Sunday 25 April 2021

Oat Biscuits With Apricot, Rosemary And White Chocolate

I have a friend: her name is Catherine and she's a wonderful artist.    And she has a friend who has a daughter who is a food blogger.  So of course I had to buy her new book Wild Sweetness (by Thalia Ho).  The subtitle is Recipes inspired by Nature, so there are interesting ingredients like rosemary in the biscuits I've made today.  

What is it about rosemary lately?  My poor little bush has been lurking in the garden, unloved for many a moon, and now suddenly I've used it twice in two weeks.  Excellent herb, of much determination and grit, always there with its robust smell and taste.  And perfect for this delicious oat biscuit as we reach Anzac Day for another year on April 25.  Google it, foreign friends, if you're interested in this oft-times emotional remembrance of our soldiers, past and present.

golden bites of white chocolate heaven

Makes 16 chunky little darlings


225g. of plain flour (1¾ cups + 1 tbs)

160g. (2 cups) rolled oats

1 tbs rosemary leaves, chopped

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

230g. (1 cup) butter, softened (not melted)

175g. (3/4 cup + 2 tbs) white or caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

zest of an orange

140g. (3/4 cup + 1 tbs) white chocolate, chopped into small pieces

85g. (1/2 cup) dried apricots, chopped into small pieces

sea salt flakes, for sprinkling on the top before baking


Whisk the flour, oats, rosemary, baking powder and salt in a large bowl till well-combined

Beat the butter and sugar together (in another bowl) till creamy - three minutes in a stand mixer or six minutes with handheld electric beaters

Now beat in the vanilla and orange zest

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and at a looooow speed, tip in the flour mixture till it is just combined with the creamed butter and sugar, and still a teensy bit floury

Then add the chocolate and apricots, and stir them in with vigour

Into the fridge the dough goes for half an hour, to chill

While the big chill happens, place your oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven

Line two baking trays with baking paper, and turn your oven on to 180C/350F to warm up

Now grab the chilled dough, tip out onto a lightly-floured surface and pat into a 2.5cm/1 inch thick rectangle (or circle, no matter)

With your 6cm/2.5 inch biscuit/cookie cutter cut out beauteous, chunky, firm circles of dough and place them on the trays - leave a bit of room for each one to breathe and spread

Keep going till all the dough has been cut into circles (I had a bit of leftover dough so Mr P. ate it for me, being such a kind soul)

Sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 16-18 minutes till light golden brown, making sure you swap the trays over halfway through the bake - i.e. top one on the bottom and bottom one on the top

Take 'em out, leave to cool for a few minutes, then let them cool completely on wire racks

Keep for a few days in an airtight container (not in the fridge)


You may think 1 tbs of rosemary is too much, but it cooks out beautifully when the biscuits are done

Thalia says to use unsalted butter but I like my butter salted, so use whatever you prefer

Chop the white chocolate into small pieces so your dough doesn't fall apart (I used Lindt white chocolate) but use dark if you like

This is a dry dough that you'll think is not gonna work, but it does, my dears: as Thalia says, these are biscuits not cookies.  These are substantial, manly type fellas ...

ingredients gathered

creamy buttery zesty mixture

stir in the chocolate and apricots

slap your chilled dough onto a lightly-floured surface

there were two trays (honest) heading for the oven at 180C/350F

golden lovelies after 18 mins. - they weren't burnt, truly:-)

a plateful of lovelies

golden bites of salty chocolate pleasure

© Sherry M.

it's pinker in real life :-)

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Tootling Around Toowoomba

It was hubby's birthday, so we decided to head to his childhood haunts for a weekend break (yay, no masks needed).  He grew up in Toowoomba, which even though on the top of a mountain range, flooded badly in 2011, with heartbreaking results.  A very sad time.  Fortunately, no-one we knew was hurt or killed.  But to this day, there are still bodies that have never been recovered. 

