Monday, 18 January 2021

Apricot Harissa a là Nigella

Happy New Year, my friends.  I hope you had a lovely festive break, and feel full of vim and vigour for 2021.  I'm not sure how I feel lately; life, blogging, writing, drawing, reading - they all seem a teensy bit hard right now, but let's keep on keeping on (as Martin Luther King once said).  So here's my first food post for this year - a recipe from Nigella's new book Cook, eat, repeat which Mr P. gave me for Christmas.  I am a big Nigella fan, and I love her new book which has lots of lovely essays as well as recipes.

During the Christmas break, Mr P. and I headed west to Murgon and Kingaroy, small Queensland towns.  He is designing a cultural centre in Murgon, and wanted to check the lay of the land.  We stayed in Kingaroy, the peanut capital.  And yes their peanuts are fabulous.  We loved the heritage-listed peanut silos out there - soooo huge!



the back end of the peanut silos

silos silos everywhere ... (built in 1938)


Silos to the right of us, silos to the left of us ... And a massive storm rolling in!  Anyway, back to the recipe.  Just so you know, I always re-write recipes from books, etc.  Re: copyright - a list of ingredients does not come under copyright but prose does, so I always re-write the method in my own words (and the ingredients if poss.).


ingredients:


20g. large dried chillies or 15-20g. small fresh red chillies

1 tsp cummin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

the seeds from 4-5 cardamom pods

45g. soft dried apricots, chopped into 2 or 3 pieces

1 tsp ground turmeric (or 15g fresh turmeric, sliced)

4 juicy cloves of garlic

25g. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

a few small pieces of naked ginger (uncrystallised ginger) (optional - my idea)

2 tsp dried rose petals (optional - my idea)

2 tsp sea salt flakes or 1 tsp fine salt

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

60 mL (4 x 15 mL tablespoons) olive oil

1 tsp vinegar (I used raspberry 'cos that's what came to hand first, tho' Nigella says to use apple cider vinegar)



Method:


If using dried chillies, put them in a bowl and pour over 500 mL of boiling water, and let them soak for 15 minutes

Tip the four kinds of seeds into a small frying pan, and let them toast carefully over medium heat - watch them, my friends as they can burn so very easily!  Give them a bit of a shake often as they toast.  When they smell delightful after a few minutes, take them off the heat and tip into a bowl to cool

Grab your food processor (I used my small one), and throw in the apricot pieces, turmeric, garlic, ginger, naked ginger, rose petals, salt and paprika

Drain the dried chillies, take off the stalks, and chuck 'em into the processor - or if using fresh chillies, de-stalk and throw into the processor

Add the cooled spices, the oil and vinegar and blitz to a lovely, fiery paste - Nigella suggests using a bowl and a stick blender but I think the processor was a better bet


Notes:


Try adding another couple of apricots if you want a fruitier flavour, and less chillies if they bring you out in a sweat

I only had small, fiery red chillies in my freezer so that's what I used - phew!  hot hot hot ... la la la ...

Naked ginger is ginger that has been infused in cane sugar syrup, and then allowed to dry out, with no crystals of sugar on the surface



gather your ingredients (this is 20g. small chillies BTW)

dry-toast your spices (no oil needed)

ready for zapping and blitzing

beautifully blitzed!

keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge

all ready for my next blog post :-)



artwork © Sherry's Pickings


Friday, 1 January 2021

In My Kitchen - January 2021

Happy New Year, friends!  This is a quickie post:-)  I'm enjoying a bit of time off with Mr P. (and believe me, this is a rare occurrence).  He is a dedicated fella who almost never stops working.  He has worked from home forever, so we never escape his work.  Sorry!  Just slap me; I'm grumbling.  

I hope you've all had the most wonderful Christmas/festive break, and that you're looking forward to an amazing 2021.  I know I am!  Things can only get better.  And am I allowed to say how very happy I am that I won't have to look at the Orange Man ever again?!  You know who I mean.  Weird isn't it?  We're not even in the U.S., and yet many Aussies will be super happy that he is out the door.  


