Monday, September 27, 2021

Almond Flour Peanut Butter Biscuits/Cookies Recipe

These gluten free, Almond Flour Peanut Butter cookies or biscuits will be ready to eat within 20 minutes, and I promise you that no-one will be able to resist them. When life gets busy, but a sweet treat is still needed, I bake biscuits, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of the most delicious combinations you will find. These are perfect to have on hand over the weekend, although this recipe makes 36 cookies, too many for us, so I have given some of the batch away to friends. We all have friends and relatives who are gluten intolerant, and I wanted to know I could produce a quick batch of biscuits for them if necessary. I am really happy with the crisp texture of these biscuits, and they are also very satisfying and quite filling to eat. This recipe is from the Marcellina in Cucina blog, she is also a North Queensland girl like me, and I like to follow what she is doing. 

Speaking of North Queensland, we are very lucky to have one of our very talented home grown Opera singers, Paul Ettore Tabone back in Australia from London. Paul Ettore Tabone, the tenor from Oz. In between his Australian shows and performances, he and his partner are living with Paul's Italian parents on their sugarcane farm near Ingham. Paul finished his UK opera season last March with Phantom of the Opera in London, where he played Ubaldo Piangi for four years, until the coronavirus lockdown drew the curtain at Her Majesty's Theatre in London to a close. Meanwhile their loss is our gain, as Mr. HRK and I attended his concert at our nearby Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music here in Mackay recently and it was just lovely. Paul was at his best, vocally. Director of the CQCM, Professor Judith Brown was the piano accompanist for Paul and their synergy on stage is extraordinary.

Paul Ettore Tabone at Her Majesty's Theatre in London

 I feel quite an attachment to Paul and his career, as when he was a Music Theatre student here in Mackay at the CQCM, part of my role at the Central Queensland University Library was as the Music and Performing Arts Librarian at the CQCM, and Paul  was a student for 3 years during this period so by the end of the three years I knew him quite well. As with most small regional universities, one of the benefits is that staff develop a rapport with their students.  It is so rewarding now to see him achieving on the world stage of opera and music theatre. If I've piqued your interest about Paul's career, he is in Australia to start rehearsing for the Sydney season of Phantom of the Opera, which hopefully will go ahead sooner rather than later. He also mentioned they are hoping for an outdoor performance of the show at Sydney Harbour. If you happened to watch the Rugby Union match in Townsville last Saturday Night, at Queensland Country Bank Stadium between Australia and Argentina, either on the TV or were actually at the match, you would have seen Paul sing the Australian National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair, and ending on a beautiful high note.. How's that for an impressive introduction to a football match. 

Cook's notes:

From the start, apologies for any duplication here and in the actual recipe. I have lots of little tips to take in when baking these,and I don't want you to miss them.

  • Using a small biscuit/cookie scoop,  a small version of an ice-cream scoop, available from kitchen shops,  will make it much easier to portion out biscuit dough onto the baking tray. However my Mother didn't have one and she made great biscuits. A teaspoon will also do.
  • Stir the peanut butter well before measuring, just like tahini.
  • Don't get distracted during the baking process, you will need to keep an eye on these little gems in the oven to ensure they aren't burning.
  • If you are intending these biscuits to be completely gluten free, check all the ingredients, the peanut butter, vanilla extract and the chocolate chips to ensure they are 100% gluten free and suitable.
  • Total preparation time is 20 minutes.
  • Almond flour is quite expensive, however it brings wonderful texture to these biscuits, and they are quite filling. It has a lighter texture than almond meal, and is rich in magnesium, protein, and Vitamin E.
  • Looking for a variation to this recipe, no problem. Why not add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger or cinnamon to the mixture. We love ginger here, so I sometimes add one whole teaspoon of powdered ginger, this certainly adds some extra pizzazz.
  • Instead of chocolate chips, use some regular M&Ms for fun, they are gluten free last time I looked, or raisins, or chopped nuts, such as pecans, cashews, or walnuts, or dried berries.



2 1/4 cups almond flour

1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy), stir well in bottle before measuring to include the oils 

1 egg

3/4 cup castor sugar, or superfine white

1/2 cup (4 oz/115 grams) unsalted butter (softened)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup chocolate chips (plus more for decorating)


 Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C/350 deg F.

Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Add the almond flour and baking powder to a bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.

Add the softened butter, peanut butter,and sugars to your electric mixing bowl. Beat until it becomes nice and creamy. This combination creams up beautifully.

Add the beaten egg and the vanilla extract then beat again until completely combined.

Remove bowl from the electric mixer, and stir in the almond flour and baking powder mixture.

