Friday 25 August 2023

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

This is a lovely, gluten-free cake by Charlotte Ree, from her book Just Desserts.  I've just read her memoir Heartbake, which tells the story of her break-up with her husband, and her attempts at dating after the split and divorce.  It includes some recipes, and her tales of trying to impress new beaux with her intricate dishes.  Sadly, this did not work, until she met her current partner when she was 30 - on Tinder no less. 

This cake is simple, easy and delicious.  It uses hazelnut meal, one of my faves (I find almond meal kinda bland) and lots of glorious olive oil and lemon.  Oh yes, and two teaspoons of vanilla extract.  Such a brilliant addition, as many recipes wimp out on the vanilla.  Not Charlotte though!

moist, gooey, vanilla-y, scrumptious

Serves 12:


150g./5.3 oz hazelnut meal

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

zest of one lemon

pinch of sea salt flakes

150 mL/5 oz EV olive oil

200g./7 oz caster sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

icing sugar, for dusting

chopped pistachios on top, to serve (my addition)

creme fraiche, to serve


Turn on your oven to 170C/340F 

Grease a 20cm/8 inch springform tin, and line the base with baking paper

Grab a small bowl, and whisk together the hazelnut meal, bicarb, lemon zest and sea salt

Olive oil, caster sugar and eggs go into a large mixing bowl, and you beat with electric hand beaters for 3 minutes on high speed till pale and thickly creamy

Now reduce the speed to medium-low, and beat in the vanilla

Then add in the hazelnut mixture, which you stir in gently with a spatula

Pour the mixture into the tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes (you know the drill - pierce its lemony little heart with a skewer, and make sure it comes out clean)

Let it rest for 10 minutes in the tin, take it out of the tin and let it go completely cool

Dust with icing sugar, and some extra lemon zest if you feel inclined, and serve with creme fraiche

Store it for a couple of days in an airtight container if not devoured pronto


Charlotte suggests decorating the cake with some lemon peel strips and sugar that you have rubbed together with your fingers, if you wish to "glam it up" - I cooked up some dried lemon slices in a sugar syrup, and chopped them up for serving

ingredients gathered

beat up the oil, sugar and eggs

pour the batter into the cake tin

and baked at 170C for 40-45 mins.

let it cool right down on a wire rack

dust with icing sugar and sprinkle on pistachios

yep, I'm about to hoe in

c. Sherry M.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Crisp-Skin Roasted Salmon with Lentils

I love fish, which is good, as my GP tells me I should be eating it several times a week.  And I do, I do!  Probably four times a week - salmon, sardines, barramundi, tuna ...  But salmon is a definite fave in this house, though I usually bake it, rather than fry.  Frying and me - we are not friends :)  I love fried food, but my frying technique is sadly lacking.  It spits!  It burns!  It sizzles!  Hehehe ...

This is a recipe from Belinda Jeffery's book In Belinda's Kitchen, which was our July choice for Cookbook Club.  I love Belinda and her recipes.  I've been to several of her cooking classes, and had a ball (except for the time I sliced my finger open and had to lie down like a Disney princess on a bier).  Her recipes are easy to make, always work and are delicious.  I think I have every one of her cookbooks.  So many more recipes for me to try!

very tasty fishy dishy

Serves 4:


200g./7 oz lentils - use Puy or other small lentils  - see Notes

750 mL/25 oz water

sea salt flakes and black pepper

1-2 Tbs lemon juice

4 salmon fillets, skin-on, around 220g./7.8 oz (but don't fret about the size too much)

sea salt flakes, to rub into the skin

1.5-2 Tbs EV olive oil

1/2 large red capsicum, roasted and chopped finely - see Notes

1.5 Tbs parsley - curly or flat-leaf, finely chopped

2 wedges of preserved lemon, finely chopped


1 generous teaspoon of mustard - Belinda says Dijon; I say wholegrain

1/2 cup/125 mL/4.2 oz EV olive oil   - see Notes

1-1.5 Tbs vinegar - Belinda says red wine; I say use whatever you have - I used a mix of white wine, sherry vinegar and a dash of blueberry

sea salt flakes

And lemon slices, to serve


First tackle the lentils, by giving them a really, really good rinse under cold water (till the water is clear), making sure any bits of grit etc are discarded, and then drain through a fine sieve

Tip them into a medium saucepan, cover with the water, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes till tender (or how you like them)

Drain them well, and add sea salt, black pepper and lemon juice

Make your dressing by putting the mustard and oil in a small-ish bowl, and whisking well   see Notes 

Then whisk in the vinegar and sea salt, add the lentils to the dressing, or vice versa - put aside while you cook the fish

On goes your oven to 250C/480F to heat up while you check the fish for any scales (which you rinse off if so)

Pat the fish really well so it's nice and dry, and rub the sea salt into the skin

If you have an oven-proof frypan/skillet, you can put it over a hot flame/burner, add the oil - get it hot, place the fish skin-side down and let it rip (i.e. sear it) for 2 minutes, then place the pan in the oven for 6-8 minutes (I baked mine for just 6 minutes)

If your frypan isn't ovenproof (like mine) transfer the fish after the first 2 minutes of searing onto a baking tray and bake for the 6-8 minutes

Now stir the capsicum, parsley and preserved lemon into the lentils; check for seasoning

Place a piece of fish onto a mound of lentils on each plate, and garnish with the lemon slices

Serve with salad or veggies, as you wish


I used French-style green (Aussie) lentils 

Buy a jar of roasted capsicum is my advice, unless you want to spend time roasting a capsicum or 3!

