Regular Random: five minutes with tea and lemon-rosemary cookies

Afternoon tea, with lemon-rosemary cookies. Shot of vintage plate, cup and saucer with three star-shaped cookies on plate and assam tea with lemon in cup. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Afternoon tea, with lemon-rosemary cookies. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

My friend Sarah at Art Expedition sent me her recipe for Lemon-Rosemary cookies, and while my first couple of batches do rather lack finesse, Sarah’s recipe is really good and the cookies taste fantastic.

Five Minutes of Random (the #RegularRandom challenge) is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist. 

If you’d like to join in:

  • choose a subject or a scene
  • spend five minutes photographing it – no more!
  • try to see it from many angles, look through something at it, change the light that’s hitting it
  • tag your post #regularrandom and ping back to Desley’s post
  • have fun!



Rosemary and feta scones (a recipe)

Close up shot of rosemary and feta scones. Image: Su Leslie, 2107

Rosemary and feta scones. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Ingredients (makes six large scones)

300g self-raising flour*

Good pinch sea-salt

50g very cold butter

220-260ml cold milk

100g crumbled feta cheese

Good handful (or about two tablespoons) roughly chopped fresh rosemary. If you’re using dried herbs, about 1-2 teaspoons.

* You can use plain flour and add 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder. Make sure it’s not bread flour, which has more gluten and the scones won’t rise as well.


Pre-heat oven to 220°C.

Sift flour into a bowl; add salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through rosemary and feta.  Add enough milk to form a soft dough. Don’t over-mix.

Tip onto lightly floured baking tray and knead gently a couple of times. Roll or press dough until it is about 2cm thick.

I kept the dough in a round, and cut into 6 wedges, but you could use a cookie cutter for more traditional round scones.

The dough doesn’t spread much so you can bake them close together on the tray.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire tray (just long enough that they’re not too hot to handle).

Some additional thoughts

The basic scone recipe I used comes from the Edmonds Cookery Book. It’s a kind of bible of traditional Kiwi food, and I’d wager that most of the home-baked scones consumed here have their origin in an Edmonds’ recipe.

When I looked for alternative recipes, I found some that add extra baking powder to self-raising flour and some that use  baking soda and cream of tartar as separate ingredients. I found recipes that use buttermilk or yogurt, some with a mix of butter and lard as shortening, and even some that included eggs.

I’m intrigued by these variations and will probably experiment — with different leavening agents at least. I don’t think I’ll try adding lard though, and as for eggs? Doesn’t that just turn the mixture into muffins?

Do you have a favourite scone recipe? Baking powder, or baking soda and buttermilk? Butter or lard? Do you add eggs?

I’d love to know how these variations work. And of course, what extra ingredients do you add?

Magic Monday

Still warm. Two homemade loaves of wholewheat, seeded sourdough bread, resting on a cooling rack. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Still warm. Home-made sourdough bread. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Today has been bread-making day, and now there are two loaves of wholemeal sourdough cooling on the kitchen bench.

All cooking is slightly magical, but sourdough is especially so. A paste of flour and water  that we first made two years ago (called a starter) provides food for the natural yeasts and bacteria that hang out in our kitchen. We add flour, water and salt; and natural fermentation does the rest.

Two loaf pans with sourdough, kneaded and ready for proving before being baked. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Sourdough; mixed, kneaded and ready for final proving. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Quest for improvement

Sourdough foccacia with rosemary and olive oil. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

A year or so ago the Big T and I created a sourdough starter: flour, water and whatever bacteria and yeasts inhabit our kitchen. We feed it, keep it warm and sniff it a lot to check its health. We also bake bread: mainly wholewheat, but sometimes fruit bread or foccacia.

Over the year our bread has got better but there is always room for improvement in our quest for the perfect loaf.

Proved dough ready for toppings and baking. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Lunch: greek salad with homemade sourdough foccacia. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The last morsel. Image: Su Leslie, 2016


This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge theme is Quest.

Six Word Saturday: a good day to bake bread

Sourdough foccacia; looks like a bought one!

Sourdough foccacia. My first attempt at a new recipe, from The Bread and Butter Project Cookbook (1). Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

The outlook is ... for more baking. Screenshot from MetService NZ.

The outlook is … for more baking. Screenshot from MetService NZ.


(1) The Bread and Butter Project was created by the Bourke Street Bakery, Sydney, Australia. It is a social enterpries providing baker training and employment pathways for communities in need.


Travel theme: fragrant

Who could resist the fragrance of chocolate chip cookies? Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Who could resist the fragrance of chocolate chip cookies? Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Really, what says “home” like the fragrance of baking?

When the boy-child was little, baking was a big part of what we did together. Mainly we made Anzac or hokey pokey biscuits and I still associate the slightly caramel-y smell of melting butter and golden syrup with our afternoons together.

These days I don’t bake much, so the occasional banana loaf or ginger slice that is produced gets eaten with gratitude and much gusto.

Of course the surest path to sensory overload is to visit a food market. Borough Market in London almost overwhelmed me when I was there recently.

Perhaps it's cheating being able to see the sign, but I feel I can smell the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and fresh coriander of this fragrant Thai dish. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Perhaps it’s cheating being able to see the sign, but I feel I can smell the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and fresh coriander of this fragrant Thai dish. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

P.J. O’ Rourke said that “fish is the only food that is considered spoiled once it smells like what it is”, and so it’s probably not a typical choice for a post about fragrance.

Snapper from the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Snapper from the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

But last weekend the Big T went out fishing with some friends and came home with a chiller full of snapper. They were so fresh, the first way we thought of to eat them was as sashimi. It took us most of the day to convert those beautiful fish into food; making stock, ceviche, smoking fillets and finally preparing the sashimi.

Fish Stock 101. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Fish Stock 101. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

We felt that by trying to use as much of the fish as possible (our cats had the flesh left on bones after the stock-making process), and by not shying away from the processes of turning animals into food, we were at least being honest with ourselves about where our food comes from.

And how does this relate to fragrance? Well the fish themselves did actually have a slight scent of the ocean, and the stock we made was fragrant, but the real fragrance of the day was the combination of manuka smoke, salt, sugar and fish that resulted in the best smoked fish I’ve ever tasted.

Getting ready for smoking. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Getting ready for smoking. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

smoked fish

Fragrant, succulent smoked snapper. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

This post was written as part of Ailsa’s weekly Travel Theme at Where’s my backpack?