≡ Menu

Italian Squid Recipe

Squid Casseruola and dreams of Italy


Italian Cooking School La Cucina del Gusto

What do you dream about? Since we returned from Italy a little over a year ago it has remained firmly in my sub conscience and dreams as the thing that I most yearn to do again. A return trip is not imminent as I was fortunate enough to win the trip. It was a trip of a lifetime, that is the only way I can express how wonderful it was. Upon arrival in Rome, and then progressively, until the end of our trip I became completely and utterly besotted with Italian cuisine, the people, the landscape, the architecture, the clothing, the shopping, the language and the lifestyle – everything Italy!  Since our return I have come up with all sorts of schemes to get us back there, including:

  • Buying and renovating an Italian mountain village (yes I did research this and try to work out the feasibility of it!)
  • Taking the kids on an international life adventure
  • Trying to think of a brand who would like to sponsor me to return there to share our adventures and experiences

Realistically I think that we just need to keep on putting away our hard earned savings and work towards our dream to return some day. Reality really does suck sometimes!!

In the meantime,  food is a great way to relive memories and wonderful experiences – so please indulge me. This is one of the recipes that I learnt to cook at La Cucina del Gusto on the Amalfi Coast, Italy last year. It is a simple recipe with classic Italian flavors. Simple but fabulous.

I make this recipe about once a month.  It is outlined below pretty much as it was taught to us by Chef Carmen. You can find it here if you would like to take a look at the school, or just day dream about a wonderful food adventure on the Amalfi Coast. ….

The main tip that Chef Carmen taught us about this dish – besides the practical skills to clean a squid – was to use a very wide based pan (as wide as possible to prevent the squid from stewing and becoming tough). The heat should medium/high. The cooking time is a little longer than I would have anticipated but it works.

Italian Squid Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Classic simple Italian flavors, quick to prepare, quick to disappear off the plate. A recipe learnt at cooking school on Italy's Amalfi Coast.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red chilli - finely chopped (de-seeded if desired)
  • 4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
  • ¼ cup white wine (dry)
  • 2 cleaned squid tubes - sliced into thin rings
  • 250 grams cherry tomatoes, or tinned tomatoes
  • dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley
  • rice to serve
  1. Add the oil, chilli and garlic to a wide based pan over a medium hot heat
  2. When fragrant, add the white wine and allow to evaporate by about half
  3. Add the squid and the tomatoes and mash them a little
  4. Add a pinch of dried oregano and salt and pepper
  5. Cook for about 10 minutes
  6. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve on a bed of rice, or with pasta or bruschetta

Italian Squid RecipeQuick, simple fresh flavors of Italy made in a jiffy at the end of a busy day. Can you think of anything better?  Beside being back there eating it and learning some more recipes from the wonderful Chef Carmen…..I think not.

Do you dream to return or to travel to an international location? Where is it and why? 



Egg Free Apple Cake

Egg Free Apple Cake

Egg free and refined sugar free, this cake has an interesting flavor twist that comes from the addition of nigella seeds. Why did I add nigella seeds to a cake? Just because I wanted to try them.

I loved seeing my eldest son (6 years old) trying to express the flavor when he took a bite of the cake. I asked him to tell me if he liked it, and then to describe what he thought it tasted like.  It made me giggle a little (on the inside of course!) watching him try to explain to me the flavor of the cake, there was some head scratching, frowning, and umming and aahhing as I watched his active little brain try to source a flavour connection, all the while taking bite after bite of his piece of cake. I have not used nigella seeds in any cooking previously so he most definitely had no reference point. My son described the after taste as a little bitter and I was extremely impressed and proud that he came up with that description. They are slightly bitter.  I found the seeds balanced the sweetness of the apple and gave the cake a moreish quality. The cake is not sweet, I would even say that it verges on savory. Give it a try and tell me how you would describe it.

My fussy little 3 year old also enjoyed this cake so that was enough for me to add it here for you to try at home.

Many kinders, schools and mother’s groups no longer allow food on site that contains ingredients that are considered to be high allergy risks. Egg is one of these allergens that may be on the banned list.  This cake is a lovely option if that is the case. It can be a challenge coming up with baked goods that are allergy-friendly and will not pose a risk to those impacted.

I sourced the nigella seeds from the South Melbourne Market. If you have trouble finding them, or it sounds a little too weird for you then replace with cinnamon, chia seeds or raw cocao nibs.

I hope that you enjoy my Egg Free Apple Cake with Nigella Seeds

Egg Free Apple Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Egg free apple cake with nigella seeds. Egg free and refined sugar free, this cake is a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, or addition to school lunch boxes. An allergy friendly baked option for those locations that do not allow egg, nuts and other high risk foods to be brought on site.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups of grated apple - 4 x granny smith apples
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • ¾ cup Rice Malt Syrup
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Nigella seeds
  1. Set the oven to heat to 160 degrees
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine
  3. Line a cake baking tin with baking paper or oil lightly and then add the mixture to the pan. I used a loaf tin.
  4. Once the oven reaches the desired temperature bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes
  5. Test for readiness by inserting a skewer to the center of the cake. If it is removed cleanly it is ready.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 5 minutes prior to removing from the tin to cool on a cake rack
If you are unable to source nigella seeds use cinnamon, chia seeds or raw cocao nibs instead.

