Sunday, 8 December 2019

Quinoa, Chicken And Pineapple Salad

Quinoa - hard to say, and sometimes a bit hard to get right.  But it has nine essential amino acids, which is a good thing apparently:-)  So, eat it, eat it... as a certain dead pop singer may have almost said.  I'll tell you a secret though - Mr P. doesn't like quinoa!  There, you've heard it here first, so it may be quinoa out and couscous in.  We both like couscous, so this could easily be swapped out (is that the expression?), or you could use burghul/bulgur.

great for a hot summer's night

Do you know Lorraine Pascale, my friends?  I've been following her on Instagram for years.  She was a model, then became a TV cook who wrote cookbooks, and has done another twisty-turn in her life and become a life coach.  I got the idea for this recipe from a post of hers some time ago.  I've whacked in a few extras, as hers was a very simple dish.  But I like a bit of foodie bling - don't you? :-)  So treat this dish as a guideline, and put in the things that you enjoy eating.

Serves 4-6:


155g. (1 cup minus a couple of tablespoons) uncooked quinoa

500 mLs (2 cups) chicken stock or just-boiled water

250g. (8 oz) cooked chicken - grab a roast chook from the supermarket, or poach a couple of breasts

50g. (1/3 cup) sultanas or raisins

50g. (3/8 cup) pinenuts, toasted

80g. (a healthy half cup) cashews, toasted

100g. (3.5 oz) bocconcini or fetta, chopped

120g. (a chubby 4 oz) of fresh pineapple (out of a tin if you can't be bothered), chopped into chunks

1-2 red jalapeño chillies, sliced finely

chopped herbs - (I used parsley, chives and basil) - lots! or not, as you choose

juice of one lemon (2-3 tbs)

salt and pepper - half to one tsp sea salt; freshly ground pepper as you prefer - we like lots

1 tbs red wine vinegar

3-4 tbs olive oil or citrus-pressed oil


Place the quinoa and stock/water into a medium saucepan, and give it a good stir

Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and let it bubble away, covered, for about 15 minutes

Take off the heat, put a clean tea-towel over it and let it sit for five minutes

In the meantime, shred or chop up the chicken

Toast your nuts; chop the herbs, and chillies, and pineapple and cheese

Throw everything into a large salad bowl

In go the lemon juice, oil, seasoning and vinegar - aaand ... toss

Gives 4 hearty serves or 6 side serves


Nuts can be put into a small, dry frypan and allowed to toast over a low heat for a few minutes - watch carefully as they will burn all of a sudden, taking you by surprise and leaving you with dead, blackened husks :-(

toast your nuts in a dry pan

quinoa simmered for about 20 mins.

all tossed up and ready to eat

tasty and good for you

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Sunday, 1 December 2019

In My Kitchen - December 2019

I am trying to think of something clever to write here, but all I can say is: Omg!  Christmas is nearly here.  And here we are at the last IMK for 2019.  How the heck did that happen?  I am starting to panic a bit, as we are cooking and taking the turkey to friends for Christmas lunch, then having family for Christmas dinner.  Eeek!

It has been a bit of a roller-coaster this year, with a death in the family, my story being published, and various bits and bobs of life.  Apparently, the stars (and the cards) say there are changes coming, big changes - so we will see what happens in 2020.  The twenties?!  But but - that means flappers, and Prohibition and post-war shenanigans, and ...  Nope, you silly, add on a hundred years!  May the 2020s bring blessings for all of us.

So here for the last time in 2019 - In my kitchen:

Christmas gin pudding and gin

For another year, I have paid my pennies to get one of these delicious puddings.  They actually make the gin by soaking the pudding in the liquid, so you can taste all the wonderful Christmas spices.  Can't wait!  Oh yes, and they use a different artist's artwork for the label each year.  I really like this one.  It's by Tim Summerton - Flame Trees.

home-made mustard

I love to make a big batch of mustard for Mr P. every so often.  Each time it is different, depending on the amount of basil, honey etc that I throw into the food processor.  I think this is one of my best batches, but we will know for sure very soon, once it has matured.

maple syrup
I picked this up at a local coffee shop recently.  Mr P. went to pay for our coffees, and didn't tell me how much this cost.  I asked him a while later, and nearly fell off my unicorn!  He should have just handed over the deeds to the house instead.

smoked salt
I looooove smoked salt.  Sometimes I just open it and sniff it ...  For some reason, my very fave Yakima applewood smoked salt is no longer available in Australia, so I make do with other sorts.  This is pretty good.  I adore the smell, as it reminds me of growing up in the cold mountains of Victoria, where people had woodfires.  I got my sister to smell it a while back, and she startled back with horror.  Funny girl!    

one guess!

