Monday, September 14, 2020

Showcasing In My Kitchen, September 2020

Sunday morning foraging has become part of our routine whilst the local farms still have beautiful produce before the heat of Summer takes it's toll. Most Sunday mornings we visit the farm truck of a local Mackay farm called Sweet As Fresh As, and indeed it is just that. This is what I bought yesterday, golden sweet corn, heritage cherry tomatoes (not in the photo), zucchinis, and strawberries. The pineapple is from a local pineapple farm and I purchased it from the corner shop near us. Pineapples are in season here at the moment and are very sweet. The strawberries are sweet and delicious and the corn hardly needs any cooking at all. It's nice and so easy here to bring home some fresh produce from local suppliers. It lasts much longer than what I buy at the supermarket,which travels a long way to get here. Buying what is locally in season and cooking with that is what I try to do.

The previous weekend, I purchased these, and at a very reasonable price.

Our daughter arrived home as a big Father's Day surprise for Mr. HRK, which was on the 6th September here in Australia this year, although I knew she was driving down from Cairns. Mr. HRK didn't, so its been a lovely week with her home, and lots of home cooking and stories and laughter. It's so good when you can pull off a surprise isn't it? Delicious Spring Lamb is in the butcher shops  now at a very reasonable price, and when I baked a Leg of Lamb one night during the week flavoured with rosemary and garlic, I made this Cauliflower Cheese as one of the vegetable dishes to accompany the lamb. I always have lots of haloumi cheese in the refrigerator as Mr. HRK loves it and so I added haloumi slices around the circumference of the cauliflower cheese dish as I was a bit low on parmesan. It was really delicious, and the cheesier the better I reckon. By the way the cauliflower was also grown locally, and was so delicious I could also eat it raw.

A celebratory glass of champagne on Father's Day with our daughter was very nice. I made my
Tuna and Cannellini Bean Dip again as a snack to go with it and Shannon loved it. 

Of course there had to be a cake for Father's Day and Shannon's arrival. I've been wanting to make this one for ages, and my friends we just loved it. The flavour of apricot in cakes is one of my favourites, as we can very rarely buy nice apricots this far North. So here is Nigella Lawson's fragrant and delicious Apricot cake. If you can't quite come at using Rosewater in this, just leave it out.

Nigella's Apricot Almond Cake with Rosewater and Cardamon


Serves 8-10

150 grams dried apricots
250 millilitres cold water
2 cardamon pods (cracked)
200 grams ground almonds
50 grams fine polenta (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 grams caster sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
nonstick spray or sunflower oil for greasing

For Decorating

2 teaspoons apricot jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios


Grease and line a 1 x 20 cm/8-inch round spring form cake tin
  1. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with cold water and drop in the cracked cardamon pods, still containing the fragrant cardamon seeds. Bring to the boil, and keep it bubbling on the stove for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it as at the end of 10 minutes  the saucepan will be just about out of water but mustn't boil dry. The apricots will absorb more water as they cool. 
  2. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the apricots to cool.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C./160 deg. C. Fan, or Gas mark 4/350 deg. F.
  4. Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, and set them aside on a plate for a while. Discard the cardamon husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
  5. Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the saucepan including the apricots into the bowl of a food processor. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, caster sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
  6. Open up the top of the food processor, scrape down the batter, and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, however if the cake is browning  too early, cover it loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark. I didn't need to do this. When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
  8. Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you are using apricot jam to decorate and this gives a beautiful gloss and flavour to the cake, warm it up a little first to make it easier to spread. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Then sprinkle with the pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before releasing from the cake tin and removing to a serving plate.

With all of those very fresh zucchinis I bought, I just had to make Zucchini. Corn and Bacon Slice, a delicious family favourite. It was the week for our favourite foods.

Now I know I am cheating a little bit here, as this is supposed to be about My Kitchen, but I couldn't let the opportunity of my daughter visiting without us taking advantage of enjoying a High Tea  at the Fifth Floor Restaurant during the week. It is actually a hospitality training restaurant for Central Queensland University which merged with TAFE a few years ago and now teaches hospitality which was always the domain of TAFE. I used to work for CQU so I still keep my ear close to the ground about what happens there, and this High Tea was reasonably priced, delicious and located on the 5th floor of the inner city CQU building with nice surrounding views. The hospitality students waited on the tables and did a good job. They also cook and serve very nice lunches throughout the month.

