Mushroom tour May 2015

Mushroom tour May 2015 Wow, what a busy time it has been for Bella and I. We’ve been so busy getting other projects for FinSki’s off the ground (more information on these later) that we almost lost track of time and let Autumn fly by without a tour!

We’ve been out several times this year to both the Southern Highlands and Oberon areas, enjoying the serenity that being in the forest brings – well, as serene as it can be with a dog that just loves to roll in wombat poo and having the kids trying to get him to jump in muddy puddles so he can get clean (eau de wombat pour chien)… anyway, the serenity between those moments is magical.

We decided to host a tour on the 17th of May and not surprisingly it booked out in a heartbeat. Friend and amazing photographer Sie Kitts, joined us and beautifully documented the day for our photo journal…

Mushroom tour May 2015

On a brisk and sunny morning the group all met up at Pheasants Nest at 8:00am. Once we had all arrived and introductions were made, we headed off to the forest. An eerie, ghostly fog lay close to the ground as we headed in.

Mushroom tour 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 On arrival at our first stop, there’s a brief rundown on the mushrooms we will be foraging for and then it’s on, everyone heads into the forest for their own unique experience of foraging. Mushroom tour May 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 Mushroom tour May 2015 Continue Reading →

Preserved Lemon, Fennel & Cumin Marinade

Preserved Lemon and Cumin Marinade

Preserved Lemon, Fennel & Cumin Marinade, is one of those work horse recipes that can be used with anything from red meats to chicken, even brushed over vegetables for an extra flavour boost when grilling. But for me, it is when it’s partnered with pork that it really shines.

There really is nothing more to say as it really does stand on it’s own and will most definitely be one that you will return to over again.

Enjoy, Blondie :)

Pine Mushroom & Pork Pot Stickers

Pine Mushroom Pot Stickers recipe Pine Mushroom & Pork Pot Stickers… Dumplings have always held a soft food spot to my stomach, and luckily for me, they are found in most countries around the word in some form or another – ravioli, ebelskiver, pierogi, gyoza or samosa just to name a few.

These pot stickers are one of my favourite dumplings with the crusty, browned base and the soft, velvety top. What happens inside almost takes second place to the perfectly cooked skin.

These pot stickers can be eaten straight up, but I choose not to flavour the filling too strongly with seasonings so as to keep the flavour of the mushrooms. The flavour boost comes in the form of the dipping sauce. This is where you can go wild with flavour, maybe having several different sauces to dip into. Pine Mushroom Pot Stickers Happy dipping! Blondie :)

Pine mushroom Okonomiyaki

Click for Pine Mushroom Okonomiyaki recipe

Click for Pine Mushroom Okonomiyaki recipe

Pine mushroom Okonomiyaki came about after a lovely forage with our first tour for the year. It’s always fun coming up with new recipes to use these glorious mushrooms in.

This is a Japanese pancake and can have any ingredients you want… this is up there with some of the best ever fridge clearer meals you will make.

The best way to serve Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms is by keeping the flavours simple and clean. A quick sautee to get some caramelisation on them bumps the flavour up enormously.

Happy foraging! Blondie

Wild Mushroom Ketchup

Wild Mushroom Ketchup

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Wild Mushroom Ketchup…You’re probably as surprised as we were when we first came across Mushroom Ketchup. Mushrooms as ketchup? Not possible!

Well, during our mushroom trip to Oberon, Bella stumbled upon such a condiment. With intrigue she purchased it and with intrigue I made it.

After looking into the history of ketchup I discovered that the tomato version originated about 100 years after the original version, prior to that it was made from any number of foods, for example nuts, fruit, or mushrooms… It originally began it’s life being made from fish and was called ke-tsiap.

In this recipe I have used the saffron milk caps and slippery jacks that I picked at Oberon but you could use any mushroom or combination of mushrooms with equally fabulous results. Also, the fresh mushrooms will need to be left to sit in salt for 24 hours, so this isn’t a spontaneous recipe. It’s also a recipe that gets better with age, so be sure to have some sterilised jars ready.

This photo of my lunch is of my Four’n Twenty pie and I have to say that I will now, and forever be having my pies with Mushroom Ketchup, truly outstanding!!



Tippaleipä – Finnish Funnel Cakes

Click image for Tippaleipä – Finnish Funnel Cakes recipe

Click image for Tippaleipä – Finnish Funnel Cakes recipe

Tippaleipä – Finnish Funnel Cakes… Every year I have been meaning to get these up on the website and every year I miss the 1st of May by a day. But not this year! Here it is, finally.