Clients of Mr P.'s came back from Italy with this gift for him.  Twenty-one tiny jars of Nutella in one huge glass jar!  Oh my, it must have been hard to shove in a suitcase.  And it weighs a ton.  They must really like him :-)

a Jamie Oliver santoku knife

This is definitely not a plug for Jamie Oliver, but I bought this knife recently as a back-up for when Mr P. is already using our big knife.  This one is cheap and cheerful, but not a bad item to have on my magnetic knife strip:-)  The grip is comfortable, and the blade sharp (for now).  Not a bad buy for $18!

Well, my dear IMK friends, that's it for another year.  Can you believe it?  Nope, me neither.  Please join in for the last time in 2019.  'Twould be wonderful to see you here.  And yes that means you, all of you:-)  Here's how to join in:  

(And I've given you till five minutes before midnight on Friday the 13th to get your post in!  'Cos that's the generous kinda gal I am!)

1. Add via the Add Link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found on the sidebar of this page, under the Add your IMK link

2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to  the list     below.  

3. Email me:, with your link or any    

    queries about the link process 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

In My Kitchen:

Not Quite Nigella

Sherrys Pickings

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Coconut Cake

Regular readers will remember my story of our Nan giving us a fresh coconut every so often as a treat.  Dad would grab the hammer and give it a darn good whack till it broke open.  I bet he loved that bit, after dealing with four young children all day!  (My family were ahead of their time - mum went to work, and dad stayed home.)  So we ate chunks of coconut for days after, chewing, chewing, chewing ...

I found this recipe in a book a while ago; but I can't remember which book!  You can also find it on the Net, using normal milk and without any icing or bling.  So I decided to tweak it a wee bit, and to up the coconutty flavour with coconut cream.  And then of course, chocolate glacé icing popped into my head - you know, Bounty bars and all.  You will need to be a coconut fan, if you make this cake, my friends.  It is indeed a coconutty treat.

my coconutty heart 

Cake ingredients:

90g. (a big 3 oz) shredded/desiccated coconut

150g. (5½ oz) self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder (optional) - if your flour is a wee bit old :-)

165g. (5¾ oz) caster sugar or vanilla sugar

185 mLs (6 fl oz) coconut cream or coconut milk or plain milk

Icing ingredients:

100g. icing sugar/icing mixture

25g. Dutch cocoa or black cocoa powder

50-60 mLs (around 3 tbs) coconut cream - you may need more or less, depending on how runny you like your icing

Bling!! for decoration


Place the coconut, flour, baking powder if using, caster sugar and coconut cream in a batter bowl/medium mixing bowl

Give it a thorough whisking, or use electric beaters like I did 

Butter a 20cm./8 inch cake tin really really well!  I suggest flouring it as well

Slide it into the middle of your pre-heated 180C (350F) oven

Bake for about 40 minutes till a skewer thrust into its heart comes out clean (and it's a pretty golden colour)

Let it sit in the tin for five minutes to cool, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely

Make up the glacé icing by putting the icing sugar and cocoa into a small bowl, add the coconut cream and stir till well combined

Tip/spoon/pour the icing over the cake and cast on your bling, my hearties

ingredients gathered, as Harry Potter might say :-)

ready to whisk

ready for the oven - 40 mins @ 180C

out of the oven

cool on a wire rack

get ready to do some glacé-ing :-)

bling-ed and ready to eat

oozy icing; all dressed up and ready to go

   artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Sardine Butter

Confession time again: as much as I love Ruby and Nigella for their recipes and writing, I also adore Nigel - Slater, that is.  There is just something about his English earnestness (or is that earnest Englishness?) that so appeals to me.  I love his fabulous writing, and some darn good recipes.  Mmm, interesting how the food writers I love are all English!

I saw this recipe (if you can call it that) some years ago in his book Real Fast Food, and it lingered in the back of my mind.  So since my pantry had two tins of sardines lurking, I thought - yep, it's time!  Nigel's 'recipe' consists of mashing together a tin of sardines and an equal amount of butter, plus some lemon juice.  I thought I'd add a bit of extra oomph for the modern age.  So here it is, my version of Nigel's fishy spread.

ingredients gathered

Recipe inspired by Nigel Slater, and improved (tee hee) by me

Makes one (very) scant cup, about 200g.


