Chilled Avocado Soup

A lovely light spicy soup, perfect for lunch with warmed torillas. Unlike most avocado soups (which tend to be overly rich), this one does not use cream or sour cream. though you can put a dollop of the latter on the top.

Persian Chicken

A good alternative to the standard roast chook and one which all the family will love. Serve it with glazed sweet potatoes and kumara and freshly cooked sugar snaps.


This hearty wholesome soup hails from south- west France and is a good one for those on a budget or with a crowd to feed. According to 'Larousse Gastronomique', the most famous version is from Bearn (which includes cabbage and confit), but there are many local variations. In Gascony , the local tradition is to tip a glass of wine (preferably a full-bodied red) into the dregs of your bowl which not only makes the soup go further but is also very delicious. Toasted bread with cheese is sometimes served as an accompaniment, as with French onion soup.

Weeping Lamb (L’agneau qui pleure)

The French describe this method of slow-roasting lamb as "weeping" because the drippings from the meat "weep" into the potatoes underneath. They use a leg of lamb and cook it for up to three hours - if you decide to use the leg, double the quantity of vegetables.

Poacher’s Way, Canberra

A very loud rattling sound greets me as I drive up the dusty road past the vineyard to Clonakilla, a multi-award winning winery at Murrumbateman, 40 minutes north west of Canberra. Even with the windows firmly up to keep out the fine dust, the rattling grows louder and louder by the second.

Tropical Fruits

For many exotic fruits, their flavour is best appreciated when just picked. While some (such as lychees, mangosteens and rambutans, all with sturdy skins) have become more readily available, they’re really at their peak when tasted close to home, as most do not travel well. One example is the exquisite white sapote, a sweet white-fleshed fruit with a thin green skin. When ripe, the flesh is soft and luscious and tastes like fine vanilla custard.

Scallop salad (pla hoi shenn)

This simple but tasty salad is from David Thompson's magnificent new book "thai food" (Penguin). Thompson is Australia's foremost exponent of authentic Thai cuisine and this new book is a tribute to his years of passionate research and knowledge.

Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Most of us are accustomed to the fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls but ones are bound with an egg and fried and are very tasty. They were part of the cooking class at Hai's Cafe in Hoi An, on the east coast of Central Vietnam, where I visited last week.