Egg Free Apple Nigella CakeIs your school/kinder/mothers group egg free?  Have you used nigella seeds in cooking before? Did you enjoy them?







Healthy Lemon Tart

Healthy Lemon Tart

We absolutely love lemons and trees are laden with them at the moment!

Whether you have a lemon tree in your garden, or a family member with one, we thought the best way to use them all up is to put them to good use in a delicious lemon tart! However, this is not your regular lemon tart…

We set to work to create a much healthier version of your stock standard lemon tart.

Healthy Lemon Tart
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This healthy lemon tart is dairy free and refined sugar free. Fresh lemons and coconut make this wholesome dessert a popular family friendly recipe.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  1. Crust:
  2. Lightly oil a tart mould. One with a removable base works well
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium/large bowl until well combined
  4. Break the coconut oil into small bits and use your finger tips to rub it into the dry ingredients until it combines
  5. Gently heat the Rice Malt Syrup and Coco Quench in a pan until it combines and then pour over the dry ingredients and stir to combine
  6. Place the mixture into the tart case and use your fingers to press it down until it is evenly lining the mould
  7. Place into the fridge to rest while you make the filling.
  8. Filling:
  9. Heat the coconut butter, Coco Quench and vanilla pod over medium heat
  10. When the butter has melted, add the lemon, the zest and the Rice Malt Syrup and bring to the boil
  11. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes
  12. Remove from the heat and take out the vanilla pod. Allow to cool *this will take approximately 35-40 minutes
  13. Meanwhile, whisk the egg, egg yolks and tapioca flour for a couple of minutes. Once the lemon mixture has cooled, add to the eggs and continue to whisk
  14. Pour the custard into the tart base and bake for 15-20 minutes
NOTE: The timing of this recipe does not include rest time of 35 - 40 min for the lemon filling to cool.

 When Pureharvest sent through this recipe too me it sounds so fabulous that I made it straight away! I had a few of our last lemons for the season left.  This is my tart below, made using this recipe and it was gorgeous. I used a couple of our last lemons for the season, a fitting way to farewell our homegrown lemons! Kyrstie.

Healthy Lemon Tart




{ 1 comment }

How to Grow Fresh Blueberries

How to grow fresh Blueberries


Various cultivars will fruit at different times from December through to late Summer. Check with you local nursery for plants that are suited to your region. Many blueberry plants require a cold snap over Winter but the varieties have different requirements, with some plants being suitable for warmer climates.

Plant in late Autumn or early Winter

Blueberries require an acidic, free draining soil. I have been advised by a grower in the past that they recommend home gardeners grow them in pots so that the soil environment can be monitored and maintained. If you are interested in testing your soil, it should be a pH of 4-5.5 I have never bothered with testing, and the plants I have look lovely and healthy and have a promising crop developing this year.


Water regularly, at the base of the plant.  The plant is a free form bush, no training or support is required.

grow fresh blueberriesFertalise plants in the Spring. Blood and Bone and Seaweed solution are my choices plus a few handfuls of compost from the heap as it is ready. I regularly (weekly, or fortnightly) add our coffee grounds to the base of the plants also. In Winter I tend to give them a break and use the coffee in other areas of the garden.

Mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture as the roots are close to the surface. Pine needles, and wood chips, coffee grounds and tea leaves all will assist to maintain an acid soil.

Add netting over the plant to protect the developing fruit from birds, and maybe the children also!

Net blueberries to keep out birds

Blueberry plants may also require some further cover or protection on extreme weather days (as with all plants) to prevent leaf burn.

As the plants develop remove about a third of the old wood (after 3-4 years). The blueberries will crop on older wood.  You may wish to prune out any branches that are too close to the ground and those that are weak. While the plant is essentially a bush it requires good air circulation around the center of the plant as with fruit trees. Remove any small central branches that are crossing into the center also.

Plants are said to reach full cropping potential after five or six years. Last year we had two small blueberry bushes, they are young, small plants and we harvested enough fruit for the kids to head out and collect a small handful each day.  This year I have added an additional three plants of varying varieties so am hoping to have a much larger crop over the coming years, with enough to cook with and freeze.

Berries are deciduous/semi deciduous with the leaves turning a glorious red in Winter. It is recommended that you have two species of blueberry plants that fruit around the same time to ensure pollination.

I have not encountered any pests or issues growing blueberries to date.


Avocado blueberry dairy free ice cream

Harvest fruit when it is plump, soft and deep blue in color.

Blueberries will freeze well. They may be frozen whole, or pureed and frozen in ice cubes to use in baking or juices.

Below you will find a few links to my recipes so that you can enjoy your blueberry harvest:

Avocado and Blueberry Dairy Free Ice Cream

Blueberry Yoghurt Muffins

Spelt Banana Blueberry Muffins


Kitchen Harvest: Susan Berry, Frances Lincoln, London, 2002

1001 Hints & tips for the Garden 2nd ed.: Dr Judyth McLeod, Readers Digest, Utlimo, 2007

Organic Gardening in Australia: Pauline Pears (ed.) Dorling Kindersley, Campberwell, 2003


Are you growing Blueberries? Do you have any additional tips that you can provide?