Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Nigella's Quadruple Chocolate Loaf

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and yes another chocolate!  Since we've just had Nigella on Aussie TV recently, I thought why not jump on the bandwagon and make one of her cakes?  I've been using her books for years, and Feast is one of my faves.  I think I've made nearly every recipe in this book, including most of the cakes.  All except this one, for some odd reason.  So here we go; let's see how it went.  (Yep, good!)     



ready to bake


ingredients:


For the cake batter:


200g. plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g. cocoa powder

275g. caster sugar

175g. butter, softened (not melted)

2 large eggs

1 tbs vanilla extract 

80mLs sour cream

125mLs boiling water

175g. dark (or milk) chocolate chips


For the syrup:

1 tsp cocoa powder

125mLs water

100g. caster sugar

25g. dark chocolate, chopped/shaved with a knife or veg. peeler


Method:


Grab your food processor and throw in the flour, bicarb, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream

Give it a good whiz till you have a smooth batter

Scrape down the sides and pour the boiling water down the funnel while you give it another whiz

Remove the lid and the blade, and stir in the choc chips

Pour the batter into a lined, large loaf tin - I used a paper loaf-tin liner, while Nigella says to use greased foil or just clingfilm

Place the loaf tin on the baking sheet that you have already put into the oven at 170C

Bake for about an hour

About 45-50 minutes into the bake, make your syrup

Put the cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan

Bring to the boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes

Test the cake with a skewer; don't worry if it's a wee bit damp

Put the tin on a cake rack, and joyfully pierce the loaf all over with the skewer

Now pour the lovely, reduced syrup over the holey cake

Let it get completely cool then take out of the tin

Throw the chocolate shards over the top, and cut into pretty slices


Notes:

In Feast, Nigella uses clingfilm to line the tin, but the online recipe says to use greased alfoil.  Clingfilm is fine in the oven, apparently.  But tin liners are the easiest:=) 

I simmered the syrup for a couple of extra minutes so it was slightly thick

Nigella says to bring everything to room temp. but we have to be a bit careful in sunny QLD 'cos it is hot!  and you may end up with salmonella:=)

Her recipe states to use unsalted butter but I actually like the tang from salted butter - so there, my fine friends :=)

I didn't have any dark choc bars in the pantry, so I used a Flake bar - I know, lazy but still good:=)

My loaf tin is 23 x 12.5 x 6.5 cm. (9 x 5 x 2.5 inches)





gathered ingredients



everything except the choc chips goes into the food processor



yep, I want to eat it with a spoon too!



ready for the oven @170C for about an hour 



let the syrup simmer for about 5 mins. (or 6-7)




tip the chocolatey liquid all over your holey cake 



ready to eat:=)




artwork by sherryspickings

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Than Nuong Vietnamese Restaurant And Bar - Review

Vietnam is quite the trendy place to visit these days, but since I'm not heading there in the foreseeable future, it was pleasant to have an invitation to dine here at Than Nuong (meaning Charcoal) recently.  I chivvied Mr P. and Princess Pia into coming with me, not that it took much persuasion.  Princess Pia has travelled there in recent times, so was happy to check this restaurant out.  Mr P. of course always loves a good nosh-up (plus he was the designated driver.)  




exterior

It was a chilly night, but there were a fair few diners regardless.  And even though it is on a busy road, the atmosphere was warm and inviting.  Menus were handed out, and water brought out promptly.  




loved the pretty lights on the tables

I can never go past a fairy light, and these were so pretty in the glass jar.

Princess Pia had a nice glass of Heirloom Coonawarra Cabernet $12


Princess Pia was very taken with this red wine.  She loved it, and said it was delicious.  Yep, I tried a sip even though not a red wine drinker - pretty darn tasty.  Hubby enjoyed his soft drink (bringing back the childhood memories.)



sarsaparilla for Mr P.