90g.  (3 oz + 1 tsp) of salted butter, softened

110g. (4 oz) tin of sardines in springwater or olive oil, drained

12-15 chives - more if you like

a big!! handful of curly-leaf parsley - use flat-leaf if you must:-) 

one wedge of preserved lemon, flesh discarded, skin cut into strips

4-5 tsp lemon juice

½ -1 tsp sea salt flakes

lots of freshly-ground black pepper

extra herbs for serving if you wish

add baby capers and preserved lemon strips on top too, if you fancy


Let the butter soften on your kitchen bench

Tip it into your food processor, and give it a quick whizz

Now add the snipped or ripped chives, parsley and preserved lemon strips, and give it a whirl

Then add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and blitz away

Taste it - and add more lemon juice, seasoning and herbs if you wish - I did!

Scrape it out into a jar (or plastic container), cover tightly and keep in the fridge for up to a week

Serve on hot toast with more pepper etc, if you wish


I used wild Scottish sardines in springwater, but you can use the ones in extra-virgin olive oil if you prefer - I ended up with about 70g. of drained sardines

I simply broke up the chives and parsley in my hands before adding to the processor

Can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months

everything goes in the processor

now add the little fishies :-)

and whizz till smooth

scoop into a pretty pot

ready for the fridge (for up to a week)

spread on hot toast

I know it looks like I've put on a major amount here, but it wasn't thaaaat much ... I love the beautiful speckled green colour, too!

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday, 15 November 2019

Outside In Café - Review

"Got some time to check out a new(ish) café?" I asked Mr P. one sunny lunchtime a few weeks ago.  He slammed down his laptop lid, grabbed the car keys, and we hotfooted it out the door.  I'd noticed that a local café had changed its name (well, in April), so we dropped by recently to try out the new incarnation.  It looks much the same as before; it's a bit Tardis-like, as it looks tiny at the front but it kinda goes on and on out the back.  Like most eating places these days, you either get pretty much the usual café suspects, or burgers.  This is 'the usual suspects', not that that's a bad thing:-)  

inside the Tardis:-)

Hubby went for the sweet corn and pumpkin fritters, while I chose potato cakes with smoked salmon and poached eggs.  He drank a white chocolate milkshake, and guess what I had?  Yep my usual - a cappuccino.  My coffee went down well - strong, with some cute artwork on top plus chocolate powder - winner!  Hubby's shake was "nice and cold", said he.  Always a bugbear with him, that the milk is never cold enough, as a good shake should be - but no worries here.   

cappuccino $4

white choc milkshake $6   (love that straw!)

Then came the fritters, and the potato cake (aka The Favourite on the menu).  The hash cake (makes me giggle every time I write that) was a little grainy, nicely herby and crispy-browned on the outside.  I wasn't sure of the overall flavour?  Mr P. thought it may have been blue cheese, but on checking the menu I see it was fetta and chive.  I was expecting something more like a rosti, but it came as a soft-textured mash/hash (as per the menu - my bad).  My eggs were nicely runny (just the way I like 'em); there was zucchini and spinach and a tasty (mustard?) sauce over the top.  All up, a fine and tasty lunch.

'The Favourite' with salmon $18

the actual potato hash cake

sweet corn and pumpkin fritters $18

Hubby loves fritters, and he loves his veg, so this was a winner for him.  He is okay with café fritters being more flour than veg, but I steer clear as I prefer the more veg to less flour ratio.  He was fine with this version, which had lots of crispy bacon, a cherry tomato, some lettuce leaves and a wee mound of smashed avocado.  He isn't much of a bacon eater, so I very happily devoured most of his crispy serve.  (He has just advised me that the fritters were not of the too floury kind.)    

let's do it again!:-)

And then a couple of weeks later ...  "Let's do lunch!", I urged Mr P. on one of his staffless days, so off we trotted to Outside In again.  Like every café these days, you order at the counter, and your food is then brought to your table.  You can grab yourself some water at the water station, and find your own seat.  I sometimes sigh for the good old days of service, but anyway, it is what it is, my friends.  Cappuccino again for me, while the hubster had a strawberry thickshake this time.  (And Mr P. reminded me here that the lady behind the counter did in fact bring us a carafe of water with glasses.)

cappuccino $4

strawberry thickshake $7

He went for the sweet potato cakes special, as per the chalkboard above.  I chose deluxe smashed avo, with beetroot hummus, bacon and fetta.  His dish had a generous amount of sliced avo, with two eggs and the dreaded kale.  Neither of us are fans of this leaf (cowfeed, my friends, cowfeed) but Mr P. said it was not too bad and he scoffed it all down.  The sweet potato cake looked a wee bit over-browned and over-crisped for me, but hubby was happy.  

