Friday, 20 January 2017

Israeli Cherry Soup - AKA Marak Dhudevanim

I love cherries!  That glorious deep purple colour, the sweet juice, the short season of only 100 days in a year.  (Only buy local, folks.) Magical and wonderful.  Of course there are other sorts of cherries - Rainier is a wonderful variety with red and yellow skin and a sweet cherry tang.  I first encountered Rainiers at our friends' house in Hobart, where they grew along with other types on one grafted tree.  Some summers they get one sort, the next they pick another variety - on the same tree.  See, I told you cherries are magical.

If you know any Tasmanians, you will know that Summer is an incredibly busy time for them, as they harvest and preserve the many wonders in their gardens.  Hubby and I keep saying that they are a special breed these southern kin; full of arcane skills and knowledge:=)  And usually multi-talented, as they happily mountain-climb, play music, bake, hike trails, scuba-dive, fish, write books, all while picking fruit and veg. from their organic, seaweed covered garden beds.

I have long loved The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos, from which this recipe comes.  I have made many a recipe from it, and there are still heaps for me to try.  This (obviously) is one of her Israeli recipes, which you can eat as a starter or for dessert.  I served it at the start of a summery evening meal, followed by salads and fruit.  This is a useful recipe for that cherry bounty, if you are lucky enough to have a magical tree.


1 kg. cherries, pitted

625mLs (2.5 cups) water

100g. (1/2 cup) white sugar or to taste

2-3 pieces of lemon rind (not zest)

1 piece of cinnamon bark

1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)

1 cup (250mLs) dry red wine - I used a Tasmanian pinot noir

1 tbs arrowroot, OR potato OR corn flour

2 tsp lemon juice

sour cream to serve

a few grinds of black pepper, to serve


First pit your cherries (as Mrs. Beeton might have said)

Put into a large saucepan with the water, half the sugar (50g.), the lemon rind and cinnamon bark

Bring to a gentle boil

Cover and simmer gently till soft - about 15 mins.

Scoop out the rind and cinnamon bark

Press thru a sieve or blitz in a blender - the author suggests the sieve method is best for colour and texture

Tip the cherry purée back into the saucepan

Whisk in the ginger

Stir the flour into the wine till mixed to a smooth paste

 Add to the soup, and stir constantly while it thickens over heat

Add the other 50g. of sugar if desired, plus the lemon juice

Let it cool, then place in the fridge for a few hours to chill

Serve with a dollop of sour cream


The recipe calls for half a cup of white sugar.  If you hunt up the grammage (I know, not the right word exactly), you get 211.3g. in an Aussie cup.  Though others suggest it should be 200g.  And caster sugar is 237g. per cup!  I suggest you just assume a cup of regular white sugar is 200g.

I think rice flour would do the trick here too; any very fine flour could be used

Dare I say you could use frozen cherries?  Yep I do dare.  'Cos pitting these by hand left me a purply-fingered monster

Ah, come on!  You know I blitzed it.  Who the heck has time to sieve cherries?  Not this little black duck.

gather your ingredients

tip in the sugar and add the lemon rind and cinnamon bark  

stir together and bring to the simmer  

and simmer for 15 minutes till soft    

simmered till soft; ready for blitzing 

make the winey slurry by mixing a bit of wine with the flour 

simmered and blitzed to a smooth soupy perfection  

Miss PP holding up her soup

Miss PP came for dinner, and was the hand model for the soup entree.  Mr P. said it was fabulous!  Yep not bad for a summer's night.  
I just did a bit more research on this soup, and discovered it is a very popular Hungarian dish.  Perhaps carried to Israel by European migrants?

my cherry doodle

Monday, 16 January 2017

A - Z Guidebook: Townsville Queensland

torso in Townsville QLD

Last July we headed up to Townsville in Far North Queensland for our niece's wedding. We were pleasantly surprised by the café scene, the Art Gallery and bookstores.  As we wandered around one sunny day, we came across this window.  This delightful silvery gal was I believe advertising a sex shop which was beside a lawyers' office.  Hubby and I had a bit of a laugh about that.  Oh, did I mention there was even some hipster rudeness in the cafés? Hilarious fun!

Join in with Tiffin Fiona at Bite-Sized Food Adventures in a monthly show-and-tell of travel adventures.  Show off yours too:=) Just like this gal.  I think that's my head you can see reflected in her nether regions.  

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Chicken And Couscous Salad

Happy New Year, folks!  Hope you had a fabulous festive season.  I caught a ghastly bug on Christmas Eve, can you believe?  So Christmas Day meant hallucinating in 38C heat at my cousin's, while the rest of the family enjoyed a huge lunch and a swim at the beach.  Ever tried to find a chemist open on Boxing Day at the seaside?