Add the chocolate chips, and stir through. The mixture will form a ball in your bowl.

Using a small biscuit/cookie scoop, select scoops of dough and  place on the baking paper allowing room for spreading. or if you don't have a cookie scoop, roll a heaped teaspoonful of dough into small balls and place on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned. However check at 8 minutes that they aren't burning, this all depends on how hot your oven is. They might even need 12 minutes. Leave to slightly cool on the baking tray before removing to the cooling rack using a knife to lift them.They will crisp up as they cool.

Enjoy your week,

Warm wishes,


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

My Summery Cypriot Grain Salad


Grain salads are a wholesome side dish next to chicken, fish or meat, and will also hold their own as a vegetarian dish for dinner allowing the versatility of lots of extra add ins. Or if you fancy a light vegetarian main dish for a change after a big social weekend, although that's a challenging thought these days, this is my suggestion for a Meat Free Monday. Make a large batch on the weekend, and you will enjoy it for lunches during the following week, this applies to most grain salads. 

I made this salad to take to a dinner a few nights ago and it was a real hit. I assemble the grains and the lemon dressing the day before if I have time, add the chopped herbs on the day of eating, and then add the yoghurt dressing just before serving. The flavours combine beautifully.

I have made this salad before using quinoa as the main grain, and it was delicious as quinoa is a wonderful supporter of flavours. However, my preference is now to use Bulgur Wheat. It has a uniquely earthly flavour, is kind to the gut, and is also very fast and easy to cook. However you can use both quinoa and bulgur wheat combined for even more grainy impact. Bulgar is made from durum wheat that has already been cracked and partially pre-cooked,and all you need to do is soak it in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and you've got a light and nutty addition to your meals. It can generally be used as a healthy alternative to  rice, couscous or stuffing for a high-fibre meal. As a friend said to me, ancient grains are just the best.

This recipe is based on a popular one by George Calombaris and is very easily modified to suit what you might have on hand in the pantry. Mix up your grains. It saves time to have pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds and pine nuts, already toasted and stored in separate jars for using in  grain salads.

Cypriot Grain Salad

Cook's Notes:


1/2 red onion finely diced
1 cup of  Australian Bulgur Wheat (or freekah, quinoa or other grain)
1/2 cup Puy lentils
2 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. toasted slivered almonds
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp. baby capers
1 bunch chopped coriander
1/2 bunch chopped parsley
1/2 cup currants (1/4 cup dried cranberries plus 1/4 cup currants is also a nice mix)
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 pomegranate, deseeded to serve

Cumin Yoghurt Dressing: - 

1 cup thick Greek yoghurt
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground (essential)
1 tbsp. honey


Soak Bulgur wheat in boiling water for 10 minutes and drain and set aside to cool.

Boil Puy lentils in boiling water until just cooked. Drain very well and allow to cool.

Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl, except the yoghurt dressing, and mix well. The yoghurt dressing can now be left covered in a jar in the refrigerator for a day if necessary. Whisk the oil and lemon juice dressing in a small jar until it emulsifies, season to taste, and add to the grains.

Just before eating, place the grain salad in an attractive serving dish and top with the delicious Cumin Yoghurt. Garnish and decorate with pomegranate seeds. However if pomegranates aren't in season or your thing, pour a few strips of pomegranate molasses across the yoghurt, and top with some scattered coriander leaves, or mint leaves, or roughly chopped cranberries. It's all about the colour and flavour to contrast with the grains.

Warmest wishes my friends and I hope you are having a safe and enjoyable week. Thanks for visiting.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Strawberry Cream Cheese Shortcake with Streusel topping


It's strawberry season when I adore using strawberries in cooking, and this shortcake exceeded my expectations with how delicious and satisfying it is. Strawberries are enjoyable just to eat fresh, however red, ripe strawberries transform superbly into intense luscious flavours when used in cooking to make jams, cakes, or just a simple coulis. Strawberries are harvested in Southern Australia during Summer and in Queensland in Winter making them available all year round. So it's good news that we can make this Strawberry Shortcake whenever we feel the urge, however using any fresh produce which is in season in your part of the world and available economically, is by far the best choice.

Winter strawberries have been hitting the supermarket shelves here in Queensland at the low cost of $1 for a 250 g punnet which is the cheapest I can remember them ever being. I just don't know how farmers are making any profit from their strawberry crops at that price,  however a strawberry farm yields an enormous number of strawberries so hopefully they are. There have been disturbing reports of farmers ploughing in their strawberry crops down south because they can't get pickers and because it's too costly to send the crop to markets.