In My January Kitchen:


I made pineapple chutney with fresh QLD fruit

and I made my annual batch of Worcestershire sauce + plums this year!

I bought a trio of organic miso made by Yoko, a Japanese cook in Melbourne


I got cute measuring spoons from my cousin for Christmas

and my curveball - L'il Dusty

This cute little resin sculpture is handmade and painted by Dion Parker, a Gold Coast artist.  This is the fourth piece I have bought from him.  I guess I just can't resist L'il Dusty!  (He's a dog, in case you can't see.)  

That's it for now, my friends.  Well, what a year we have all had.  I started off Covid feeling stressed and scared and depressed.  I was in a bit of a downward spiral for a while there, but we were lucky here in Queensland: our tough (but fair) Premier got it under control.  She was vilified by some down south for her tough stance, but she just shook her head and told 'em to stuff it.  Well, figuratively speaking...

I had some great things happening in 2020 also: I had two stories published; I learned some new things about myself; I got tough, and I happily threw FOMO out the door.  'Don't wanna go out?  Then stay home.  Can't be bothered doing that thing/seeing those people/attending that event?  Then don't, my friends, just don't!'

Anyway, all the best to you all, and see you in the New Year.  I am taking a blogging break till mid-January so see you on the other side.  Don't worry if I don't comment, or whatever.  I will be back.  Email me if you have any queries or worries!


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Thursday, 17 December 2020

Chocolate Rum Sultanas Cashews Ice Cream

This is a variation on a theme; I first made this chocolate ice cream last Christmas as a plain chocolate version.  I thought I'd ramp it up this year with a variation suggested by a recipe in an old magazine (perhaps The Australian Women's Weekly?)  Their recipe is a make-it-by-the-book proper custard churned in a machine etc.  But no, we aren't doing that here, my friends.  You didn't think for a minute... :-) ?

Mine is the easy condensed milk type.  Still tastes fabulous, she says modestly.  You can ring the changes on this one by using white or milk chocolate instead of dark; you can use different nuts or fruits; add whatever liqueur you fancy - the possibilities are endless.  


ready to mix and freeze

Thinking of freezing things, I once left a can of Coke in the freezer and yes, promptly forgot about it.  Only to open the freezer a few hours later, to find stalagmites and stalactites of Coke all over the place.  Oh the joy of cleaning that lot up!


Original recipe by Sherry's Pickings:

Serves 6-8:

Soak the fruit in the rum a few hours before you make the ice cream!

ingredients:

80g./2.8oz sultanas or raisins (chop the raisins)

80g./2.8oz glacé cherries, roughly chopped

5-6 tbs spiced (or plain) rum, or liqueur of your choice - enough to cover the fruit completely

100g./3.5oz dark chocolate - I used Lindt 70%

400 mL/13.5fl oz thickened cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coffee powder (optional)

2 tbs spiced rum (or plain rum), extra

60g/2.2oz icing sugar/powdered sugar

200g./7oz tube of condensed milk

90g./3.2oz toasted cashews, chopped

a big handful of choc chips


Method:

Line a loaf tin with clingfilm or freezer film, making sure there is plenty of overhang so you can cover the ice cream completely

Melt the chocolate - I do it in the microwave:-)

Let it cool slightly while you whip the cream, vanilla, coffee powder, rum and icing sugar to soft peaks

Now add the condensed milk and the melted chocolate into the mix, and beat again till you have a delightfully whipped mixture - don't whip it too hard, just nice soft peaks

Stir the cashews, fruit and chocolate chips thru the ice cream

Then spoon the mixture into your lined loaf tin, cover it over, and put in the freezer for at least six hours or overnight


Notes:

Soak the sultanas and cherries in the rum at least 2-3 hours before making the ice cream, or even the night before

