Saturday 29 October 2022

Blood Orange Vinegar

Blood oranges are still in season - just.  Though you can use pretty much any fruit or berry (or herb) you fancy to make this.  It's a very simple concoction, where you soak fruit in vinegar for a week or so, then strain and bottle.  I was inspired to make this when I saw an ad for a French passionfruit vinegar.  I can't buy it here, so it came to me that I could make it myself, but use blood oranges instead.

Blood orange season is short and sweet, so I've been using them while they're available.  I've also made raspberry vinegar in the past; such a glorious colour, as is this!  I was also inspired by a couple of recent blog posts with similar recipes - one from Angie's Recipes blog, and another by ...  Sorry, I can't remember whose blog, but I think it was for blueberry vinegar.  If it was you, please remind me, friends.   

so pretty, tangy and fruity


350 mL/12 oz vinegar - use a good quality white wine vinegar

4 blood oranges - use the peel of 3 blood oranges, and zest of 1

flesh of 2-3 blood oranges

the juice from 1-2 of the oranges

2-3 Tbs caster sugar


First scrub the fruit with a potato brush, then pat dry, and peel and zest away

Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan, and heat gently till just about boiled - when you see a bubble or two on the side, take it off the heat

Place all the fruity bits and pieces into a glass jar, pour over the hot vinegar, stir in the sugar, seal the jar and place in a dark spot for a week or even two

Shake every second day, till you're ready to finish it off

Then strain out the bits by tipping the mix into a sieve/strainer lined with a piece of muslin (don't squish the fruit through the muslin as it will go cloudy)

Leave it for an hour or two to finish straining, then pour/ladle into a sterilised jar or bottle

Best placed in the fridge where it will keep for up to six months

Use in vinaigrettes, or maybe even with sparkling water like a shrub drink 


I've read recipes for this where they say to use room temperature vinegar, but you may then need to leave it to infuse for 2 weeks rather than one in order to get the full flavour out of the fruit

You can double the recipe if you feel the need for lots of the fruity stuff

ingredients gathered

start peeling and zesting

chopping up the flesh, and into the jar

ready for the hot vinegar

vinegar and fruit ready for steeping for a week

and a week later - ready for filtering

a muslin-lined sieve/strainer sitting over a large bowl

pour the vinegar into a jug, then decant into bottles

and end up with pretty bottles

love that colour!

C. Sherry M.

Saturday 22 October 2022

Amarena Cherry Cake - À La Alice Zaslavsky

I met the lovely Alice recently!  I made two of these cakes for her book launch at our wonderful new local indie bookshop The Quick Brown Fox.  Phew, that's a lot of adjectives.  Alice was a Masterchef Aus contestant some years ago, and now writes cookbooks, is on tv and radio, and so on.  Her cheery smile is ubiquitous.  

I love cherries - so luscious, so round and sweet.  They remind me of our backpacking travels through Europe; of buying huge bags of them in Belgrade, a city full of young soldiers in uniform, carrying rifles.  Of our many times in Tasmania, picking them off our friends' tree in their backyard overlooking the Derwent River.  Of happy summer feasts, enjoying them in their short season.  Cherries make me think of Christmas, 'cos that's when we see them in the shops.  Don't buy those imported ones, my friends!  Stick to the season.

oh so moist and delicious

Recipe by Alice Zaslavsky:

Serves 8-10:


180g./6.3 oz almond meal (ground almonds)

60g./2 big ounces dessicated coconut

1/2 tsp sea salt

250g./9 oz caster sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp amaretto (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract (see Notes) 

200g./7 oz butter, melted and cooled 

Nicely rounded handful of flaked almonds

240g./8.5 oz jar of amarena cherries, drained (see Notes)

icing sugar for dusting (optional)

extra fruit and mascarpone for serving (optional)


Turn on your oven to heat to 180C/355F

Grease a 20 cm/8 inch springform cake tin, and line with baking paper - see Notes

Whisk the almond meal, coconut, salt and caster sugar together in a medium bowl

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together, add the extracts and whisk them in well

Pour the cooled butter into the egg mixture, and whisk till everything is well combined 

Now scatter the dry ingredients over the wet mixture, and whisk in well - Alice says this makes a very runny batter, but I didn't really find this, so I think you'll be fine whether it's super runny or just a  normal batter

Bake for 20 minutes, then take out of the oven, cast the almond flakes and cherries over the top of the cake, and back into the oven for another 20-25 minutes (mine took the extra 25 mins. both times)

Let it cool in the tin, sitting on a wire rack, then serve with icing sugar and extra cherries if desired


Alice suggests 1/8 tsp bitter almond aroma but honestly, who has that in the pantry? :=)  Not me!  And she does say it's optional ...  