 Local strawberry farmers around Mackay where I live, such as Sweet As Fresh As and Ballantynes Strawberry Farm have been encouraging the locals and visitors to the region to visit the farm and pick the strawberries themselves which is an enjoyable family activity with lovely benefits.This seems like a great solution for farmers if all of the normal Workplace Health and Safety compliance rules can be overcome. We went strawberry picking at Ballyntynes Farm a couple of years ago, where they also have a very nice cafe serving delicious ice creams, pancakes, jams, cakes all made using their own strawberries naturally. Food waste has become such a global issue, that I hate to think of strawberry crops going to waste. Sweet As Fresh As sell their strawberries at the local market and also from their farm truck during the week on selected days, and many of the locals including me prefer to shop that way. 

My soft cane Dendrobium Orchid just coming into flower

Don't think that big necessarily means sweet with strawberries though, although it can. Some strawberries are grown more for their durability than their flavour and early Winter crop strawberries can be quite disappointing. Smaller variety strawberries can be often be much sweeter, and I am told that the wild strawberries grown in Europe including the forest strawberries grown in France, the fraises des bois, are among the best in the world.We have a very modest strawberry garden which Mr. HRK planted. They are a small strawberry variety, name unknown to us,  and very sweet, and have been producing a small number of strawberries over the last few weeks. Not many make it into the house though as we pick them straight from the vine, still warm from the sun and as ripe as possible and hopefully before the birds and the ants discover them. So I'll continue to buy strawberries to cook with while the prices are low.

Here is my delicious Strawberry Cream Cheese Shortcake recipe for you to enjoy.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Shortcake with Streusel topping

Serves 6-8

Cooking time 40 minutes


125 g butter, softened

220 g (1 cup) caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons extra

2 eggs, lightly beaten at room temperature

125 g cream cheese, softened

300 g (2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted

375 g strawberries, hulled, halved if large

Whipping cream, Mascarpone, or Warmed custard to serve

Streusel topping

50 g chilled butter, cubed

50 g (1/3 cup) plain flour

80 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar


N.B. Leave the cream cheese out of the refrigerator overnight, before you plan to make this so that it will soften.

Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C. (fan-forced)

Lightly grease a 4 cm deep, 20 cm x 30 cm (base measurement) baking tray with butter and line with non-stick baking paper

Beat the butter and caster sugar with electric beaters for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Add the eggs and beat for 2 minutes.

 Add half the softened cream cheese and half the self-raising flour and stir to combine. Add the remaining cream cheese and self-raising flour and gently combine. 

Gently fold in 200 g of the strawberries. This is quite a firm dough. Spoon into the prepared tray.

Prepare the crumbly Streusel topping:

Place the butter, plain flour and brown sugar in a bowl. Work the mixture with your fingertips to combine however do not incorporate the butter completely as you need a few lumps for the streusel. Overall  it will resemble very coarse breadcrumbs. 

Sprinkle the streusel over the cake mixture and bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. 

Strawberry Sauce:

Bring the remaining strawberries, extra caster sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the strawberries soften but maintain their shape.

Serve the warm shortcake topped with the strawberries and drizzled with warm custard, whipped cream or mascarpone. I served mascarpone with mine which was delicious.

Warm wishes,


Monday, September 13, 2021

Chocolate Beetroot Cake - In My Kitchen, September 2021

             "Food connects people, and the Kitchen is where the magic can happen."                                                                    

There are days when nothing but a rich, moist chocolate cake will do. I'd been wanting to make a Chocolate Beetroot cake for a while, ever since I went out to coffee with some friends at the Soul Food Market in Mackay, North Queensland, where we had a slice of Chocolate Beetroot cake, which was gluten free, lactose free, sugar free, and perhaps egg free, but not delicious free, because as you have probably already guessed, it is a health food shop and a bulk foods shop, which also specialises in vegetarian foods for dine in or take away. It's an amazing little business tucked away in an unpretentious arcade.

There is always a delicious aroma floating out of the front door, with soups and ratatouilles etc cooking on the stove. One of my friends has allergies to everything it seems, so we chose to eat at the Soul Food Market so that she could enjoy something delicious to eat without any after effects.  My Chocolate cake recipe isn't vegetarian or vegan or sugar free but it does contain beetroot, and dark chocolate, both healthy additions, which also makes it exceptionally moist. These comments about the Soul Food Market are purely my own and we all paid for our own morning tea. So here's the recipe my friends, it is adapted from a recipe. 

Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Note: This is a one pot saucepan recipe. 


1/2 cup (125 ml vegetable oil or light olive oil)

1 cup (220 g) firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 ml) maple syrup

60 g dark chocolate (70 %) chopped

250 g (around 2 cups) raw beetroot, coarsely grated

3 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature

1 1/2 cups (225 g) self raising flour  or 1 1/2 cups plain flour sifted with 3 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa powder


3/4 cup (185 ml) thin cream

150 g dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 tbsp. maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 160 deg. C.