The 1st of May is a huge event in Finland; it marks the beginning of spring (amongst other things) with large festivities in the towns and cities. Lots of drinking and lots of food is consumed from May Day Eve (it’s as big as Christmas for the Finns). It’s a time for friends, family, students, workmates to get together and party.

These deep fried fritters are consumed by the truckload and are perfect street food. One hand holds a fritter, the other hand holds a glass of Sima – a Finnish fermented lemon drink. With their slightly crispy outside, they are soft and warm inside with a dusting of icing that looks like snow sitting on an odd shaped snowflake.

But who needs a party?… These take but moments to whip up and only moments to devour.

Happy Vappu!  Blondie  :)

Tippaleipä - Finnish Funnel Cakes

Mushroom & Walnut Pillows w/ Saffron Milk Cap Sauce

FinSki's Wild Mushroom Pillows1

Take me to the recipe!

You’ll find our beautiful Mushroom and Walnut Pillows with Saffron Milk Cap sauce recipe in Lyndey Milan’s, Taste of Australia Book. Page 184 to be exact, and yes, Blondie and I take full credit for the recipe! However if you don’t have the book then click here!


Easter Forage Review

Awesome fish for Good Friday fish bbq, packed! Mushroom picking kits, check! Enough food to feed a small army, yep! Wine, bubbles and beer for the boys, tick!

Blondie and I were off for what was going to be yet another amazing Easter at Yarrawonga South with our respective families. Good food, chilled wine, company of long time friends and of course wild mushroom picking! Bliss!

With both cars packed to the top, kids in the back, dog in the front Blondie and I took the long way round. We headed south, stopped off at the Southern Highlands pine forest to pick some mushrooms. Whilst there was nothing to be found (zip, zero!) at our usual spot our spirits could not be dampened! We had the most amazing drive ahead of us. Oberon via Taralga is such a beautiful drive. Winding country roads, sheep and cattle grazing and cool tunes pumping out.

Having arrived at our destination in the cold and wet rain we delayed our foraging adventure to Easter Sunday, after all there was yummy food to be cooked and wine to be drunk!

We knew that Oberon had some rain, but we also heard that it was a very dry summer. Nevertheless with open minds and hope in our hearts we ventured out for our first real forage for 2015. The pressure was on, we had two new picking recruits, Bodie and Bailey, who were keen to see what all the fuss was about.

FinSki's 2015 Mushrooms1

Mushroom Picking Crew!

FinSki's 2015 Mushrooms2

New recruit gives it a thumbs up!

Foraging for these beauties can be a fickle thing. Too often there have been stories where people have gone to one section of the forest and found nothing, whilst their foraging counterpart managed to pick a large haul!

Driving into the forest for the first time each season can be a funny thing, the nerves, the excitement, the smell of the fresh pine air, the need to train your eyes to spot the difference between a saffron milk cap mushroom and a saffron coloured rock or leaf (yes, it does happen).

We made a bee line for our true, tried and tested spot but to our disappointment we ended up with a tiny basket of …. 8 mushrooms! Not each, not per day but for the whole trip.

FinSki's 2015 Mushrooms

FinSki's Pasta1

First Saffron Milk Cap of 2015!

When you do manage to get your hands on these flavorsome Saffron Milk Cap mushroom you can’t go past our Mushroom and Walnut Pillows with Saffron Milk Cap Sauce! Perfect for the autumn months and best enjoyed with a glass of chilled chardonnay.

Bella and Blondie

Leek & Potato Soup w/ Onion Puree

Leek & Potato Soup w/ Onion Puree

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Leek & Potato Soup w/ Onion Puree and Caramelised Onion Oil is heaven sent when you’ve got a cold.

As my boy is home sick from school with a cold today, I did the motherly thing and made some soup. Nothing is better than a piping hot bowl of soup to make you feel all warm and toasty on the inside.

This is my basic recipe for one of the food world’s most enduring partnerships … leek and potatoes. It’s also a fantastic canvas for experimenting with added flavours, which is why the onion puree has been introduced, which in turn produced an amazing by-product of the Caramelised Onion Oil that just had to be included in it.

