Saturday 23 September 2023

Italian Ring Cake aka Ciambellone

Weirdly, I have come across several versions of this recipe in various cookbooks over the last couple of months.  I guess the universe was telling me to make this cake!  So I decided to go with this one from Pomegranates and Artichokes by Saghar Setareh.  I decided to jazz up the recipe with some frozen fruit added to the batter and on top of the cake before baking.  This is a very plain cake to be honest, so I was glad I added lemon juice and vanilla extract also.  This is good for dunking into coffee, says the author, and I'd have to say that's probably the best way to eat it.    

We featured this cookbook in both my cookbook clubs - Lambs' Ears which is a Facebook club, and the IRL one held at our local bookshop - The Quick Brown Fox.  What is it about foxes in this neighbourhood?:=)  I went along with our Persian friend Ms. A. and our Italian friend Ms. P. so we covered both parts of the book.  Ms. A. was of course keen on the Persian part of the book, and made a beautiful eggplant/aubergine dip called Mirza Ghasemi.  So delicious!

Did someone say cake?

Serves 8-10 (more or less):


4 large eggs

200g./7 oz caster sugar

zest of one lemon

220 mL/7.5 oz milk   -  see Notes

80 mL/2.7 oz vegetable oil or neutral oil - I used sunflower

2 tsp vanilla extract   (optional)

400g./14 oz plain flour or cake flour     see Notes

1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

1.5 tsp baking powder

120g./4.2 oz fresh or frozen fruit of your choice - I used frozen strawberries 'cos I had some in the freezer  - (optional)

icing sugar, for dusting


Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F

Grab a 24cm/9.5 inch ring tin or bundt tin, and butter it very very liberally (Mr P. always does this for me), chuck in heaps of plain flour and give it all a good tossing around, then discard the excess flour

Whisk the eggs with the sugar and lemon zest  - use a hand whisk or electric hand beaters - till pale and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved

Now pour in the milk, oil and vanilla (get someone else to do it if possible) as you keep whisking away

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together, and add to the eggy mixture very gently till just combined

Pour into the cake tin - or if adding fruit, pour half the batter into the tin, then place about 2/3 of the fruit on top, then add the rest of the batter and smooth it out

On goes the rest of the fruit, and into your oven for 50 minutes till golden, with a crack on top, and a skewer in the middle comes out clean

Let it cool in the tin (but out of the oven) for ten minutes then transfer to a cake rack (out of the tin)

Once completely cooled, throw on some icing sugar

Will last in an airtight container on the bench for a few days, but may be best to put into the fridge if you live in the sub-tropics like we do.


I decided this batter needed more flavour so I used 160 mL of milk and 60 mL of lemon juice, but do as you wish, my friends

I made up cake flour by using 360g./12.7 oz of plain flour and 40g./1.4 oz cornflour/cornstarch

ingredients gathered

whisk the eggs and sugar together

mixing everything together - looks like porridge :=)

throw on the fruit and into the oven

such a lovely cover on the book

cooling casually on top of the hob

a closer view

and liberally dusted with icing sugar

Here are some photos from Cookbook Club at The Quick Brown Fox.  We cook, we eat and we discuss the book of the month.  And tell tales of our lives, and discuss life, the universe and everything.

My friend Atee's eggplant dip

moi with the cookbook and the cake

Ms. Atee, moi and Theresa (bookshop owner)

Ms. Atee perusing the cookbook

c. Sherry M.

and a bonus photo of Ms. P. studiously looking into the book

Saturday 16 September 2023

Burmese Chicken, Cardamom, Lemon and Coconut Curry

We are definitely curry fans in this house.  And I am a big fan of Belinda Jeffery and her really useful, well-written cookbooks, as you know.  This recipe is from her latest - In Belinda's Kitchen.  I know I've said it before: Belinda is a lovely lady, and her recipes are easy to make, and always turn out well.

