Thursday 25 May 2023

Sour Cream Blueberry Cake With Vanilla Mascarpone Icing

I rushed to make another recipe from Emelia Jackson's book First, Cream the Butter and Sugar before the end of the month, as we were heading into a new month and a new cookbook for our May Cookbook Club.  Her book is very comprehensive, and there are lots of recipes I won't be making, but this one was a goer for me :=)

Making delightful cakes like this brings to mind eating cream-filled cakes at a Viennese café some years ago.  There was an orchestra playing on the green behind us, and it was just a delightful afternoon.  And that reminds me of visiting Budapest, and being offered a clandestine small green pepper by a young man in the street.  What the???!  Or maybe it was a frog he was offering ... 

pretty and delicious

Serves 8:


200g./7 oz caster sugar

170g./5.75 oz butter, softened (unsalted if you wish)

3 lemons, zested - or 1/2 tsp lemon extract

1 Tbs vanilla bean paste or extract

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bi-carb soda (baking soda)

1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

3 large eggs

120g./4.25 oz sour cream

120 mL/4 fl oz milk

220g./7.75 oz cake flour   see Notes

200g./7 oz fresh or frozen blueberries (don't thaw them!)

125g./4.5 oz fresh blueberries, to serve

Zest of a lemon, to serve

Vanilla mascarpone icing:

250g./9 oz mascarpone (Italian soft cream cheese)

200 mL/7 fl oz thickened (whipping cream)

100g./3.5 oz icing sugar (powdered sugar)

1 Tbs vanilla bean paste or extract


On goes your oven to 160C/320F to heat up, while you butter and line 2 cake tins with baking paper    see Notes

Place the sugar, butter, and lemon zest into a large mixing bowl, and beat away (I used electric hand beaters) till 'light, creamy and fluffy'

Whack in the vanilla, baking powder, bi-carb and salt, and mix till well-combined

Beat in the eggs, one at a time till well-mixed

The sour cream and milk go into a small jug or bowl, and get whisked

Sift the flour over the egg mixture, then fold in gently

With a gentle hand, fold in the sour cream mixture till you have a lovely batter

So, grab the cake tins and place a quarter of the batter into each tin

Then stir the blueberries into the remaining batter, and pour the batter equally and evenly into the tins; give the tins a small shake to settle the batter

Bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes. or until the skewer comes out clean from the centre

Let 'em cool for ten minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool right down

While they're cooling, make the icing by whisking the mascarpone, cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl till thickened   see Notes

Put one layer of cake on a serving plate, then spread on a third of the icing

On goes the next cake layer, and merrily slather the icing on the top and sides of the whole cake

Decorate with the extra fruit and lemon zest

Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days (as if - hehehe)


You can buy cake flour or make your own: I used 190g./6.7 oz plain flour + 30g./1 big oz cornflour

Emelia says to use 18 cm/7 in cake tins, but I only have 20 cm tins and that was fine!

She also says in regard to the icing, that you "whisk till thickened, and be careful not to overwhisk as it will split." I had to grab my electric beaters again 'cos it was going to take forever with a hand whisk; there seemed to be no danger at all of it splitting :=)

I actually used frozen blackberries in the batter, and blueberries on top.  I reckon you could use whatever fruit you like

zest those lemons!

beat in the eggs

fold in the flour

add in a quarter of the batter to each cake tin

icing on the go

so delicious!

keep on icing :=)

iced and decorated

the cake didn't last long in this house :=)

C. Sherry M.

Monday 22 May 2023

Crema Di Caffè AKA Coffee Mousse

Here's a recipe from Silvia Colloca's cookbook The Italian Home Cook.  She is a marvel; she's an opera singer, a writer (and not in her native tongue!), a cook and cooking show host, a mum of three, an actor and is married to one of Australia's better-known actors Richard Roxburgh.  And she's attractive and lovely,  You may have seen her as one of the vampire brides in that weirdly funny and fab movie Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman as the vampire killer.   

