Monday, 13 August 2018

Caraway Scones - International Scone Week - August 2018 - #ISW2018

International Scone Week has come around so fast this year.  #ISW was started some years ago by Celia from the Fig Jam & Lime Cordial blog, and is now under the mantle of Tandy of Lavender and Lime fame.  Join in folks!  Everyone is welcome.  I don't often make scones; not sure why as they are incredibly quick and easy to make.  They can be sweet or savoury, and whipped up in a short time for surprise guests.

This recipe is from Old Farmhouse Recipes by Alison Uttley, known for her Little Grey Rabbit children's books.  She gives no oven temp. or baking time, and not much direction for this recipe - I guess any good cook of the (late Victorian) era would know these things already.  So I've done my best, and I think they turned out pretty well, if a bit flat.  I'm not sure if they're meant to be this way, or if my bicarb soda was just too darn old?:=)  And who would have thought to put marmalade and caraway seeds into scones?:=)  Pretty tricky those Victorians.  

slather on the butter and jam


450g. of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

110g. of butter

170g. of sugar

2 tbs of caraway seeds - I used US tablespoons here

2 tbs marmalade

1 tsp bicarb-soda dissolved in a tsp of water

1 tbs of vinegar

about 180 mLs of buttermilk or plain Greek yoghurt thinned out with water

1-2 tbs of cream or milk for brushing the tops before baking


Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl

Mix in chunks of the butter with a knife, then get your hands in and rub it together till it looks like breadcrumbs

Stir in the sugar and caraway seeds

Make a well in the middle of the flour and butter mixture

In goes the marmalade, bi-carb and vinegar - yes, it fizzes:) 

Mix to a stiff dough with the buttermilk or yoghurt - start with 125 mLs (half a cup), then use more if needed

Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 2 cm. (about 1 inch) thick shape - round or rectangle

Cut out rounds with a scone cutter (or glass) - you will get about 12

Place on a lightly floured, or a lined baking tray

Brush the tops with the cream or milk

Bake at 200C for about 15-20 mins. till lightly golden brown on top

Cool on a wire rack or just eat warm with butter and jam:=) 


I didn't have buttermilk (Alison says to use 'sour milk'), so I made up some thick Greek yoghurt with water till I had about 180 mLs

I would probably use a bit less sugar next time, as the marmalade also makes them sweet

You may need more or less liquid, depending on your flour, etc

Leave the caraway seeds out if you're not a fan, or try another spice

I ended up with 19 scones!  I think it was because I made my dough shape too small - i.e. only 1 cm. thick rather than 2.  Silly me!  Maybe that's why they ended up a bit flat too

ingredients (mostly) gathered  

rub between your fingers till it looks like breadcrumbs 

yep the bicarb and vinegar fizz together

it should look like this when you squish it together

bring it together gently to a ball

pat out the dough with your hands till about 2cm. thick

cut out the rounds with a scone cutter or glass

golden brown and smelling great

delicious with lots of butter and jam

caraway seeds - artwork by sherry's pickings

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Balley Soup

Guess what?  This is not an Irish soup, like I thought from the name.  It is in fact Lebanese.  Cute little meatballs dropped into a flavoursome soup - you can't go wrong with that.  The original recipe which I found in a Woolworths' Fresh magazine, is by a reader called Jane (no other info).  She says it is specific to a village called Beit Shalala in Lebanon.  This is my spiced up version of it, as her recipe is simple, with no onion, garlic or chillies, and no spice except cinnamon.  Sorry people, but I just can't leave things alone:=) 

cute little meatballs ready for the pot 

(Recipe adapted by Sherry's Pickings)

Serves 4:



500g. beef mince

1/2 tsp sea salt, and black pepper to taste - maybe 8 grinds of the mill

2 tsp dukkah (optional)

1-2 tsp dried parsley or 1-2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp mountain pepperberry or spice of your choice


1 tbs olive oil

1 tbs butter

1 large brown onion, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 red chillies, finely chopped

1 tin (410g.) of crushed tomatoes or tomato purée

1/2 tsp sumac

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp sugar

3 tbs parsley, chopped

1/3 cup white rice

2-3 cups chicken stock

1/2-1 cup of boiling water - if needed

1/2 cup frozen baby green peas, thawed in (more) boiling water

1 tin (400g.) chick peas, drained


Throw the beef mince and the seasonings, etc into a medium mixing bowl

Mix up well with your hands and form into small balls (about 1 tbs per ball)

Heat the oil and butter together in a large saucepan

Fry the onion, garlic and chillies for about 5 minutes till starting to go golden

Now plop the meatballs into the pan and let them go brown, shaking now and then - this should only take a few minutes