Buy roasted cashews and save yourself a step; otherwise throw them into a small, dry frypan and toast till golden, leaving fragrantly nutty smells wafting through your kitchen


gather your ingredients


whip the cream and sugar etc till you have soft peaks


add the condensed milk and melted chocolate


stir in the nuts, sultanas and choc chips

tip/spoon the mixture into your lined loaf tin


cover the ice cream and off to the freezer for 6 hours or so

and eat...


artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Hazelnut/Peanut/Any Nut Butter Biscuits

This recipe originated with one I've already blogged using peanut butter.  It began as a Matt Preston recipe; you know the suave, English (former) host of Masterchef Australia?  He uses three ingredients and his method is a wee bit more complicated than mine (but really, how complicated can three (or five) ingredients get? - tee hee).

I had a jar of peanut butter to use up, so this came to mind.  Then I threw in a couple more ingredients, and topped the biscuits with chocolate.  And then I made them again with the jar of hazelnut butter lurking in my pantry.  Et voilà, here we have 'em.  Use any nut butter you like, my friends!  Though I have to say the salty, crunchy peanut butter I used added a new dimension:-)  (It was a Kiwi brand!)  


put on the kettle and get ready for dunking


Usually when I bake, I measure ingredients out carefully, 'cos I really dislike the whole 'cup' thing, but here it's perfectly fine to go with cups.  I don't know how many hours I must have spent in my blogging life trying to ascertain grams into ounces into kilos into litres into...


Recipe adapted by Sherry's Pickings

Makes about 14-15 biscuits:

Ingredients:


1 scant cup of caster or white sugar - I used vanilla sugar

1 cup of hazelnut butter or peanut butter or cashew butter or...

1 tsp vanilla extract

1½ tbs almond meal

1 large egg 

1 Flake chocolate bar, broken up into small pieces

a big handful of mini chocolate bits


Method:


Grab a medium mixing bowl and your electric hand beaters

In go all the ingredients (except the Flake bar and the choc bits)

Give them a whizz with the beaters for about 30 seconds, till it's just mixed together

Roll the mixture into golf ball sized pieces (or walnut sized if you prefer)

Place them on two lined baking trays, and press a fork gently into the tops of the biscuits

Scatter the Flake bits and the mini choc bits over the biscuits

Bake on 190C/375F for about ten minutes, till they are slightly puffy and golden on the edges

Let them cool on the trays for a few minutes to firm up, then place them on wire racks to get completely cold

Will keep in an airtight container for up to one week


Notes:


These biscuits are sweet, so maybe try just 3/4 cup of sugar if you like them less sweet

Use whichever nut butter you fancy - almond or cashew would be great too

You can beat the mixture together with a wooden spoon or a hand whisk if you don't have electric beaters - check out those biceps, baby!  No, not mine, you silly.  As if...


hazelnut butter version ready for mixing


and after about 30 seconds


and here's the peanut butter version


and on to the trays for baking


heading in to the oven at 190C for ten mins.


after 10-12 mins. baking


Peanut Butter guys out of the oven


and let 'em cool (tho they're nice warm too)


so delish, so sweet, so nutty, so chocolatey





artwork © Sherry's Pickings


Matt Preston (Wikimedia Commons Public Domain - Author Lenabalout)

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

In My Kitchen - December 2020

Hey, we've almost made it through to the end of the toughest year for so many people.  Good on you, my friends.  I was saying to Mr P. the other day that there have been some really good things about this year too.  The sense of community and sharing, the lack of FOMO syndrome pushing us to do things we don't really want to, the time to sit and enjoy each other's company.  And the wonderfully quiet streets and shops.  I'm going to miss a lot of those things.

Here we go with the last IMK for 2020.  What a year!  What do you think about a January IMK post?  I am hovering on the edge of saying let's leave it till February.  Let me know what you think; we can always do an IMK lite.  All the best, and have a marvellous, happy, satisfying, love and food-filled festive season, my dear virtual friends.  Cheers!!


