Thursday, 19 September 2019

Burghul/Bulgur Salad With Blueberries And Lemons

Burghul, bulgur or bourghoul?  Depends whether you're Turkish or Persian or Lebanese.  Whatever you call it, it's been around for a long time, and is still a popular grain in many cultures.  I remember as a young, greenie, vego Uni. student eating a lot of this stuff!  Along with other weird and wonderful things; how could I forget buckwheat porridge, which looked like brown glue and tasted just the same? :-)  Or endless soy beans and seaweed, and yoghurt and potatoes (not together).  Ah, the memories...  

fresh and zingy

Here we have a recipe from plum gorgeous, by Romney Steele, an American artist, writer and cook.  She spent a year living in a mountaintop orchard, which inspired the seasonal, fruity recipes in her book.  Since we're having very warm weather already (it's only the second week of Spring!), a fruit-laden salad appealed to me.  This book has lovely photos, and over sixty homey recipes, using simple and fresh ingredients.  The methods are (mostly) uncomplicated, the recipes full of flavour; this is a book to appeal to many a home cook.

Serves 4-6:


160g. (1 cup) burghul wheat

a large pinch of salt - maybe 1/8 of a tsp?

240 mLs (1 scant cup) boiling water or vegetable stock

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

130g. (3/4 cup) of fresh corn kernels 

1 Continental cucumber, diced

150g. (1 cup) fresh blueberries

40g. (1/4 cup dried blueberries), softened in just-boiled water for five minutes

50g. (1/3 cup) pine nuts, lightly toasted in a small, dry frypan

1 bunch parsley or fresh coriander leaves, chopped

handful of fresh mint or chives, chopped finely

3-4 tbs lemon juice

2-3 pieces of preserved lemon, chopped finely - just the skin, flesh discarded

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste - maybe 1/2 tsp

black pepper to taste - a dozen grinds of the mill perhaps?


Place the burghul and salt in a medium bowl

Pour the boiling water over, stir, cover and let sit for 15-20 minutes

Then drain any excess liquid, and fluff up with a fork

While you wait for the burghul to 'cook', mix the onion, corn, cucumber, blueberries, pine nuts and herbs in a large mixing bowl

Now stir in the burghul, and the amount of lemon juice you fancy

Then in go the preserved lemon and olive oil

Season with salt and pepper

Adjust the lemon juice, salt and pepper to your taste

If you fancy, serve with a protein like chicken or fish


Try quinoa or couscous if you don't have burghul

Blanch the corn kernels for a few minutes then refresh under cold water if you like your corn a little less crunchy

Use frozen corn kernels if you can't be bothered taking them off a cob - but you'll need to sit them in boiling water for a few minutes to defrost them

If you prefer, choose two small cucumbers of whatever sort you fancy

Use a different dried fruit if you don't have blueberries - cranberries perhaps?

This is a great side, but you could eat it happily as a main

I served this with baked buttermilk panko chicken

ingredients gathered

looks delicious already

tossed and ready to eat

panko chicken to go with ...

knobs of panko chicken on top of this fruity salad = yum!

To be honest, Mr P. and I prefer couscous so when I make it next time, that's what I'll use.  I bought the burghul from a bulk store; maybe it had been sitting in its plastic (!?!) tub for way too long :-)  Anyways, this was a really tasty and fresh salad, and you could feel it doing you good as you masticated.  And I felt very virtuous using up some frozen buttermilk that was lurking in the depths of the freezer.  A delicious and surprisingly hearty dish, my friends.

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday, 13 September 2019

Sticky Midnight Gingerbread

I love the name of this: midnight gingerbread.  Sounds a bit magical to me.  And it certainly tastes a bit magical too.  This is a recipe from Ruby Tandoh's book Flavour Eat What You Love.  Now you know I love Ruby, my friends, so I was really hoping this would be a great recipe and happily it is.  Not too sweet, wonderfully spicy, moist and delicious.  This would be great to take to a big gathering of friends and/or family.  Or give some away to your neighbours, as I did:-)

be generous with the icing sugar

Serves 12, or many if cut into small slices:


