Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Risotto

asparagus risotto olive oil

Asparagus Risotto

The asparagus season is short and intense. Try this recipe if you've overdone it with sauteed and roasted versions of these sensational spears and fancy a change.
This recipe was originally developed for Our Coal Valley
Photo credit: Natalie Mendham
Prep Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine European
Servings 4 people


  • 250 g risotto rice eg. arborio or carnaroli
  • 8 tbsp Freshfield Grove extra virgin olive oil – or lemon agrumato olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 750 ml stock vegetable or chicken
  • 300 – 400 g of asparagus
  • 120 g hard cheese finely grated (eg. pecorino)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


  • Pour 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over a medium heat.
  • Dice the onion and cook gently until translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the crushed garlic and rice, cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add the white wine, stirring occasionally until it’s mostly absorbed.
  • Add the stock gradually, allowing it to be largely absorbed before adding more. Leave the pan uncovered and stir occasionally.
  • While the rice is cooking chop the asparagus into approximately 2cm lengths, keeping the tips aside. (If the spears are thick you may want to slice them in half to reduce the cooking time.)
  • Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a separate pan with a lid and cook the chopped asparagus stalks over medium heat for approximately 3 minutes. Keep covered and stir occasionally.
  • Add the asparagus tips to the stalks and cook covered for a further 2 minutes until just tender. Take off the heat and keep warm.
  • When the rice is cooked (approximately 18-23 minutes) remove it from the heat and season with salt and pepper if required.
  • Add the remaining 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, grated cheese, and cooked asparagus to the rice.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and leave to sit for 2 minutes, then uncover and stir the melting cheese and asparagus through the risotto.
  • Serve into warmed bowls and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Enjoy with a glass of white wine.


Risotto is a lot more forgiving than you may think! You can get away with adding most of the liquid all at once and stir pretty infrequently, or add it very slowly and stir more for a creamier texture. Keeping the stock at boiling temperature isn’t essential, although it does help keep the temperature more constant while the risotto’s cooking. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked use a little boiling water to top up.
There are lots of variations on risotto. While asparagus is in season this is one of my favourites, and it’s lovely with the addition of double podded broad beans. For a “straight from the freezer” version it’s hard to beat the Jamie Oliver recipe for pea and prawn risotto. Dried mushrooms are another useful pantry staple for a minimal hassle mushroom risotto.
The flavours here are beautiful finished with a lemon olive oil, but a little extra lemon zest and a spritz of juice work well if you don’t have any.
Risotto is traditionally made with butter, but extra virgin olive oil works just as well, or use a bit of both. If you’re “saving” your premium olive oil then use an everyday one for the cooking parts, and the premium one when you add the cheese at the end – this is where you’ll notice the biggest flavour boost!
Keyword agrumato, asparagus, evoo, extra virgin olive oil, lemon agrumato olive oil, olive oil, risotto
Cannellini Bean Dip with Rosemary and Roasted Garlic

Cannellini Bean Dip with Rosemary and Roasted Garlic


Cannellini Bean Dip with Rosemary and Roasted Garlic

Cannellini beans are a medium sized white bean with a slightly nutty flavour and a beautiful creamy texture. The rosemary and lemon add astringent notes, which are tempered by the richness of roasted garlic. This dip is lovely dressed with lemon olive oil, if you like an additional zesty tang! It’s a great hummus replacement in a veggie wrap, or spread on fancy crackers for an easy snack.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people


  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 x 400g can of cannellini beans
  • 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • For serving – crackers, bruschetta, crudités, Sauvignon Blanc. (optional)


  • Turn the oven on at 200degC.
  • Slice the top off the garlic to expose the cloves, place on a piece of tin foil and drizzle with 2 tbsp or so of EVOO.
  • Wrap and seal the garlic in the tin foil, place on a baking sheet or dish and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Drain and rinse the can of beans, reserving the liquid from the can in case you want to loosen the texture of the dip at the end.
  • Combine 4 cloves of your roasted garlic with the beans, rosemary, lemon juice, and 3 tbsp EVOO in a food processor or blender, and blend until it’s the desired texture.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Serve drizzled with fresh EVOO.
Keyword dip

