Marinated Artichokes

Image 9We are Big fans of artichokes in this household. I was introduced to them in France when my parents lived there. They served them in a bowl with a cheesy sauce to dip the leaves in. Later I enjoyed them several ways, smaller ones fried whole, stuffed with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and of course when they are out of season we buy the marinated ones. They are very expensive. When I was out at the fruit shop on Monday I saw big boxes of artichokes for $20 and I quickly purchased it, I wish I had bought two now. When I had my treasure home I decided to marinate half of the box as this would last longer and save me money. Don’t know if we could have eaten all those artichokes, before they went bad.

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As many artichokes as you can find, at least 10

small artichokes would be better but as long as you clean and cut the bigger ones down they are fine.

lots of olive oil.

preserved lemon or lemon rind (see my other recipe for preserved lemon) several pieces for each jar

chopped garlic,  at least one clove per jar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar per jar

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I had never marinated artichokes before but thought it would not be that hard! I just peeled all the tough leaves off from the outside and then cut as shown in the first photograph. Then I boiled them in a big saucepan of water with lemon juice, salt and peppercorns until really soft, all the way through.

Then drain and leave to cool.

Meanwhile clean your jars and lids.

Set the jars up and carefully spoon the artichokes into the jars and add preserved lemon and garlic in between the artichokes and a little salt. When the jar is full, pour your olive oil over slowly until almost at the top. Then add the teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

These will be delicious the next day and only get better over time.

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Gluten Free Muesli Cookies with Dark Chocolate

IMG_4085I have just had the most wonderful time on Stradbroke Island. A little Island just off the coast of Brisbane that has been a holiday destination for years. This little piece of paradise is only accessible by ferry or water taxi and somehow in the hour it takes between mainland and the island your life changes for the better.

Stradbroke is a nature lovers paradise with kangaroos, birds of all types, dolphins, koalas and of course whales rolling by in the distance. The kangaroos really do hop down the main streets, so if you want to experience a true Australian adventure try and fit a trip to Stradbroke Island into your itinerary.

IMG_4274Strange things happen to me when I arrive at the beach. Suddenly I am ravenous and need to eat ALL the time. Not a great way to start a holiday where I am likely to be parading around in a swimsuit! Anyway I eventually gave into the need to eat and baked some muesli cookies. Being made of muesli and gluten free muesli at that, they would have to be good for you wouldn’t they?

I dipped them in dark chocolate as everything tastes better with chocolate. On the first day I think I ate four! I tried to slow it down a little after that. I’m sure the kangaroos that hopped into the back yard of the holiday house were attracted by the smell.


If you don’t need these to be gluten free just replace ingredients with non gluten free ones.


2 cups of gluten free muesli

1 cup of toasted almond flakes

1 cup of gluten free flour

250ml of cream

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 cup of light muscovado sugar. (Billingtons does a great one).

Preheat oven to 170°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Combine muesli and flour in a bowl. Simmer cream, sugar and honey together, until sugar is melted.

Add cream, sugar and honey mixture to gluten free muesli and flaked almonds and mix well. Set aside for 15 minutes. Roll spoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on trays, 3cm apart. Flatten.

Bake for 10 minutes. Swap trays halfway through. Cool for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining mixture.

When cool dip in dark chocolate or dribble over.

Dark chocolate is just dark chocolate melted in a bowl over boiling water. When it’s runny it’s ready.


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Carrot cake and versions of it.

IMG_3465Carrot cake has a huge advantage over most cakes…. the word carrot! Somehow this gives the person enjoying each mouthful the excuse that it must be healthy as it is full of vegetables. It was a very popular cake in the 80’s and then just kind of hung around in the background for a few decades.

I have found a great recipe in a book called Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen  This recipe always works and it allows me to change a few ingredients and make versions of mine own without changing the basics. I have include a few options, one where I add chopped prunes instead of pineapple which gives the cakes a lovely sweetness.

IMG_3459This Cake is a carrot cake double layered with cream cheese in between that I made for a little boy who is turning one tomorrow. It will have one of those tiny buntings that say Happy Birthday on it too. I will add a few photos from the party later this week.

So here is the recipe.

For the Cake Mix:

  • 140ml vegetable oil
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 80ml beaten eggs (approximately 1½ small eggs)
  • 80g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped ( I used chopped roasted pecans
  • 320g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 280g tinned pineapple, drained and crushed (This can be replaced by 240 g of finely chopped prunes)
  • 290g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla pod


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare the sandwich tins by greasing and lining them with grease-proof paper.To Make the Cake:1. Place the vegetable oil and light brown sugar in a mixing bowl and beat together. Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and gradually add to the oil mixture until you get a smooth emulsion. Add the walnuts, carrots and pineapple and gently mix until well combined.2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt together and add to the wet mixture in two batches. Mix together at a slow speed until the batter is just combined.3. Divide the batter evenly between the sandwich tins. If you find it difficult to measure by eye, use your kitchen scales to weigh out the amount of sponge mixture for each tin.

4. Bake for 40–50 minutes, depending on your oven. If you are using deeper cake tins, the sponges will take longer to cook. The sponges are cooked when the sides are beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tins and the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or wooden skewer into the centre of each sponge; it should come out clean.

5. Once the sponges are baked, let them rest for about 10 minutes outside of the oven. Once just warm, remove the sponges from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

6. Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and then rest overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed in and the sponges firm up to the perfect texture for trimming and layering. When trimmed too soon after baking, the sponges tend to crumble and may even break into pieces

IMG_3442For the icing

Beat 120g cream cheese along with 150g icing sugar, and 25g softened unsalted butter.  Add zest of an unwaxed lemon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until smooth.  Leave this in the fridge to set for about an hour.

Then dollop a huge amount on the middle of the cake and spread over, trying not to pick up crumbs as you spread it. If you do make a mess cover the icing in nuts and it will be our little secret!


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