In my Kitchen:


Christmas gin and gin pudding

Every Christmas, I buy this Four Pillars gin and their pudding (which they make by soaking puddings in alcohol!).  We take them along to our mates' place down the road for Christmas lunch.  This year, they made gin relish too, but I'm keeping that for our Christmas turkey at home.

I made chicken and veg. pie

I made a large chicken and veg. pie, which we shared with our 88 year-old neighbour.  I have been taking meals over to her during Covid.  She is very adventurous in her tastes!  As long as I'm not too heavy-handed with the chillies...  


I found a whisk!

Do you know how long and hard I have been searching for a new hand whisk?  My (very) old one with a wooden handle broke recently.  I was devastated:(  And because they're all made in China, it has been impossible to find one.  Mysteriously, we were at a kitchenware cum organics shop the other day, et voilà, Mr P. spotted one in a dark and lonely corner.  And it was such a good price, too.  I went home, squealing with happiness.



I bought scrumptious vinegar

I love Lirah's vinegars.  They are fairly local (well, only a three hour drive west), and this one is so scrumptious.  We tasted it on bread, and it was wonderfully sweet and tangy.  My salad dressings will be sublime from now on:-) 


and I found maple syrup

I went to our local health food/bulk store last week in search of maple syrup.  I bought this lovely Canadian stuff.  And next time, I can take this bottle back in and get it filled up again.  Even better!  They have bulk olive oil too, and you can bring a bottle in for refilling.  Love that!



I made Ruth Reichl's ginger cake

I made this cake a while ago when I first bought Ruth's book My Kitchen Year, and I was in love with it.  And the icing - oh my!  I could eat it with a spoon.  I made it again, and yes, it was just as sublime.  Didn't last long!  You can just see my shadow in the icing, right down the bottom middle.



and I bought Annabel's new book

Annabel is a wonderful New Zealand cook, and cooking show presenter.  This is her memoir/autobiography.  I'm looking forward to reading it, as cooks who seem harmless and matronly often end up being naughty little rascals.  Not that Annabel looks matronly:-)  


I supported a breast cancer charity by buying this oil

This oil is grown and pressed in Greece, and the bottle is handmade by a Greek potter.  A percentage of the cost goes towards an Australian breast cancer charity (it's sold by an Aussie providore).  As both my mum and my sis-in-law died of breast cancer, this is a charity close to my heart.



and here's my curveball!

This is Dilbert Dumbkin Pumpkin, by Matthew Roby from Pickled Circus.  I think he is the cutest!  Who could resist that sweet, mousy little face?  And of course the pumpkin ghoul head!

Well, that's it for IMK 2020!  Please join in everyone.  Can't wait to see your posts (by the 13th December, please).  And you know the drill:  we want to see posts about your kitchen and garden stuff over the past month!  Produce, gadgets, recipes, cookbooks, dishes, meals - you get the picture!

The link is open from the first to the thirteenth of the month.  Let me know if you need help with adding your post, or if you would like it added manually by me after the 13th. Here's how to join in:


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  OR:

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


3. Email me: sherrym1au@gmail.com, with your link or   any queries about the link process 


In My Kitchen:




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Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Salmon, Scallops And Edamame On A Chickpea Purée

My original plan was to make a scallop and salmon dish, but I have to call it salmon and scallops now.  Who knew how hard it would be to buy some scallops?  Luckily, I grabbed the last packet of frozen ones, on the shell.  Hilariously, the checkout lady invited herself to dinner when she saw we were having seafood.  Mr P. and I used to think this particular lady was a grumpy old thing, but turns out she is hilarious!  Never judge a book by its cover, my friends.  As I said to Mr P.: 'She is just dry, wickedly dry.'


ready for serving (caramelised not burnt - honest)

This is a dish that you eat at room temperature rather than hot.  Almost like a salad.  You could throw some green leaves on your plate, if you wish.  You can toast and chop the nuts earlier in the day; you can make the purée and leave it till dinner time; chop the herbs and leave till ready to serve.  And the edamame can be boiled and shelled in the afternoon, too.  While this recipe may look like War and Peace, it's actually incredibly quick and easy to make!


