Tuesday 16 April 2024

Spiked Brown Cherry Cake

This is very similar to another German sour cherry and chocolate cake that I've been making for years (also on the blog).  This one is from Kindred by Eva and Maria Konecsny, two sisters who along with their mother founded Gewürzhaus, a spice shop in Melbourne.  Their cookbook has many family recipes that they are now sharing with the world.  

I made this one for Cookbook Club a while ago.  I love sour cherries, though I am feeling a bit dubious about them now, after having read a chapter in The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo.  Apparently, they are made with lots of dyes and chemicals to make them look plump and red in the jar!  Eek!  But I will keep using them, I reckon.  I just like 'em too much to stop.  She also discusses how she uses the kernels of apricots or cherries to make an 'almond' extract - which contains cyanide.  She is either brave or stupid - you pick!

looking very edible :=)

Serves 10:


140g./5 oz. salted butter, at room temp.

50g./a scant 2 oz. coconut sugar    see Notes

4 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites

3 Tbs maple syrup

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

a pinch of ground black pepper

90g./3.2 oz. dark chocolate, grated    see Notes

150g./5.3 oz. almond meal/ground almonds

50g./1.8 oz. dried breadcrumbs  see Notes

1 x 680g./24 oz. jar of pitted morello (sour) cherries, drained but KEEP the liquid

cream, to serve

Spiked syrup:

cherry juice (from above) - I ended up with 350 mL/12 oz.

2 Tbs raw sugar

1 cinnamon quill

8 black peppercorns

pinch of sea salt

Kirschwasser or liquor of your choice - I used 20 mL/0.7 oz. of spiced rum!


Whack on the oven to 170C/340F to heat up

Butter and flour a 23cm/9 inch round springform tin

Grab your electric beaters and cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl

Now beat in the egg yolks, one yolk at a time, beating well

Keep beating while you add the maple syrup and spices, then fold in the chocolate

Now grab another mixing bowl, and beat the egg whites till stiff

You now fold half the egg whites into the batter, then half the almond meal and half the breadcrumbs

And do it all again with the other halves :=) i.e. the egg whites, almond meal and breadcrumbs

Pour/spoon the batter into the tin and make it smooth

On go the cherries across the top of the batter; press them gently into the batter

Try to get some of the batter over the cherries; you want 'em just a wee bit drowning and submerged in the batter (hehehe)

Put the cake tin on a baking tray, and bake for 25-30 minutes (tho' my cake took closer to 40 mins.!).  I do have a recalcitrant oven tho'.

Once the skewer comes out clean, you know it's done

Leave it in the tin, on a wire rack till absolutely cool - the sisters suggest you leave it overnight in an airtight container so it gets all lovely and cured and juicy

Syrup making:

Don't forget the syrup, which you can make and leave in the fridge till you're going to eat the cake, or make it the next day after you've allowed the cake to 'cure' for a day - yeah, what the?! :) when the cake is screaming out: "Eat me now!"

The cherry juice and sugar go into a small saucepan over low heat; stir till the sugar dissolves

Now add the spices and salt, and increase the heat till the syrup starts to boil

Reduce the heat, and let it simmer away for 15-25 minutes (mine took 20 mins.) until lightly thickened

Let it cool down for 15 mins., then add your liquor of choice - I ended up with 125 mL/4 big oz./½ cup of syrup before I added the spiced rum

Serve with the cake!


I used light brown sugar as I had no coconut sugar, and some panko breadcrumbs

I use Lindt 70% dark chocolate as it is very easy to break up with your fingers, and you get big chunks!

fold the chocolate into your batter

spoon into the tin, and smooth over

cherries in, and smoothed over before baking at 170C

and baked!

and eat!

c. Sherry M.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Caramelised Onion And Garlic Jam

We don't eat a lot of sweet jam in this house, but luckily for us, we have a Tassie friend who brings us her homemade cumquat marmalade every winter, which is great on toast, or in bread and butter puddings.  (I made a pudding the other night with leftover Hot Cross buns and Easter eggs and her marmalade!)  We do love a savoury jam though, and this one goes down a treat.  

I hunted up the 'Net for a recipe and found one by CSR (The Colonial Sugar Refinery), which was a big sugar-producing company here in Queensland (now owned by a Singaporean company).  Oddly to my mind, they are also a construction company!  Something to do with them making their own sugar mills, it seems.