Anyway, in her latest cookbook, there are loads of interesting recipes with all the usual suspects: pastas, legumes, veg., meat, eggs and dairy, and sweets.  I've already made a couple of them, and thought I'd post a quick one here before the book goes back to the library.  And you have to hunt up that movie, folks.  Worth it to see Hugh in his leather coat, waving a crossbow around!  And of course Silvia and her hubby, who plays the vampire!

light and creamy with a delicate coffee flavour

Serves 4-5:


100 mL/3.5 oz freshly-brewed espresso coffee    see Notes

2 Tbs caster sugar  (Aussie Tbs are 20 mL btw)

300 mL/10 oz thickened cream (chilled)

50g./1.8 oz dark chocolate chips

35g./1.3 oz walnuts or your fave nut, chopped  (optional)

dark chocolate shavings, to serve

amaretti or biscotti, to serve


Make the coffee, and stir in the caster sugar; into the fridge it goes to chill

When the coffee is cold, pour into a mixing bowl with the cream, and beat for a couple of minutes till you have soft peaks

Add the choc chips and the nuts; fold in gently

Spoon into 4 or 5 cups/ramekins/whatever you have; top with the choc shavings (and biscotti crumbs if using)

Put into the fridge for an hour or two to firm up, then serve with the amaretti or biscotti    see Notes


I made coffee in my Nespresso pod machine; one pod gave me exactly 100 mL of fresh coffee!  (Maybe add a drop or two of Frangelico to the coffee)

I used Lindt 70% dark chocolate

I think you could drop several extra biscotti into your food processor and blitz till you have some lovely crumbs, which you can strew over the top of your creams

stir the sugar into the espresso

whip that cream and coffee

tip in the chocolate pieces/chips

fold in the nuts

serve with biscotti or amaretti

c. Sherry M.

gotta love a man in a leather coat, carrying a crossbow

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Zucchini And Brown Butter Bread

Here we have another of the delightful Alice Zaslavsky's recipes from her book The Joy of Better Cooking.  I made one of Alice's cakes for Cookbook Club recently, while others had made some of her zucchini fritters, and this lovely bread.  We queried why Alice had called it Zucchini and Brown Butter Bread, 'cos there ain't no brown butter involved.  Nevertheless, it's really tasty, and good for you, natch - all that zucchini!  

Has anyone else noticed that brown butter seems to be all the rage these days?  I've almost never made it or used it - maybe back in High School days in Home Ec.  In my first year at High School, we had to do sewing (can't remember what they called it), and it took me pretty much the whole year to make the apron we had to use the following year in Home Ec.  Hilarious!  A handy/crafty woman I am not.  

Our teacher was Mrs. Kounikoff, a Russian lady of formidable aspect and heavy accent.  She clearly thought I was a hopeless case, though I was pretty good at embroidery.  Yep, makes no sense.  At least my cooking was up to scratch.

grab some butter to slather on

Serves 6+:


400g./14 oz/3 cups zucchini, coarsely grated 

1 tsp sea salt flakes

150g./5.3 oz butter, melted

100g./3.5 oz/1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

3 spring onions (scallions), sliced finely

3 Tbs parsley, chopped as you like it

125g./4.4 oz/½ cup plain, thick, Greek yoghurt

2 large eggs, beaten with a fork or whisk

300g./10.5 oz/2 cups self-raising flour

180g./6.4 oz/1 cup instant polenta (cornmeal)

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg or 1 rasp of a whole nutmeg

a few grinds of fresh black pepper

1.5-2 Tbs EV olive oil

40g./1.4 oz/¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)


very thinly-sliced zucchini strips to decorate the top of the loaf

zucchini flowers for the top (very optional)

a few big sprinkles of salt for the top


On goes your oven at 160C/320F, while you butter and line a 20cm/8 inch square cake tin or 2 loaf tins or whatever floats your boat, shape-wise

Grab a large bowl, line it with a very clean tea-towel or muslin, throw in the grated zucchini, sprinkle with the salt and let it sit and ruminate for 10 minutes to release its green, salty juices

Then you're going to squeeze the squishy green mess thru the tea towel/muslin till it's pretty dry  see Notes 

Tip the drained zukes back into the bowl (sans liquid), and now add the butter, cheese, spring onions and parsley and stir together

And then stir in the yoghurt and beaten eggs  - see Notes

Now grab another bowl, and stir in the flour, polenta, nutmeg and pepper

Stir half this flour mixture into the zuke mixture and stir together

Then stir in the other half of the flour mixture - be gentle when doing this as you don't want to activate the gluten too much

Pour the batter into the cake tin(s), drizzle on the olive oil, and smooth out the top with a palette knife/spatula

Lay the extra zucchini slices over the top (if using), and drizzle a bit more oil on them

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes, then take it out so you can sprinkle on the pepitas and salt (and flowers)

Now bake for another 35-40 minutes till a skewer comes out clean from its cheesy, veggie-laden heart

Leave it to cool for ten minutes in the tin, then onto a wire rack to cool right down

Slice thickly, and slather with lots of butter!