Toowoomba has always been a  big country town, but it's turning into - well, a bigger country town :=)  And with all the usual suspects, like nightclubs and bars, and trendy cafés, and a fabulous indie bookshop.  And several Thai restaurants and lots of street art.  It's fabulous!  Oh, and lots of beautiful old buildings.

the view from the front of the hotel at sunset

Here you can see the old Court House (now a private home) next to the old Post Office, both made from gorgeous local sandstone.  Slap bang in the middle of town!  Imagine living there.

we ate gelati - he had blueberry and vanilla

There was smooth and creamy gelato/gelati (?) to be had at Gelatissimo.  I had choc-mint, and salted caramel.

so true

we ate takeaway Turkish in our hotel room - chicken shish kebabs

there was textile art by Beatrijs Van Rheeden

we saw street art by Elisha Rei on the back of the Art Gallery

and a red-tailed black cockatoo by David Cragg on the local Council  offices

we drove into the countryside in the pouring rain

we drank prosecco in a trendy bar called Fitzy's

and ate buckwheat crepes in a gorgeous little café called Burrow

and scoffed down delicious marzipan Mozart Kugeln

we had omelette with sourdough and smoked salmon for brunch

We met up with my peeps for brunch at Sweet Talk café - i.e. the ladies of the pod as I call us.  I am part of a very small Instagram pod called the PodStars, and we meet up for an insta meeting several times a year.  Always delightful to see them, and to share taking photos.  So lucky to have met up with these ladies; it's not that easy to make new friends after you've finished up working.

Mr P. checking out another old building

we drove past the old railway station - with extra silos on the left

and then there was a cappuccino for me, and hot choc for him

We had a fabulous break; just a shame we were a few weeks too early for the autumn leaves turning.  We had rain, we had sunshine, we had cold winds, we had a lovely hotel room, and tasty food, and visits with friends.  

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that our friends from Hobart were in town, visiting her parents who still live in their own home (and they're in their 90s!)  Hubby, his sisters and Madam P. grew up together during their teenage years, then shared a house when they moved to Brisbane for university.  And I lived next door to them in Brisbane, all-unknowing for some time.  

She was a student at the Conservatorium of Music; so that's why I kept hearing piano music ... And I shared house with another Con student who played classical guitar.  I heard the same piece for an entire year!  Oops, that's enough reminiscing.  Soooo happy we can travel around our State, without masks (even though we still have to check in everywhere we go).  Lucky are we! 

Friday 9 April 2021

Black Forest Brownies - a là Nigella Lawson

I thought I'd make these brownies over the Easter break, but time got away from me.  Not that I did much, except eat and nap and read.  And I've still got a bacon recipe to put up, but that will have to wait.  Here's another recipe from Nigella's book Cook, Eat, Repeat.  I've said before that I really enjoy her prose, so I'm happy that there is a lot to read in this book of hers, as well as recipes.

And now for my shameful confession (I may have mentioned this before) - I love Nigella and her books, and I use her recipes often, but in person I found her a wee bit boring!  Sorry Nigella lovers!  I went with a friend to a live event where Nigella was in conversation with a local journalist.  Oh dear; just not what I was hoping for.  She is wonderful but ...

squidgy and herby and chocolatey ...


150g./5.3 oz dried cherries 

75 mL/2.5 oz kirsch or orange juice or booze of your choice

200g./7 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

200g./7 oz butter, chopped into chunks

100g./3.5 oz dark muscovado sugar

225g./8 oz caster sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

25g./0.88 oz cocoa

4 large eggs, at room temp.

100g./3.5 oz toasted hazelnuts, bashed into pieces

150g./5.3 oz plain flour

1 tsp rosemary needles, finely chopped

icing sugar (powdered sugar) for serving


Heat your oven to 180C/350F

Line a 23cm/9 inch square baking tin with baking paper

Put the cherries into a wee saucepan, add your liquid of choice and bring to the boil, stirring often.  Boil for a minute, then let them contemplate their navels (i.e. let 'em cool down)

Put the butter into a large saucepan, melt over a very low heat, then add the chocolate pieces and let it melt gently into the butter

Give it a stir when melted, then add the sugars, salt and cocoa; stir gently together and let it cool down

Break the eggs into a jug or bowl, and give it a good whisking

Pour the whisked eggs into the saucepan (gradually), give it a good stirring, then add the flour and whisk into the mixture

Add the cherries, hazelnuts and rosemary into the pan, fold them in, then pour into the lined tin

Bake for 25-30 minutes, till the edges start coming away from the sides of the tin, and a cake skewer thrust into its dark heart comes out with a few crumbs, but no raw batter lurking

Let it cool on a wire rack, then dust with icing sugar to serve - will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days