Add the tomatoes, sumac, cinnamon, sugar, 2 tbs of the parsley, rice and stock to the pan

Bring it to the boil (on medium heat), then turn to low

Let it simmer away for about an hour, partially covered - keep an eye on it, and add some boiling water if it's getting too thick

Add the baby peas and chick peas, and let them warm through

Check for seasoning and add more sugar, salt and pepper if needed

Cast on the other tablespoon of parsley, and serve with chunky bread

roll your cute little meatballs together 

chop your parsley

drop those balls into the pan

I had put in a bit of water first, as the recipe states, but decided afterwards that frying up the onion, etc first was a better way to go.  So that's what I suggest - add the stock after the aromates and meatballs have been fried.

let it simmer away for about an hour

oops- sorry not a great photo

This is a tasty soup, great with a thick piece of sourdough or pane di casa bread.  It doesn't come up that well in a night-time photo, but rest assured, your tastebuds will be happy.


Jane's recipe calls for 2 tsp of cinnamon.  I found this overpowering so I suggest trying it with one tsp first

Her recipe can in fact be found on her blog Quilt Jane, posted in May 2011

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

In My Kitchen - August 2018

I don't like August!  There, I've said it.  July was not great for me, with lots of illness and family squabbles, so maybe I'm wrong, maybe this August will be fabulous:=)  Okay, moving on...  I've got lots to show you, anyway.

coffee-flavoured honey

I haven't tried this yet, but it sounds good.  I mean, coffee is great with everything.  And I'm careful to buy Aussie honey, local if possible, since a lot of the stuff you buy in shops is Chinese, and not even real honey, just rice bran syrup with a dash of honey.  So buy carefully, folks.  Lesson over :)  

olive oil, and birthday plates

As regular readers will be aware, myself and a mate went off to Northern Rivers for a cooking class on my actual birthday.  We stayed at Brunswick Heads, a gorgeous little coastal village.  She bought me these lovely serving plates "for the blog."  I had better make something wonderful to put on them.  I do have a cake recipe I'm dying to try out...

ceramic oil decanter

Yep, another gift, another beauty from our potter mate Miss B.  I love its sinuous lines, don't you?  And so useful too - always a winning aspect to any gift, I feel.

oh no, another cookbook?!:)

Just what I need - another cookbook, ha ha!  Here we have Joanna, superwoman, mother of five, interior designer, cookbook author, tv host and so on.  I've not had a good look at the recipes yet, so I can't tell you if they will be useful.  Here's hoping for some gooduns.

Japanese soy sauce mini jug 

My cousin brought this wee jug back from Japan for me.  It is so very cute.  (Oh yes, that's just reflections on the jug from the cloth.)  We love soy sauce in this house, though we mainly use organic, wheat-free tamari, so this little jug gets a workout.

pear slices tossed in olive oil and salt, and baked

I chopped up a few too many slices for the pear bread I made recently, so I turned them into pear chips.  Very delicious!

a knife and a Japanese wood cutter

The two way wood cutter is also a gift from my cousin.  I love the way you are told to 'Enjoy Cooking Time!'  I'm a bit afraid of this cutter to be honest.  My track record with mandolins is not good:=)  I bought the knife after the cooking class I went to for my birthday, even though my mate sliced up my finger with one of them.  (Sorry to dob you in, Lady M.)

a Japanese strainer

Another useful gift from my cousin.  I used it for grabbing peas out of the saucepan, but who knows what esoteric uses it may really have?:=)

and another one:=)

This is such a fabulous cookbook.  I've already made one recipe from it, and am about to make another.  Nice to find an author whose flavours and methods suit me so well.

Violet the violinist

Almost in my kitchen is Violet, a new artwork I bought myself for my birthday.  Well, that was my excuse anyway.  I love her fat thighs and the paintbrush which is her bow.  I can almost hear her playing sweet sounds...

Hope everyone had a great July, and hope to see you here for IMK - August.  Cheers, Sherry.

Here we go again with your options for adding your IMK posts.  In order for me to add your posts (i.e. if you prefer that I do it), I must have your email address.  Inlinkz now demands one!  I used to be able to leave it blank, but no more.  I am happy to do this for you, but just let me know and leave your email address too.

1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found on the sidebar of this page, under Add your IMK link

2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to the linky list below

3. Email me:, with your link or any queries about the link process

    An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Pear And Rosemary Soda Bread

Well, I had a big birthday and I got gifts, including cookbooks, of course.  One of them was this - Australian Pears vol. 3.  Pears always seem kinda drab to me, so cooking with them seems like the right way to go.  And to be honest, somewhat to my surprise, I found some likely lads that I wanted to make.

