are available all year round, their growth is susceptible to the weather and as a result the varieties available at the markets can change accordingly. The good news for all the cooks out there is that ‘The Mushroom Depot’ also receives a variety of European grown mushrooms including French Morels, Chanterelles and Italian Porcini’s when in season. Mushrooms types are also easily substituted which is the perfect opportunity to try a different variety!

A visit to Peter and you will come home with the perfect mix. You will be amazed at the difference in flavour when you cook with fresh mushrooms and a variety that compliments the dish you are preparing. Alongside the mushrooms you can also buy Darling Mills fresh lettuces and micro-herbs. If you get in quick you might be lucky enough to grab yourself some fresh truffle just in from Tasmania too!

Here is a quick look at commonly available mushroom types and their uses.


White Mushrooms (Buttons / Cups / Flats): Mild flavour
Great all rounder and can be eaten raw or cooked

Brown Mushrooms (Swiss / Portabello): Deeper flavour
Swiss mushrooms are a great all rounder
Portabello are best grilled or roasted & left whole

FACT: The buttons, cups & flats are all the same mushrooms as are the swiss & portabello however they are picked at different stages of growth (only a few days older!)

  Chestnuts: Nutty flavour  Goats_Cheese__Mushroom_Tartv2
  Great with egg dishes & pasta
  Leave whole or cut lengthways for longer stems
  See Mushroom & Goats Cheese Tart Recipe


King Brown: Rich flavour and dense in texture 
Great with meat dishes
Slice lengthways or dice

Enoki: Fruity in flavour
Serve raw or add to cooking just before serving ie soups & omelettes
Pencil thin so best left whole

Oyster: Mild flavour and soft texture
Great in Asian dishes ie stir-fry’s & soups
Best left whole

Shiitake: Meaty flavour  Mushrooms_2v2
Great with all meats particularly slow-cooked and in sauces
Remove the stalk and dice the cap 

Wood Ear: Mild flavour / used more for texture
Mostly stir-frys & broth soups
Dice into small pieces



Mushroom Preparation: Mushrooms should not be washed under water as they already have a high water content. It is best to use a damp cloth to remove dirt and wipe them clean.

It is also recommened to peel the caps of white mushrooms before cooking.

Surry Hills Market is not exactly a secret. Well-loved and visited for its fabulous finds and location, market goers of all ages flock to Shannon Reserve on the first Saturday of each month to find themselves a bargain. Famous for pre-loved clothes, furniture & home wares you will also find emerging designer fashion and artisan goods. Surry_Hills_blog_2

Racks of clothes from hand-knitted jerseys to furs coats, denim jackets and floral blouses can be found for reasonable prices. If you’re looking for comfy worn Winter boots, a vintage leather handbag or some original Ray-bans & Le Specs then this is the place too.

Surry_Hills_blog_1You may be more interested in the home wares.. Personally I can never go past the kitchen stuff – retro cooking & Margaret Fulton eat your heart out! Jelly moulds, copper pots, fondue sets, cast iron jaffle machines.. so many quirky items that you have no idea when you will use but you still need all the same. And amazing how the cookie jars and earthenware dinner sets that were once at your Nanna & Pop’s (and you thought were so old-fashioned) are suddenly cool again. Surry_Hills_blog_3

If you love seeking out one-offs and have an eye for something different then this is the place to come. There is a great playground for the kids, plenty of yummy food and of course the ‘Clock Hotel’ next door where you can enjoy a few wines overlooking the markets and really welcome in the weekend!

Next Market: Saturday 2nd July

Shashen Jewellery offers the perfect balance. Each piece is uniquely handcrafted in its design and aesthetic beauty, using semi-precious and natural gemstones that have been selected for their vibrational energies. The gemstones are also chosen for their colour, light and personality.

The classic contemporary jewellery is made locally and the collection includes a beautiful range of necklaces, bracelets, rings & earrings. Each is designed differently; some stones are cut for the piece whilst others are inspired by the gemstone itself.

Shashen_1I spoke with Eilish Bouchier owner and designer of Shashen Jewels about selling at the markets..listen up budding stallholders!

