Friday, 13 July 2018

Cooking Class, Big Birthdays And Blood

What does the average food blogger do on their birthday?  Cook of course!  My oldest (I mean most long-term) friend came up for a mutual birthday visit recently.  Where did we go?  Down to my fave part of the world - yep, you guessed it - Northern Rivers, just over the Queensland border.  And what did we do?  We went to a cooking class with the marvellous Belinda Jeffery.  She always seemed like a lovely person when she was on telly, and she is just as fabulous in person.    




this is what we cooked 

The classes are held in the Federal Hall, next to the old church, now used for occasional weddings and for the general community.  They only allow 12 weddings per year, so that it is really a communal space, rather than a commercial one.  I can proudly say that I donated a wee bit of money to help keep this Hall in the hands of the townspeople a few years ago.   



jalapeño peppers with pancetta


There were 6 of us in the class, all cooking different dishes to make up the whole menu.  Because my mate Lady M is 99% vegan, we got to make the vego dishes.  So not this one clearly:=)  This was delicious, with the salty pancetta, the soft goat's cheese and the hot chillies.




Imam Bayildi


This is eggplant stuffed with a tomato-ey, herby filling.  You slit the outer skin so it looks like pyjamas, apparently.  I have a bit of a blackout about the cooking on this day.  But I'm pretty sure Lady M did most of our share!  I know I seemed to be endlessly chopping garlic for every recipe.  And I can't remember eating this dish either.  Must have been the blood loss:=).  I bet it tasted great, though.



   
almond skordalia


Skordalia is a Greek dip, usually made with potato.  Here we made an almond version, which is fed with lots of olive oil so it becomes a smooth, creamy mayo consistency.  Let's be honest, Lady M made this one too.  But I chopped the garlic!




eggplant, ginger and sesame dip

This was a delicious, smoky dip that went beautifully with the focaccia.  And it looked so pretty with those blissfully blue borage flowers.



caramelised fennel tart

Fennel was in season so it starred in this tart.  Beautifully glossy fennel over a layer of buttery pastry.  And though it looks amazing, it is easy to make - the pastry is whizzed together in the processor, then the veg. is covered with it, and it all goes into the oven in the same pan.



cream poured all over the focaccia

Yep, I know it sounds weird but there was heaps of cream poured all over this beautiful focaccia dough.  It poured over the side, and seemed kinda crazy but oh my, it was soooo delicious.  And yes that's another bloody finger you can see there wrapped in band-aids.  (Not mine.) 




lovely ladies showing off their beautiful baked bread 

Belinda photo-bombed this one:=)  Glorious, fresh focaccia just out of the oven.  Crispy crust with a soft inside.  I'm not a bread lover usually, but this was delicious.




rhubarb with a hazelnut crumble


This looked very pretty in the glass, and I really enjoyed the cardamom yoghurt on top.  Rhubarb? - mmm not so sure I'm a fan, but it was beautifully fresh.



beautiful rustic table


What a lovely day in a perfect setting.  Shame about the bloody finger:)  There were 3 of us who managed to hack away at our fingers in this class.  But I was so impressed with the knife, that I ordered one when I got home.  I know, I'm just a glutton for punishment.



marvellous Mick


This is Mick, who along with Clive, Belinda's husband, help the classes run so smoothly.  I wish I had one of each of them in my kitchen:=)  Dirty dishes whisked away, everything you need laid out for you, a quick bash of the garlic cloves as they pass by...  Sorry Clive, I missed getting your photo.  

I have been to quite a few cooking classes in my time, and this was one of the best.  I loved the organisation and the calm atmosphere.  (I have been to some chaotic ones in the past, so I appreciate the difference.)  I loved that we were instructed with such kindness; and helped by the fellas with such humour and consideration.

How joyful it was to sit down at the end of the day, and eat together.  Three husbands turned up at the end, and they too were included in the fun - and given something lovely to eat!  This class is a real must if you are ever in the area, with a free day.  I've gotta get me to another session :=).




Lady M. working hard

Here she is, turning those eggplants into slitty pyjamas.  Still not sure what pyjamas have to do with stuffed eggplants, but they're meant to look like they're wearing striped pyjamas...  Yep I know, it's a mystery to me too.



many hands make light work

And just because I love this photo, I'm whacking it in at the end of this post.  You can see Belinda's hands along with a couple of the ladies ready to have a go at the dough.  It felt so wonderful under your hands - soft and springy and alive.



a parting gift - Belinda's handmade marmalade 





blood and gore and a sharp knife - artwork by sherryspickings


Friday, 6 July 2018

Medieval Hummus Or Himmas Kassa

I have always loved hummus - the more garlic and lemon juice the merrier.  Oh, and lots of paprika on top.  But here we have something a bit different - no garlic at all!  And still just amazingly delicious.  This is a 14th century Arabic recipe, which I discovered on the blog by Nawal Nasrallah - In My Iraqi Kitchen.  Nawal is an independent Iraqi scholar, who loves cooking and its history and culture.  Nawal calls this the mother of all hummus.  