So here we have a pear soda bread, which is a loaf with pears on top.  And nothing wrong with that!  I usually think of soda bread as a quick, easy Irish loaf, great to whiz together for afternoon tea or dinner.  This savoury loaf would go very well with a hearty bowl of soup or (Irish) stew.

crusty soda bread ready for buttering


500g. plain flour

2 tsp bicarb of soda

1 tsp sea salt

400 mLs buttermilk or yoghurt

A big pinch of saffron threads (optional)

A little milk, if needed

1-2 Beurre Bosc pears or 4 Corellas

1-2 tbs olive oil

a dash of maple syrup (optional)

2-3 sprigs rosemary (use more if you fancy; they suggest 12!)

2 tsp sea salt flakes


Stir the saffron, if using, into the buttermilk and allow to infuse

Sift the flour, bi-carb and salt into a large mixing bowl

Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go

Now bring it together into a soft dough - adding a bit of milk or a bit of flour if the dough is too wet or too dry

Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute

Drop it into a lightly greased loaf pan (or use a loaf tin liner)

Slice the pears lengthwise, then in half or thirds, and put them into a bowl

Now drizzle the olive oil over, and give them a gentle toss

Cut half a dozen evenly-spaced slits in the top of the dough

Whack 2 or 3 pieces of pear into each slit

Sprinkle the maple syrup over the dough

Cast the rosemary leaves over the top

Gleefully scatter the sea salt flakes over it all

Place in a pre-heated 200C oven for about 40 minutes - you want it to sound hollow when you tap its bottom (and a skewer in the middle should come out clean)

Tip it onto a wire rack to cool, or if you prefer a soft crust, swaddle it in a tea-towel

Eat warm with butter 


The dough was incredibly sticky, and required a lot of extra flour to bring it together  

I added saffron 'cos I reckon it needed a bit of flavour

Their recipe says to use 4 Corella pears; I had Beurre Boscs which are bigger so I found that 1-2 pears were fine

I didn't have any buttermilk so I made up a batch: 1 tbs of lemon juice into one cup of milk; stir and wait.  It looks horribly curdled but that's just fine

This is a very soft dough, not like yeasted bread; more like a big scone

ingredients gathered 

add the saffron threads to the buttermilk

stir in the buttermilk

slap it into the lined/greased loaf tin

toss the pear pieces in the olive oil

ready for 40 mins. in the 200C oven

golden and ready to eat with lots of butter 

let it cool just a bit before eating

have a chunky slice with butter, my dears 

Delicious with a cup of tea, too!  Mr P. had 2 big slices.  We both had jam AND butter.  I reckon you could use other herbs, and maybe some spices and other fruit like apples.  So you can make it sweet or savoury, plain or spicy, whatever takes your fancy.  

     pear and rosemary - artwork by sherryspickings

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Home-Made Lime And Ginger Cordial

It may seem like an odd time of year (i.e. deepest Winter) to make lime cordial, but we love it all year round.  And how lucky are we to have friends with a lime tree that has been fruiting abundantly of late?!  Yes, very!  Organic of course - probably 'cos they don't have the time or inclination to do anything to it, anyway:=)  I have posted a similar cordial before, but this is the Winter version with the added ginger to stave off colds and 'flu.  

getting ready to juice those luscious limes

Makes about 1 Litre (4 cups) of cordial:


500 mLs (2 cups) cold water

420g. (2 cups) white sugar

50-60g. of glacé ginger, chopped or about a 5cm. piece of fresh ginger root, chopped or coarsely grated 

500 mLs (2 cups) lime juice - you will need 8-10 limes 

and the zest of 2-3 of them


Place the water and sugar in a medium saucepan

Keep stirring it over a medium-low heat till the sugar is dissolved

Stop stirring!  And now bring it to the boil

Once it's boiling, add the ginger

Turn it down and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes - don't stir at this point!  It should be looking slightly thick and syrupy

Take it off the heat and allow it to cool completely

Strain off the ginger, add the lime juice and zest

Chill it in the fridge

Use as a cordial with sparkling water


Use the glacé ginger AND some fresh ginger for extra zing, or just heaps of the fresh stuff

this is the ginger I used for the cordial  (not an ad.)