And speaking of sugar mills ... there are sugarcane farms and a sugar mill just over the Queensland border in Northern Rivers.  I love watching the pure white smoke come out of the stack when they are processing the sugar.  And when they are burning the cane before harvest, the fires are huge and bright and burn into the night.  Very magical! though not very environmentally sound.  In fact, most Queensland sugarcane is harvested "green" (i.e. without burning), while New South Wales still burns the crops first.  I do like the fires I have to admit :=)


image Wikimedia Commons (author: Rob & Stephanie Levy)

They burn at dusk, when the winds have dropped.  The fires get rid of vermin, and the debris from the canes.  It is always a magnificent sight with flaming fields burning into the night.


delicious onion and garlic jam   (bronze kingfisher by Dion Parker)

Makes 2 smallish jars:


1.5 Tbs EV olive oil

3 large red onions, finely sliced

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely sliced

65g./2.3 oz dark brown sugar

250 mL/1 cup red wine vinegar  (I used my homemade blood orange vinegar)

1 Tbs yellow mustard seeds

2 bay leaves

1.5 tsp sea salt flakes

1/2 dozen grinds black pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

a wee bit of cold water if needed


Grab a large and deep frying pan, and throw in the oil and onions over a low heat

Cook for about 15 minutes till tender and just turning colour, stirring now and then

Add the garlic, stirring for 3 minutes

Stir 1 Tbs of the sugar over the mixture for 1 minute, till it starts to bubble 

Now turn the heat up to medium, and add the vinegar, mustard seeds, bay leaves, salt, pepper, paprika and the rest of the sugar; let it cook for a couple of minutes then - 

Reduce the heat to medium-low to low, and let it simmer away for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, till you have a thick and luscious jammy mixture  (add a splash of water if it's starting to go too thick)

Take out the bay leaves, and spoon into hot, sterilised jars

Makes 2 smallish jars


I halved their recipe, except for the garlic and bay leaves, so double this recipe if you want to make a full amount

ingredients gathered

stir that onion and garlic

and stir some more till jammy and fragrant

et voilà!   (figurine by Denise Murray)

(Joining up with Min from Write of the Middle blog - for the #WWWhimsy post.)

c. Sherry M.

Monday 1 April 2024

In My Kitchen - April 2024

I hope you had/are having a wonderful chocolate and family-filled Easter, my friends.  I think I've eaten my body weight in chocolate and sweets!  So I've been walking it off each day, tramping up the hilly road near us, wielding my trusty umbrella.  As usual, we've been 'enjoying' a wet Easter.  It's also school hols here in Queensland, and everybody heads off to go camping, even though they get damp and soggy :=)  

Also every Easter you can take yourself to the Byron Bay Bluesfest, a massively popular music festival (always a mudfest).  Our dear friend Rob (owner and player of many guitars) who died last January, usually attended with his son, so I've been thinking of him and his family over the break.  Hard to believe it has been over a year since he died.  We were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with him on his last day, keeping vigil.

Some people have asked me about the talk I gave to our local Historical Society late last year.  (Mr P. is now the President and I am the co-archivist.  Not sure how that happened ...)  So here is the link for those who would like to watch it on YouTube: 

Hist. Society Talk


In My Kitchen:

I strained and bottled the raspberry vinegar

I bought more Japanese goodies from Genki Mart - matcha, matcha!

I made a 3 egg omelette for our 92 year old neighbour - 'cos protein!

I bought a Japanese hand-carved wooden spoon. Yep, naturally I need more spoons!

of course I made more pickled cukes!  Probably the last till Spring

and I bought Mr P. a biiiiig smash Easter egg; cannot resist 100s & 1000s!

and for myself these fab Koko Black choc bites

this was a Christmas gift from the cuz

and this is an early birthday gift from our Tassie friends for Mr P.

more gifts from our Tassie friends

here are those 1960s orange enamel dishes I mentioned recently

and the curveball ...

I've started painting the bottom storey of our house.  Our painter has done the top storey (very slowly), so I decided enough was enough, and got out the brushes and roller.  Half a wall done, and three and a half left!!  Mr P. did the top bricks, and helped with the cutting-in, but I've done the majority of it.  So much cutting-in to go ...

c. Sherry M.

Be a part of our friendly IMK community by adding your post here too - everybody welcome!  We'd love to have you visit.  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 one 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.

Options for adding your post to IMK:

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Saturday 23 March 2024

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Just wondering how many of you are familiar with B. Dylan Hollis, the funny chap from YouTube?  I love his videos!  And he loves to try out weird, retro, vintage recipes.  Of course I had to buy his book Baking Yesteryear when it came out last year.  And I love that he includes the really terrible recipes at the end of the book, in the Worst of the Worst section.  

