Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Spicy Beef Pie

Well, I was going to make a boureg recipe, where you make a tasty filling and fold it into triangles or rolls of phyllo pastry - but I got lazy:=)  And I had a lot of stuff to do before going away, so I made a big, beef slab of a pie instead.  I made the meat filling using the recipe from Nawal Nasrallah's book (yep, I know I'm a bit obsessed with it at the moment).  And I had some phyllo in the freezer, but I just couldn't face all that buttering and rolling, so I used shortcrust and puff instead.  I added some cheese slices on top of the filling, too.

I think the first time I had boureg/burek/bourek/borek was in Zagreb (Croatia), when it was still Communist and lots of boy soldiers with big rifles were stomping around the place.  Though nowhere near as many as in Belgrade.  Yugoslavia as it then was, really opened our eyes.  We realised how amazingly safe and protected we were at home; never having to think about wars and soldiers in the streets, and secret police coming onto the trains to check out your passports.  We are damn lucky in Australia!  Anyway folks, here's the pie recipe:=)




add some veg. to your plate


Adapted from Delights From The Garden Of Eden:


ingredients:


1 tbs olive oil

500g. (1 lb) of minced beef

2 medium brown onions, finely chopped

1 tbs tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)

1 cup (60g.) parsley, finely chopped

2 sheets of frozen pastry - shortcrust and/or puff

4 slices of vintage tasty cheddar cheese (optional)

1-2 tbs of milk for glazing the top

1-2 tbs of sesame seeds (I used furikake - Japanese seasoning) 


Method:


Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat

Tip in the beef, spread it out in an even layer and let it sizzle away for about 5 minutes

Stir it a few times as it cooks for another 5-10 minutes

Now add the onion, give it a stir and stir regularly while it cooks for about 10-15 minutes

In goes the tomato paste, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon and chilli

Give it a good stir, and cook for a few minutes, stirring now and then

Take the pan off the heat, cool for a few minutes and add the parsley

Leave the mixture to cool right down

Grab a baking tray; line with baking paper or a silicone baking mat 

Place a thawed sheet of shortcrust pastry on it

Spread the meat filling in an even layer over the pastry

Plop on the cheese slices if using

Place another sheet of pastry - use shortcrust or puff - over the top

Brush with milk and sprinkle on the sesame seeds

Bake at 190C for about 30 minutes or till golden



Notes:


I used shortcrust on the bottom, and puff on the top





ingredients gathered



let the minced beef sizzle at medium-high for about 5 mins. 



stir in the parsley



spread the meat over the pastry



place the cheese slices over the meat filling 



puff pastry on top with sesame seeds



golden brown and delicious after 30 mins @190C 




serve with peas and creamy potatoes




parsley artwork by sherry's pickings

(Mr P. says it looks like a tree on the African savannah!  Hmmph!)

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Peppers Seaport Hotel Launceston

A travel blogger friend recently wrote that she thinks it's important to have a nice hotel to come home to at the end of a busy, touristy day.  I couldn't agree more.  I want a comfy room, with views if possible.  And a big screen TV (or 2), and a coffee pod machine, and a king-size bed ...  Well, here at Pepper's, we had all that.

We'd been staying with friends in Hobart, but were now off for an adventure, heading north.  We've been to Launceston many times, but never stayed in this part of town before.  The hotel sits on the river Esk, on a former dry dock, with views of the other Pepper's hotel across the way.  There are also views of the building work going on across the river, too.  Mmm, wonder what it will be?



looking back at the hotel from the walkway  



Mr P. and I had a lovely corner suite on the second floor, with 2 balconies, a kitchen and sitting room.  It was very quiet and peaceful as our room was at the end of a long corridor.  Reception was very friendly; and there is a coffee/hot chocolate and cookie bar in the foyer for guests - very thoughtful on a cold, rainy day.  We had to take our own bags upstairs, but they do provide a large trolley if you need it.      
  



the view from one of the balconies


We had a king-size bed, which I love, but the bedroom was surprisingly small.  I have to say there was a fair bit of wasted space in the design of this Luxury Marina View suite.  Does the average tourist really need a wardrobe in the bedroom, AND one in the little hallway between lounge and bathroom?  There was also a heck of a lot of unused real estate in the bathroom.  Mr P. being a building designer had plenty to say about how the space could have been used more effectively to give a bigger bedroom, and a more useful bathroom.




lovely king-size bed
looking out over both balconies


















see all that empty space in the corner?:=)


With all that space, we would have loved a second vanity and more bench area.  But nevertheless, the shower was big and had good hot water.  There were plenty of Appelles toiletries, and the towels were changed everyday.  How wonderfully luxurious does that feel!