I bought a tub of Amarena cherries at our local deli, which I think were better than the jarred ones.  I drained them, and kept the syrup as a cordial

I used a regular cake tin, with lots of baking paper up the sides so I could just pull the cake out of the tin - it worked fine

I made this cake two separate times, and neither time was the batter very runny; the first time in fact it was rather dry, and the second time just a normal batter - perhaps it depends on the freshness (or not) of your almond meal and coconut :=)

ingredients gathered

whisk your eggs

whisking dry into wet

et voilà - a lovely batter for cake number 1

the second cake batter - a bit runnier than the first time

first one ready for the oven

second batch heading to the oven

and ... baked

enjoy with fruit and cream to increase the joy

the lovely Theresa with my cakes for the book launch/morning tea

almonds and cherries

Saturday 15 October 2022

Braised Ginger Chicken

I think I've mentioned before that I'm in an online cookbook club called Lambs' Ears Cookbook Club.  Last month's book was Chinese-Ish by Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu.  I chose to make this dish - braised ginger chicken.  I'll be honest - Mr P. and I were not big fans of this one.  We ate it one night, but left heaps which I blinged up the next night.  

So this recipe is more my version of it, rather than straight out of the book.  And isn't that what cooking is all about?  Tweaking a recipe your way so you love it!?  As much as I appreciate the appellation contrôlée kinda foods, I think recipes should be your guide, not your master or mistress :=)

And speaking of ginger - Mr P. tells me of a time where his dad (who liked to brew his own) tried to make homemade ginger beer, but with glacé ginger rather than fresh (by mistake).  Yep, with all that sugar, it blew its stack and ended up all over the shed.  And that reminds me of the time I made homemade ginger beer, which literally exploded and blew out our dining room wall!  Oh, that Summer heat we have in old Brisbane town.  I must try to make it again in Winter :=)

ready for eating - with steamed veg.

Serves 4:


40-60 mL/1.3-2 oz sesame oil

6 cm piece (c. 80g./2.8 oz) old ginger, skin on if you wish, finely finely sliced and then each slice quartered (or not) - see Notes below

650g./23 oz chicken thigh fillets, chopped into large chunks

150g./5.3 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped (optional)

100g./3.5 oz baby corn, chopped (optional)

100g./3.5 oz red capsicum/pepper, roughly chopped (optional)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp soy sauce

1-2 Tbs water

1 tsp Mirin or mirin seasoning, or dry Sherry

1 Tbs Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry 

chopped herbs of your choice - I used parsley, chives and fresh coriander (cilantro) 'cos that's what's usually in my pantry and fridge

steamed rice or egg noodles for serving


Heat up the sesame oil in a wok or large frypan over medium heat

Tip in the ginger and stir for several minutes till tender and fragrant

Add your chopped chicken and stir for 4-5 minutes till starting to brown and cook through

Now add the mushroom, corn and capsicum if using, and stir in the salt, sugar, soy, and water

Whack on a lid, and let it simmer for 7-8 minutes

Check that the chicken is cooked through, then stir in the Mirin and Chinese rice wine 

Cast the chopped herbs over the top, and serve with rice or noodles


We preferred a lesser amount of sesame oil, so I used less

Apparently you can find old ginger at Asian food stores but obvs. you can use regular ginger like I did!  I first made this dish with the sliced, unpeeled ginger which we did not like (an unpleasant mouthfeel and taste), so I made it again with small pieces of peeled ginger, which was much better for us, but you do you

The recipe calls for 6-8 thigh fillets, cut in half, but we prefer smaller, bite-sized chunks

The optional veg. that I suggest are not in the original recipe, but Mr P. and I much preferred a bit less chicken and lots of veg.!  So add another 150 grams or so of chicken if you are not adding any (or much) veg.

ingredients gathered (plus a few steamed veg. for my original side dish)

slice and chop your ginger

stir-fry your chopped ginger

add the chopped chicken

looking juicy :=)

dinner is served!

and we had it again as a stir-fry with rice the next night

(Joining in with Marg from The Intrepid Reader and Baker for Weekend Cooking.)

ginger root

Saturday 8 October 2022

Blood Orange Cake

It's still blood orange season here in Australia, so I thought I'd better get this recipe up pronto.  I was flicking through a book by Kate Young (an ex-Brisbanite) called The Little Library Year, and saw this recipe for blood orange cake.  Her recipes are inspired by books she has read, hence the title.  She has a blog called The Little Library Café, which is where I first came upon her.