225g. butter

225g. black treacle

225g. soft dark brown sugar

thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

3 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork

375g. plain flour

4 tbs cocoa powder

2 tbs ground ginger

4½ tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

375 mLs strong black tea, still hot

icing sugar, to dust the top


Line the bottom of a 20cm X 30cm X 3cm slice tray with baking paper, and lightly butter the sides

Melt the butter and treacle in a small saucepan, then tip into a large mixing bowl

Now stir in the brown sugar and grated ginger

Whisk in the eggs, then add the flour, cocoa, ground ginger, baking powder and salt and give it a really good whisking till smooth

Pour in the hot tea, and beat in really well

Whack the batter straight into the baking tin and into the oven @ 180C for 35-45 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake (Ruby says "more or less clean")

Let it cool right down, then swaddle like a baby in clingfilm and a tea-towel and put it away somewhere safe

And WAIT for 48 hours!

Then toss icing sugar very generously all over it, and slice it up

Store in an airtight container for up to a week


After peeling the ginger, I ended up with about 35g., which was proclaimed "the perfect amount" by our houseguest Ms. MA

ingredients gathered

dry ingredients ready for whisking in 

strong hot black tea

luscious black treacle

whisk everything together till you get a smooth batter

after baking for close to 45 mins @180C

ready to slice up - yep I ate that wee corner already:-)

icing sugar strewn over, and ready to eat and/or gift 

There was a lot of cake, and only me and Mr P. to eat it, so I cut it up and gave heaps away.  We still had some a week later, and it was still in tip-top condition.  Of course, I kept it in an airtight container.  This really is a lovely, moist cake with a lovely flavour.  Good on ya' Ruby!

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Pochito Sydney - Review

Pochito - mmm, what does it mean?  According to them, it's when you're in a happy/drowsy state after a satisfying meal.  Oddly, there is no such word when you Google it, nor does it exist in my super-huge Spanish/English dictionary that I've had since Uni days:-)  Maybe it's a secret Chilean word...

a gorgeous day in Sydney

We ended up here for lunch recently, when visiting Sydney for a book launch.  (Yep, the one which included my short story.)  Our dear friend Ms. TW picked us up from the airport, and swept us away for a Chilean street food lunch.  As you can see, they specialise in empanadas and coffee.  We were in desperate need for food, as they don't feed you on planes anymore.  Remember the good old days when they actually gave you a proper lunch or dinner?  Nah, it's pretty dim in my mind too.

Mr P. heading in with determination

Mr P. on the hunt for food, glorious food - tra la la, as the song goes.  He loves his carbs so empanadas were a must; all that glorious housemade pastry to come...  

pork and more pork:-) 

So yep there's lots of pork here and if you don't like pork, go for chorizo - no hang on, that's ... pork.  As you can see, pork is all the go here.  Now as some astute readers know, I am not a pork fan, so I stuck to the empanadas.  Mr P. chose them too, while Ms. TW (The Writer) went for the Bacán.

Bacán $10

This is grilled chorizo on a roll, with slaw and a coriander salsa.  Ms. TW especially loved the salsa, coriander being a fave herb.  She enjoyed the spicy, tangy sausage, and the fresh slaw.  She felt this was a great combo of flavours and textures.

Mr P. awaiting his lunch
Mr P. looks very anxious and expectant here, doesn't he?  Not to worry; he was soon indulging his fetish for carbs (tee hee).

garlic chilli cheese and prawn empanada $7

This was deliciously cheesy, though I wouldn't have minded a bit more prawn and garlic.  But for such a good price, you really can't complain.  I wolfed this down, so sadly there are no photos of the interior.  The friendly waitress cum part-owner told us that all the pastry is house-made, and all the empanadas are handmade.  

spinach and ricotta $5

You're now going to be spammed with photos of anonymous pastries, my friends :-)  'Cos we ate 'em before I could photograph them.  Mr P. said this was the spinach model, so we have to trust him, don't we?  The verdict: 'pretty good, and as expected.'  And 'should have tipped the hot sauce over it.'  Why did we not copy that table of Spanish-speaking young ladies next to us, and make use of the hot sauce?  Next time, readers, next time. 