Okay, let's get the whinges out of the way:

- no luggage racks

- no reading lights in the bedroom

- freezer looked like the Antarctic; badly needed some global warming (defrosting)

- coat hangers and extra pillows so high I couldn't reach them

- no electric blanket (I guess they breed 'em tough down there)


Great things:

- big bed

- full-size fridge

- complimentary water, beer and cider

- laundry in the suite

- coffee pod machine (and easy to use)

- 2 balconies

- large living space, with a dining table and chairs at one end

- plenty of parking (only $10 per day)

- several restaurants underneath and beside the hotel

- pillow menu

- extra blankets if requested

- a desk and power points aplenty

- free Wi-Fi




the living area
the kitchen





















enjoying some local water




this might keep me going for the day




sunset from our balcony, after the storm




the foggy view on our first morning



We enjoyed our 3 night stay here.  It was comfortable and quiet; we felt safe and secure; staff were friendly and it was a very pleasant place to rest our heads before we headed back to sunny Queensland.


(This hotel stay was independently paid for.)



Peppers Seaport Hotel
28 Seaport Blvd.,
Launceston TAS 7250
Ph: 1300 987 600


Saturday, 1 September 2018

In My Kitchen - September 2018

As you read this my friends, hubby and I will be heading down to Tasmania.  For those not of these climes, it is the wee island off the southern coast of mainland Australia, often forgotten by mapmakers and overseas newsreaders.  And often very cold, due to being in the path of the Roaring Forties' winds.  There may even be snow - yay!  Can't wait.

Hoping you can join us here for In My Kitchen this month.  I don't have a whole heap to share, but just wait till next month.  I bet I have heaps of glorious stuff from Tassie, which is known for its fabulous produce, and fish and oysters and cheese and chocolate ...    

Definitely no snow in my kitchen, but here we have:




DIY parsley paste

I had a bunch of parsley looking much the worse for wear, so had to think what to do with it.  Huh, lightbulb moment - stick the bunch in a glass of water for a couple of days to refresh, then zap it with salt, pepper and olive oil to end up with a paste that I could use in all manner of things like stir-fries and stews.  Fabulous, and so thrifty!




Spanish salt


I love trying all sorts of different salts; smoked being my fave of all time.  Gave this one a go; not my fave, but it's okay, just very salty:=)  Of course you say, but I mean it is just too salty for me.  Too sharp, too bitter.  Never mind, I shall make use of it.




jam and marmalade

Stonewall Kitchen is an American brand, so even though it goes against my mantra of buying local, I sneak these into my kitchen.  And after giving myself a good talking-to, we devour them with pleasure.




silver ladle and cake server


My bestie MM, she of the finger-slicing episode, gave me these lovely silver items for my birthday.  So pretty!  And don't forget 'useful', always a fave attribute for everything I buy or get gifted.  Can you see me reflected in them? 




that's mine - the chocolate heart

OK, some explanation needed.  The choc heart cake in the foreground was definitely in my kitchen at one point.  I made it for the Love Your Bookshop Day bake-off recently.  I didn't win, but all the cakes went to a half-way house for their arvo teas.  So I felt very chuffed that I could help others, as well as have a lot of fun in the making and baking.




Wanda and Fiona judging the cakes

Here we have the judges, Wanda and Fiona (the Avid Reader Bookshop owner).  They judged mine first.  Eek, nail-biting.

Well, that's about it for me this time.  Please join in my lovelies; I'd love to see you here.  (the link ends on 13th Sept, fyi.) 