Apparently this recipe was inspired by Sherlock Holmes; something to do with murder and orange pips!  Ah, now I see: I've looked it up, and there is a short story by Conan Doyle called - yes, you guessed it - "The Five Orange Pips".  You get them when you're about to die!  Of all the portents of doom, I would never have thought of orange pips!  Hopefully there were less than five pips in this cake :=)


yep, we started hoeing in already :=)

Serves 10:


For the crystallised oranges:

150g./¾ cup caster sugar

100 mL/a scant half cup water

2 blood oranges, cut into thin slices/rounds

For the Cake:

200g./7 oz butter

150g./¾ cup caster sugar

3 large eggs

110g./4 oz plain flour

4 Tbs sour cream

200g./7 oz almond meal (ground almonds)

2 tsp baking powder

Sour cream or mascarpone to serve


Butter well, and line a 20cm/8 inch round cake tin (loose-bottomed if you have one) with baking paper 

Turn your oven to 160C fan/180C/350F to heat 

And prepare your oranges - put the sugar and water into a medium saucepan, and stir over a medium heat till the sugar melts

Add the orange slices and cook on high for five minutes

Take the slices out, place them on a baking-paper lined tray to cool, while you reduce the syrup on low for two to three minutes till nicely thick (like golden syrup)

The cake:

Grab a large mixing bowl, and beat the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy

Add the eggs one at a time, with a spoonful of flour, and beat till nicely combined

Mix in the sour cream, then fold in the almond meal, and sieve the rest of the flour (what's left after beating in the eggs), and the baking powder onto the batter

Fold in gently-gently, and stop as soon as the batter is combined

Grab a silicone brush and paint the syrup over the bottom of your prepared cake tin

Place the orange slices in a lovely pattern over the syrup, and spoon on the cake batter

Smooth it out, and whack the tin into the oven for about an hour or till a skewer comes out clean

Cool it in the tin, then turn it out (invert) onto a serving plate (orange slices up)

Remove the baking paper (!) and serve with the sour cream or mascarpone


Try normal oranges if you can't get blood oranges

I use 66 gram/2.3 oz eggs

I don't have a loose-bottomed tin so I just used a regular cake tin; as the cake gets turned over anyway, I'm not sure why Kate suggests a loose-bottomed cake tin

I actually cooked my syrup down a wee bit too far, so I had to heat it again briefly in order to paint it on the bottom of the cake tin :=)

P.S. I've had a chat with Lorraine from the Not Quite Nigella blog today, and she pointed out that she has posted a recipe previously that is very, very similar to this one.  So I just wanted you all to know that Lorraine looks to be the original developer of this recipe!  Not sure where Kate would have picked it up.  The recipes are just so, so similar ...  Please check out Lorraine's blog for her version of this lovely cake, too! 

slice up those colourful oranges

into the syrup they go

look at that colour!

add the almond meal and flour to the creamed butter and sugar

paint the syrup on the bottom of the tin

place the slices over the syrup

smooth the batter over the orange slices

beautifully baked

and the pretty inversed bottom now top

it didn't last long!

Blood orange

Saturday 1 October 2022

In My Kitchen - October 2022

Aaarrgghhhh!  October already!  I blinked and the year has sped by like a rocket.  This year has certainly had its challenges, and perhaps like many others, I feel uncertain and somewhat ill at ease.  We seem to be weathering many a literal and metaphorical storm.  But let's harken to that meme/thingy: "Keep calm and get your October on."  Okay, I'll try to do that, my friends.  

Anyway, let's jump into our kitchens (literally if you like), and find out what happened during the previous month.  There was lots of baking for me, and reading, and pondering the world.  I still can't believe the orange-haired ex-POTUS is not languishing in a prison cell somewhere, that a dear friend of forty years has passed away, that I've lost a bit more weight even though indulging in winter comfort food, that life is just ... a bit edgy these days.  Hope you all are coping with the weird world we're in at the moment.  But here we are - in my kitchen ...

In My Kitchen:

handmade glass Viking Birka cup from Grimfrost in Sweden

the makings of pickled cukes and radish

Whale rice bowls by Minoru from the Shokunin Store

a cute resin spoon from ... where?

coastal honey and a lovely little bowl

sea salt from the Arctic

strawbs in season so I sliced and froze 'em for porridge and smoothies

there was lime cordial made

I bought some New Zealand pure lime juice just 'cos, so I made it up into lime cordial with a sugar syrup, and topped up with sparkling water.  Very refreshing!

and a painting gifted to me by a friend

This is by Peter Logan, a local Brisbane artist.  Our friend Ms. ML baby-sat him many years ago!  I think this is a portrait of his brother.  Now hanging downstairs in the guest bedroom due to severe lack of wall-space upstairs :=)

Looking forward to your posts, my friends.  And here's how to join in: 

Tell us about your kitchen (and kitchen garden) happenings over the past month.  Dishes you've cooked, preserves you've made, herbs and veg. in your garden, kitchen gadgets, and goings-on.  And a curveball is welcome - whatever you fancy; no need to be kitchen-related.  
The link is open from the first of the month to midnight on the thirteenth of the month, every month.

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In My Kitchen:

Not Quite Nigella 

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