Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Pear, Pistachio, and Rose Cake

This is Nigella Lawson's recipe which lives up to every expectation of what a cake should be. The flavours are perfectly balanced, fresh, and with just a hint of rosewater. The topping of apricot jam, lemon juice and rosewater is delicious. I haven't made a cake apart from those in my normal repertoire for a little while, so it was nice to try something new. I'm never sure how successful a cake with just ground almonds and no flour ingredients will be, but the additional ground pistachios provide the perfect consistency. This cake is a cinch to make, the only challenge is to choose pears which are at the edible stage but not too ripe. I used day old pears from the supermarket and they were perfect, and they don't need to be peeled. How sensible is that. With the start of Spring surprising us very soon, this seemed the perfect cake to make.

I thought I would add some edible rose petals to decorate the cake, and on my morning walks with our dog Locky, I walk past a lovely rose garden in the front yard of a duplex property. I often stop to smell the roses. They are always in flower. I took the plunge one morning, knocked on the occupant's front door and asked her if I could buy one of her roses to decorate a cake She wouldn't hear of my buying it from her and said when I was walking past on the day I was decorating the cake to just take one of the roses. So I did, but I took one which had been in bloom for while. I still felt a little guilty about it but the rose was about to be put to very good use. However I have learned from this, that rose petals need to be a bit smaller to look good on a cake. Anyway I had fun with it, and the Mahjong Ladies loved the idea, and the cake. It is nice to decorate a special cake with nuts and edible flower petals for a special occasion, don't you think? This is the pink rose bush in the front that the petals came from. One day I will take the plunge and plant some roses, even though growing them in the tropics requires careful selection and care.


Makes 8-12 slices

  • vegetable oil (for greasing) 
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 100g/ 3/4 cup pistachios
  • 450 grams (approx. 3) pears - not too ripe (cored and cut into chunks, skin still on)
  • 200 grams ground almonds
  • 1 1//2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten free if required)
  • 6 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 2 teaspoons apricot jam
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosewater
  • chopped pistachios
  • edible rose petals


Use a 1 x 20 cm / 9 inch springform cake tin

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C/160 deg. C Fan/350 deg. F. Grease the sides and line the base of your springform cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the sugar and 100g/ 3/4 cup of pistachios into a food processor and blitz until the pistachios are finely ground, with a few nubbly bits, too.
  3. Add the remaining cake ingredients and blitz until everything is smoothly combined and the pears have been pureed into the batter. Remove the blade, scrape down the mixture and use the spatula to help ease every bit of batter into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, though take a look at 35 and if the cake looks like it's browning too fast, loosely cover with foil. When the cake is ready, it will be brown on top, beginning to come away at the edges and a cake tester will come out with just a few damp crumbs sticking to it.
  5. Sit the cake on a wire rack and leave to cool completely in the tin; like all flourless cakes, it will sink a little (not too much though). When the cake is completely cold, unclip, remove the base and transfer to a cake stand or plate.
  6. Mix the jam, lemon juice and rosewater together in a cup, then brush this glaze over the surface of the cake, removing any small blobs of apricot if there are any. I didn't really worry about this too much though. Scatter with finely chopped pistachios and strew with rose petals, then sprinkle a few more pistachio crumbs on top.
I think it's time for cake. 

 Best wishes


Thursday, August 20, 2020


Where has this month gone or in fact the year? I am way behind with In My Kitchen this month, partly because I was thinking about what I could write, have I done anything exciting enough to warrant a post, and now because of the procrastination I hope I'm not too late? I've just spent the morning in the garden with Mr. HRK which is the routine for us this week if retail therapy isn't enticing me out of the house, and it's warming up so we definitely need to back inside by 11 am for a cuppa. However there's been lots of cooking with fresh fruit and vegetables, sourdough bread making, lots of gardening, and a visit to a strawberry farm nearby to pick some strawberries.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Cheesy Green Broccoli Coconut Soup

 I couldn't live without soup, particularly during our Winter, which sadly is almost over, here in the North of Queensland.  Using Coconut oil to saute the vegetables brings a very subtle coconut flavour to the pot. It can consist of whatever left over or frozen vegetables you have in your refrigerator, as long as they are green. I am not generally pedantic about these things, but green it is. Just 6 cups of chopped green vegetables and you almost have a soup. Broccoli and zucchini are generally the star ingredients, and at the moment in our supermarkets broccoli  is under $3.00 a kilo, so I went for it and bought heaps of broccoli before the price goes up again. Now we also have a good stock of this in my freezer for those cold or rainy nights, or just those nights when cooking isn't on the agenda. Did I also mention that not only is it extremely healthy, it is also extremely delicious, particularly served with a slice of toasted rye sourdough bread.

