Wednesday 22 February 2023

Forever Chocolate Cake

Yep, another Cookbook Club recipe, this time for our IRL club - from Nagi Maehashi's book RecipeTin Eats: Dinner.  This is a fabulous cake!  And so easy to make.  It has a hint of coffee, which gives it a happy little twist, and brings out the chocolate flavour.  Nagi calls this 'My Forever Chocolate Cake'.  And it really is a winner in the easy and delicious stakes.  I'll definitely make it again.  

Nagi likes to use cup measurements, but also gives grams - yay!  As a food blogger, I spend countless moments working out measurements!  And also translating into non-metric for my fine U.S. readers :=)  Crumbs, I wish everyone used the same measures :=(  Remember the disaster I had with using suet for dumplings?  I worked out the amounts, but crazily got 'em all mixed up!  I still have bags of suet mix in my freezer...

And speaking of mistakes in the kitchen, brings to mind the time my sis-in-law was visiting and decided to make baklava.  So she laboriously hand-chopped all the nuts, as we didn't have a food processor back then, and ... used salt instead of sugar for the syrup!!  Rendering said-baklava completely inedible.  She was not a happy chappy.  I tend to sample my icing sugar every time I use it, even though I know which tin it lives in :=)

you can never have too many sprinkles!

Serves 12:


1¾ cups (265g./9.5 oz) plain flour

3/4 cup (60g./2 oz) cocoa powder (Dutch if possible; unsweetened!)

1½ tsp baking powder

1½ tsp bi-carb soda

2 cups (400g./14 oz) white sugar

1 tsp sea salt (Nagi says to use cooking salt, which has larger grains than table salt)

2 large eggs

1 cup (250 mL/8.5 oz) milk (cow's I guess)

1/2 cup (125 mL/4.3 oz) neutral vegetable oil (I used sunflower)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp instant coffee powder 

1 cup (250 mL/8.5 oz) boiling water OR use freshly brewed coffee instead of the boiling water  see Notes

Chantilly Cream:

300 mL/10 oz heavy whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbs icing sugar

Decorate with whipped cream, or Chantilly cream, or buttercream icing

Lots of sprinkles for decoration!  I used pink flamingoes!  And a Flake chocolate bar, smooshed into small(er) pieces


On goes your oven to 180C/356F to heat up

Butter a 22cm/9 inch cake tin and line the base with baking paper

Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bi-carb

Add the sugar and salt, and give it all a quick whisk

In go the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk briskly (for 30 seconds says Nagi)

Whisk in the coffee powder and boiling water - the batter is thin, Nagi tells us

Pour/spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to become completely cold

Smother it in lots of Chantilly cream, or whipped cream, or icing and throw on many delightful sprinkles

(If using Chantilly cream, just beat the ingredients together till you have lovely, firm peaks)


Nagi says you can use full-fat or low-fat milk, so I'm guessing cow's

Use sunflower or safflower or canola oil - something neutral in flavour

Nagi doesn't say whether you use the coffee powder AND brewed coffee or just brewed coffee instead of the coffee powder and boiling water - I'm assuming she means instead of!  I just used coffee powder and boiling water anyway

She also says you can use a rectangular cake tin (33cm x 22 x5) sorry the brain gave out; I can't work that out.  Or use a bundt tin and bake for 50 mins., or 3 x 20cm/8 inch tins for 25 mins., or 2 x 22cm for 35 mins. - you get the picture!

butter and line your tin

whisk the dry ingredients together

and add the wet ingredients

whisk everything together till well-combined

whisk in the coffee and boiling water

pour the thin batter into the prepared cake tin


a beautifully moist bottom :=)

billowy Chantilly Cream

and heaps of sprinkles and pink flamingoes


c. Sherry M.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Whipped Pumpkin Tahini with Scallops, Crispy Chickpeas And Za'atar - AKA Pumpkin Dip And Scallops

Another month, another recipe for our Facebook Lambs' Ears Cookbook Club.  In January, our book was More Fish More Veg by Tom Walton, an Aussie chef.  I felt like a fish out of water with this one, as the other members all seemed to love this book, but I am ... not a huge fan, I have to say.  