Speaking of curry, some years ago in our crazy youth, Mr P. and I cooked up a few vats of various types of curry and transported them to a big park in the CBD - at night, laid out on the rotunda, inviting lots of friends.  I think we called it Curry in a Hurry, or maybe just Curry in the Park.  (Sadly, a young student was murdered in this park some years later.)  

We made rice, and raita, and our version of a sweet, pineapple and coconut yoghurt which we called Soul of Tropic (heaven knows why).  Probably lucky we weren't arrested as the Police Headquarters is right near by, and we were rowdy as heck.  I still can't picture how we got all that hot curry to the park.  Ah, our foolish youth :=)   

chicken (and potato) curry dinner - always a hit

Serves 6-8:


60 mL/2 big oz of a neutral oil

2 onions (brown or red), finely sliced

6 massive cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh ginger, finely chopped  - see Notes

2-4 small red chillies, finely chopped - or blitz the ginger and chillies together in your small food processor, like I did :=)  And the garlic!

6 cardamom pods or 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds - see Notes 

2 tsp ground turmeric

1.25 Tbs sweet paprika

3 tsp Thai red curry paste

1 lemon

140 mL/5 oz coconut cream or coconut milk (low-fat is fine)

400g./14 oz tin of diced tomatoes (or just chop up a tin of regular tomatoes, in the tin with a pair of scissors)

1 tsp sea salt flakes

8-10 large chicken thighs, skin on if you fancy (I didn't), cut into large chunks - say, each thigh into 3 or 4

2-3 large potatoes, cut into chunks (no need to peel) - optional

To serve:

Mint, parsley or coriander leaves, chopped or torn

lime wedges

jasmine rice, steamed or boiled

mango chutney

cucumber, diced and mixed with yoghurt and mint


Grab a large frying pan, and heat up the oil over a low heat

Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan, and cook for about 20 minutes till soft and golden - give it a stir every so often

On goes your oven to 180C/360F to heat up, while you crush the cardamom pods and smash the seeds a bit if you're going that way

If using ground cardamom and seeds from a jar, just chuck 'em into the onion mixture with the turmeric, paprika and curry paste

Give it all a stir, and cook for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat

Now peel the lemon (without the pith), chop into small chunks and discard any seeds

Into the pan go the lemon chunks, coconut cream, tomatoes and salt; stir in well then turn off the heat

Now put the chicken thigh pieces and potato chunks into a large roasting tin, throw the spicy, onion-y mixture over everything, and give it all a really good mix with your gloved hands (or a big spoon)

Whack the tin into your now-hot oven, and bake for about 1.25 to 1.5 hours, turning the chicken half-way thru if using thighs with skin on; otherwise just let it rip

Belinda says that if you have a lot of oil on top of the dish once it's cooked, just grab a paper towel and soak it up to get rid of it

Serve with the accompaniments


Don't worry too much about measuring the amount of ginger; just chuck in however much you like

I started pounding away at my cardamom pods, then gave it up as a bad job and shoved in some ground cardamom with the seeds I had managed to recover from the pods  (You can buy cardamom seeds, or ground cardamom seeds in a small jar apparently)

Belinda didn't say what to do with the lemon zest, so I decided to freeze it for another time; maybe another curry?

ingredients gathered

zap your aromates

start cooking off the aromatics

peel and chop the lemon (throw the zest into the freezer for later use)

add the other ingredients and stir them in well

smoosh the paste all over the chicken and potatoes

smells delicious!

throw on some parsley

c. Sherry M.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Oat and Raisin Cookies aka Biscuits

Cookies/biscuits?  Whatever, my friends.  As long as they are delicious.  This is from Emelia Jackson's opus First, Cream the Butter and Sugar (400 pages of goodness).  They are apparently her favourite biscuit/cookie.  We made these for our online Cookbook Club in July, and everyone was very happy with them.  