The Customers
Shashen Jewels trade at three Sydney markets, each attracting different customers. At Orange Grove Leichhardt you tend to build a rapport with customers as they return week in and week out for their fresh produce. The clientele however at Mosman & Bondi are more random, visiting for an outing. Some customers will know what they are looking for resulting in an instant sale and others are a more considered purchase. You always however encounter interesting people at the markets. Shashen_3

Why the markets?
The markets are a great way to research and get direct feedback on your product, particularly if you are looking to grow your business beyond the markets. They help to build your brand but also to find the balance between what your product actually is (or what it is for the buyers) and what brings the money in. “Often what you think you are selling may vary from what people are buying..”

Yes your customers are buying the product because it appeals to them, it’s beautiful, affordable and perhaps unique but in Eilish’s case she also discovered how the jewellery made the buyer feel. “What amazed me was how many people return to tell me how fabulous they feel when they wear my pieces.” You can’t get this kind of feedback without being at the markets!

Shashen_2Any challenges?
Yes, the position of your stall is important so that customers can find you again and also for foot traffic on the day. The weather can also be a challenge depending on the market.

Visit Shashen Jewels at: Orange Grove Organic Food Market (every Sat), Mosman Village Art & Craft Market (1st Sat) & Bondi Market (every Sun)

Duck a L’Orange Recipe

Written by . Wednesday, 08 June 2011

With the long weekend ahead, why not treat yourself to some duck using the beautiful naval oranges which are in season. It is an easy and delicious recipe and tastes even better with a bottle of red!

2 Duck Breasts
2 Oranges for zest and juice (julienne the zest)
¼ cup white wine
3 tablespoons port (original recipe uses cognac)
Knob of butter
50 ml chicken stock
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Thyme

Serves 2

Duck_a_LOrange_Ingredientsv2Trim the duck breast around the sides for excess fat. Score the skin in a criss cross a couple of times. Season the skin with salt and pepper.

Heat a pan with a small amount of oil. Once it is hot add the duck breast skin side down and cook slowly for 3-4 minutes until it is slightly brown.

Season the underside, turn over and brown. Place in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 8 minutes (a little longer if big breasts). When cooked remove from the pan, cover and rest for 10 minutes. You want the duck to be medium rare but firm to touch.

Pour out most of the duck fat and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the port and bring to the boil before adding the orange juice. Reduce until syrupy, then add orange zest, chicken stock and handful of thyme and butter (I also added a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar as the oranges weren’t as sweet as I would have liked).

Slice the duck and arrange on the plate, ladle with the sauce.   Duck_a_LOrange_platedv2

I served it with a potato and grated zucchini potato bake which was perfect. Click here for our ‘Potato & Fennel Bake’ (swap the fennel for zucchini). Potatoes are also yum when cooked in the duck fat.


Recipe adapted from ABC’s ‘The Cook & The Chef April 2009’

A wet market is an open food market and traditionally associated with selling live animals offering everything from fish, poultry, meats, insects and reptiles. Today you will also commonly find other produce such as fruit & vegetables and fresh noodles.

Before refrigeration, a wet market once insured produce was kept as fresh as possible until the time of purchase. Ironically compared with today’s standards, the hygiene of such markets is minimal. Larger produce such as pigs are often still in their entirety and butchered onsite and on the market floor. Whilst floors are washed down with water in an effort to keep the markets clean (thus the term wet market) it is almost impossible to keep the bugs and insects away. Meat_at_the_market_-_istockv2I have also seen in China locals purchasing ducks and geese and taking them home alive (and on the back of their bicycle).

Starfish__Bugs_-_istockv2Wet markets are mostly found in Asian countries and open in the early hours around 4am, closing before the midday heat. Of course like any market in the world, they are often the source of products that you can’t find at the corner store. They are the centre of community life and a great place to catch up with friends.

If you are lucky enough to visit a ‘wet market’ overseas you will find specimens and produce you wouldn’t even know how to cook. Definitely not for the faint hearted!

Easy Quince Paste Recipe

Written by . Thursday, 19 May 2011

There is nothing better than some beautiful cheese with a little quince paste to balance it out. With the long weekend around the corner and no doubt a few drinks with friends, I thought I would try my luck at making it. A success! It is easy, delicious and keeps for several weeks. Give it a go whilst quinces are still in season and cheap to buy.

1kg fresh quince
2 lemons
600ml water
375g caster sugar to every 500g pulp
Cinnamon Stick (or cloves)


Wash the quinces and scour off the down if there is any. Halve them; take out the cores and then quarter.

Squeeze the juice from the lemons. Place the rest of the lemons in some muslin (or thin cotton) and tie.