I had a glass of La Maschera Rosé ($8).  Oops, no photo.  It went well with the food, as it is a light wine, and doesn't clash with the spicy flavours of the food.   




veg. spring rolls $9.20 for 4


Mr P. was very enamoured of these rolls.  He said they were the best he'd ever had.  Very fresh and zingy with the herbs and the chilli sauce.  Crispy, golden casing and a tasty filling.  I had a bite and liked them too; perhaps not as much as he did, but they were good.




soft-shell crab $11.70


This was a delicious plate of crispy, deep fried, tempura-battered crab.  Silly me, I hadn't realised how large this entrée plate would be.  Neither Princess Pia nor Mr P. eat crab so I had to eat it all by myself!  I think the Princess was a wee bit horrified about eating it shells and all, especially the legs:=).  She bravely tried a bit - "without legs."  This dish had great flavours and textures, and was a generous size - great value for money.    




Hoi An Pho $18.80


Both the P's chose pho for their mains.  Hubby had the house special in a medium size (still gigantic), while the Princess had a medium-sized rare beef pho ($17.60).  She loved it!  Well, they both did.  The Princess said it tasted as good, if not better than the ones she had had in Vietnam.  Mr P. being a pho virgin, thought it was fabulous.  His dish had beef brisket and the shredded beef.  It may not have been very photogenic (he said), but it tasted "gorgeous, tender and spicy."  They loved the spicy scent of star anise.  The owner told us that the beef broth is cooked for eight hours, giving it a wonderful depth of flavour. 
    



pho accompaniments

Mr P. said the broth had such depth of flavour, that when you added the herbs and sprouts and the sauce, "it just exploded in your mouth.  And you couldn't stop eating."



lemongrass chicken with vermicelli noodles $22.40 

You can choose vermicelli noodles or rice or rice paper with your mains.  I chose the fine noodles, which come out like an incredibly thin pancake.  The peanuts and fresh herbs added a lovely bit of texture and zingy flavour to this dish.  




with chilli sauce accompaniment

I enjoyed adding a fair whack of the chilli sauce to my chicken.  This dish was a leetle bit bland for my tastes, but very tender.  I found it just a bit limp, sadly.  I was expecting a crisp coating on the chicken, but that's my misconception really.




a sampler of desserts to share

Not sure what these desserts were.  Clearly there is red dragonfruit, which was pretty and refreshing.  The tart on the left had a condensed milk and passionfruit filling I think, which I really liked.  The pastry crust was very hard, and not easy to cut with our spoons.  The soil/crumb had a wonderful taste, though I'm not sure what it was - pistachio maybe?  The latticed pie on the right had a raspberry and perhaps coconut filling.  We all enjoyed a sweet treat after our mains.  

We had an enjoyable (and tasty) night courtesy of the friendly owner, who sat and chatted to us about life and restaurants and Vietnam.


The Pickings' Verdict: 8.5/10

Great flavours, friendly service, good atmosphere, generous servings.


(Sherry's Pickings was invited to try out this restaurant.  All opinions remain my own.)




come inside folks


Open till late Tuesday to Sunday.  They also do deliveries via Uber Eats and Deliveroo.


Ph: 07 3036 2630

Shop 5/159 Logan Rd., Woolloongabba 4102



Than Nuong Charcoal Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday, 1 June 2018

In My Kitchen - June 2018

Well June, you came hurtling down the calendar mighty fast, didn't you?  Winter is calling, and it's finally getting a bit cool here in sunny Brisbane.  Glorious weather, sunny days, bright blue skies and crisp nights head our way.  Or you can get rainy skies, like today (as I write).  Either way, it's nice to enjoy cooler temperatures, and a humidity level under 70% :=) 




artwork by sherry's pickings 


So here we go again, folks.  I'll just get the housekeeping out of the way first.  As you know, there has been a change to Data Protection laws in the EU, which started on 25 May.  So if you have a blog or website that is read by anyone in the EU, you have to comply with their rules.  My blog (and yours) now has to have a new warning/notification come up about cookies and so on.  And depending on where you are in the world, you will see this, or not.  Hilariously, I got an email from Google telling me they had put up the notice for me - except I can't see it 'cos I'm not in the EU.  I had to ask an English friend to check it for me.  Yep Aok.