I liked them, but I can think of other biscuits I like more (Death by Chocolate biscuits for one).  These are definitely still a good choice though to go with a cuppa - a bit dense, a bit chewy, sweet and spicy.  There are so many recipes that I want to try from this book ...  How about Pistachio Cake with Lemon Buttercream?  I loved that there is a hefty amount of vanilla here; funnily enough, lately I keep coming across recipes with rather large amounts of it.  No complaints from me!  I love vanilla, and I like to throw in generous amounts of my homemade version, plus some delicious vanilla bean paste from our local factory.

feeling like an oaty, spicy bikkie to go with your cuppa?

Makes 20:


225g./8 oz butter, softened - use unsalted if you wish

200g./7 oz light brown sugar

100g./3.5 oz caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 Tbs vanilla bean paste or extract - yep, one tablespoon!

200g./7 oz plain flour

1 tsp bi-carb (baking) soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

180g./6 oz rolled oats

130g./4.5 oz raisins or sultanas  (I went for sultanas)


On goes your oven to 180C/350F

Grab 2 baking trays and line with baking paper, or use silicone baking mats (says Emelia)

Grab your electric beaters or use a stand mixer if you have one, and beat the devil out of the butter and sugars till pale and fluffy (or creamy, says Emilia)

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix till nicely (well) combined

Now gently gently mix/stir in the flour, bi-carb, spices and salt

And gently gently once again stir/fold in the oats and fruit of your choice (go sultanas!)

Scoop or spoon out (I used tablespoons) even-sized balls of the dough onto the trays, leaving lots of spreading room

Bake 'em for 12-15 minutes till golden-brown on the edges - unless you have a massive stove, you'll have to bake them in batches

Let them cool completely on the trays - or gulp one or two down if you can't wait!


Whaaat?  No notes!?  Yep, looks like it - for the first time ever!  So I'll tell you that I did not get attacked by magpies or plovers the other day on my walk.  The crows are hanging around our backyard, preparing to nest again I hope.  Sadly, there was a report of a pair of crows having been baited in a nearby street.  They had been nesting there every year.  Both were dead.  I just hope there were no babies in the nest, though I think it's still a bit early.  You may remember there are foxes in our neighbourhood; someone put up a sad photo of one of them with a trap hanging off its foot.  So cruel!  And bloody dangerous; this is a neighbourhood with lots of pets and kids.  Grrrrr!

ingredients gathered

beat the butter and sugars together,  plus eggs

add the spices

dollop out the spoonfuls onto lined trays

baked beautifully

chewy and delicious

CookBook Club ladies!

c. Sherry M.

Friday 1 September 2023

In My Kitchen - September 2023

It's September.  I take a gulp, and gird my loins (now there's an image) for a huge month ahead.  Medical tests, visitors, giving a talk to the Historical society, and the usual stuff of life to do :=)  And two short stories to write for competitions.  And a cataract op. looming on the horizon.  My bucket of resilience is getting a bit low at the moment, but we persevere, don't we?  What else is there to do?  Bring on October!  

So check out my kitchen stuff, and let me see yours!  Now, there's a thought ...

In My Kitchen:

I dried thyme leaves in the microwave

I bought Greek oregano and olive oil

and more olive oil, relish and some choc freckles

we bought eggs from Nadra Egg Farm - in the middle of suburbia for 75 years!

yep even more olive oil - well, it is (very) late harvest season

and our friend the Poet of beautiful words brought us her homemade marmalade

and there was another Charlotte Ree book

my cuz sent me these birthday tea towels in June

the curveball - a naiive painting by Annie Holcombe, a QLD artist

Wow, what a month ahead!  Hope yours is fulfilling and wonderful.  Spring has sprung here early, so flowers are blooming and birds are nesting.  The magpies here are very dangerous this month, so cyclists have to wear helmets with spikes!  Nah, not kidding.  Those maggies can produce blood!

not my photo, but this is what people do!

Sorry, this photo is from a cycling page, with no photographer's details.  And it's not just magpies; those crazy plovers also like to have a go at you!  I'm about to head out for a walk, and I'm hoping the maggies are too busy nesting to attack me.

c. Sherry M.

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