If any left, whack into an airtight container in the fridge; this can be toasted the next day for extra oomph

Alice says you can use pumpkin instead of zucchini, and add olives and roasted capsicum strips for extra flavour


Don't do what I did, and keep squishing till there's no liquid left at all!  I went wild :=)  I ended up with 150mL/5 oz of green zuke juice which I put into a bag, and into the freezer for future dishes

I ended up adding about 80 grams extra yoghurt as my mixture was too dry after my hefty, over-keen squeezing of the zukes

squeeze out that juice!

and pop into the freezer

ingredients gathered

give it a good stir

and stir again

see?  Pretty darn dry (my bad) till I added extra yoghurt

ready for baking

and done!

a beautiful bottom

can't wait to eat it

turned out pretty well, I have to say :=)

c. Sherry M.

Tuesday 9 May 2023

Crushed Potatoes Fish And Green Olives Bake

I've been meaning to make this dish for quite some time, and finally here it is!  I watched an episode of Food Safari a few years ago, with host Maeve O'Meara, highlighting Portuguese guest cook Fatima Barroso.  She made her version of Bacalhau com Broa - cod with cornbread.  I didn't have access to bacalhau, and so I adapted her recipe rather than slavishly following it :=).

I tried to buy barramundi (aka Asian sea bass, apparently) fillets, but ended up with portions, skin-on!  And I was ever so glad in the long run, as the fillets were from Taiwan, whereas the portions were from Western Australia.  I just wish I'd had a proper fish filleting knife, as my cook's knife didn't really cut the mustard, so I ended up with less flesh than I should have.  Never mind; still delicious, and the kookaburras and crows really enjoyed the fleshy bits of fishy skin that I threw into the backyard. 

(almost) ready for the oven!

Serves 6:


4 large red or brown onions (about 800g./28 oz), sliced thinly - see Notes

30 mL (1.5-2 Tbs) EV olive oil

1-2 tsp sea salt flakes

ground black pepper, to taste

1-2 tsp dried herbs, like parsley or chives (or your fave)

1/4 tsp gochugaru or other dried chilli powder (optional)

800g./28 oz baby potatoes (I used the ones that come in a packet with butter and herbs)

a biiiiig sprinkle of sea salt

a few saffron threads (optional)

1/2-1 tsp garlic granules or 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, finely sliced

500g./18 oz firm-fleshed fish of your choice, cut into chunks - I used barramundi

a spritz of lime or lemon juice, over the fish chunks

110g./4 oz green or black olives  (I used split green olives in herbs and garlic)

130g./4.5 oz roasted red capsicum strips (from the deli, with vinegar and herbs)

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or a gluten-free version)

2-3 big handfuls of crisps/potato chips of your choice

dried and/or fresh herbs - maybe 2-3 Tbs, to sprinkle over the top

2/3 cup (150-170 mL) of warm/hot fish or chicken stock


Grab yourself a lined baking tray, throw on the sliced onions which you have rubbed all over with the oil and seasonings, and into the oven at 200C/390F for 30 minutes

Give 'em a good stir, then back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes till meltingly soft and tender

Microwave the baby spuds for 5 minutes, then throw them onto a lined baking tray, add the salt, saffron and garlic, and into the oven at 220C/430F for about 20 minutes till tender

Wait till they cool a bit, and then crush them with your hands or a fork - not too madly, just so they flatten a bit

Now place the potatoes in a large baking dish -  see Notes 

On go the fish chunks, then the caramelised onions

And then you add the olives and capsicum, and sprinkle over the panko, potato crisps/chips and herbs

Bake at 190C/380F for 20-25 minutes, then take it out of the oven, and carefully pour the warm/hot stock into the middle of the dish

Back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes or so, till golden on top, and the fish is cooked through


Don't worry too much about how thinly your onions are sliced; you can break the slices up with your fingers, and they cook down anyway