1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil, ghee or butter
6 cups roughly chopped green vegetables , zucchini, broccoli, celery or whatever you have. (However, it works best with zucchini and broccoli.)
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock (homemade is best if you have it)
1 cup rocket or watercress (optional)
1 cup roughly chopped herbs, such as coriander, basil or flat-leaf parsley leaves
Pinch of salt
Juice of ½ to 1 lemon (Test the taste after adding juice from ½ a lemon and add more if required.)
½ cup crumbled sharp cheddar


Sauté the onion and garlic in the coconut oil in a large saucepan for a superior flavour. (if you are really in a hurry omit this step and just add to the rest of the vegetables, it will still taste great). Add the green vegetables to the onion and garlic and stir for a minute, then pour in the stock and bring to the boil.
Broccoli and zucchini are now recognised as being key vegetables for people suffering from high blood sugar and Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. Without going into too much detail about it, broccoli is a rich source of Chromium, a mineral which helps to improve insulin action in pre-diabetes and control blood glucose, an important factor for everyone these days I think. Never has it been more important to keep healthy and boost our immune system. Green vegetable soup is also quite creamy when pureed, thanks to the texture and structure of the versatile zucchini. This soup makes it so easy to include broccoli in your family's diet in a very appetising way, and control weight as well. However, for some variety and to be economical, use up green leftovers and bits and pieces in your crisper by adding celery, beans, chives, eschallots, peas, spinach or silverbeet, a mix of herbs, or anything green and edible.

You can also add some tasty cheese to your bowl, and if that happens to be a blue cheese well so be it, it will take the whole experience to a new level.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the rocket, herbs and salt. (I have used basil, oregano and coriander and they are great in this soup.) The only disappointment with this soup is that it doesn't retain the colour of the beautiful green broccoli when it is cooked, but just becomes a very soupy colour. Never mind, all of the goodness is there.

Changing colour
Turn off the heat and puree until smooth using a stick blender, or pulse in a normal upright blender when it has cooled slightly.

Whisk in the lemon juice and stir through the cheese, or omit the cheese and top with a dollop of yoghurt or basil pesto. I like to garnish with lot of fresh and green herbs such as parsley.

Soup for a freezer stockpile
Serve it up hot my foodie friends and enjoy.

Thanks to Sarah Wilson for this recipe.

Best wishes,


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Bulgur Wheat with Tomato, Eggplant (Aubergine), and Lemon Yoghurt

The beauty of this Middle Eastern vegetarian recipe is that all of its elements can be prepared in advance, kept refrigerated separately, and then just warmed through and assembled when you are ready to serve it. My friends, I assure you that the bulgur and tomato is delicious enough to eat on its own if you wish. I have a tub of it in the freezer which was leftover, and it will be perfect when I need an easy side dish to eat. However, it is meant to be served with the aubergine (eggplant) and yoghurt as a main dish or as part of a selection of dishes. If you are happy to eat this as a vegetarian dish on its own, it will feed four people, otherwise it will serve at least 8 as a side dish. So easy to make, and I love that this dish can be prepared totally in advance and that it so creatively and deliciously uses up the eggplants (aubergines) which I always seem to have in abundance.

I am always so happy when I have fresh mint growing in a large pot which is the perfect garnish for this meal. Middle Eastern dishes and mint are the perfect marriage. This one could also be served as a side with a curry. It is a variation of another recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's book, aptly named Simple.

This week I have been doing a lot of cooking with vegetables, which I seem to have accumulated. How do I end up with so many? I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, I adore meat. However Winter is a wonderful time to cook with veggies, don't you think? I'll be sharing my Green Broccoli and Coconut soup with you shortly, it is so good and provides our bodies with a blast of nutrients, is great for the gut, and at the moment I have another batch of Green Cabbage sauerkraut on my kitchen bench waiting to be bottled for processing over the next few days. We are enjoying another cold snap here, well I call a minimum temperature of 7 deg. F. a cold snap, and with Spring just over the horizon, there won't be many more opportunities to make cool weather sauerkraut. This is my recipe for sauerkraut if you are interested in making a batch in the cooler climates.

If you feel challenged at the thought of cooking with bulgur please don't be. It can be used interchangeably with cooked rice, couscous or quinoa and is often used to make tabbouleh. It
doesn't require cooking though, only soaking, as it is a whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially precooked for your convenience. It is a staple in the Mediterranean region and Middle Eastern countries, often used in grain salads, side dishes, soups, even green salads after it has been soaked. If you can't find it in your supermarket, try a health food shop or an Asian or Indian supermarket. It is nutty and delicious and makes a nice change to the usual grains we cook with.