Original recipe by Sherry's Pickings

Serves 3:

ingredients:

For the salmon:

460g./1 pound salmon fillets, skin-on

juice of 1 orange (mine had c. 80 mL/2.7 fl oz)

1 tbs mandarin agrumato oil, or plain EV olive oil

2 tsp shichimi togarashi

1/2 tsp gochugaru

2 tsp black sesame oil

1 tsp white sesame seeds

1 tsp black sesame seeds

sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Don't forget the scallops!  I had 6 of 'em, roe-less (but have as many as you want, my dears)


The edamame:

400g./14 oz packet of frozen edamame - you will end up with approx. 110g./4 oz of beans after shelling

2-3 tsp lemon agrumato oil or EV olive oil with a dash of lemon juice

sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Chickpea purée:

1 tin (400g./14 oz) chickpeas, drained

1-2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1-2 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup water

sea salt and black pepper, to taste


For serving:

50g./1.8 oz macadamias, toasted and chopped 

a really biiiig handful of parsley, chopped

a small bundle of chives, chopped


Method:

Chop the fish into biggish chunks (5cm x 5cm/2 in x 2 in), and throw them into a large mixing bowl with the scallops

Add the orange juice, mandarin agrumato oil, shichimi togarashi, gochugaru, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper

Give it a biiiig stir so the fish is well coated, and put aside while you put together the other parts of this dish (I left mine for about an hour, 'cos I had to finish watching my fave tv show where Bob Ross paints his happy little trees)


Edamame:

Boil the edamame in salted water for about 5 minutes (as per the packet), let them cool, shell them, and put aside while you make the purée


The purée:

Drain the chickpeas (keep the pea water for vegan meringues)

Tip them into a small food processor; add the garlic, lemon zest, juice, olive oil, water, salt and pepper and ... blitz! till smooth (ish)


The fish:

Grab your non-stick grill plate/pan, and get it nice and hot on your stove top/burner/hob - whatever you call it

Now let (your) Mr P. do his thing: the salmon gets a few minutes per side on the very hot grill plate/pan.  Mr P. said to tell you that the fish needs to be grilled skin side first, and then on all sides.  And that the grill needs to be damn hot!

Take the fish out when it's how you like it (a wee bit rare for us); whack in the scallops for a minute or two on each side, then add them to the pile of salmon

Now add the oil, salt and pepper in with the edamame, and stir together

Grab a plate, help yourself to some salmon and scallops; then a goodly amount of the purée, and the edamame, and scatter the nutty herbs over your plate


For serving:

Chop the nuts and herbs, mix together well in a small bowl

Scatter this tasty mix over your heaped plate of fish


Notes:

Use salmon without the skin if you wish

Lemon or lime juice is fine if you don't have an orange

Try a lemon agrumato/olive oil, or any citrus oil of your choice

Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice mix with seven ingredients

Gochugaru are Korean chilli flakes

Use ordinary sesame oil if you can't find the black one

(I forgot to marinate the scallops, so they were grilled with a bit of the marinade after the salmon was cooked)

I bought nuts which were already toasted, so I only had to chop them (throw them into a small, dry frypan for a few minutes tossing if you have raw ones)


stir the fish and the marinade together, and let it sit for a while

boil and shell the edamame

(Interesting fact about soybeans - i.e. edamame - there is/are only ever 1-3 beans in the pod.)  My drawing has 4 beans, but don't tell anyone...


zap the chickpeas into a purée

smooth and delicious purée

grill the fish

chop your nuts

mix the chopped nuts and herbs together

ready for serving

and for eating


artwork © Sherry's Pickings