Slow Baked Red Cabbage with Apple

Slow Baked Red Cabbage with Apple


Slow Baked Red Cabbage with Apple


This is a classic combination of red cabbage and apple, slowly cooked until it melts in the mouth. It’s a perfect accompaniment to pork in particular, whether that’s a roast, pork chops, or simply a few pork sausages cooked on the BBQ. I’ve made this much more frequently since being told by a friend that it freezes incredibly well – it’s not really worth making in small quantities due to the long cooking time.
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 40 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine European
Servings 6


  • 1 large red cabbage finely sliced
  • 1 large onion halved and sliced
  • 2 eating apples cored and roughly chopped
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp nutmeg grated or ground
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 150°C (300 °F).
  • Mix the cabbage, onion, apples, red wine, sugar, red wine vinegar and spices in a large casserole dish.
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the top and cover.
  • If the casserole dish is flameproof (and you have time), bring to the boil on the stovetop. This will slightly reduce the oven cooking time.
  • Place the casserole dish into the oven and leave to cook for 3 – 3 ½ hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so if possible.
  • The cabbage is cooked when it’s tender and melting, and most of the liquid has been absorbed… At this point add seasoning as needed.
  • Either enjoy immediately, or refrigerate or freeze and reheat later.


The red wine can be substituted by port, or orange juice. The flavor can be varied too by using different combinations of spices such as coriander, cumin, and allspice. I find a casserole dish of about 4L capacity will take the volume here, although it depends a little on the size of the cabbage! In the days when I didn’t have a casserole dish this size, I split the recipe in two, and squeezed both in the oven. The volume reduces significantly during cooking.

Applesauce Olive Oil Cake

Applesauce Olive Oil Cake

Applesauce Cake

This is a perfect autumn recipe – inspired by the flavors of freshly picked apples, and freshly harvested walnuts. Serve it up for morning tea, grab one for an emergency breakfast, or enjoy it warm with a dollop of cream for dessert. It’s also useful in being a recipe suitable for those needing or choosing to avoid eggs and dairy products.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 16


  • 1/2 cup (125ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup (220g) raw brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or stewed apples
  • 2 cups (250g) self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground / grated nutmeg optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
  • 1/2 cup sultanas optional


  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Grease and flour a 20cm square cake tin.
  • Mix olive oil with sugar and applesauce, then beat well.
  • Stir in flour and nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Add nuts and sultanas if using, and mix through.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until done.


Remember to make sure the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and walnuts you’re using are fresh, as both will develop a rancid flavor once oxidized which will be discernable in the finished cake. For EVOO, look for a harvest date of less than 2 years, keep your oil in a cool, dark place, and once opened use within 6-8 weeks.
With walnuts, if you’re buying shelled ones, look for a pale colour – older nuts tend to become darker with age. If you’re lucky enough to live in Tasmania, the walnut harvest has just about finished, so new season nuts will be available very soon.


If you’re more of a chocolate cake kind of person, then take a look at my favourite olive oil chocolate brownie recipe. And if you’re in need of some amazing, flavour filled Tasmanian Extra Virgin Olive Oil to help you with your kitchen experiments, then head over to our online shop – shipping is by Express Post within Australia, so you don’t have to wait long to get it!


Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Easter is just around the corner, and so my mind is turning to hot cross buns! I’ve updated this recipe, posted previously, which details all the steps for making sourdough hot cross buns. I’ve included timings, so they’ll be ready for morning tea on Good Friday, and all measurements are in grams rather than cups.

This recipe is a combination of a few others…

Mrs Beeton's book of cookery and household management

Slightly mangled copy of Mrs Beeton – the dog ate it…


On timings: This always ends up taking longer than I expect! The first time I made these, the final stage (stage 3), took me about 3 ½ hours up the point of eating, and I ended up missing my intended morning tea –time slot. A better method for me was to start a day earlier. I do everything up the point when the buns are shaped and on the baking sheet for their final rise, then put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning I take them out, allow about an hour to reach room temperature and rise, and then bake. The timings below will allow you to bake either late on Thursday night, or on Friday morning.

On fats: Traditional recipes use butter in the dough, and then they’re spread with butter for eating. This is unquestionably delicious, but extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) can be used instead, and yields an equally delicious result. Just make sure the oil you use is fresh, so check the harvest date is less than two years ago, and that the bottle has been open for less than 2 months (and preferably stored somewhere cool and dark for that time). When adapting a favourite recipe that uses butter, substitute an equivalent weight of EVOO, and beat with the eggs before adding to your dry ingredients.