Chickpeas are a legume like peanuts, and there can be much discussion about whether they are actually good for you, or not.  I err on the side of yes they are bloody good for you :=)  And so delicious.  People have been eating them for at least 7500 years, so there has to be something fabulous about them. 




gloopy, green and gorgeous



ingredients:


1 tin (400g.) of chickpeas, drained or 1 cup of boiled chickpeas

2 tbs tahini - I used organic roasted, unhulled

2 tbs water

2 tbs white wine vinegar

1/4 cup walnuts, finely ground

2 tbs lemon juice

1 tbs white wine vinegar

1/2 cup parsley, chopped roughly or torn

1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped roughly or torn

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of each of the following: caraway/ground coriander/black pepper/ground ginger/cinnamon

1/2 tsp sea salt 

2-3 wedges of preserved lemon, skin only, flesh chucked :=)


For garnish:


extra virgin olive oil, a generous amount 

pistachios, chopped

parsley, chopped finely

ground cinnamon

rose petals (optional)


Method:


Zap the walnuts in your processor till you have a fine meal, or buy walnut meal if you can get it

Mix the tahini with the water and vinegar

Stir the lemon juice and the other tablespoon of vinegar in with the ground walnuts

Chuck everything into the blender except the preserved lemon (and the garnish of course)

Blitz!  Well, I mean pulse till smooth and looking fairly green

Add more herbs if it's not green enough for you 

Add more salt or pepper or lemon juice if it takes your fancy

Stir in the preserved lemon which you have chopped into small pieces

Spoon out into a nice bowl and serve with Turkish bread

Pour on the olive oil (Nawal says to use a generous amount), and throw on the garnish(es)

This should be a thick dip, great for piling onto bread



here we go, gathering ingredients



everything goes into the processor



grab that Turkish bread and slather it on, baby! 


Our vego/vegan guest loved it, and had it spread on toast each morning for breakfast.  It melded and tasted better in the days after I made it.  This is such a winner, folks!  Definitely on the permanent playlist now :=)


chickpea plant artwork by sherryspickings

Sunday, 1 July 2018

In My Kitchen - July 2018

July, mmm, July - I didn't see that one coming :=)  She just snuck up and whacked me on the back of the head.  My big birthday has come and gone, just like that.  And how fabulous it was!  It lasted for weeks - lucky me.  I took a cooking class on the actual day.  It was superb, even though my friend who came with me, sliced a big flap of skin off my finger.  And let me tell you, friends - I am a bleeder and a fainter:=)  So I did the first, but luckily not the second.

So, here in my birthday kitchen:




who doesn't need a lobster ice cube tray?  We all do, you sillies:)  

Love my new ice cube tray.  Thanks, Princess Pia.  Many lobster-shaped ice cubes to come in our summer drinks at Christmas.



cooooookies...as the cookie monster would say 

Gotta love these delish biscuits - or cookies, as they insist on calling them.  Maybe 'cos cookies sounds like such a cute word.



a batch of my home made chutney 


We have a couple of English friends who adore my mango chutney, and now that I have discovered frozen mango chunks at the store, I can now make it for them any time of year!  Which I did, to their joy - she says modestly.



yes, another little jug

Well guys, you know I'm a wee bit obsessed with little jugs, so here we have another one I bought recently at an antique centre.  It says Woods Burslem 'Brier' on the bottom.  This was an English pottery company, which finally ceased trading in 1995.  I love its cute roundness - a bit like me, perhaps? :=) 



yay, I managed to get a bottle of this

Every year, I buy a bottle of this amazing oil, but I was put off this year due to the doubling of the postage to Queensland.  What the?!  Anyway, I waited and yes, finally they had a deal for free postage.  Yippee!  And yep that's my shoe in the foreground.



the Gromberry

Oh yes, I had to get the Gromberry to oversee my kitchen, along with his mate the Gruffalo Gromit already doing his thing on my kitchen shelf.  You can never have too many Gromits.



my birthday gift from our potter friend 

Brooke from Red Door Studio made me this gorgeous cake platter with a whale and the lighthouse representing my fave part of the world - Northern Rivers.  Thanks Miss B.!



bought this at the cooking class


At the end of the cooking class with Belinda Jeffery, (my fave cook/chef person) I bought this, her latest book.  Can't wait to try out some of the recipes.  Thanks for signing it, Belinda.



another cute gift


This is actually just what I was looking for.  I had been trying to find one of those Sid the Lid saucepan lifters, but hadn't got around to tracking it down.  My friend (the one who sliced my finger) brought up this gift from her folks for my birthday.  Yay!