The recipe in his book that really makes me shudder is the SpaghettiOs Jello Ring, which has - yes, you guessed it - tinned spaghetti, tomato soup, gelatine and cocktail franks (sausages) - (OMG!!)!  But this cake recipe is way less horrendous; in fact, it's pretty darn delicious.  I added a few little tweaks like the Kahlua and coffee powder, and sprinkles.  Every cake deserves a sprinkle!

I was watching a video recently where the (U.S.) person said they had only just been introduced to the repast of warmed baked beans from a tin, spooned onto hot buttery toast and then put under the grill with cheese, so it melts over the beans.  Oh how sad but great, that they had only just discovered this delightful midnight - or anytime - snack.  I do this with tinned spaghetti too!  But a Jello Ring is a step too far, my friends:=)

gotta love a sprinkle! (see the flamingoes?)

Makes one x 25cm./10 inch Bundt cake:



345g./12 hefty ounces of mayonnaise

300g./10.5 oz white or caster sugar

1-2 tsp vanilla extract or paste  (optional)

2 tsp Kahlua or liqueur of your fancy  (optional)

420g./15 scant oz plain flour

5 Tbs cocoa powder

2 tsp coffee powder  (optional)

3/4 tsp sea salt

2 tsp baking soda

355 mL/12 oz water

150g./5.3 oz dark or milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks


115g./4 oz mayonnaise

5 Tbs cocoa powder

1 Tbs milk

240g./8.5 oz icing sugar (powdered sugar)

2 tsp vanilla extract or paste

2-3 Tbs yoghurt  (optional)

Sprinkles or chocolate hail or your fave bling to decorate


For the cake:

Butter your Bundt very very well (Mr P. does this for me as it's his forte - hehehe)

On goes your oven to 190C/370F to heat up

Combine the mayo and sugar together in a large bowl till you have a nice smooth mixture, then stir in the vanilla extract and Kahlua

Grab another bowl, and whisk the flour, cocoa powder, coffee, salt, and baking soda together well

Now add these dry ingredients to the mayo mixture, along with the water in alternate turns, till it's well-combined

Stir in the chocolate chunks

Spoon/pour into the very well-buttered Bundt pan (I tapped a little flour over the pan as well), and bake for 40-45 minutes

Poke the middle of the cake with a cake skewer; if it's clean, the cake is done

Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to get completely cool

For the icing:

Combine the mayo, cocoa powder and milk together in a metal bowl, and place it over a saucepan of simmering water - or use a double boiler if you have one

Gradually stir in the icing sugar, and whisk/beat very well till smooth and glossy

Take it off the heat, cool for a minute, then stir in the vanilla and yoghurt

Place the cake onto a serving platter, and let that gorgeous dark river of chocolate wend its way over the cake

And Go mad with sprinkles!


Dylan says this makes a 10 inch tube cake.  I have no idea what that is!  So I just used a Bundt pan, and it worked out beautifully 

get your ingredients together

mix till smooth

ready for baking at 190C for 40-45 mins.

ready to smother lavishly in bling and icing

you can never have too much icing!

deep, dark and mysteriously delicious

sprinkles and flamingoes everywhere

and I took it to Book Club!

c. Sherry M.

Saturday 16 March 2024

Italian Potato Salad

Did you know there are over 4,000 varieties of potato?  Wow, and yet we see just a few in our supermarkets and greengrocers.  I have no green thumb (I've just killed another pot plant), but I once tried to grow some potatoes in a bucket.  I had read that you could just throw in some sprouted potatoes along with some potting soil, and eventually you'd end up with a bucket full of tasty tubers. 

Sadly, this was not to be, my friends, and I just ended up with a heavy bucket of damp soil, after watering and waiting for weeks.  It would have been especially sad for my friend who had been nurturing the bucket for days while we were away :=(  But I decided this was something she did not need to know! 