This method of caramelising onions came via Alice Zaslavsky's cookbook The Joy of Better Cooking, and what a game-changer it is!  No more standing over a hot stove for ever, and watching to make sure they don't burn

Use your fave fish - maybe snapper or whatever firm, boneless fish you can get hold of; obvs., get a sustainable, local fish where possible

I used my large enamel baking dish - 33cm X 27cm (13 in X 10.5 in)

red (Spanish) onions ready for the chop

after the first 30 mins. - tender and soft and so easy to do!

bake at 220C/430F for 20 minutes

now layer the potatoes, the fish and the onions in a large baking dish

on go the olives and capsicum strips

ready for the oven at 190C/380F

and ready to eat

yep, we ate it!

a somewhat muddy kookaburra expecting fishy handouts :=)

c. Sherry Mackay

Monday 1 May 2023

In My Kitchen - May 2023

April?  Where did you go?  We had birthdays galore, and Easter and Anzac Day.  The weather got cooler, the possum baby grew up, and I did heaps of baking and cooking for the blog and for the Cookbook Clubs I'm in.  Fun times!  How about your month, my friends?

Strange times lately: our Jaboticaba (Brazilian rainforest tree) actually fruited twice (briefly) in April!  'So what?' you say.  Well, it fruits in December usually, and occasionally in October - you know, Spring and all ...  I've made jam with the dark-skinned fruits before.  And guess what?  The skins have so much pectin, that the jam could not be spooned out of the jar without a jackhammer.  It sets like the devil has frightened it out of its wits.  But I digress.  Here's my April kitchen:

In My Kitchen:

there were Polish chocolates sent from Warsaw

Hubby's Ukrainian mates sent a surprise parcel of chocolates from where they are living in Warsaw.  They are Ukrainian refugees, who fled Kiev when the war broke out.  We sent them books and toys, as they had fled with nothing except their 3 children and Grandma.  What a world we live in.

I made caramel lace biscuits from First, Cream the Butter and Sugar

I was going to blog these biscuits from Emelia Jackson's book, but sadly they were difficult and time-consuming to make, so I didn't think they were worth the effort.  They did taste pretty good, but effort versus value?  Nah!  But hey, other bloggers found them just fine to make and eat.

I tried to drink this!

See the ingredients?  No sweeteners, and lots of curry-type flavours.  Oh me, oh my!  This was like drinking a thick, spicy curry paste!  Not to be repeated :=)  I shoved it into freezer bags, and will (try to) use it in actual curries when I next make one!!  Which weird alien creature would want to have this as a refreshing drink?!?

I froze some zucchini 'juice'

I made Alice Zaslavsky's zucchini bread.  You end up with salty zuke water, after squeezing out the grated zukes.  So I froze it for stews and soups.

another trip to Genki-Mart for Japanese goodies

Yuzu rice crackers, and a biiiig bottle of Kewpie mayo.  Oh yes, and matcha-flavoured Kit-Kats.

and I made cute little beef and veg. pies

I take over dinner to our 91-year old neighbour usually once a week (she loves my omelettes), but this time I made some small pies for her - and us!  I bought the pastry - a brand that is new to me - but it was fine.  Who knew how difficult it is lately to buy pastry?!

Belinda's latest book

I've been to a few of Belinda's cooking classes when she lived and worked in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales (not that far over the border for us to travel).  Such a wonderful person and cook!

yep, more strawberry saké!

I bought this cute, little saké cup from a store in Sydney (online), which came in this hand-painted box.  Naturally I had to rush to the Japanese grocers' to buy a bottle of strawberry saké to try it.  It is so rustic and adorable to hold.  And the saké is pretty delish too.

Fridge magnets from the Polish mates

chutney and chilli sauce from Tasmania - gifts for Mr P.'s birthday from our Hobart friends

my curveball - a looooong carpet python in the yard

Isn't s/he a beauty!!  I reckon s/he's at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) long!  They are such gorgeous creatures.  We live just down the road from a hill covered in trees and vegetation.  It is the home to many birds, snakes, possums, foxes etc etc ...  At one time, the local Council were going to do a burn-off in winter, but many of us protested due to the wildlife being endangered.  Thank heavens they let it be.

But onwards friends, to IMK!  Let's be having your posts, me hearties!  And here's how to join us.

c. Sherry M.

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