Place the quinces, lemon juice and muslin bag into a saucepan with the water. Gently simmer for approx. 1hour or until the quinces are soft. Cooking_Quinces

Discard the muslin bag, then blend the contents of the saucepan. Once slightly cool, weigh the mixture so you know how much sugar to add.

Place back on the heat, add sugar and spices, stir and bring to the boil. Continue to boil the mixture for approximately 20 minutes whilst constantly stirring to avoid it burning on the bottom. By now it will have turned dark red in colour. You may want to wear some rubber gloves as it can spit quite a lot.

Quince_Paste_settingEventually the mixture will leave the sides of the pot, keep stirring until it is really thick and firm.
Pour the mixture into a greased flat baking tray. Once it cools you can even it out a bit by slightly wetting your hands. The original recipe suggests that if it is watery on top, you can dry it out in the oven under gentle heat.

The Quince Paste is ready. Cut in small squares and serve with your cheese plate. The balance can be stored in greaseproof paper.

Recipe taken from Lynwood Preserves –Thanks it is delicious!  Cheese_Platter

This week and last is Fair Trade Fortnight helping to promote the Fair Trade movement and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

As consumers we regularly purchase products such as coffee, tea, sugar and even international handcrafted products, but rarely do we take the time to really consider how these products came to be available to us and whether the producers and makers were paid fairly and under good working conditions.

So what is Fair Trade all about? With the help of Associations such as the Fair Trade Australia & New Zealand Branch, international standards of trade are set allowing farmers and workers to be paid sustainable prices. As a result locals are able to improve their standard of living and have independence in managing their business.

A common mis-conception is that Fair Trade products are all organic. This is not always the case. Fair trade standards encourage sustainable farming and in some cases help to educate farmers in better practice. Fair Trade products which are certified and all labelled on their packaging.

Many of these products can be found at your local market. This Saturday 14th May in support of Fair Trade Fortnight, Organic Food Markets at Orange Grove Public School, Leichhardt will be hosting several Fair Trade stalls alongside their weekly market. Get along and support this great cause!   


Sunday at Kings Cross Markets

Written by . Monday, 09 May 2011


Set in the heart of Kings Cross and alongside the historic El Alamain fountain*, Kings Cross Sunday Rotary Market is the perfect stop on your way to brunch at one of the many surrounding cafes.

‘A bit of everything’ is the best way to describe the market, with stalls including pre-loved clothes, vintage handbags, shoes and jewellery. For the book worm there is a great selection of classics and popular reads, another stall with significantly reduced and current cookbooks. I was pleased to pick up a couple of old school women’s weekly cookbooks myself – for a couple of bucks each, you can’t really go wrong! Kings_Cross_Sun_3v2

You can find all sorts of jewellery, as well as fresh flowers and beautiful handmade soaps and candles. The creative eye will be able to sort through what some people might say is junk and find some really quirky and even retro items. If you see something you like, you need to snap it up because it won’t be there for long. 

Kings Cross local market is only small with around 25 stalls, but perfect if you are in the area and feel like seeking out a bargain. The kids will love the playground behind the markets too!

EVERY SUNDAY – 9am to 5pm
Fitzroy Gardens, Macleay Street KINGS CROSS   Kings_Cross_Sun_2v2

*El Alamein Fountain was commissioned as a memorial to soldiers who died in 1942 during the Second Wold War in two battles at El Alamein, Egypt and was designed by the Australian born architect Bob Woodward.

There’s nothing better than cooking comfort food when it starts to get cooler and the rain sets in. One of my favourites is ‘Potato bake’, it’s always tasty and great as left overs!
Try this version with a twist of fennel – it works a treat with a roast.

potato_bakePotato and Fennel Bake                                              

1 large fennel bulb
1kg potatoes (or approx. 1 potato per person)
1 large brown onion sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
300ml fresh cream
1 cup grated tasty cheese
½ cup of grated parmesan      potato_bake_2

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Slice the onion. Trim Fennel stalks, then cut the bulb in half and thinly slice.   
Mix together all the ingredients, except the cream and parmesan in a large bowl and season with salt & pepper. 
Transfer to an ovenproof baking dish and pour in the cream. Sprinkle the parmesan on top. You can add more cream or milk if the dish is quite deep.
Place in the oven and bake for 1hour until golden brown on top and the potatoes are cooked through. The cream should also be absorbed into the mixture. Place a few sprigs of thyme on top to serve.

Serves 6

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