Let's cook:


2 eggplants (aubergines) cut into 3 cm chunks (about 500 g)
105 ml. olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced (320 g)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. ground baharat or allspice
400 g very ripe cherry tomatoes or 1 can of drained cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato paste
250 g bulgur wheat (preferably fine grind)
200 g Greek-style yoghurt
1 small, preserved lemon (25 g) skin and flesh chopped finely.
10 g mint leaves
salt and black pepper
Pomegranate Molasses (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C fan forced.

Roasting the Eggplant

Firstly we need to roast the chopped eggplants. Place them into a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Mix well together with your washed hands, then spread them out onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 35-40 minutes turning over halfway through, until the eggplants are caramelised and soft. Remove from your oven and set aside.

Cooking the Bulgur, Onions and Tomato
Add the remaining oil to a large frypan with a lid and set to a medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the onion and fry for 8 minutes, stirring a few times. It will become soft and caramelised. Add the garlic and Baharat and fry for another minute, stirring until the garlic becomes aromatic.

Add the ripe cherry tomatoes, and mash them with a potato masher to break them up. You might need to warm up the tomatoes first so that they break up easily. If your tomatoes aren't ripe enough to be mashable, use a drained can of cherry tomatoes instead.

Stir in the tomato paste, 400 ml of water and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 12 minutes.  Add the bulgur, stir so that it is completely coated in the tomato mixture and remove the pan from the heat. Set aside on your bench for 20 minutes, and the bulgur will absorb all of the liquid.

Lemon Yoghurt

In a medium bowl, mix together the yoghurt with the preserved lemon, half the mint and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Divide the bulgur between four plates. Plate up with the yoghurt and a serving of eggplant on top, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining mint. If you have any pomegranate molasses on hand, I know that a splash of that on top would be the finishing touch, but that is optional.

Serve with a Curry or a Tagine for a perfect dinner.

Thanks for dropping by,

Best wishes


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Afghan Biscuits, a delicious New Zealand confection

Afghan biscuits have no connection to the Afghan people or their country of origin, which seems very strange. Surprisingly they originate from New Zealand, from over the ditch, and are their counterpart to our Anzac biscuit, according to the locals. However this is a delicious biscuit, and shouldn't just be enjoyed on Anzac Day. They are really a chocolate, butter and corn flake confection, although weetbix makes a very suitable substitute for cornflakes in this recipe. I had never heard of Afghan biscuits until last April, when  our good friend Christine invited us for coffee on the 26th April, the day after Anzac Day. She had made Afghan biscuits with weetbix which were absolutely delicious. Some New Zealand friends of her daughters make them every year and this is the recipe that she gave me. I have been wanting to make them ever since.
I don't really buy Corn Flakes just to eat as a cereal, as I can't see many nutritional benefits, however Mr. HRK is happy to eat a bowl of them whenever he is feeling like cereal. I bought these a couple of weeks ago to make these biscuits and here they are finally. I love the crinkly texture of these biscuits when I eat them. I made them with weetbix a month or so ago, and a young friend who was visiting said it was just like eating chocolate crackles, remember those? Great children's party food. Those ones weren't iced though. So I had to make another batch and ice them, and add the walnut, so that they look pretty for a photo. 

I loved working with the icing for these biscuits. It came together beautifully and I adore chocolate icing, such a guilty pleasure. Here's just a small tip with icing these biscuits. I made the icing quite firm, whilst I was baking the biscuits and left it in the bowl until the biscuits cooled. I then added just a few drops of warm water which was enough to make the icing more spreadable. Then using an old tip from my Mum, I placed a bread and butter knife in a cup of hot water, and used the warm blade of the knife to carefully spread the icing on the biscuits. A hot knife makes icing much more spreadable and it doesn't drizzle off the biscuit. You don't want that. The trick is not to have runny icing for biscuits. This amount was perfect for 18 biscuits. 

These are the fastest biscuits to make. This batch took me 30 minutes from beginning to end, not including the icing. That's the beauty of baking biscuits.


Preheat oven to 180 deg. C. (350 deg. F)

Makes 18 biscuits

200 g (7 oz.) butter, softened or melted

1/2 cup or (75 g, 3 oz) sugar
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups cornflakes ( 50g or 2 ozs) or crushed weetbix
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Chocolate icing:

1 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar
1 heaped tablespoon sifted cocoa (sift with the icing sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon melted butter
1-2 tablespoons water
18 walnut halves

Cornflakes added to mixture


Preheat oven to 180 deg. C. (350 deg. F.)

Prepare a large oven tray by greasing or spraying lightly with cooking spray, and covering with baking paper. I used a large one and a smaller one.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
Sift flour and cocoa. Stir into creamed mixture, and add vanilla essence.
Fold in cornflakes or weetbix. It will form into a ball.

Take tablespoon sized amounts and roll into balls and spread evenly on the tray. Flatten balls lightly with a fork or your finger.