I'm not sure what you call it really.  It's not sticky on the outside like glacé ginger, and it's very firm on the inside.  Delicious anyway.

sunny ingredients gathered

fascinating shot of water boiling:=)

another fascinating shot of syrup being strained 

adding the juice and zest

This is where I should have an enticing shot of this refreshing cordial in a glass with a straw and an umbrella - but I don't :=)  So just picture it in your heads, my friends.  

  limey artwork by sherryspickings

Friday, 13 July 2018

Cooking Class, Big Birthdays And Blood

What does the average food blogger do on their birthday?  Cook of course!  My oldest (I mean most long-term) friend came up for a mutual birthday visit recently.  Where did we go?  Down to my fave part of the world - yep, you guessed it - Northern Rivers, just over the Queensland border.  And what did we do?  We went to a cooking class with the marvellous Belinda Jeffery.  She always seemed like a lovely person when she was on telly, and she is just as fabulous in person.    

this is what we cooked 

The classes are held in the Federal Hall, next to the old church, now used for occasional weddings and for the general community.  They only allow 12 weddings per year, so that it is really a communal space, rather than a commercial one.  I can proudly say that I donated a wee bit of money to help keep this Hall in the hands of the townspeople a few years ago.   

jalapeño peppers with pancetta

There were 6 of us in the class, all cooking different dishes to make up the whole menu.  Because my mate Lady M is 99% vegan, we got to make the vego dishes.  So not this one clearly:=)  This was delicious, with the salty pancetta, the soft goat's cheese and the hot chillies.

Imam Bayildi

This is eggplant stuffed with a tomato-ey, herby filling.  You slit the outer skin so it looks like pyjamas, apparently.  I have a bit of a blackout about the cooking on this day.  But I'm pretty sure Lady M did most of our share!  I know I seemed to be endlessly chopping garlic for every recipe.  And I can't remember eating this dish either.  Must have been the blood loss:=).  I bet it tasted great, though.

almond skordalia

Skordalia is a Greek dip, usually made with potato.  Here we made an almond version, which is fed with lots of olive oil so it becomes a smooth, creamy mayo consistency.  Let's be honest, Lady M made this one too.  But I chopped the garlic!

eggplant, ginger and sesame dip

This was a delicious, smoky dip that went beautifully with the focaccia.  And it looked so pretty with those blissfully blue borage flowers.

caramelised fennel tart

Fennel was in season so it starred in this tart.  Beautifully glossy fennel over a layer of buttery pastry.  And though it looks amazing, it is easy to make - the pastry is whizzed together in the processor, then the veg. is covered with it, and it all goes into the oven in the same pan.

cream poured all over the focaccia

Yep, I know it sounds weird but there was heaps of cream poured all over this beautiful focaccia dough.  It poured over the side, and seemed kinda crazy but oh my, it was soooo delicious.  And yes that's another bloody finger you can see there wrapped in band-aids.  (Not mine.) 

lovely ladies showing off their beautiful baked bread 

Belinda photo-bombed this one:=)  Glorious, fresh focaccia just out of the oven.  Crispy crust with a soft inside.  I'm not a bread lover usually, but this was delicious.

rhubarb with a hazelnut crumble

This looked very pretty in the glass, and I really enjoyed the cardamom yoghurt on top.  Rhubarb? - mmm not so sure I'm a fan, but it was beautifully fresh.

beautiful rustic table

What a lovely day in a perfect setting.  Shame about the bloody finger:)  There were 3 of us who managed to hack away at our fingers in this class.  But I was so impressed with the knife, that I ordered one when I got home.  I know, I'm just a glutton for punishment.

marvellous Mick

This is Mick, who along with Clive, Belinda's husband, help the classes run so smoothly.  I wish I had one of each of them in my kitchen:=)  Dirty dishes whisked away, everything you need laid out for you, a quick bash of the garlic cloves as they pass by...  Sorry Clive, I missed getting your photo.  

I have been to quite a few cooking classes in my time, and this was one of the best.  I loved the organisation and the calm atmosphere.  (I have been to some chaotic ones in the past, so I appreciate the difference.)  I loved that we were instructed with such kindness; and helped by the fellas with such humour and consideration.

How joyful it was to sit down at the end of the day, and eat together.  Three husbands turned up at the end, and they too were included in the fun - and given something lovely to eat!  This class is a real must if you are ever in the area, with a free day.  I've gotta get me to another session :=).

Lady M. working hard

Here she is, turning those eggplants into slitty pyjamas.  Still not sure what pyjamas have to do with stuffed eggplants, but they're meant to look like they're wearing striped pyjamas...  Yep I know, it's a mystery to me too.

many hands make light work

And just because I love this photo, I'm whacking it in at the end of this post.  You can see Belinda's hands along with a couple of the ladies ready to have a go at the dough.  It felt so wonderful under your hands - soft and springy and alive.

a parting gift - Belinda's handmade marmalade 

blood and gore and a sharp knife - artwork by sherryspickings