So all up, June was a fabulous birthday month.  I have felt very loved, and looked after.  Someone said to me: 'Oh, you've been spoiled," but I don't like that expression.  I feel like it has been a wonderful showing of love and caring.  Lucky me indeed!



So folks, here are your options for adding your IMK posts.  In order for me to add your posts (i.e. if you prefer that I do it), I must have your email address.  Inlinkz now 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
 


   
    An InLinkz Link-up
   



                      
Sherrys Pickings

Monday, 25 June 2018

Todd And Pup - Review

Todd and pup?  Sounds like a foxy kind of place.  You know: tod = male fox.  With a baby fox on the side:=)  Okay, stop sniggering now.  Intrepid hubby and I ventured out on a beautiful autumn day recently to have lunch on the ‘other’ side of town. Todd & Pup is in a quiet residential area of Moorooka, which gives the cafe a serenely calm atmosphere. We sat out on the front deck area, with just enough sunshine to keep us warm. Service was prompt, friendly and efficient. The charming young lady took our orders with a smile, and brought our meals quickly.




friendly ladies who do a great job

Hubby chose the sweet potato and halloumi stack. He loved this dish. He said that though it didn’t look huge coming out, it was actually a substantial meal. It looked very pretty on the plate, too. The fried eggs had a sunny, runny yolk just the way he likes them; the pesto plus fresh basil leaves gave it a delicious zing, and the sweet potato and halloumi were generous pieces. His organic ginger beer was a winner too, if a little less gingery than he likes.



halloumi and sweet potato stack $18


I chose the G & T Benedict: gin cured salmon, with poached eggs, pickled cucumber with finger lime pearls, and hollandaise on rye. This was really tasty, with a combination of flavours that really popped. My slight quibble is that I found the salmon slices a bit too thick for my taste. The eggs were beautifully runny, and the hollandaise was luscious. My Peanut Butter and Choc freakshake was just that bit too big and oversweet for me, but I enjoyed the flavour combo. We shared a bowl of nicely salted chips with aioli. I found the aioli tangy, but a wee bit bitter. Mr P. said he didn’t, so clearly it depends on your palate. 





G & T Salmon Benedict $19

Look at those beautiful finger lime pearls!  They pop in your mouth.



chips with aioli $10



ginger beer $4



PB & Chocolate freakshake $8.50



A few weeks later, Mr P. and I met up with a friend here for lunch.  The Winter menu was currently in play.  We were pleasantly surprised when the waitress not only remembered us, she also remembered what we'd ordered.  Now that is a lovely way to start lunch.  I wasn't feeling all that well, so I kept away from freakshakes; instead I had an iced tea with rose and cardamom.  This really hit the spot, refreshing and not too heavy for my weak stomach.  Mr P. and Lady Shakespeare chose a milkshake each, strawberry of course for hubby.
  



strawberry milkshake $6

iced tea with rose and cardamom $6.50

caramel milkshake $6


Mr P. went for an Aussie burger this time; of course beetroot is involved.  This was a hefty number, with bacon, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, cheese, BBQ sauce and aioli on a brioche bun.  He loves lots of sauce and relish on his burgers so he was happy about this.  Sadly, he wasn't as impressed with this burger as he had been with his first visit's veggie stack.  He said it was fine, it had what you expected in an Aussie burger but it just didn't give him as much of a thrill.  