We found the amount of oil in the dressing a bit much, so maybe use 1/3-1/2 cup

Belinda says to add the oil to the mustard slowly; I accidentally threw it all together and just whisked - it worked beautifully and easily!

I added seasoning, lemon juice and preserved lemons to the lentils as we found them kinda bland, so they are my little tweaks to the recipe

rinse your lentils well

ingredients gathered

such beautiful, silvery, shiny fishies :=)  Pat 'em dry well!

skin-side down and sear for 2 minutes

into the oven for 6-8 minutes

make the dressing

give it a good whisk till you get a lovely emulsion

ready for dressing

and ready to eat

c. Sherry M.

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Orange Scones WIth Orange Glaze

It's winter, it's citrus time, it's time for orange scones.  And it's time for International Scone Week, hosted by the lovely Tandy from the blog Lavender and Lime.  She took over the mantle from Celia of Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.  This is where global cooks celebrate scones of every variety, once a year in August. 

I chose these orange scones from the book Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines.  Yep, that one - she and her hubby Chip are builders, decorators and cafe owners in Waco, Texas.  Brrrrr, that gives me a shiver each time I say it.  That whole mass siege/shootout/killing thing years ago ...  I've read very mixed reviews of her cookbooks, but anyways, these were quite delicious.  And there are other recipes I'd like to try.  

deliciously citrus-y

Makes 12:


300g./10.5 oz plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 large egg

180g./6.3 oz sour cream

110g./4 oz caster sugar or white sugar

1-2 tsp orange zest

180g./6.3 oz cold butter, cut into cubes  (unsalted if you wish)

Maple-Orange Glaze:

260g./9 oz icing sugar/powdered sugar

1-2 tsp orange zest

45g./1.5 oz butter, melted

3 Tbs fresh orange juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp maple syrup


Heat your oven to 200C/390F

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper

Grab a large mixing bowl, and whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt

Now grab a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg, then add the sour cream and give it a good whisk with the egg

The sugar and orange zest go into another small bowl, where you will press the zest into the sugar with the back of a spoon till well-mixed together

Now stir this zesty sugar into the flour mixture, and add the diced butter, which you will rub into the flour and sugar with your nicely clean and cool fingertips (or use a pastry cutter like I did) - Joanna says till it is 'pebble-like'!

Now stir in the eggy mix to this flour mix, and form a dough - guess what!  my dough was sooooo wet that I had to add a fair bit of flour to my hands, so I could make a nice little dough

Cut the dough in half, sprinkle flour on your bench/work surface, and shape into a 15cm/6 inch round, about 2cm/¾ inch thick

Cut the dough into 6 wedges, and place on the baking tray about 2cm apart

Now do the same with the other half of the dough - see Notes

Bake till nicely golden, about 13-15 minutes then cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before you place the rack over a tray, and pour/spoon your glaze over the tops of the scones

Which you have made by grabbing a medium mixing bowl, stirring the icing sugar and zest together, adding in the melted butter, orange juice, vanilla and maple syrup and whisking well

Eat on the same day if possible, not that that's a problem, but you can keep them for a couple of days in an airtight container


Joanna says to freeze the butter, but it's not necessary - just chill it

Not sure why she suggests cutting the dough in half, then cutting into 6 wedges x 2.  I reckon you could just use a biscuit/cookie/scone cutter, or just cut the whole dough into 10 or 12 wedges, triangles, whatever

Also not sure why she calls it Maple Orange Glaze, as it only has a half teaspoon of maple syrup.  This makes a truckload of icing, but you won't regret it :=)

get whisking

stir the sugar and zest together

mix that butter into the flour

grab that pastry cutter ...

divvy up your dough

cut into wedges - or whatever shape you fancy

and bake at 200C for around 15 mins.

there was lots of icing!

oops!  Forgot to add this photo

Tuesday 1 August 2023

In My Kitchen - August 2023

July, where did you go?  August, how did you get here so fast?  I'm not ready for a new month :)  But Life doesn't ask your permission to keep on keeping on - which is a good thing.  It is a glorious day as I type this - bluest of blue skies (or if you're under 40 - 'skys'), no clouds and a slight, happy little chill in the sunny air.  I love a Brisbane winter!  

July was all doctors and dentists and tests, with more to come.  Hopefully not falling off my perch yet :=)  We went away for a night (an awards' night for Mr P.), and enjoyed the lovely cold night up on the Range.  Also caught up with a friend there.  We love Toowoomba, Mr P.'s hometown.  Funnily enough, a friend who lives in Tasmania but grew up in Toowoomba, was here at the same time.  And another friend who moves between Tassie and Queensland is up here too.  I bet our third Tassie friend is on her way soon :)        

the old Railway Goods Shed where they held the awards' night

In My Kitchen:

another tea-towel (from FB page Chat 10, Looks 3)

an interesting, Aussie cook's memoir - with recipes

local (ish) honey and some evaporated milk from the Netherlands!

fishy glass from my cuz; my mug; a mug made by our mate Brooke Clunie

some birthday gifts from friends

delicious mustard

and some Aussie soy sauce

I made preserved lemons

and lemon cordial, with lemons from a friend's tree

graters from Dreamfarm, the local design company

lots of lovely chocolate stuff from Koko Black and Coco88

the curveball - a wonderful sketch by our friend Ms. Atee

(C.) Sherry M.

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