Having come across a puree recipe from Chef Steps a little while ago, I was eager to incorporate it into a dish, and this was perfect. The Onion Puree is super simple to make, just bung some onions into a hot oven with some oil and salt and roast for 2 hours. The end result is incredibly sweet onions melting inside their skins. This gets pureed and voila, a tasty element to add to soups, risottos, aioli etc. But, what go me so excited was the  left over oily, caramelised, sweet and salty juices left in the baking dish – Oh my! You really have to make this for yourself.

Happy sopping – Blondie :)

Beef & Mushroom Meatloaf w/ Roasted Garlic

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Click Image for Beef & Mushroom Meatloaf w/ Roasted Garlic Recipe

Beef & Mushroom Meatloaf w/ Roasted Garlic is a super simple recipe that is just as delicious served piping hot, straight from the oven as it is eaten in the following days on your sandwiches with lashings of tomato chutney and mustard.

I’ve made this with a roasted garlic on the side, but please go ahead and make as much roasted garlic as you choose to as the soft, sweet, caramelised garlic lends it’s self to being used in so many different dishes. Just squeeze the cloves out of their paper casings and cover them with olive oil. This will store well in the fridge for about a week.

To use the roasted garlic for this recipe, simply squeeze out the soft flesh and spread over the meatloaf for added flavour. Even though the roasting of the garlic changes it’s chemical makeup to be more easily digested, you will still have garlic breath – I don’t care what anyone says, it is definitely there! So this is to benefit the people who would like to avoid leaching out garlic smell through out their places of work or school.

Old fashioned homeliness – Blondie :)

Chicken pie with the lot!

FinSki's Chicken Pie1

Click on image for full recipe

Half way through last year Blondie introduced me to Aussie Farmers Direct. A great initiative supporting local farmers via an independent online retail facility. Each Monday and Thursday they deliver to my door fresh fruit and veggies along with a selection of meats and dairy items.

At first I was very skeptical of using this service, having bad experiences with both, Coles on line and the Woollies delivery service, however I took the plunge and placed my first order and was very pleasantly surprised.

What appealed to me most about Aussie Farmers Direct was that in my own small way I was supporting Australian farmers, buying Australian made products and keeping the $ in Australia. I also love the fact that it comes to my door bright and early in the morning, 6 am!

What I dislike like is my own negligence that seems to have happened 3 times in a row – forgetting to take stock of what was in the fridge prior to my Thursday and Monday delivery to ensure that I don’t double or triple up in some cases on certain items.

Having another frantic week at work I forgot to revise my Thursday order, as a result I have ended up with three leeks, 3 bags of onions (I can see French onion soup being made!) several bags of mushrooms (ravioli here we come!) carrots (yep Spot the bunny will be happy!) enough garlic to ensure that Count Dracular never visits Team FinSki’s! Cauliflower that is clearly not very happy to be sharing the fridge real estate space with another younger sibling.

With the fridge bursting I had to come us with a recipe that would use as many of the over purchased veggies as I could.

Whilst it hasn’t exactly been pie weather in Sydney I jumped at the opportunity to make a good ol’ fashioned chicken pie with the lot!

I love pies, the home made ones, not the store bought ones with the wobbly bits in the filling. There is something simple, nourishing and very homely about a good ol’ fashioned pie with a perfect crust!

My chicken pie recipe is really a no brainer, you can pack it with any left over veggies you like! The secret is in using good quality stock, I make my own and adding a little wholegrain mustard for extra taste.

I normally make a big pie to feed us for at least 2 maybe 3 nights and then freeze the rest in small batches to make more pie, or mini pies.

What’s your favourite pie?

Bella :)

Taco & Fajita Seasoning – Big Batch

Taco and Fajita Seasoning - Big Batch

Click image for Taco and Fajita Seasoning – Big Batch recipe

Taco and Fajita Seasoning – Big Batch is a one for all recipe, perfect for someone who can’t decide between taco’s or fajita’s for dinner.

If you are whipping up a batch of taco’s you really don’t need to alter this recipe at all, but if you want to make fajita’s with grilled meat you can then add a big squeeze of lime juice at the end.

Although there is a difference in the two recipes, when you are at home and just really want to have the punch of flavour of Mexican food this is a must to have on hand.

Happy Mexican feasting – Blondie  :)

Amazing Coconut Roughs

Amazing Coconut Roughs

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Amazing Coconut Roughs… These are truly amazing little treats to have on hand for when you need a little energy boost… and fantastic for primary schools as they are free from most things that some kids are intolerant to – There is always one kid that can’t have gluten or eggs or sugar etc, in a class and it’s a shame that they always miss out on treats.