Are you allowed to say 'it's very masculine'?  What does that mean, you ask?  It has a mainly brown cover (yeah, I know), with recipes that I find - not amenable.  I don't know how to put this, but I was in the minority anyway.  I'm sure there are readers screaming and waving their fists at me now.  "What do you mean, it's masculine?  Food isn't of any gender! etc etc."  Sorry, I just find his recipes pernickety (but tasty).

tasty; heaps of flavours and textures

But I still made this one for dinner, and it was tasty and full of flavour.  So yes, try it and see for yourselves.  It's very gustacious!  Yes, this is a real word, though it probably doesn't mean what I think it means (as Inigo Montoya said to Vizzini in The Princess Bride!)

Serves 4-6:


1 can of chickpeas (400g./14 oz) 

1/3 cup (80 mL) EV olive oil - (divvied up into 1 Tbs and 2 Tbs and 1 Tbs)  see Notes

1/2 tsp curry powder

Sea salt and black pepper

1 butternut pumpkin/squash, cut in half lengthwise  see Notes

1 head garlic (10 cloves on average)

20g. (⅔ oz) pepitas with 1/4 tsp EV olive oil, sea salt and black pepper to taste  see Notes

1/4 cup (65g./2.4 oz) hulled tahini paste  see Notes

1 tsp ground cummin

12 scallops, off the shell (eat the roe - or not - if you have it)  see Notes

2 Tbs chilli oil

1 Tbs EV olive oil  -  yes really, another tablespoon :=)

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses (or use quince syrup or similar)

2 Tbs dill leaves, roughly chopped

2 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted

2 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted

1 Tbs za'atar


Whack on your oven to 180C/350F to heat, and line two baking trays with baking paper

Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas on paper towel or a tea towel (let's be green where we can)

Give the chickpeas a toss with 1 Tbs of the EVoo, the curry powder and salt and pepper (to your taste - I used 1/2 tsp sea salt and 10 grinds of pepper) and throw them onto one of the trays

Toss the diced pumpkin in a mixing bowl, with 2 Tbs olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste (or brush the halves with oil)

Wrap the garlic in alfoil, and put it on the other baking tray

Toss the pepitas in the oil, salt and pepper, and put them on the tray with the pumpkin and garlic; check them after 10-15 minutes, and take them out when nicely toasted

Place the pumpkin on the tray with the garlic, and put both trays into the oven; bake them both for about 25-30 minutes, till the chickpeas are toasted, the pumpkin is tender (it may take a few minutes more than the chickpeas), and the garlic smells delightfully done!  If using a whole (halved) pumpkin, it may take up to 40 minutes to cook up

You can give the sesame seeds a quick toss in a small, dry frypan over a low, low heat while the baking is happening

Also, either bake the scallops tossed in 1 Tbs of the EV olive oil at 210C/410F for 10-15 minutes (obvs. once the other items are done), or fry them (in oil) for 20-30 seconds, flip them once and turn out of the pan

Let everything cool to room temp., and now tip the pumpkin sans skin (which you will have taken out of the skin if using whole pumpkin) into a food processor or blender along with the garlic you have squeezed out of their papery skins with your bare hands so you smell like a vampire's deepest fear :=)

In go the tahini and cummin; blend till smooth, adding a bit of water to thin if desired; check for seasoning at this point

Grab yourself a gorgeous serving platter, spoon on the pumpkin purée and drizzle with the chilli oil, EV olive oil and pomegranate molasses

With great glee and finesse, cast on the dill, sesame seeds, pepitas, za'atar, chickpeas and scallops

Serve with toasted naan bread or flatbread of your choice


Or take the easy route and buy a 750g./26 oz bag of peeled and cubed pumpkin, like I did!  In which case, you will need to buy some pepitas/pumpkin seeds as you won't have any from the actual pumpkin

Tom's recipe says to use 135 grams of tahini but my notes say to use half that!  If using whole pumpkin, you may need more tahini I'm thinking, than my amount

I grabbed a 300g./10.5 oz bag of frozen scallops (sans roe) from the supermarket

I only had quince syrup in my pantry so I used that - I guess you could use whatever thick, fruity, tangy syrup you have around

An Aussie tablespoon is 20 mL, rather than the U.S. 15 mL.  Weirdly, Tom tells the reader this in the very last sentence on the very last page of his book, in tiny, wee print!!

