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In My Kitchen… December 2016

So here we are, the end of another year. Quite an eventful year for me with the completion of our renovation and finishing a 28 year career in the Australian Public Service. I’m on a bit of a sabbatical at the moment – I will eventually need to go back to work but I’m in no hurry and in the mean time, Mr Tiffin is reaping the benefits of my extra cooking.

In my December kitchen…

Demonstrating a recipe in the Tiffin kitchen Tiffin readers post with their goodie bags A selection of afternoon tea items for Tiffin readers

…was this band of merry eaters. I recently hosted an afternoon tea for some readers who had expressed an interest in learning more about me, the blog and good food. They brought lovely gifts including macarons and Vietnamese jellies but I have no photos of these as they have all been eaten. As part of the afternoon, we enjoyed…

…Tamari Spiced Nuts


Something to nibble with the first aperitif while everyone got settled. Super easy and very moreish, you definitely need to make these in double batches. Recipe here.


Middle Eastern Sausage Rolls

small sausage rolls topped with nigella seeds

Middle Eastern Sausage Rolls

For a bit of fun, I created petite versions that were served in my tiffin boxes.


Prune & Amaretto Coffee Cake

a whole prune and amaretto coffee cake with flaked almonds on top

This cake was a whopper, easily serving 16 people. I was only feeding 4 so Mr Tiffin got to take the rest of the cake in to colleagues. Normally I would have frozen the rest for a later date but as we are entering peak cake season, I thought it best to feed to the masses.


Orange & Fennel Tahini Cookies.

Tahini cookie 3

These are version of Ottolenghi’s Tahini Cookies that I demonstrated how to make as part of the afternoon tea. I find that they are hugely adaptable and in the past have made a peanut butter and ginger version. This time around, to give a festive accent, I added dried orange peel and fennel seeds pounded in the mortar. We enjoyed a plate of the original cookies and guests took the orange and fennel version home as a thank you. Mr Tiffin’s colleagues also received a batch of these. Lucky them!


…Coconut Tea Jelly

coconut tea jelly in a mini mason jat with slivers of mango on top

I wanted a light dessert that wasn’t too sweet and this one fit the bill. On my way home from Hong Kong, the airline lounge had some tea jellies on offer and it set my mind buzzing. Their version was topped with thin layer of pouring cream. My version had a second small layer of coconut milk jelly flavoured with palm sugar. I topped some with mango and left some plain. I will share the recipe with you soon.


Not in my kitchen but on my blog…

two boys clown around on the streets of palmyra, syria

Two boys clown around on the streets of Palmyra, Syria

is this post about how you can make a difference this Christmas by helping the people stranded in the middle of a civil war in Syria. I hope you can spare some time to read it and can contribute to their plight.

That’s just a small taste of what’s happening in my kitchen this month. I’m sure many of you will be ramping up for Christmas, with your ovens going strong morning, noon and night. For those experiencing the first of the East Coast heatwaves, I recommend chilled black coffee sweetened with a little maple syrup and air conditioning.  Enjoy all of that planning and cooking and when you have a break, take some time to get inspiration from the others who join IMK from across the globe. Liz, our IMK host from Good Things is now a published author with her memoir about her family, The Barber of Budapest. If you are interested in learning more, visit Liz’s site.

Fa la la la la… la la la la

17 comments… add one
  • Francesca December 3, 2016, 7:10 am

    The afternoon tea looks very tasty and thanks once again for that important reminder at the end of your post.

    • Fiona Ryan December 5, 2016, 2:58 pm

      Yes, afternoon tea fun and I enjoyed sharing it with others.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime December 3, 2016, 2:45 pm

    Why don’t you hold cooking classes in your kitchen? That would be work you love!

    • Fiona Ryan December 5, 2016, 2:59 pm

      That would be a lot of fun but unfortunately, teh regulations are such that it wouldn’t be possible in my domestic kitchen. Nice to dream though…

  • Liz Posmyk December 4, 2016, 3:45 pm

    Congratulations Fiona on your retirement, it’s an exciting time of your life. Lots of good things in your kitchen, I can see, and Fa La La La La indeed! Lots of baking, yummy! Thank you very kindly for the shout outs re IMK and my book, as well. Most kind of you. Happy December and season’s eatings to you XXXX

    • Fiona Ryan December 5, 2016, 3:01 pm

      Happy Christmas to you too Liz and thanks for hosting IMK.

  • sherry from sherrys pickings December 4, 2016, 4:06 pm

    looks like a fun afternoon was had by all. yes the baking is ramping up at the moment, as is the heat in the kitchen. no air con upstairs, only down so I have to swelter while i bake. oh my that storm last night….and what about that sunset? those poor darn Syrians. that photo of the dead babies on FB was so very sad.

    • Fiona Ryan December 5, 2016, 3:02 pm

      That storm was crazy and the sunset was unbelievable. The whole sky was red! Yes, those poor Syrians.

  • mae December 7, 2016, 2:32 am

    Such a beautiful tea table! Your guests were really lucky to learn the Ottolenghi recipe — I’m a fan of his also, though haven’t tried that one.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  • Shannan December 8, 2016, 6:29 pm

    What a wonderful afternoon tea it was! Thank you for having us.

  • Amanda (@lambsearshoney) December 11, 2016, 7:52 am

    I’m beginning my baking next week. The weather here has been unseasonably cold (I’m still in uggies in the evenings), but I’ll lay money on the fact that, no matter which days I set aside to bake, those will be as hot as blazes.

    • Fiona Ryan December 22, 2016, 11:29 am

      I have been watching the weather with interest in the southern states. Here, it is always hot but the day you choose to bake is the day it goes from dry heat to 98% humidity and nothing bakes or sets properly. Australia… land of extremes!

  • Gretchen December 13, 2016, 5:16 am

    What a nice looking afternoon tea, what a great way to connect with your readers. And as a bonus your husband’s colleagues all got to enjoy some of the goodies too. Luckily for us Christmas in in the winter to it’s finally tolerable to turn on the oven here. Not that I’ve done much yet, just one batch of cookies so far. Happy Holidays!

    • Fiona Ryan December 22, 2016, 11:31 am

      It seems Christmas has once again crept up on everyone. How did that happen? ; )

  • Lisa December 21, 2016, 8:25 am

    Looks like a fun afternoon Fiona. I’m loving your hair by the way! Those cookies look delicious, as do the jellies. My festive baking is sadly behind this year, but the heat doesn’t help either. Happy Christmas to you and yours x

    • Fiona Ryan December 22, 2016, 10:11 am

      Hi Lisa – I hadn’t really done a lot of festive baking either but those cookies are the bomb! So adaptable and quick. I had to say farewell to the hair yesterday as I am starting a temporary job for a few months where I think the colour would be frowned upon. Enjoy your Christmas.

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