Monthly Archives: August 2013

Homemade Lavender Lemonade

Lavender Lemonade-0165Homemade lemonade brings back childhood memories of warm summer days, fresh country air and sunshine. For centuries lavender has been appreciated for its fragrance, used to perfume soaps and sachets for scenting linens. Lavender is also known for its health benefits, helping with insomnia and soothing the digestive system.

Lavender is such an incredible herb and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. I love to add the floral scented flavour of lavender to cakes, biscuits, drinks and custard based desserts and I also enjoy spreading this delicious lavender and honeycomb butter on warm toast and scones. With a myriad of uses in the culinary world, dried lavender will always have a place in my kitchen. Continue reading

Pickled Garlic and in a bit of a pickle!

Pickled Garlic_Collage_1I could never imagine cooking without garlic… I love it and thankfully so do the rest of the family. Eating garlic in its raw state is way too strong but eating pickled garlic is a different matter altogether. Pickled garlic is very mild in taste and does not leave your breath reeking of its pungent flavour… keeping everyone at arm’s length or even further. While in France visiting friends they always served pickled garlic with an array of pickled olives, cheeses, pâté and freshly baked crusty bread, all bought from local farmers markets.

Bringing back some heads of garlic I thought I would have a go at pickling garlic at home. I enjoy making preserved lemons and some jams but I have never pickled garlic before and googling recipes it all looked very easy. Over a week ago I started the pickling process and now I’m in a bit of a pickle… I thought I could tell you that it has been a great success and post about the delicious results! Some recipes suggested that you could eat the pickled garlic as soon as 48 hours, some a week (which quite a few stated) and others a month. After a week I tested a clove of garlic… very, very garlicky, the taste was so strong and not pleasant at all. As with all recipes on this blog, I will not post a recipe that I am not comfortable with… and this recipe needs further maturing, hopefully achieving results that I can share.

Pickled Garlic_Collage_2

All is not lost… if you have never tried pickled garlic look out for some at your local deli or supermarket. Serve pickled garlic with drinks before dinner, sliced into salads, sandwiches or use finely chopped in salad dressing… a few uses to get you started.

FIY... thought I would give the blue silicone garlic peeler a little mention, quite handy for quickly removing the skins from garlic cloves. This kitchen gadget came free with a cooking utensil bought some time ago. Pop a few garlic cloves into the silicone tube and roll it back and forth, this usually removes the skin.

Meanwhile, if anyone out there has an easy recipe for pickling garlic, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂 Let’s see after a few weeks how the pickled garlic progresses, I will keep you up-dated. 

Date and Walnut Cake in a Nut Roll Tin

nut roll cakes-0203

Date and Nut Roll Cake

nut roll cakes-0203When I rerurn from holidays it takes a few days to get back into the usual swing of things. Un-packing, laundry, house chores and the food shopping! Once all the mundane stuff is out-of-the-way, the home cooking aromas wafting through the house make me feel… truly back home. Craving a bit of old-fashioned baking, I turn to my nut roll baking tins. Cakes baked in these cylindrical tins are lovely and moist, cut well and are delicious when spread with butter… if you don’t mind the extra calories.

nut roll cakes-0184I first came across nut roll cakes in an old Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook some years back and was sold on the novel shape of the cake tin (the cakes looked good too), cylindrical with removable lids at both ends. But finding one of these baking tins… that took time. Eventually a kind student studying in Australia managed to find me one, so thank you Razan 🙂 Over the years I’ve had a few disasters with these baking tins, batter leaking from the bottom, cakes breaking when turning out, not every cake recipe works with these tins.

nut roll cakes-0187Looking out for another tin found a pink cylindrical biscuit tin which was exactly the size that I needed and it has worked a treat as my second baking tin. Most nut roll recipes require two nut roll tins. Have since seen them on eBay or you could use cylindrical biscuit tins instead. I always line the inside of the nut roll tin/biscuit tin with non stick baking parchment as it’s easier to remove the cake.  As the  biscuit tin has no removable lid at the base, line the base with a disc of non stick baking parchment cut to size. Date and walnut cake spiced with fresh and powdred ginger… delicious!

Date and Walnut Cake in a Nut Roll Tin

Recipe adapted from the Australians Women’s Weekly “Cooking for Friends”.


  • 225g soft brown sugar
  • 175g of seeded dried dates, coarsely chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 6fl oz water
  • 300g self-raising powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated fresh finger
  • 1 egg
  • 25g walnuts, roughly chopped

How to make: Preheat the oven to 360°F/180ºC/160ºC Fan/Gas 4. Grease the insides and lids of two 8cm x 17cm nut roll tins. Line the insides of the tin with some non stick baking parchment. If using a biscuit tin line the base with a disc of non stick baking parchment. Place the bottom lid on each nut roll tin.

Add the brown sugar, dates, butter, golden syrup and water into a medium saucepan. Over low heat stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into the cooled mixture; add the fresh ginger, egg and walnuts and stir everything together until combined.

With the help of two spoons, spoon the mixture evenly into both tins. Place the top lids on both tins. Stand tins on an oven tray and bake upright in the oven and for about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove tins from the oven and leave the loaves to cool (without removing the lids) for about 15 minutes to firm up before trying to remove the cakes. Cool the cakes on a wire cooling rack.

Tip: When the baking time is almost finished and you need to check if the cake is done, remove the cake tin from the oven and remove the top lid. Test the cake with a skewer, if further baking is required, place the lid back on and bake for a further few minutes.

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