Aussie burger $19



the inside of hubby's burger

Lady S. went for the halloumi stack, which was in a new incarnation this time.  It looked very pretty on the plate with poached eggs and squares of halloumi on top.  But to be honest, we both thought it had looked prettier the first time round with the sweet potato on top, and eggs sunny side up.  There's just something about a stack:=)   
         



halloumi stack $18


I chose Breakfast Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake with pulled pork belly, edamame (soy beans), bonito flakes, pickled red cabbage, spring onions and Japanese mayo.  Oh, and an egg or two.  This was a nice, light dish that went down well on my tender stomach.  Perhaps a wee bit too much of the bonito flakes?  I just couldn't finish it as my tum was starting to say: "Enough."  Nothing wrong with the meal itself.  I was impressed that our waitress noticed I hadn't eaten a lot, and asked if all was okay.  It was, but my tum wasn't :=)




Okonomiyaki $18


This café cum coffee shop cum restaurant offers tasty food with a difference.  Service is very good, and the atmosphere homey and welcoming.  I'm sure we will venture over that side of town again to try more dishes.




splendid day to sit out on the deck


I love that this café is dog-friendly with water bowls and doggy icecream available. There were a few children with parents when we were there, so it felt like a warm and family-friendly place to be. All up, we had a very pleasant lunch (both times), in a quietly sunny area, with delicious and generous food.  N.B. They also do Friday and Saturday night $10 burger specials.

Our (first) lunch was courtesy of the owner - thank you!, but opinions remain my own.  Second lunch was paid by Mr P. :=) 




Ph: 07 3892 6691

398 Tarragindi Rd.,
Moorooka 4105

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Chelsea's Caramelised Red Onion And Cheese Scrolls

Bravely I am trying out another of Chelsea Winter's recipes from her book Everyday Delicious.  I say bravely, not because her recipes are bad, but because she tends to be a bit cheffy.  I think it must be the Masterchef effect, where she wants to be seen as more than just a home cook.  Anyway, we will see how this one goes.  I love a savoury scone/scroll, so let's hope this is a goodie.




cheesy, onion scroll


I've found in her recipes, including this one, that she underestimates prep. time mightily!  She says this will take 25 minutes prep., and 20 minutes cooking.  Well yes, the bake time was 20 minutes but the prep time was waaaay more than 25.  The onion jam alone took twice that, by the time you gather and chop and cook.  Anyway, just take note and be aware that it will take a bit of time to make these.


Serves: 8 - 12 scrolls


ingredients:


for the onion jam:


50g. butter

a good splash of olive oil - maybe 1 teaspoon

4 red onions, finely sliced or zapped in the processor

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large pinch of sea salt 

3 tbs (30g.) brown sugar

3 tbs (45mLs) balsamic vinegar



for the scroll dough:


2.5 cups (310g.) self-raising flour

1 tsp sea salt flakes

1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork

3/4 cup (185mLs) of milk - you may need a bit more 

50g. butter, melted

2 cups (250g.) cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup (125g.) Parmesan, grated

olive oil to drizzle over




Method:


Melt the butter for the jam in a frypan over a medium-low heat

Add the olive oil and onions

Stir the onions for 10 minutes until they are starting to go soft

In goes the garlic; stir for a few minutes more

Now add the salt, sugar and vinegar

Give it a good stir and keep stirring for at least another 10 minutes - you want it to be thick and jammy

Add more salt if you like, and put it aside to cool down


Now make the dough:


Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl

Make a well in the centre and add the salt, egg, milk and butter

Fold it gently with a knife till just combined

Add a splash more milk if it looks too dry - I did

Tip it out onto a floured board and quickly and gently knead it till you have a smooth dough

Roll it, or pat out with your hands till you have a rectangle about 1 cm. thick

The cool onion jam goes over the top of the dough, to the edges

Sprinkle with all the cheddar and half the Parmesan

Roll the whole thing up carefully, so you end up with a log like a fat little baby

Seal the ends with milk, and cut into 2-3 cm. slices

Place them on a lined baking tray, cut side up (i.e. horizontally rather than vertically)

On goes the other half of Parmesan, with a drizzle of oil on each scroll

Bake for about 20 mins. at 190C/375F till golden and oozy

Serve warm, with a splash more olive oil on each if desired



Notes:


I suggest making the onion jam on one day and the scrolls another, unless you have heaps of time - or maybe, just buy a really good quality onion jam

I used a small (U.S.) tablespoon for this as the balsamic is very strong

You may think the amount of cheese is excessive but believe me, it just seems to disappear in the baking, so don't scrimp




gather your ingredients for the onion jam 



peel and roughly chop the onions for the processor 



looking good with the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar



ingredients gathered



fold the dough gently together



spread the jam and sprinkle the cheeses



all rolled up like a fat wee baby



spread out on the tray for baking at 190C for 20 mins.




and baked! ready for eating warm



So yes these were delicious - hearty, and sweet and savoury all at once.  I snuck a bit of butter on one the next day too.  But honestly, I will probably just buy some onion jam next time!





onion artwork by sherryspickings