Grease a 20 cm round cakepan and line with baking paper.

On a low heat, warm the oil in a medium size saucepan, which is large enough to hold all of the ingredients when needed.

Add the brown sugar, maple syrup and chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove saucepan from the heat.

Add the grated beetroot to the pan.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the saucepan.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together and stir into the cake and beetroot batter.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour or until the mixture pulls away from the side of the tin and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, before turning out and cooking completely.

Ganache Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat. 

Stir over a medium-low heat, for 5 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, when the mixture should thicken slightly, and pour small amounts gradually over the cake. Cover the top of the cake first, and then smooth the ganache around the sides of the cake.


This post is part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by the lovely Sherry from Sherry's Pickings, where we share lots of interesting stories from our kitchens over the last month. Today is the deadline to post so my apologies that this might be a bit of a rush job.

Cumquat Marmalade, 2nd Batch 

We were given some more cumquats, a completely different variety of cumquat to last time. These were almost the size of half a small mandarin, and had the largest seeds, and lots of them.

Amazingly, it seemed that every quart in each cumquat contained a seed, we were still removing them from the pot even as the jam was nearly ready to be bottled. Mr. HRK and I both removed all the seeds, or so we thought, the day before so that they could be soaked to extract the pectin, which is the jam thickener. Well weren't we in for a surprise, when seeds kept popping up in the pot as the jam was cooking, until the end of the cooking time. I also had to remove half of the skin when I sliced them up to soak, as some of the skin had dark spots on it.

Anyway not to be deterred, I followed exactly the same formula to  make this marmalade as I did a couple of weeks ago when I made my first batch, although I had a lot more cumquats this time, I just increased the ratio of quantities according to weight. This batch is still delicious, and thickened well, but isn't as clear as the first batch. I'm blaming it on the fruit which I think had been left on the tree too long, anyway it still tastes delicious. "I'm certainly not looking a gift horse in the mouth". Cumquats are a precious commodity. This is the link to my previous Cumquat Marmalade batch recipe in August if you missed it. Dear reader, if you are gifted a jar of Cumquat Marmalade by a friend or relative, please be very appreciative. The maker of this marmalade put her/his heart and soul into making this jam. Jam making is a labour of love and every batch can turn out differently given the differences in fruit quality. I am getting better at it and feel a lot more confident now with jam and marmalade making. This one such a delicious marmalade.

Did I tell you about my new pot? I cooked this latest batch of marmalade in my new beautiful Blue cooking pot. It's a Baccarat Le Connoisseur Limited Edition 6.3 litre model. (I think that's the correct volume.) I needed a large pot that I could transfer from the stove top to the oven and then to the tabletop. I know I'll use it a lot. 

My daughter in Cairns was unwell recently, so we sent her a Care Package from Mum and Dad which she always loves to receive and so did our Son in Law. I hope it helped her recovery. So I did some baking and made a a large Cherry and Brandy cake and a batch of Lemon Crispies. The secret ingredient in the Lemon Crispy slice is corn flakes, and here's the link to the recipe.  So delicious

Lemon Crispies

Nasturtiums from our garden give the slice some colour for afternoon tea at home.

I often make this Boiled fruit cake into two smaller cakes, but this time I used a large square cake tin and sent the whole cake North. Two packets of cherries, lots of mixed fruit and a swig of brandy give this cake a delicious flavour. Here's the recipe and it's story for you.

It's Spring here, and we've been doing a lot of gardening, planting new seedlings, repotting and enjoying being outside in the beautiful weather. I pruned my Pineapple Sage plant a couple of weeks ago and it has responded beautifully by thickening up and flowering. The red flowers bring some nice colour and attract the bees and insects. I added some of the Pineapple Sage leaves to my
 Chickpea and Vegetable Korma curry during the week and they brought a nice little burst of flavour to the dish, in addition to the fresh curry leaves.

Pineapple Sage coming into flower

I've planted beans under the trellis, and two rows of radishes. They are coming along nicely in the warmer weather.

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from our Spring garden. There is a close synergy between the garden and the kitchen at our place, and most gardeners who also enjoy cooking know how beneficial and rewarding it is to grow some of their own produce and how lovely it is to share it with friends and family. Only this morning, our friends P & J dropped off some excess cucumbers and eggplants from their garden which are very much appreciated. Our vegetables are only at the seedling stage, however some orchids are flowering nicely. Mint is a wonderful herb to grow in a pot, however it won"t be long and I'll need to move it into the orchid house for protection from the Summer heat. I love having mint on hand for cooking.