Phew, now that's out of the way, let's look at some new bits and bobs in my kitchen:



just a few goodies


For some reason, it's really hard to get caperberries these days at the supermarket, so I ordered them from an online provisions store.  Plus a couple of other delicious goodies, as you can see.  I just can't stop opening the fridge and sneaking a caperberry or two.



little red jug

This cute little jug was a gift from my cousin.  She knows how I love a jug.  Oops, please ignore the dust.  



some more olive oil to keep me going 

I love to have different kinds of olive oil in my pantry, so here we have hojiblanca, which means white leaf.  This is a Spanish cultivar, which has aromas of cut grass and artichokes, apparently.  I haven't opened it yet, so I can't confirm one way or the other.



my Gromit tea towel


Any Wallace and Gromit fans out there?  I am, so I had to get this cute tea towel.  Oh, and of course Gromit himself.  He is actually much bigger than this photo suggests.  He is currently acting as The Kitchen God, overseeing my culinary efforts.  You know, that Chinese/Vietnamese domestic god who protects the hearth and family.  Though Gromit is not of the pertinent ethnicity, his doggy protection is most welcome:=)



have a guess?


Yes you're right.  These are paper loaf tin liners.  I was so happy to find these in a local appliance store.  I have a thing about lining baking tins, so this is a relief.  Just butter the tin, and pop this in!



Martin Boyd Pottery ramekins, filled with lemon cream 


For those not familiar with the Boyd name - they were a well-known Australian family of artists, sculptors and potters, though Martin was actually a writer.  Apparently these ramekins were very popular in the 1950s, when nearly a million were made.  They come in a huge range of beautiful colours.  I love the design, and the way the interior colours are different to the exteriors.  I have been going a bit crazy making lemon creams, and chocolate pots in these little beauties.



our new one burner hotplate, with the grill pan in the background 


I know, this is kind of weird to show you, but we are so pleased with it.  I really don't like frying, and I hate to have grease flying about the kitchen, so we bought this!  Mr P. takes it out to the deck and happily cooks away on his grill pan.  Et voilà, you throw away the brown paper with all the grease on it.


That's it for this month from me.  Happily waiting to hear from you, my friends.  By the by, I have decided to change the end date for IMK this month.  I know, I know, I'd only just changed it last month.  But - as the Millennials say - epic fail :=)  We actually had less participants, even with more time.  Now the end date is 5pm on the 13th of the month.  Subject to change at a later date - tee hee.
   

Once again, here are your options for adding your lovely IMK posts.  Oops, a wee bit more housekeeping.  Inlinkz, the linking tool I use for IMK has updated recently.  So in order to add your posts (i.e. if you prefer that I do it), I must have your email address.  Inlinkz demands one!  I used to be able to leave it blank, but no more.  I am happy to do this for you, but just let me know and leave your email address too.


1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found on the sidebar of this page, under Add your IMK link
2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to the linky list below
3. Email me: sherrym1au@gmail.com, with your link or any queries about the link process
 



Ed: Still having problems with my blog and comments and the link-up folks.  Sorry about that.  It seems the only way you can see all the links is to hit on the line below where it says "an inlinkz link-up."   This brings up all the links.  Hopefully I can fix this all up soon.  Very frustrating atm!  Cheers sherry

     
    An InLinkz Link-up
   



                      
Sherrys Pickings

Friday, 25 May 2018

Crispy Skin Salmon With Green Pea Mash

I love salmon.  Who doesn't?  Actually we have a friend who doesn't eat fish at all.  I think it's the smell she doesn't like, or maybe the thought of choking on a fish bone like the Queen Mother.  And of course there are always the vego types who don't eat it.  But in this house, we love it and eat fish at least once a week.  

