This is my version of a soup a friend made for me from a Donna Hay recipe. It’s hearty and delicious, but even better – it takes less than 20mins for start to serving. It’s tasty and satisfying. We call it ‘Manly Soup’ – because it’s hearty and…. full of balls!

*you could also leave the meatballs out if you wanted a veggie soup, leave the yoghurt out if it’s for vegans


1 brown onion, finely chopped

3 finely sliced garlic cloves

2 teaspoons of olive oil

2 1/2 stock cubes (I use Massell beef)

5 cups of boiling water

1 cup of red lentils

250g chopped frozen spinach

500g lamb mince

2 tablespoons of harissa paste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and Pepper to taste

Thick natural yoghurt, to serve


Gently soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil.

Add the stock and boiling water.

Add the lentils and stir well.

Cook for 7 minutes

While the lentils are cooking – make the meatballs.

Mix the harissa and paprika through the lamb mince.

Use a heaped teaspoon to measure out the meatball mixture and roll in to uniform sized balls.

Add to the soup and cook for a further 6 minutes until cooked through.

Add the frozen spinach. Stir through. As soon as it returns to the boil, it is time to serve.

Ladle generous servings in to bowls and tip with a tablespoon or two of thick natural yoghurt and fresh black pepper.



You can cheat and use a tin of soup, but of course it’s better when you make the soup from fresh ingredients. (Tinned soup is a time saver on weeknights, fresh soup is great on a weekend when you’re pottering around.)

The Soup.

400g tin of diced vine ripened tomatoes

2 cloves of sliced garlic

1 small brown onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 Massel stock cubes

1.5L of boiling water

1/4 cup of chopped parsley – stalks and all!

1/4 cup of chopped basil – stalks and all!

Salt and pepper


Soften onion and garlic in olive oil.

Add the tomato paste, cook for a minute

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and water

Add the parsley, basil, salt and pepper.

Simmer for 40 minutes or so, until the onion and the tomatoes have broken down.

You may wish to blend the soup at this point until smooth, or keep it chunky – that’s up to you.

In the mean time…..

The Meatballs.

500g beef or lamb mince

1 small brown onion – grated

2 garlic cloves – crushed

Salt and pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 TINY pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup of long grain rice

1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley


Combine mince, onion, rice, garlic and parsley in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Using 1 tablespoonful mixture at a time, roll mixture into balls.

Add meatballs to boiling soup. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until rice tender and meatballs cooked through.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a garnish of fresh parsley.


I’m certainly not famous for my baking. These came out a little crispy, next time I might cook them at a slightly lower temperature, but have a go!


2 1/4 cups self-raising flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture

1/4 teaspoon salt

40g butter, chopped

3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup cream

1 tablespoon milk, extra


Step 1
Preheat oven to 200C fan-forced. Line a tray with baking paper. Position the oven rack in the top half of the oven.

Step 2
Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips. Make a well in centre. Pour milk and cream mixture into well. Using a flat-bladed knife, gently stir until dough just comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently for 30 seconds or until just smooth.

Step 3
Press dough into a 2cm-thick round. Using a 5cm round cutter, cut out scones. Press leftover dough together. Repeat to make 12 scones. Place scones, just touching, in prepared pan. Brush with extra milk. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. To test if scones are cooked through, tap gently on top. If it makes a hollow sound, the scones are cooked.

I have also mixed in chopped dates and a splash of maple syrup in the past.

I like to serve them with –

Raspberry jam and cream

Whipped cream cheese with vanilla bean and fresh lemon curd

A super easy dessert that has the ‘WOW FACTOR’ for summer celebrations.

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You will need

Fresh raspberries and pineapple

2 different tubs of sorbet (soften for 30 minutes, not liquid!)

1 bag of meringue nests/pre-made meringues


Line a large bowl with gladwrap (I didn’t make sure it was smooth and my dessert came out wrinkly!)

Layer scoops of softened sorbet, then scatter raspberries and pineapple, then crumble a layer of meringue. Continue doing this until the bowl is full. Add a layer of Gladwrap to the top of the bowl, and gently press to squash any air pockets.

Freeze for at least 24 hours, or about 3 weeks.

To serve, take off the layer of Gladwrap, turn the bowl on to your serving dish. Remove the outer layer of Gladwrap that remains. Decorate the top with fresh mint and fresh berries.  The full effect will appear when you cut wedges of the pudding to reveal all the colours inside!

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Strawberry Curd

500g. strawberries – washed, hulled, & halved

100g of white sugar
80g. salted butter, softened or chopped

4 large eggs – beaten

2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean extract 

1 teaspoon of gelatin powder

Place strawberries plus two teaspoons of water in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cover and bring to the boiling point. Simmer for five minutes or until the strawberries are really soft.

Transfer strawberries to mesh sieve. Place sieve over a clean, heatproof bowl and use the back of a spoon to push strawberries through the mesh sieve. Keep pressing the pull through. Add the pulp into the strained strawberry liquid. Discard the seeds. 

Place the heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water on medium heat. Make sure the bowl fits snugly, and that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the sugar, beaten eggs and butter to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter melts. Continue to stir constantly for about 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and gelatin. 

Turn the heat up and continue to stir for another 10 minutes. It’s important to keep stirring, otherwise the mixture could curdle.

Stir for another few minutes or until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat and stir again. Carefully pour mixture into hot sterilized jars and seal.

Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

There were some pears left over after I made the pattern at the bottom of the tin. I diced them and mixed them through the batter before transferring it in to the cake tin. 

180g brown sugar

270g unsalted butter, softened

4 ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 2cm-thick slices

300g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 2/3 cups (250g) plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

80g almond meal

1 cup (250ml) buttermilk

Step 1

Preheat oven to 160°C  fan-forced

Step 2

Grease and line base of a 26cm cake pan with baking paper. Sprinkle brown sugar over base. Melt 100g butter and pour over brown sugar. Top with overlapping pear slices. Place remaining butter and caster sugar in bowl of electric mixer, beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Step 3

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder and spices, fold into egg mixture with almond meal. Stir in buttermilk, then mix to form a smooth batter. Carefully spread over pears.

Step 4

Place pan on a baking tray, cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Step 5

Cover loosely with foil if cake begins to brown too quickly. Remove and cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan and carefully invert onto a plate.

Lemon buttermilk cake 

1 cup self raising flour

2 tablespoons corn flour 

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

Zest of 1 lemon

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

Lemon curd for drizzle 

Preheat oven to 180c fan forced 

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture turns much lighter in color and very fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl to bring the mixture together again and beat in the egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined, at least 30 seconds. 
Add half of the buttermilk and stir to combine. Add half the flour and stir to combine. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and flour  and corn flour and lemon zest until everything is in the bowl making a lovely smooth, if quite thick, batter.

Scrape the batter into an 8- by 8-inch baking pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with a bit of sugar for a prettier crust. Drizzle lemon curd in blobs around the top of the cake (avoiding the sides). Bake until golden and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Let cool on a cooling rack until the cake pulls away from the edges of the pan, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut pieces or slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

*Alternatively, use plain, unsweetened yogurt for a yummy yogurt cake. It will be a tad heavier, but just as delicious.