And if you need fresh olive oil that’s bursting with peppery flavour, do check out our shop – shipping is via ExpressPost, and there’s no plastic packaging in sight!

On sticky dough: Sourdough is always sticky to work with, at least mine is. You may need to add extra flour to your worktop for kneading, and I always make sure to fill the sink with warm soapy water before I start, so I can easily wash my hands at the end!

On other options: These do take longer than buns which are made with regular bread yeast, and I wouldn’t recommend this as your first sourdough experiment! If it looks daunting, I’d encourage you to have a go at a non-sourdough version, like this one from SBS.



  • 150g unfed sourdough starter (100% hydration, ie. fed at a ratio of 1g of water to 1g of flour). This will all be used, so make sure you leave some behind to continue your sourdough’s life!
  • 75g flour
  • 75ml warm water


  • 160g milk, at room temperature
  • 500g bakers/bread flour – divided into 300g and 200g, plus extra for kneading
  • 8g fine sea salt
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground pimento (allspice)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 50g extra virgin olive oil (or 60g of softened butter)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 orange (optional)
  • 100g currants
  • 50g good quality candied peel, finely diced
  • Warm water (to soak dried fruit)


  • 4 tablespoons plain white flour
  • 4 tablespoons water


  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar


Stage 1 (eg Wednesday evening)

  1. Take 150g of unfed starter (mine had been fed one week before, and stored in the fridge). All of this 150g of starter will be used, so make sure you’ve got some extra to be able to continue your starter’s life!).
  2. Add 75g of flour and 75g of water, making 300g of starter.
  3. Mix together and leave covered at room temperature for 12 hours. (I cover with a Tasmanian beeswax wrap, plate, or cling film. You can use a cloth, but I find the surface tends to dry out.)

Stage 2 (eg Thursday morning)

  1. Mix together the 300g of starter, 160g milk (at room temperature), 300g of bread flour, and 8g salt to make a sourdough sponge. (The ingredients need to be combined to a dough, but not kneaded further at this stage.)
  2. Leave covered at room temperature for about 12 hours.
  3. Place the currants and candied peel in a small bowl or wide mouthed jar.
  4. Add the juice of the orange (if using), and add enough warm water to cover the fruit by approximately 2cm. (This makes the fruit nice and plump in the finished buns.)

Stage 3 (eg Thursday evening)

  1. Fill the sink with hot soapy water, so you can wash your hands easily after kneading.
  2. Drain the orange juice / water from the dried fruit, and pat dry.
  3. Put 60g brown sugar, 50g extra virgin olive oil, and 2 eggs in a large bowl and beat until light.
  4. Add the sourdough sponge and beat to combine.
  5. Combine the further 200g bread flour, 1tsp allspice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, then add to the sourdough sponge mixture from the previous step.
  6. Knead for 10 minutes, then set aside for 10 minutes to rest. (You may need extra flour for kneading to reduce sticking.)
  7. Add the drained currants and candied peel mixture to the dough, and knead gently to combine (without squishing the fruit!)
  8. Leave in a covered bowl somewhere warm for 60 minutes. (Under the heat lamp in the bathroom works brilliantly on a cool day.)
  9. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into buns. (I needed to use a bit more flour to reduce stickiness at this point.)
  10. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet, and cover with a well-oiled piece of cling film. (If you don’t oil the cling film, it sticks to the buns and may tear them when you pull it off.)
    • EITHER: Leave covered somewhere warm for 60 minutes if you want to bake straightaway.
    • OR: Put in the fridge overnight, then take them out in the morning (eg. Friday) and place somewhere warm for a hour or so until risen.
  11. Preheat the oven to 200degC (for fan forced).
  12. Get the glaze ingredients ready in a small saucepan.
  13. Make the cross mixture by combining 4 tbsp plain flour and 4 tbsp water. Put in a piping bag (you can make one out of baking paper or a plastic bag if you don’t have one.)
  14. Add the crosses to the risen buns, and place in the hot oven.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees to help them brown evenly, and bake for a further 8-10 minutes.
  16. When you’ve rotated the buns, make the glaze: heat the 2 tbsp milk, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp sugar in a pan on the stove. Bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes.
  17. Take the buns out of the oven. Remove to a cooling rack immediately if possible, and brush with the glaze.
  18. Allow to cool a little, if you’re able… Delicious enjoyed with butter, or a drizzle of fresh Tasmanian extra virgin olive oil!