I will definitely be making them into little egg moulds for Easter this year!

Guilt free eating – Blondie :)

Christmas Tree Ice Cream Cones

FinSkis Xmas Tree Icecream

Click on image for recipe

You would have had to been living under a log the last few weeks to not know that it is Christmas in 11 sleeps!

I am a Christmas junkie! I love the food, the wine, the decorations and of course the planning which starts for me as soon as humanly possible! Our Christmas tree goes up religiously on the 1st of December however if the 1st should happen to fall on a week day then you can legally without offending the Christmas spirits put your tree and decorations up the weekend before! Decorating is a huge event, the boxes come out, the Buble Christmas tunes are pumped and I plot around the house with with a glass of champagne whilst Imogen decorates the tree. The hubby on the other hand prefers to have a beer or two at the local, however he is getting better with the decorations going up!

It turned out that this year hubby had two work functions each night so paper art decorations in hand Imogen and I decorated our lounge and dinning room. Very proud of our colour coordinated efforts!

Xmas Decorations

Back to the food aspect of Christmas! These little ice cream cone Christmas trees are too easy to make and the kids will love helping decorate them!

You need to ensure that the ice cream freezes well otherwise it will melt too quickly when you take the cones out. Although we didn’t have this problem, they were all gobbled up within seconds of coming out of the freezer!

If you have a Christmas inspired desert then please feel free to share!

Merry Christmas and Wesołych Świąt!

Bella :)

Traditional Finnish Gingerbread Biscuits – Piparkakut

Traditional Finnish Gingerbread Biscuits – Piparkakut

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Traditional Finnish Gingerbread Biscuits – Piparkakut … If I were to choose one thing that is significantly Christmas to me, and for most Finns I would assume, it would have to be the mounds of gingerbread biscuits that come out at this time of year.

My Nana has always been the one to stock the family with these delicious, spice laden, thin crispy biscuits. She would have tins of them, and knowing how much my sister and I loved them, would keep a continual stock of them throughout the year that we would have with tea along with other lovely sweets.

I recently acquired a Finnish cookbook published in 1966, Kotiruoka by Uusi Laitos (translates to Home Cooking or something very similar) This is Nana’s and has been well thumbed through. It has nine different recipes for gingerbread cookies… NINE!

The Finnish/Nordic way is to have them neat, no fancy icing decorations and the shapes are simple hearts, stars and a scalloped circle… although I have, in the last several years, started a little tradition with my son and we now decorate large cookies cut from my gorgeous Donna Hay Christmas Bauble Cookie Cutters. The large size means the cookies can be intricately decorated and look stunning (my son channels Jackson Pollock when decorating these)

This amount makes about 50 cookies depending on the size of your cutters, but believe me they will disappear, and very quickly! Going with the FinSki’s theme for edible gift ideas, package them up in little bags or old biscuit tins and give them as gift.

Hyvaa joulua! Blondie

Traditional Finnish Gingerbread Biscuits – Piparkakut


Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta

FinSki's Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta1

Click on image for full recipe

This is a Polish marriage made in heaven! Poppy seed cheesecake or as I now call it, Poppy seed pate cake with Baked Ricotta!

You might remember that a while ago I came across this tub of poppy seed pate mixture at my local continental grocer.

FinSki's Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta2

Happily handing over my cash to the register operator I ran home and ogled hundreds of recipes for poppy seed mixtures. Most of them called for ingredients that I didn’t have and being a Sunday I was determined to not have to venture out into the shops again.

My pantry had Anzac biscuits that had a week left prior to the use by date and sugar. In the fridge I had butter, a kilo of ricotta and eggs.

What on earth did you do with the Anzac biscuits I hear you ask?

Well, as crazy as it sounds they were the base for the cake, a baked base! At first when I put all the ingredients together I had a mini melt down, I remembered that when you typically make a cheesecake base with digestive biscuits, you don’t bake the base. You let it set with the cheese on top.

With my cheesecake about to go into the oven, I couldn’t give up now, no matter how large the error was!

When the cake was in the oven at 180º C the butter melted slightly and leaked onto the bottom of the oven tray, but once the cake cooled down my baked Anzac biscuit base was amazing. The hard set biscuit base complemented the softness of the baked ricotta and poppy seed pate.

FinSki's Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta3 The rest of the cake was divine too!

Will I make this exactly the same again…hell yes!

What errors have you made in the kitchen that have ended up working out ok?


Mushroom foraging with Lyndey Milan

Australian Traveller magazine

Lyndey Milan puts FinSki’s mushroom foraging in her top 5 foodie experiences from her show, Taste of Australia.

Bella and I are over the moon to have ‘foraging for wild mushrooms’ selected in Lyndey Milan’s “Top 5 Foodie Experiences” for her article in Australian Traveller magazine.

With all the travels she did for her show, Taste of Australia; the multitude of experiences with the amount of people she met, mushroom foraging with FinSki’s ranked up there with the best!

Yay us!!

Pop over to our Mushrooming page for more fantastic stories on wild mushroom foraging in NSW.

Clarified Butter and Ghee

Clarified Butter and Ghee

Click here for recipe

Clarified butter and ghee are simple enough products to get at your local shop (well ghee is), so why go to the trouble of making them yourself? Aside from the flavour, it’s simply for the fact that you have control of where the butter will come from. Maybe you like a particular butter from a farm near you or a Danish butter brand or you only eat organic. If this is the case then you need to start making this for yourself.

The difference between clarified butter and ghee is purely the time the butter has been cooked for. Butter is clarified once the milk solids have separated – there will be two distinct layers. Ghee has just been cooked for a bit longer and will have a nuttier more golden hue. Both are far more outstanding products, both in taste and aroma when made yourself… I can absolutely promise you that you will never, ever buy ghee or clarified butter again after you have tasted your own.

This recipe is probably more a ghee than a clarified butter as I cooked it a few more minutes after the splattering stopped. It’s fast to make and it lasts for ages, up to 6 months in the fridge.

Use a butter that you love, (this is my favourite for making ghee). It needs to be unsalted and butter in it’s purest form, no additives at all.

Simple, easy and tasty – Blondie :)

Mum’s Divine Lamb Roast Marinade

Mum's Divine Lamb Roast Marinade

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I can’t believe I hadn’t put this recipe up yet, so here it is, short and sweet… This is my mum’s marinade for leg of lamb; it’s sweet with a slight hit of mustard heat and makes the most delicious gravy afterwards.

I was raised on this and whenever I make it myself I get a nostalgic whiff of childhood. The aroma that hits you when you walk in the door is divine, hence the title, Mum’s Divine Lamb Roast Marinade :)

Get yourself a large leg of lamb so you can enjoy several meals out of it with your family.

Food memories… Blondie

Simple Small Batch Aioli

Simple Small Batch Aioli

Click image for recipe – Small Batch Aioli

Simple Small Batch Aioli – Mayonnaise is one of those amazing condiments that is used in countries all around the world to add flavour or smoothness to their dishes. Aioli is basically garlic mayonnaise (although the true way of making this is to pound the oil and garlic in a mortar and pestle – no egg is added) but you can use any number of different ingredients to make your own flavoured mayonnaise.

The reason I like this small batch recipe is because I will never get through a cup or more of homemade aioli within a week. This is just the right amount to use on some sandwiches or on toast with poached eggs on the weekend.

If you are feeling adventurous you can add some fresh herbs or throw in some hot smoked paprika or any other spice to complement your meal, maybe add a mustard. Use lemon instead of vinegar, or use a different vinegar, maybe a fruit vinegar… the combinations are endless.

Let your creativity out! – Blondie  :)

Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries From Scratch

Click image for recipe - Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries

Click image for recipe – Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries

Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries From Scratch comes direct from Nigella Lawson’s, How To Be A Domestic Goddess cookbook. I chose this one for the mere fact that it’s a food processor made dough, which in my mind will make the dough making process easy and clean… hahaha!!

To start with and probably the one thing EVERYONE mentions about this dough is just how moist, messy and sticky it is… and they weren’t wrong. It’s like glue!

In the original recipe it asks to mix the dry ingredients then add the cold butter in the food processor then add this to the combined wet ingredients. That was far too messy for me, considering everyone’s comments on this particular pastry recipe, so I did it slightly different – I did it all in the food processor. The result was still a success, but you are still going to get dirty trying to remove the dough from the processor into a bowl for it to prove.

**Brainwave** Leave the dough to prove in the processor bowl! Will let you know how it goes the next time around.

Get your hands dirty and have fun!.. Blondie :)

Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries From Scratch