I asked Mr P. if he has any funny fish stories.  He said no, sadly.  Except to remind me of Monty Python's fish-slapping dance.  (Check it out on YouTube.)  And my fave saying when I'm cross - about slapping someone across the head with a wet fish.  Oh yes, and I remembered a sandwich board sign we once saw in Western Australia: Shark and Chips!  I know down south they like to eat gummy shark, but it's quite rare here in Queensland.  It just seemed so hilariously forthright.   




By Sara (from the Keep Calm O'Matic UK website)



We have here another of Mel's 12 week challenge dishes for you to try.  Delicious crispy skin, beautiful tender fish, and a really tasty green pea mash.  Slapping with a wet fish entirely optional, but highly recommended when feeling cross :=)   



Serves 4:


ingredients:


a portion of salmon, skin on, per person - about 200g. each

Salt and pepper, to taste

5 mLs (1 tsp) veg oil - I used olive oil


for the mash:

2 cups (290g.) frozen baby peas

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

about 220 mLs stock (use chicken or veg.)

1 tsp lemon or lime zest

80 mLs cream

salt and pepper, to taste

Lime or lemon-pressed olive oil to serve (optional)

Serve with grilled vegetables or a salad


Method:


Place all the ingredients for the mash in a medium saucepan

Boil on a medium heat for about 15 minutes

Take it off the heat and blend with a stick blender or a masher

Check for seasoning (salt + pepper), and add more stock if you like a thinner consistency

Serve with the golden, tender salmon and of course, the crispy skin

And give the mash and the fish a good splash of the lime oil, if you feel so inclined


Method for the salmon:


Get your frypan/grill pan really really hot!

Tip in the veg oil and get it hot

Season the fish with salt and pepper, flesh-side first

Now put in the fish flesh-side down (not the skin) and let it brown

Give it a jiggle with your tongs to check it isn't sticking

Now put it skin side down (season this side too) and let it cook for a minute or 2

Take off the skin with the tongs - don't worry if it falls apart, mine did!

Put it back in the pan, with the newly-skinned side face down

Cook till the degree of done-ness you like

Take the fish out of the pan, turn the heat down a bit and put the skin back in

Let it cook till crispy and golden 

Smear the pea mash over the plate (in a charmingly artistic way) and add the fish to each plate, with some of the crispy skin

Add the grilled veg or salad and a splash of citrus oil 



Notes:


Mel suggests using 150-250 mLs of stock; your choice of consistency - I used 225 mLs

Use fish other than salmon, if you feel inclined that way




gather your ingredients



throw the mash ingredients in the pot, ready for boiling 



fish in the pan, skin-side up

Mr P. is the household rice and pasta-maker; also the household griller and fryer-man, so this was his job :=)  Well, I did the skin.  And in fact, I jiggled the salmon and flipped it.  So maybe I was the fish lady, after all.  But he did the grilled veg., for sure.




see, here he is, grilling the capsicum out on the back deck in the cold:) 



doesn't that look delectable?



delish fish and skin and grilled veg.
 

This was a delicious dinner, even though it took us a while to get used to our new grill pan.  I am not a fryer, nor a griller woman.  I tend to bake just about everything.  Mr P. does any frying necessary, and as I can't take the smell or the mess, he does it out on the back deck!  Even in winter, or on a cold Autumn night.  Yay for Mr P.  And thanks Mel for another great recipe. 



Friday, 18 May 2018

Iron Pan Japanese Kitchen - Review

I love Japanese food and I adore sushi, but don't expect to combine those 2 loves here at Iron Pan.  They do curries, and salads and fried chicken but not sushi.  Just so we're all clear:)  No, no, hold your horses.  Update: as of 11 May, they now make sushi!  



cute sign


Mr P. and I set off for a quick lunch at this local restaurant recently.  It is a casual space, in a tiny shopping precinct, but with a large outdoor dining area.  The young lady serving was very charming and helpful.  Service was prompt and pleasant.  Mr P. chose Mapo Tofu, a milder, Japanese version of a Szechuan dish which is originally very hot and spicy.  This has lots of tofu and vegetables in a lightly spicy sauce.
            