See what I mean!  This recipe has a fair bit of faffing around!  The average time-poor person ain't gonna have time for this fiddle-faddle - But still, it is a very flavourful dish, so on a calm weekend ...

into the oven at 180C/350F  (I baked them the day before)

gather those ingredients

getting ready to blitz

let's put it all together

and spread it over the platter

throw on the dill and syrup/molasses

add the seeds and scallops

and the chickpeas and za'atar

see what I mean? :=)  Brown! Hey I'm in the mirror ...

C. Sherry M.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Lamington Pikelets

Lamingtons are named after Lord Lamington (or his wife Lady Mary), who was the Governor of Queensland 1896-1901.  They are squares of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate and then rolled in coconut.  A staple of every Aussie kid's life:=)  These are a take on that idea - pikelets dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut.  And equally delicious.

I came across this recipe in a Coles supermarket magazine last month.  They suggest using bought jam and chocolate topping, untoasted coconut and bought pikelets.  I took up the suggestion of bought pikelets, but made my own jam and ganache.  It was Australia Day on January 26, so all the Aussie recipes come out, and the ads for Aussie lamb, and everyone has a BBQ and plays cricket, or goes to the beach.  So lamingtons are very appropriate, too.  

Though this year, there were protests and alternative activities due to a heightened realisation that the indigenous peoples of Australia were treated badly from the time of the landing of the First Fleet.  I think we will need to pick a different day to celebrate in future.  (FYI, if anyone is interested, the book Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe gives some fascinating insights into our indigenous history.)

oh my!  So delicious, my friends

Makes 4:


For the ganache:

65 mL/3.6 oz thickened cream

60g./2.3 oz milk or dark chocolate (I used Lindt)


a packet of 8 pikelets - see Notes

1 cup (80g./2.8 oz) shredded or dessicated coconut, toasted in a small, dry frypan till golden-brown - watch carefully as it burns outrageously at the last minute!

300 mL/10 oz thickened cream, whipped till you have firm peaks

2 Tbs berry jam of your choice - see my quick jam recipe

lots of strawberries!  Well, 150g./5.3 oz - washed, dried, hulled and sliced

1 Flake bar (a crumbly milk chocolate bar)

Quick Jam:

125g./4.4 oz blueberries (or blackberries)

250g./8.8 oz strawberries (or raspberries)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 dashes ground cinnamon (1/8 tsp maybe)

big slurp of gin or berry liqueur (say 1 Tbs) - optional

2 tsp honey

Method for Quick Jam:

Place everything in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and let simmer gently for about 15-20 mins. till thick

Let it cool, spoon into a sterilised jar and whack into the fridge

simmer till thick

quick berry jam


Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat it till you have tiny, wee bubbles around the edges of the cream

Break (or chop up) the chocolate into a small heatproof bowl, pour over the hot cream, let it sit for a minute, then stir well till you get a beautiful, chocolatey mixture - and pour into a shallow tray

Toast your coconut now if you haven't already done it, and tip into a shallow tray

Whip the 300 mL amount of cream (in a medium bowl) till you have lush, firm peaks, then marble the jam gently thru the cream

Look after your strawberries (as above) if not already done

Drop a pikelet into the ganache (or topping), turn it gently to cover the other side, then into the coconut; roll till covered in coconut

So take a pikelet, place 3-4 strawberry slices on top, slap on some jammy cream, place another pikelet on top of the cream, smother that with cream, top with strawberries and chocolate flakes, and place on a lined tray or a pretty serving platter

Do this for the next three pairs of pikelets, so you end up with 4 delicious, creamy, chocolatey lamington pikelets


Make your own pikelets, if you feel so inclined.  I didn't :=)  Oh yes, in case the word 'pikelet' is not familiar - they are (says Google) a slightly denser pancake, similar to an American pancake, and about 7.5 to 10cm/3-4 inches in diameter

You can use 1/2 cup (125 mL/4.2 oz) of a good-quality chocolate topping from a bottle if you can't be bothered making a ganache

I used Lindt milk chocolate, but next time I'll try dark (70%)

I made the quick jam the week before, so I could use up some frozen berries lurking in my freezer.  Otherwise, just use your fave jam out of a jar, my friends

ingredients gathered

ready to roll (I used some untoasted coconut too)

I spooned on the leftover ganache

ready for the crowning pikelet (plate by Del Kathryn Barton)

topped with strawberries, cream and chocolate flakes

c. Sherry M.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

In My Kitchen - February 2023

Okay I'll get the bad news over and done with first.  It's only February 1, and we've been to three funerals already.  I am kinda over this year already!!  Well, I say funerals but really two of them were wakes - which seems to be becoming the norm these days.  The family has a private cremation or burial, and then there's a knees-up to celebrate the life of your loved one.  Not a bad idea.

So I've been doing lots of cooking and baking this month.  I find it very therapeutic!  I managed to make a wonderful chocolate cake for Cookbook Club from Nagi Maehashi's cookbook Dinner.  It was so moist and chocolatey even though it only has cocoa rather than actual chocolate.  And I covered it in lots of sprinkles and pink flamingoes and chocolate shavings - the more the merrier, I say.  (On the blog soon.) 

In My Kitchen:

there was bio-dynamic garlic from Patrice Newell's farm 'Elmswood'

Our Tassie friend Madam P. was up here when the box arrived so she helped me divvy up the garlic bulbs into their respective cloves, for freezing.  It lasts for months!  This is called Purple Glamour Garlic, I believe.


a beautiful hand-carved spoon from Mr P.

I seem to have lost the artist's name - oops!  We bought it at a local craft market before Christmas (witness the Grinch cloth).  You all know how much I love a wooden spoon!  (I found the name!  It's by Di Page, and is made from black wattle.)

so gorgeous!  handmade from old blankets by CWA ladies

My cousin KT. sent me these lovely oven mitts, made by country ladies from old, woollen blankets.  I love them!  And they feel so comfy and secure when you use them.  Just like an old blanket :=)

a glorious Christmas gift from Princess Pia - Tenmoku tea cup

gifts from our Tassie friends Madam P. & Mr. W.

I love a tin mug, and spoons! The wee spoons were gifts

3 essentials - sardines, syrup and salt!

salad splash, and a bright orange bowl from Batch Ceramics

and homemade berry jam by moi!

I had some strawberries and blackberries (or was it raspberries?) in the freezer, so I made a quick jam for the lamington pikelets I was planning to make for the blog (post coming in Feb.)

and the curveball - mini-Ned by Christian Newton

Our mate Christian also goes by the name of Chainsaw Newton, as his work involves hacking up pieces of driftwood and salvaged timber into glorious artworks!  This is mini-Ned, carved out of found oregon wood.  Isn't he adorable?

Please join us for In My Kitchen, everybody.  We are a lovely, friendly community of like-minded foodie folks.  You are all welcome, whoever and wherever you are.  But please follow the 'rules', as benign as they are: we are looking for kitchen and kitchen garden items, with one curveball for whatever you like.  So, not really recipes as such, though feel free to stick in an occasional (short) one, but IMK is not so much for recipes, but for fun things happening in your kitchen over the last month.

But before signing off for this post, I am adding a photo of our dear friend Rob, who passed way too quickly, and way too young.  We are deeply saddened at his loss.

our dear friend Rob

Be a part of our friendly IMK community by adding your post too.  Here's how to join us:

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