chicken and mushroom $6

Mr P. tells me this was the chicken and mushroom version, which he loved.  He said it had a fabulous, herby, white sauce, good pastry (told ya!), and was just a great combo.  Our friendly waitress who is also the part-owner Paulina, told him this was her grandmother's recipe.  Or maybe her mother's?  Oh Mr P., keep your head straight.

traditional beef $6
Mr P. and myself had one of these each, which were not bad.  I think we both found the filling a bit bland though.  Once again, I say to myself, 'hot sauce, girlie, hot sauce.  Why didn't you use the hot sauce?'  

interior of the beef version

I managed to get a shot inside this one:-)  You can see the boiled egg and olives here.  

alfajor $4

Delicious, delightful, dulce de leche shortbread sandwiches - yep, I had to try this.  And it was a delight - sweet, caramel-y, coconutty deliciousness, with a tender, crumbly shortbread.  A sweet treat indeed.

Colombian coffee $3.50

Ms TW let me try her coffee; this was a really great cuppa, so smooth and flavourful.  One of the best coffees I've had in a while, in fact.  Ms TW was also suitably impressed with it.  Just so smooth and strong - like our men?:-)

Berlines with caramel $5

These are yeasty German doughnuts popular in Chile, and apparently so-called due to the large German influence from German immigrants to Chile during the latter half of the 19th century.  I just know they are delicious, my friends.  Look at all that squidgy caramel!

Berlines with vanilla bean custard $5

And here we have the vanilla version.  See the lovely black specks of real vanilla?  What could be nicer?  Yep, that's right - nothing:)

hot sauce!

And here we have the hot sauce.  We really should have copied those girls:-)  They were sprinkling it on their food with great gusto and abandon.  As were the many other happy customers.

Pochito is a friendly, homey café, with food that is from the heart of the owners Paulina and her mum Patricia.  And clearly it is popular with the Spanish-speaking locals, and others too.  Worth a drop-in after a lunchless plane flight, for sure. 

1021 Botany Road, Mascot 2020
Ph: 0412 603 100

Open Wed to Sunday till 3 pm (4pm on Saturday)

Pochito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, 1 September 2019

In My Kitchen - September 2019

It's September, it's Spring and they've had a bit of rain out west.  Hip hip hooray!  The locals had started to buy in water as the dams are nearly empty, so even a small amount of rain is welcome.  Fresh green leaves are appearing, and flowers will be blooming.  It's a beautiful time of year here in sunny Queensland before it gets too hot.

August is a blaah month, and not much happened here in Pickings Land.  Mr P. and I both got mild colds, at separate times.  We travelled to Sydney for a weekend; we bunkered down and did ... not much.  But there was food, and there was cooking.  Always a comfort, even if it's still on the cruddy old oven.  The new one has taken up permanent residence in the dining room, while we wait and wait for the stove men to come do their thing(s)...  

young butcher bird 

Just for a bit of a change, I am showing you a juvenile butcher bird sitting on our back deck, waiting for some food.  S/He still has baby feathers, so not quite as black as they will become.  S/He comes to the kitchen window, and begs me for food.  Such a sweetie, even though as adults they eat other birds' eggs!  I love her whiskers though:-)

Come and join in everyone, for this month's In My Kitchen.  All welcome, new and old.  We love to see your global kitchens, and it's such fun to see what's happening in the 'other' hemisphere.  You know who you are:-)

In my kitchen:

that spread is a bit ... odd
I loved the nuts, but the spread is kinda weird; not sweet at all so probably a bit too healthy for me.  It will go in smoothies for breakfast.  Macadamias originated here in Australia sixty million years ago, and have been a staple food item for the indigenous peoples for a very long time.  So delicious!

a sweet little tumbler from Magnolia Mountain

I have several items from Magnolia Mountain, but this one had to join the collection.  They make beautiful things!

I won these!

It was Love Your Bookshop Day recently, and my fave indie store Avid Reader had a cake-off, as they do each year.  So I baked, and I won the above.  I'm not sure what category I won, as they all seemed to be taken already:-)  (I love the zero f**ks tea towel.)  