Not just for Christmas!

Not just for Christmas!

I’ve collected all the recipes I posted on Facebook throughout December in this one place, both so they’re ready for next Christmas (!), but also because there are some great ideas here for any time of year. These recipes weren’t just for Christmas Day, but also to help out with food inspiration at a time of year when we’re often short of time, cooking for extra people, or wanting a bit of a health boost amidst the excess! They’re sorted into categories, with short descriptions and links where they exist.

Entrée’s, Snacks, and Nibbles

  • Black Bean Dip – this Mexican style dip has plenty of bold flavours, and with the black bean base has far more fibre and fewer calories than most creamy types
  • Avocado and Prawn Cocktail – retro, but still so good, with avocado adding some healthy fats to the mix
  • Christmas Pate – My mum always makes Christmas pate with all the leftovers, although it’s more of a terrine really. Use a recipe like this as a guide, and chuck in anything you’ve got. This year I used chicken, ham, ham fat, chestnuts, cranberries, stuffing, sausage meat and added seasoning and a few herbs. It’s one of those things that I always think will be difficult, and it’s really not! So I should make it all year round… Cut into slices and freeze after cooking.
  • Cream Cheese and Olive “Tree” – fabulous upgrade to a Cream Cheese Ball.
  • Colourful Veggie Tray – at Christmas it’s fun to arrange these into a tree shape to serve with dips, but at other times of year you may want to make a different pattern.
  • Caper, Olive, and Basil Bruschetta – a lovely tangy topping for crusty bread
  • Carrot and Ginger Dip – a bright and vitamin packed dip, full of flavor

Breakfast or Brunch

  • Ham and Eggs – a variation on bacon and eggs that’s easy to do for lots of people. Slice up leftover baked ham and serve with hard boiled eggs and mustard.
  • Porridge – easy to do for one in the microwave – half a cup each of rolled oats, milk, and water. Salt and / or sugar as desired. Microwave in a large bowl or measuring jug on medium for 5 minutes. Add fruit, nuts, seeds to taste.
  • Avocado and Haloumi Fritters – use up some excess zucchini in these veggie loaded fritters

Main Course

  • “Green Thing” – great way to use up whatever “green things” you’ve got in the garden (or the back of the fridge!) And to give your festive eating a massive healthy, nutrient-laden boost!
  • Cauliflower Wellington – spectacular veggie centrepiece of a whole cauli in a pastry crust! (Looks a bit like a brain though…)
  • One Pot Vodka Pasta – just what it says – delicious, easy, creamy… And you can add bacon to it, if you wish!
  • Chicken Alfredo Lasagne – tasty alternative to “red” lasagne
  • Easy Baked Ham – add a bit of sweetness to your ham, and don’t just leave it for Christmas!
  • Tourtière (French-Canadian meat pie) – traditionally served at Christmas or other special occasions
  • Healthy Roast Chicken – use extra virgin olive oil for your next roast, and serve it up with some mixed roasted veggies
  • Raclette – not the healthiest option on the list, but a fun way to eat with a few friends! Best accompanied by cold meats, pickles, and salads to cut through all that cheese!

Sides and Salads


Cakes, Sweet Things, and Desserts

  • Rainbow Fruit Skewers – these take a little more effort than just having a bowl of fruit on the table, but the pretty result is totally worth it
  • Chocolate Fruit Cake – delicious cake with lots of dried fruit which reduces the amount of flour and sugar needed. As a bonus it keeps well, if you can stop eating it! Great if you like to have something on hand to offer visitors
  • Rebellious Raspberry Tart – beautiful tart with a custard filling topped with lots of raspberries (also works well with frozen fruit). Stunning finale for a dinner party.
  • Cranberry Spiced Muffins – yummy for morning or afternoon tea, but also pretty tasty for breakfast, with some fresh fruit on the side. Try substituting wholemeal flour and brown sugar in this recipe. These freeze well too.
  • Fruit Mince Pies – I only make these at Christmas, but the pastry is just divine and would be great for making fruit tarts at any time of year
  • Coconut Lime Biscuits – the coconut gives these biscuits a gorgeous texture, and these are delicious with a chilled Tasmanian Sauv Blanc. They also make a lovely gift.