sweet potato cakes $18

deluxe smashed avo $19.50

I loved the beetroot hummus - a little bit chunky/creamy/earthy and a delightful hot pink; eggs once again perfectly runny, nice and crispy bacon, plus smashed avo and dukkah!  Not sure what sort of bread it came on, but it did the job.  And I think you can say it is a pretty healthy and enjoyable lunch.

a page from the clipboard menu showing some of the healthy choices

They do have a beef burger, and a healthy salad, and a goodie bowl with quinoa so you can indulge in the healthy stuff too, if  you so desire.  You can add extras like smoked salmon, bacon, mushrooms or halloumi to your meals for $4 a pop.  And there's coffees, and frappés, and smoothies (spinach anyone?) and teas galore.  It has bike racks, and room for kids and dogs, so everyone is covered:-)   

(All meals paid for by Mr P. - tee hee - lucky me)

110 Maygar St.,
Windsor 4030 

Ph: 0414 832 146

Hours:  5:30 to 2:30 M to Sat
Sun  5am to 2pm

Outside In Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 8 November 2019

Chocolat Angelique

Confession time - I'm a bit obsessed with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.  I think I've read everything about them and by them!  And I have a large portrait of Virginia on my loungeroom wall.  Mmm, a bit like my obsession with Frida Kahlo...  So it will come as no surprise that I have a book called The Bloomsbury Cookbook, which I reviewed here some time ago.  (I made a savoury omelette from the book then.) 

I was flipping through the book again recently, and this dish caught my eye: a dessert this time.  It's from an unpublished cookery book by Angelica Garnett and her hubby David, a renowned gastronome.  She was the daughter of Vanessa Bell (Virginia's sister) and Duncan Grant, who was at one time the lover of Angelica's husband David.  Confused?  Yep, me too.  I think they all slept with each other at some stage:-)  Oh, and David was waaaay older than her too.  This rich and creamy number is a fair bit like Nigella's chocolate pots in taste and texture, which I make regularly.

so very dark, so very creamy, so very chocolate-y

(You will need a spare 35 minutes or so to make this recipe, though most of it is just making sure it doesn't boil over)

Serves 4:


70g. (2.5oz) of butter

250 mLs full-fat milk + 175 mLs pure cream = 425 mLs (3/4 pint) 

50g. (scant 2 oz) caster sugar/vanilla sugar

90g. (a hefty 3 oz) of dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa), grated or chopped into small pieces

3 tbs of rum - (make it 45-50 mLs)

a handful of pecans and/or macadamias chopped, to serve (optional)

a good big pinch of sea salt flakes, to serve (optional)


Grab a small (though high-sided if possible) saucepan, throw in the butter and melt on a medium heat till it starts to sizzle - you will hear it sizzling away at you :-)

Stir in the milk/cream mixture and the caster sugar, with a wooden spoon (as Angelica instructs)

Now chuck in the grated/chopped chocolate and stir in well

Bring it to the boil on medium heat, then turn it down to low, but make sure it is simmering/bubbling away gently the whole time

Keep a good eye on it!  I nearly had a disaster of the boiling-over kind when I stepped away at the beginning :-)

You will need to stir it every few minutes, for about 25-30 minutes till it has reduced by about half, and stays on the back of your wooden spoon when you run your finger through it

Now stir in the rum, and pour into 4 small cups or ramekins

Into the fridge it goes for at least 6-8 hours, but I firmly recommend overnight, my friends

Sprinkle on the nuts and salt if using, and savour the richness


Try using vanilla sugar, for that extra bit of flavour

I used Lindt chocolate which comes in a thin block, and zapped it in the food processor - so much faster and less messy than chopping or grating

Use any liquor of your choice, and any nut you like

I strongly suggest sprinkling on those sea salt flakes!  It really picks up the flavour, and cuts the richness

I have to confess I cooked my Angelique just a wee bit too long, and it started to go grainy.  It still tasted great, and the next night when we finished them off, it had smoothed out completely

zap the chocolate into small shards

melt the butter; stir in the milk/cream/sugar and chocolate

bubbling away for about half an hour and looking kinda icky :-) 

you end up with about half a litre of smooth chocolate cream 

throw on the nuts and sea salt - winner!

I promise you the sea salt adds such a delightful fillip of flavour to the rich creaminess of this dessert.

the original recipe from the book

I had to do a bit of adaptation here, as the recipe is rather ... minimalist in details:-)  This recipe was invented by Angelica during the Second World War, when butter and sugar were rare commodities, though somehow the Bloomsberries always seemed to be able to procure glorious food and drink.   

artwork © Sherry's Pickings