The High Tea Menu. 

Spring is as much about gardening as cooking for us and we have been spending a lot of time gardening in the mornings. I collected a few bits and pieces form the garden to fill a vase to put on the bench in my kitchen, and the pretty pink leaves are from a Cordyline, which will strike shoots in a vase of water and can then easily be replanted. Cordylines bring very  nice colour to the tropical garden. We have a couple of garden projects going on at the moment, but I will write more about that later.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month. I'm a bit late with this, but it is still the 13th somewhere in the world:)  Or just head over to her blog and visit more kitchens.

Warm wishes everyone and have a lovely week wherever you are,

Pauline xx


  1. Lots of mouthwatering foods, Pauline. The apricot almond cake looks so good and definitely a perfect one for any celebration. I also like the combo of haloumi and yummy.

    1. Thanks so much Angie, It was a lovely week of delicious food. Hope you are well, Pauline

  2. Your food looks so delicious as always.
    How wonderful to have locally grown veggies. There as a community farm in my area until last year, but it is closed now.

    You look so happy in front of that tray full of cakes. Hehe 😁

    1. Thanks so much Nil, what an awful shame you don't have access to locally grown produce, another covid tragedy I expect. That is why I support these local farms along with my friends. Yes it was nice to be treated to cakes and savouries that I didn't cook. Love a good High Tea. Hope you have a great week, Pauline

  3. Mmm, loads of goodies in your kitchen! That cake looks superb. And I'll never turn down leg of lamb. Sounds like you had a delightful visit with your daughter, too. Fun post -- thanks.

    1. Thanks KR, We have been enjoying wonderful food, so fortunate. Spring lamb is just delicious right now, my favourite. Hope you are both keeping safe and well, Pauline xx

  4. What an amazing cake! We absolutely love cardamom and rosewater flavorings. I can only imagine how good that cake tastes. Our local farms have zucchini and corn, but strawberry season has long been over and cherry tomatoes made it until last week.

    1. Thanks Judee, This is one of my favourite cakes now with so many amazing flavours.Strawberry season is closing in here now too with the strawberries getting smaller in size, They have been so delicious this year.Lovely to hear from you.

  5. i love rosewater in dishes, so am happy to add it. lots of lovely produce there pauline. we were meeting a friend at a market on the weekend, but we left pronto as people were not social distancing. Grrr. how lovely to have your daughter with you. great surprise. fab idea with the halloumi cheese. i adore cauliflower cheese. have a good month.

    1. Well Sherry this is the second time I've replied to your reply, where did it go? Social distancing at our Saturday market is quite regimented but it is still challenging for them if people don't cooperate.Your market would be much larger than ours. Yes thank you we had a great time with our daughter, and ate lots of good and delicious food. She seems to enjoy her Mum's cooking, ha, ha. Take care. x

  6. Pauline, as usual your food looks absolutely delicious. We have a great Farmers Market here as you probably already know if you have visited your family. I usually buy fruit and veggies there on a Saturday but will give it a miss this coming weekend while the Carnival of Flowers is on as it will be packed.

    1. Thanks Chel, I hope the Carnival of Flowers is a beautiful event for everybody concerned. Still good to stay away from crowds though. Take care, Pauline x

  7. I am sure you felt very blessed to have your daughter spend time with you. I love the idea of the halloumi in the cauliflower cheese. I might just try that tonight as we have some lovely seasonal cauliflower in our fridge :)

    1. Thanks Tandy, I am including halloumi more and more when possible in my cooking, such a great cheese to work with. Yes it was wonderful to have our daughter home. Hope you enjoyed the halloumi. Stay well, Pauline x

  8. I love Nigella, I admire her for many years. All of these look sooo yummy, the cake and also these wondreful fresh veggies and fruit! Stay safe and healthy everyone ☺

    1. Thanks Natalia, I am so fortunate to have access to such beautiful seasonal produce. Hope you are well, Pauline x

  9. Pauline this is full of delicious food but that cauliflower cheese really caught my eye! :D Excited for pineapple season coming up-it feels like it has been a really long winter!

    1. Thanks so much Lorraine, yes the pineapples are already so sweet here in the North. Adding halloumi to the cauliflower cheese was pretty much spur of the moment but it tasted so good. Hope you are well, Pauline


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