We had this salad twice over the Xmas break; my niece asked me for the recipe immediately.  Her brother texted me while we were in Melbourne to ask for my Dutch potato salad recipe, and hubby's sister texted for my berry semi-freddo recipe.  Phew! Just as well I had blogged them, so I was able to direct them to my posts.  Oh, and a friend asked for my guacamole recipe this week (thanks Sophie Dahl).  Happy to be the recipe repository for the family:=)

gather the ingredients


300g. couscous

260mls boiling water

1 tsp sea salt 

zest and juice of 1 lemon or lime

1 whole BBQ chicken, skin off, meat chopped into bite sized pieces

3 of the spring onions that have big bulbs - not sure of the name - thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves - more or less as you prefer - finely sliced

1/3 cup mint leaves or parsley or chives - use your fave herb - finely chopped

2-3 radishes, thinly sliced

3-4 tbs currants and/or barberries

100g. fetta, diced 

a handful of brazil nuts or your fave nuts, chopped

3-4 tbs olive oil - I used lime pressed olive oil

2-3 tbs vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


Place the couscous in a large bowl or a large Pyrex jug

Add the boiling water, salt, lemon zest and juice, and stir well

Put aside for 5 minutes covered

After 5 mins, give it a good stir with a fork to fluff it up

If you used a Pyrex jug for the couscous, at this point tip it into a large bowl for mixing

Add all the other ingredients and toss really well till combined


Use whatever herbs and nuts you fancy.  Try French shallots or normal spring onions if you like.  Splash with a flavoured vinegar for extra tang - I used raspberry vinegar  

The original recipe came from a magazine - Cuisine perhaps? - but I have adapted to our tastes and added extra ingredients and flavourings

salt and lemon zest/juice go into the couscous bowl 

fluff up the couscous with a fork 

ready for mixing

and mix!

looks a bit murky but tastes delicious 

my herby doodle

Sunday, 8 January 2017

My Sunday Photo - 8 January 2017

Buddhist Temple in Melbourne Australia 

On our recent trip to Melbourne for Christmas, we came upon 4 temples all within a few kilometres of each other.  This one looks like the palace in the Forbidden City Beijing we thought.  Perhaps on a smaller scale, but still imposing and magnificent.  I think this statue is of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.  There were food offerings at the base of the various statues - bananas, bread and so on.  It was quite stunning to see in a Melbourne suburb.


Sunday, 18 December 2016

A - Z Guidebook - Sopron, Hungary & My Sunday Photo

Firewatch Tower, Sopron  

We really loved Hungary when we visited as part of our big backpacking trip in our younger days.  It was still pretty scary in those days as Communism still reigned supreme.  Our lovely homestay host came with us to the train station to say goodbye, but he was fairly terrified of all the guards stomping around with big guns slung over their shoulders, and pretended he didn't know us while they were around.  A bit of an unusual experience for these young Aussies.  So not used to seeing people with biiiggg guns!

This tower has 200 steps to the top - we climbed them all, so we could check out the view.  We met a very interesting young fella in Sopron who was actually from Vienna on a trip.  He was quite the young Nazi!  He was not a fan of the Jewish people; all Europe's problems were their fault apparently.  Scary stuff I tell you.  And he was only about 20 - OMG, pretty shocking.  Fortunately, we met no other self-professed neo Nazis.  

We had a wonderful time, checking out the historical architecture and meeting lovely people.  And eating interesting food, including 2 whole tureens of soup at one restaurant.  We didn't realise you were supposed to serve yourself and just fill your bowl with a ladle of soup.  We thought you had to eat it all!  So we did.  Lord knows what the locals thought of us.

Join in with Tiffin Fiona in the monthly travel link up where we show off our travel photos.  We are using the letter S this month.

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

And thanks also to Darren from Photalife for hosting the My Sunday Photo link each week.


Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Kitchens Robina Town Centre

Come Christmas time I hop on a train and head down the coast to visit my sister.  We do a catch up with some shopping and eating at Robina, a big shopping centre at the southern end of the Gold Coast.  Mr P. stays at home slaving away doing his thing (which is designing houses).

love all the curved plywood (?) up above 

Robina has had an extension this year; it now boasts The Kitchens which has all sorts of foodie haunts like a greengrocer, butcher, cafés, cake shops, and restaurants.  It opened a few weeks ago with the likes of George Calombaris along to spruik his Greek street food venue Jimmy Grants.

chocolates/cakes/meats - they have it all


Concrete is apparently ice cream!  It is frozen custard that is set and scraped from a barrel, then you can add in whatever you fancy, or even go for a spiked version.  I think I'll have to try that next time.

look at this gorgeous piece of equipment 

I think this is a cold drip coffee maker, but to me it is a thing of beauty.  It looks alchemical, mystical and magical.

all the pretty things  

how gorgeous is this

lots of sweet things

George's place

love the architecture here - so much curved beauty 

Blondie (my sis) in front of the stunning Xmas tree 

This tree was made by a team of 6 artisans over 8 weeks in Byron Bay.  Each pelican was individually sculpted and hand-painted; and there are close to 600 of them.  I wants one:=) - as Gollum would say.

I did have one issue with The Kitchens - it is a very long walk from the carpark where we were.  I guess you can consider it walking off all the goodies you have just consumed.  I do wonder about the upper level, as it is cavernous and obviously you have to head upstairs.  Not sure how many people will bother to do that. Anyways, sis and I had a fun lunch together in an interesting spot.

I adore pelicans, even wooden ones 

Merry Christmas everyone!  or whatever version of holidays you celebrate :=)