This recipe is from Donna Hay's Christmas Feasts and Treats.  It's great for those watching their weight as there is no mayo or sour cream.  But it does have lots of flavour!  Bake or grill some fish or chicken, and you have a delicious dinner on hand.  I teamed it with some baked salmon. 

add a protein and you're ready for dinner

Serves 3-4:


800g./28 oz baby potatoes

half a red onion, finely sliced

1/2-1 Tbs lemon zest

65 mL/2 biiiiiig oz of lemon juice

40 mL/a scant 1.5 oz of EV olive oil

2 long, hot red chillies, finely chopped (and de-seeded if you wish)

30g./1 biiiig oz salted baby capers, rinsed

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

a handful of dill, and of parsley, roughly chopped or torn

50g./1.5 biiig oz of rocket leaves or baby spinach  (I used spinach)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


First zap the potatoes in your microwave for 5-6 minutes (or boil in salted water) till tender

Drain, leave to cool, then slice (very) thickly, or cut into chunks

By this time, you've sliced the onion, and zested and juiced the lemon

So put the onion, lemon zest and juice into a bowl that won't react - i.e. - not metal!, so glass or ceramic - and let this sit for a bit

Now grab a frypan and heat the EVO oil over medium heat

In go the chillies and capers, and let 'em cook for several minutes (4-5 maybe?) till getting a wee bit crispy

Add the garlic and cook/stir for another minute or two (or 3) till the whole shebang is golden (but watch it so it doesn't burn)

Now find yourself a pretty salad bowl and tip in the potatoes, herbs, onion, rocket, salt and pepper 

Add the chilli mixture to the bowl (yep the oil and all from the pan)

On goes the onion pickling liquid, and give it a good stir

Serve with your protein of choice - I cooked up some fresh salmon 


I made a half quantity of this salad - but just double everything for the original Donna recipe

ingredients gathered

get slicing ...

watch those baby capers puff up

ready for tossing

ready to eat

add a bit of baked or grilled salmon or chicken

c, Sherry M.

Saturday 9 March 2024

Mandarin Syrup And Blackberry No-Churn Ice Cream

A bit more about the online cookbook club I am part of - we have a monthly book, and a book that we can dip into for the entire calendar year.  This year's book is The Food Saver's A-Z, which provides an alphabetical look at various items you may have lurking in your fridge and pantry that desperately need using up, pronto!

Ironically, I didn't have any mandarins just hanging to make this syrup, so I bought a bottle of 100% mandarin juice.  This is very easy to make, and is very delicious.  Mr P. was a big fan (he loves my citrus cordials), and has been drinking it on the regular.  

ready to add to sparkling water, etc

And speaking of spiders (see above) ... I can only speak about Aussie ones of course, but they like to jump on and at you!  And they are big, my friends.  One day we were downstairs in Mr P.'s office, and we heard a loud tapping noise.  We headed into the kitchenette, only to discover a very large Huntsman running across the bench (in tap shoes, it seemed).  

And did I ever tell you about getting up one morning, and after a bit thinking - 'Gee, I need a haircut', brushing my ear and finding a massive spider falling on my shoulder?!!  Who knows how long it had been sitting on top of my head!  They are hairy beasts, let me tell you :=)  But let's get to the recipe.   

Makes 1 smallish bottle (c.150 mL):


the syrup:

250 mL (1 cup) pure mandarin juice

110g./4 oz caster or white sugar

a few slices of fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon quill (stick) and 2 cloves (optional)

My version of a fruity 'instant' ice cream:

The ice cream:

500g./18 oz frozen blackberries (or your fave fruit), mostly thawed

170g./6 oz condensed milk

2-3 Tbs spiced rum (or your fave tipple)

1-2 tsp vanilla paste or extract

250g./9 oz mascarpone


The syrup:

Heat the juice and sugar together (in a small saucepan) on a low temp., till sugar is dissolved

Add the spices now if using, and simmer for 10 or so minutes till a wee bit thickened   see Notes

Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to cool, then pour into a very clean bottle, and allow to cool completely

And into the fridge it goes, for up to 2 months

Serve with sparkling water or wine, or with this fruity ice cream

The ice cream:

Into your food processor go the fruit, condensed milk, rum and vanilla

Give 'em a few pulses till mixed but not necessarily smooth (I like some lumpy pieces of fruit), then add the mascarpone and give it a very quick blitz 

Pour/spoon into a freezer-proof container, and whack into the freezer for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight   see Notes

The next day, spoon into a dessert bowl, and pour some of that delicious, citrus-y syrup over the top


You can thaw the fruit completely, then mix everything together in a large bowl if you prefer your ice cream a bit chunkier

I forgot to do it, but I normally line the tin with freezer film, leaving an overhang which you can fold over the top of the ice cream mixture to keep it protected while it freezes

I doubled this recipe (but not the cloves) and ended up with 300 mL of syrup

It took about 30 minutes to reduce down when I made the doubled recipe

ingredients gathered

dissolve the sugar, and simmer for 10 mins.

till it thickens slightly

bottle your syrup when cool

stir the mascarpone thru the fruity mixture

and pour into your freezer-proof container

pour on the syrup

c. Sherry M.