I used sour dried cherries 'cos that's all I could find, but you could use a mix of dried cranberries and other dried fruit

I used spiced rum 'cos that's what I had, and I used Lindt chocolate 'cos that's what I bought:-)

Scrunch up the baking paper into a big ball; this will make it so easy to line your tin (when it's unravelled obvs)

I used my 20cm x 20cm tin (I don't have a bigger square tin), and it was fine - it just took another few minutes to cook

ingredients gathered

boil the cherries in booze or juice

crinkle up your baking paper to line the tin

whisk in the flour after the sugars, salt, cocoa and eggs

stir in the hazlnuts, cherries and rosemary

pour the batter into the lined tin

baked and now to cool

dust with icing sugar

© Sherry M.

Thursday 1 April 2021

In My Kitchen - April 2021

Well, April is starting off with ... a whimper, rather than a bang.  Brisbane went into lockdown for three days from the 29th March, so here we are hoping that Easter isn't a total wipeout.  It's already what my sister and I call "Covid quiet" - no traffic, no people, no noise.  I actually really love it, as long as it's only for a few days.  Here's hoping ...

Okay, here's where I admit that my mojo is still off with the fairies.  I am finding it hard to get motivated at the moment.  I have a short story or two to get written in the next two weeks, but I just can't seem to get there.  But I'll keep trying.  I hope you're all doing okay in this weird Covid world we live in.  Anyway, let's jump over all that, and look at our kitchen shenanigans.  Feel free to join in, everyone!  

In My Kitchen:

and I bought another cookbook

Readers in Australia will remember Alice as a contestant from Masterchef.  She is fabulous!  And she has written this weighty tome about - you guessed it - vegetables.  I'm looking forward to ploughing through it, and trying out some of her recipes.

and more smoked salt

I absolutely love smoked salt, so had to buy this one.  Weirdly, even though it is a pale brown colour, it has no scent or taste of smoke at all.  Maldon is my fave salt of all time, so I don't mind, but compared to other smoked salts I've tried, this is beyond mild. 

a gorgeous tea towel by local artist Kate Piekutowski

I love Kate's work, but I'll settle for a tea towel until I can afford one of her artworks.  I have my eye on a fabulous new etching of hers ...

another fab bowl by Batch# Ceramics

This is my fourth piece from Batch Ceramics.  I love their handmade quirkiness, and the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey ... nah, hang on, that's Dr Who:-)  This one wobbles, and it's fantastic.  It's called a Honeymoon bowl (in chartreuse); perhaps for sharing before or after connubial bliss?  (The Little Bather painting by Susan Montgomery on the wall.)

another tumbler from Magnolia Mountain

I have quite a few (hmmph - lots!) beautiful tumblers of varying sizes from Magnolia Mountain.  This one is so beautiful with its fine white hue and elegance.  And in the sunlight, I can see my fingers through it.

kelpy condiments from Mystery Bay

I saw this on telly the other night on a lifestyle show, so I bought some, dear readers.  Apparently one of the chemicals in kelp is being used in breast cancer treatments.  I added some to an egg dish I made last night, and it gave a slightly salty, kelpy taste.  We liked it!

a personalised charcuterie/cheese/serving board

Our old (as in long-standing) friend Mr. Astronomer made this lovely board for me.  It's made of local blackbutt, an Australian hardwood.  He's happy to make them for people (at a price naturally), but you'd have to be in the Brisbane area :-)  It has a lovely heft, and smell and grain to it.

my curveball this month

I went to an art show with a friend recently.  I love drawings, and I love portraits and I really love this one.  She has such gravitas, and determination.  You can just see my friend and myself reflected in the glass!  And you can see the winner reflected back - a beautifully-drawn pair of boots.  This is called Family Portrait 2 by Sharon Beckett.  Can't wait to have it home on my walls.

So that's me done; hoping to see lots of you lovelies here with an In My Kitchen post.  Once again, a wee reminder: IMK posts are about your kitchen (and kitchen garden) happenings over the past month.  Dishes you've cooked, or preserves you've made, or herbs and veg in your garden, kitchen gadgets, and goings-on.  You get the picture.  And don't forget your curveball!  Throw in whatever you fancy.  The link is open from the first to the thirteenth of the month.  Let me know if you need help with adding your post, or if you would like it added manually by me after the 13th. Here's how to join in:

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