Bake at 180 deg. for about15 minutes or until set. They will be a little soft when they come out of the oven but will crisp up. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Prepare the Icing:

In a medium bowl combine the sifted icing sugar and cocoa, vanilla and melted butter and mix.

Slowly add the water a little at a time until a firm consistency is reached. If you add too much water, just add some more icing sugar until the desired consistency/.

When cold, ice the biscuits and decorate with a walnut half.
Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

It's time for afternoon tea, so I am having a cuppa and one of these biscuits. Please take care during these difficult times.

Thanks for dropping by,


p.s I just found this after I posted my first recipe. My friends, if you are running short of time and need to make an even faster batch of biscuits, this recipe for Afghans is taken from the Edmonds Cookery Book, New Zealand's no. 1 cookbook, first printed 1955.

Easy Afghans

1 packet Edmonds Chocolate cake mix
50 g (2ozs) Butter, melted
2 cups cornflakes
2 tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients to form a stiff dough. Drop teaspoons of mixture onto a greased oven tray. Bake at 180 deg. C (350 deg F.) for 15 minutes in a preheated oven. When cold, ice with chocolate icing if desired.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Healthy and Simple Vegetarian Quiche

This is a versatile and economical vegetarian recipe where the vegetables and herbs that I use are all optional dependent on what is in season and what I have on hand. This time I used capsicum, zucchini, some cooked silverbeet and fresh parsley and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped spring onion. Tarragon and thyme are also very flavoursome herbs to use in moderation. Feel free to add 1 cup of some cooked salmon, ham or even leftover cooked chicken if you wish, just reduce the amount of vegetables to one cup.  

The real bonus with this recipe is that I don't need to make pastry for it to taste great, although I do love a nice, crisp pastry. Who doesn't love pastry? If you are desperate for a pastry lined quiche, just fill an uncooked homemade or bought savoury pastry shell with the filling and bake for 30-40 minutes. This recipe is also perfectly suited to making mini quiches, which can then be frozen. I love reheating those for a quick and nutritious breakfast. Do you remember the old saying, "Real men don't eat quiche?" Well Mr. HRK loves this quiche, and what can I say, except that I know a real man when I see one.

  • 4 free range eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Self Raising Flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh cream or low fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese including parmesan (low fat is fine)
    Vegetables and Herbs

    2 cups finely chopped vegetables (including any combination of capsicum, celery, cooked silver beet, zucchini, mushrooms,
    broccoli, fresh asparagus or thawed frozen peas) If you use silver beet, squeeze it first to remove all of the liquid.

    2 tablespoons chopped herbs including flat leaf parsley and 2 teaspoons chopped thyme (Thyme is quite a strongly flavoured herb so not as much is needed in a recipe)
Let's Cook:

1. Combine beaten eggs, flour, milk, cream and butter. Whisk until all lumps have disappeared and it is a nice, even consistency.

2. Stir in cheese, herbs  and vegetable filling. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Pour into a 24 cm  lightly greased quiche or pie dish.

4. Garnish the surface with thinly sliced capsicum, or thinly sliced zucchini.

5. Bake at 180 deg. C for 30 - 40 mins. or until cooked and nicely browned and set.

Serve this  with a crisp tossed salad and vinaigrette.

I am revisiting this recipe which I posted when I was new to blogging and it remains a firm favourite of ours

We have just returned home on Saturday from a road trip North to Cairns and so a simple meal like this makes life easy when we are still unpacking. I know that we are so lucky here in Queensland to still be able to travel within this beautiful state of ours, however I think we are now  aware that the situation could change very quickly. Let's hope it doesn't.

During the next week or so I'll post some photos and a story about our trip North  which I hope you will enjoy, so watch this space. There are a lot of travellers on the Bruce Highway towing caravans and camper vans, making the most of the easing of retrictions in Queensland, and all of the caravan parks and free camps are full to the brim. 

It's tomato season, and at this time of year it is a tradition for us to stop at Merinda near Bowen on the Bruce Highway in North Queensland and purchase some tomatoes straight from the farm. I was saddened to see that some of the established fruit and vegetable shops are no longer open on the highway, a consequence of the pandemic, and a long season without any customers. However whilst the farm shop we normally buy from on an honour system wasn't open, we did find one, also operating on an honour system and managed to buy some fresh, firm tomatoes at $2.00 for an 800g bag. This is much cheaper than what we are paying at the supermarket.

With Victoria now under lock down and experiencing curfews, and many countries still in crisis with Covid 19, let's not take anything for granted. Here at home we are still living simply, not going anywhere too crowded, but still practicing social distancing as much as possible when we do need to go out.

Blogging friends, I am persisting with using the new Blogger interface. How about you? We can now add photos from Google Photos to our posts, and I hope that if I remove those photos from GP,  that they won't disappear from the blog post as well, as they used to with the gallery photos. 

Stay strong and healthy and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Best wishes,