Spring orchids are flowering. This is the Phais Tankervilleae or Swamp Orchid, which I am thrilled to have in flower.

This yellow soft cane Dendrobium orchid is as pretty as a picture.

The Lemon Tree in a pot below has lots of small lemons on, the bees have done their work.

Warm wishes,

Pauline x

Saturday, September 4, 2021

North African Pumpkin, Lentil and Chickpea Stew

"If you are feeling depressed in life, all you really need to do is grow things, cook things, and let nature care of you."

Joanna Lumley 

This is  a richly spiced and hearty dish originating from Morocco, where it is called Harira. Traditionally Harira is a soup, however the combination of pulses and pasta thickens this dish to  more of a vegetable stew when I make it, however I don't mind at all, as it is wholesome, nutritious, delicious and fills the spot, and is cooked in one dish. It's a winner. The flavours keep improving so that leftovers the following day are even more delicious. On the third day when we still had leftovers for a side dish and we were still loving it, I added some baked eggplant as all of the pumpkin had disappeared, and eggplant was a perfect pairing with it. So next time I make this recipe,  I'll be serving it with eggplant as well, however that is optional.

This recipe is based on another of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in his River Cottage series called "veg everyday". Every recipe I have cooked from this book has been successful.


Serves 6

2 tablespoons sunflower oil or rice bran oil

2 large onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

100 g red lentils

400 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

8 saffron strands, toasted and crushed

500 ml passata, or roasted tomato sauce (see note below for the recipe)

A good handful of parsley, roughly chopped

A large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

300 g pumpkin or squash

1 large eggplant or aubergine(optional)

1.2 litres vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

50 g small pasta such as orzo or macaroni or use vermicelli

Medjool dates, to serve


Heat the oil in a large frypan or saucepan (I used my Scanpan) over a medium heat. Saute the onions in the oil until they just start to turn golden and translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the celery, garlic, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. Saute in the oil for a couple of minutes.

Now add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, passata, parsley and about half the coriander.  Cook all of this over a low heat for about 15 minutes.

Whilst this is cooking,  peel and remove the seeds from the pumpkin or squash and cut into large cubes.

Add the stock, the bayleaf and pumpkin to the mixture in the saucepan, and simmer covered on a low heat, for about 30 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer until it is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve immediately, scattered with the remaining coriander leaves an a few dates on the side if you wish to complete the Moroccan theme.

Cook's notes:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends making a roasted tomato sauce and having it on hand for cooking his or any vegetarian recipes or for making a great pasta sauce. I have made it previously and it was delicious, however I haven't had enough tomatoes for a while to make a sauce but I will be making it again when I do. He says it's a River Cottage classic. I wrote a post about this sauce way back in 2016, and here is the link if you feel like cooking up a batch, it really is worthwhile.

  • Roasted Tomato Sauce. 
  • As I mentioned above as well, this recipe is delicious with baked eggplant added to the plate.

We were watching the lovely Joanna Lumley's new series, Britain, on SBS TV, which brought back lots of memories for us from when we lived for 12 months in the Lakes District in Northern England about 15 years ago. Mr. HRK did a teaching exchange in a wonderful little village called Cockermouth,  made famous by the romantic poet William Wordsworth, where he was born over 250 years ago. It was a wonderful experience and the scenery in the area is magnificent. One of the many highlights of Joanna Lumley's Britain for me was when she visited the Ladies Allotment, made famous by a group of Muslim Women in Bradford, Yorkshire, which was once the wool capital of the world in the 50's and the 60's. The ladies decided to combat their isolation and loneliness by forming a community type garden where the women could go and grow fruit and vegetables, chat, and give each other support. This has been a life saver for them as they don't venture out on their own into the community. It's not limited to Muslim women, or women from an Asian heritage, anyone is welcome, and it has been so successful it has now grown to 3 allotments. It is an inspiring story of women supporting each other.  Joanna Lumley visited them, and joined them for a meal where they ate their own produce which they cooked there, and they finished off with a delicious looking Rhubarb Cake which Joanna just had to stay for. This whole experience gave meaning to the word, Ecocentrist, which can mean happy when you are out in nature. Hence my quote at the top of this story, which was Joanna's summary of her visit to the Ladies Allotment..

"If you are feeling depressed in life, all you really need to do is grow things, cook things, and let nature care of you." I wish it was that simple, but it struck a chord with me.

Thanks for dropping by. We are enjoying beautiful Spring weather at present.

Warm wishes.


p.s. This will be a perfect meat free Monday dish.