This is Edchup, named after Ed Sheeran the singer.  See the cute little tomato face with his spectacles?  Why?  Who knows?  Tastes the same as good old ketchup.

as per the labels

We go through a fair whack of olive oil in this house, and I love pearl barley.  It reminds me of my childhood; mum used to make a hearty soup with it.  I guess it fed lots of hungry children cheaply.  Oh, and there's a tea towel too.  You know I can never have enough of these in my linen cupboard:-)

I love Ruth

I love Ruth, and this is another fascinating read; this time about her tenure as editor of Gourmet magazine.  I sped through this one in a few hours.

one delicious quiche

This quiche is made to Ruth's recipe; it always works!  So, not only is she a good writer, but she's also a great cook.  And I've loved other recipes of hers too - like that ginger bundt cake.  Mm, must make it again.

the boastie bit

Okay folks, here is where I do some boasting.  I've had a story published in this anthology.  That's why we were in Sydney on the weekend - for the launch.  I even got to sign some books.  It was very exciting, I have to tell you.  Not food related, but I had to spill the beans.  It's very exciting to see your name in print, I have to say.  Well, that's it for another month.  Come one, come all, fellow foodies; join in the IMK fun for September.  Looking forward to all your wondrous posts.  Cheers!

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Sherrys Pickings

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Halloumi Salad With Caper Dressing

Regular readers will know I love quaint cooking books; community and school cookbooks, or just vintage and weird:-)  I bought a cute little book from a High School up the coast a while back, full of homely, family recipes.  There are some fab family dishes here from desserts to pies to bakes.  The book is divided into five sections: bakery/entrées and dips/soups and salads/mains, and desserts.  I like the way they start with Bakery, which has lots of delicious sounding cakes and tarts.  These clever folk have their priorities right:-)  

This book even has a few surprises like a rabbit dish, paella, goulash, and maple syrup glazed lamb shanks.  The photos are attractive, and the book is well set out with 2 recipes to a page.  Mr P. and I love going to Maleny, a hinterland town that has a lot of greenie/hippie type inhabitants.  This lovely little cookbook reflects the diversity of the town.  My fave story of staying in Maleny for the weekend is being bailed up and bitten by a couple of mad donkeys.  Yes I do mean the ones with long ears and big teeth:-)  One of them had a big nibble of my arm!  I hope I was tasty...      

grill your veg. and halloumi

This recipe is provided by Claire Michell, one of the Maleny High students.  Simple but delicious.  

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side:


caper dressing

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tbs white vinegar

1 tbs capers 

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp mustard - grain or Dijon

pinch of dried oregano

sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste - maybe 1/8 tsp of each?

Halloumi salad

250g. (8 oz) halloumi cheese

3 zucchini

1 large potato, sliced thickly, parboiled or microwaved

400g. (14 oz) tin or jar of artichoke hearts, drained

1 red capsicum, cut into 4-6 pieces (optional)

1 lemon

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil


Place the dressing ingredients into a glass jar with a lid

Shake very well, and let it commingle for at least 30 minutes

Slice the halloumi into 8 pieces

Halve the zucchini lengthways, then cut each half into 3 chunks

Quarter the lemon, and put into a large bowl with the halloumi, zucchini, potato, artichokes, capsicum and olive oil

Toss everything gently to coat in the oil

Put everything on a hot grill plate, and let it become beautifully browned and tender

Pile onto a serving dish, and pour the dressing (after a quick shake) over all the delicious veg. and cheese


You could use different vegetables with this:  try eggplant. mushrooms, broccolini or asparagus

Mr P. microwaved the potato for three minutes before grilling

Try other herbs in the dressing, like thyme or parsley

Mr P. suggests tzatziki would go well with this, in place of the vinaigrette

dressing ready for a good shaking:-)

shake shake shake ... la la la ...

veg. and halloumi chopped up and ready for the olive oil  

Mr P. microwaved then grilled the potato slices 

toss everything in the olive oil (yeah ok, so I like a glove)

throw the veg on the grill plate

toss gently with the vinaigrette

and eat!

such a cute book, filled with family-friendly recipes 

artwork © Sherry's Pickings