Mapo Tofu $14

Hubby enjoyed this vegetarian dish.  The green beans were crunchy, just the way we both like them.  He loved the sauce on the tofu; the corn was fresh and sweet, the mushrooms flavoursome, and the pumpkin was deliciously sweet and roasted.  I know this dish looks a bit strange and quirky, but Mr P. was fond of it.  Kind of an odd mix to go with tofu, but everything tasted fine.  




chicken karaage salad $12

I chose the chicken karaage salad, served with corn, tomato, leaves, cucumber and red onion.  Tasty and fresh, you could probably call it healthy:=)  Here we have succulent, battered pieces of fried chicken, served on a fresh salad, including that sweet, fresh corn.  This is great value, and perfect for a light lunch.




beer battered chips $7


The chips were crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.  You can't go wrong when ordering these.  They were also extraordinarily long!  It almost made us laugh, thinking of those incredibly long potatoes growing somewhere.  So all up, a tasty, cheap and cheerful lunch.  But wait, there's more...


Feeling lazy one night, we decided to get the ubiquitous Uber Eats to bring us takeaway from Iron Pan.  (How many Uber Eats riders can there be in one city on a given night? Answer: many.)  Not all the menu is available for delivery but you can get fried chicken and burgers and salad and desserts, which we did:=)



salad $5/beer battered chips $7

Nice fresh salad, and you know the chips are good. 



crispy chicken karaage burger $18/roast veg. curry $14  


Not much to say here.  The burger was fine, though why the soft buns?  Man, I like real buns, hard, manly buns...Ooh ooh never mind all that.  Here we have lettuce, cheese, tomato, fried chicken on a bun - yay!  Perhaps some pickles or salad would have been a nice addition though.  Hubby liked his mild curry, and the odd boiled egg.  There was rather a lot of rice, compared to sauce...


 
tiramisu $7/chocolate fondant $7



I know, not very Japanese but delicious.  Soft and creamy tiramisu; chocolatey, gooey fondant.  Yum.


And then there was dinner - a few weeks later, we went out for a mid-week meal à deux.  We started with chicken gyoza, which were fine.  You can't go past a cute little dumpling, dipped in soy sauce.  But we had to fight over the last one.  I wish servings were made to suit the table.  Anyways, a minor gripe.
  



chicken gyoza $10
     

I chose the prawn omelette rice for my main.  This was a very filling meal, and I asked to take home a doggie bag, which they happily supplied.  In fact, the waitress said to me she had been very worried that I hadn't liked it!  Very sweet of her.




prawn omelette rice $18

This was filling and tasty.  The thin omelette surrounds a large amount of rice, in a cute package.  I enjoyed the roast pumpkin, and the (slightly too) crunchy green beans.  The fresh corn was a sweet pop in the mouth.  My doggie bag gave me a great lunch the next day.  



teri burger $15

Mr P. was a little disappointed with his burger.  He felt it needed something extra, rather than just lettuce and cheese.  He liked the tangy, Asian-inspired sauce on the pattie, but would have liked tomato or pickles, or something to give it a bit more pizazz.  The meat pattie was excellent; the burger not too sweet (as they often tend to be these days).  The whole dish was very plain, as you can see.  Chips were great, he said; crispy outside and soft inside.




ginger beer $4.50 for him/prosecco $10 for moi
     
All up, we had a tasty, casual dinner, at a great price.  What Iron Pan lacks in ambience, it makes up for with a great value, tasty meal.  And good service.  (Would love to see a bit of Japanese decoration here.  Or maybe that's too kitsch?)  Nevertheless, we will be back.




heaps of info in this one little pic:)



a lunchtime shot of the terrace 


Ph: 07 3856 5656
Shop 6/100 Days Rd., Grange



Iron Pan Japanese Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato