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Thistle rennet fresh cheese

  • 6–10 Scotch thistle heads (purple stamens, bases, greens and spikes removed) (see Note)
  • 2 litres goat's milk

Fat hen pikelets

  • 120 g self-raising flour
  • 15 g fat hen flour
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 160 ml milk
  • 30 g (about 1½ tbsp) melted butter
  • extra butter, for frying
  • jam, to serve
  • whipped cream, to serve

Poached pears

  • 10 whole pears
  • 1 cup sugar
  • rosehip syrup
  • 2 cups rosehips, cleaned, stems and leaves removed
  • 1 cup sugar

Hawthorn syrup

  • 2 cups hawthorn berries
  • sugar, to taste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time 30 minutes

To make the thistle rennet fresh cheese, chop the purple stamens off the thistle heads, removing the bases, any greens and spikes. Pound the stamens in a pestle and mortar. Add 1 teaspoon of warm water and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid through 4 layers of cheese cloth. In a saucepan, heat the milk to 30°C. Add 20 ml of the strained thistle liquid, stirring gently.

To make the fat hen pikelets, put the flours, salt and sugar in a big mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Gradually stir in the milk and melted butter. Beat until smooth. Melt the extra butter in a large, non-stick frying pan. Spoon a tablespoonful of the pikelet mixture in the pan. Repeat 7 times to make 8 pikelets. (If it’s too thick, add a touch of milk; if it’s runny, add a tablespoon of flour.) Cook until small bubbles appear on the surface and the underside is lightly browned. Flip over and cook other side. Cool. Makes 20.

To make the poached pears, peel the whole pears. Place in a wide-based pan. Cover with the sugar and 2 cups water.  Simmer over medium-low heat until pears are soft.

To make the rosehip syrup, place the rosehip and sugar in wide-based pan. Add enough water to cover the fruit.  Simmer gently until the fruit is soft. Strain and squeeze the liquid and fruit through cheese cloth. Stir in the sugar. For a thicker consistency, reduce the liquid over medium heat.To make the hawthorn syrup, place the berries and 6 cups of water in a wide-based pan over medium-low heat. Cook until the berries are soft and the liquid is a dark colour. Strain the berries from the liquid and return to heat. Add sugar to taste. Cook until the liquid reduces to a syrup consistency.

Serve the pikelets with the pears, hawthorn and rosehip syrup. 


• If available, cardoons are more reliable than Scotch thistles.