Here are the 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
   



Sunday, 26 August 2018

Chocolate Discs

Speaking of discs, hubby and I went into the library the other day.  He picked out a dvd, went up to the counter and asked how he could borrow 'the video.'  The librarian looked askance, clearly thinking what an old dodderer we have here.  I just pretended I didn't know him :=)

And speaking of chocolate, here we have a slightly mad recipe (well, not really a recipe but an idea) which mixes sweet and savoury in one delicious bite.  It's kinda trendy these days to mix odd flavours together, and to blur the line between sweet and savoury.  I know my cousin definitely thinks vegetables do not belong in the ice cream churner.  Fennel ice cream anyone?:=)




looking rather delicious, if I do say so myself:=) 


Recipe by Sherry's Pickings:



ingredients:


60-70g. of salt and vinegar crisps/chips

200g. dark chocolate - I used (mostly) 70% cocoa

4 tbs (80 mLs) of thickened cream (that's 5 tbs + 1 tsp for American readers)

a large handful (2 tbs?) of bling to scatter over - I used chocolate crispies, but use whatever you fancy. Something with a bit of texture is best


Method:


Zap the crisps/chips in a small food processor, or put into a plastic bag and bang like crazy with a rolling pin to get crumbs

Line a baking tray with baking paper, and spread about 2/3 of the crumbs evenly over the paper

Melt the chocolate and cream together in the microwave for a couple of minutes till it just starts to look melted (don't worry, once you stir it, it should all be melted) - be sure you pause it, and stir every 30 seconds or so

Cool it for 2-3 minutes (the chocolate, not you, tho' feel free)

Grab a couple of dessertspoons and make little mounds/discs/balls on the crumby paper

Spoon the rest of the crumbs over the tops, and sprinkle the bling over each one

Place the tray in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then put the discs in an airtight container, and store in the fridge



Notes:


Use milk or even white chocolate if you fancy

I made 9 discs, but you can make them smaller if you wish

Make sure you put the cream in with the chocolate when you melt it.  Don't foolishly (like I did) stir it in afterwards - it started to go a bit gloopy, so my discs ended up somewhat blob-like:=)  

An alternative way to make them, is to crush the crisps, put them all in a bowl and throw your choc discs/balls right into the bowl so you end up with balls of combined chips and chocolate




ingredients gathered



line the baking tray with the crushed crisps




throw on the bling, me hearties




blingy, sweet, salty, vinegary treats



Hubby turned to me with a sad look, and said "I probably won't like these".  But he gulped one down manfully, and said "Delicious!"

Our friend Princess Pia has just informed me that they have chocolate-covered chips in Japan (where she visited earlier this year).  This must have lain there in the back of my mind, till I came up with chip-covered chocolate. :=)


I am linking up with the monthly (though August is the final one, sadly) chocolate fest hosted by Choclette of the Tin and Thyme blog.  It has the fabulous name of We Should Cocoa!


#WeShouldCocoa




cacao pod - artwork by sherry's pickings

Monday, 20 August 2018

Chicken Supreme AKA Dijaaj Muluki

Regular readers know my horror stories of being attacked by our neighbour's crazy, feral chooks when we were kids.  And the stories about a friend's father chopping off the heads of his chooks in front of us.  Oh my dears, the blood, and the squawking.  Did I tell you about our fox terrier?  She used to go hunting our neighbour's birds (a different neighbour), including their extremely loud peacocks.  As far as we know, she only caught the chickens, but who knows for sure?:)


All this didn't stop me chowing down on a tasty bit of chicken whenever I came across it - which wasn't often, 'cos chickens were expensive and we were poor:=)  And now the question we all ask ourselves, much like 'what is the meaning of life?' - why does everything taste like chicken?  Even chicken?  And why does every mammal want to eat it?  Our gentle Sheltie dog (not the terrier) would just about snap off my fingers to get to a piece of roasted chook.  It's a mystery, my friends, a mystery.   




tender chicken with yoghurt sauce and chopped salad

Here is a fabulous chicken recipe from Delights From The Garden of Eden, by Nawal Nasrallah.  We loved her medieval hummus recipe, and this is another tasty one.  Can't wait to make her boureg next!


(Serves 4:)


ingredients:


1 kg. (about 8) skinless thigh fillets, or about 4-5 bone-in pieces

1 large brown onion, quartered

2 bay leaves

5 or 6 cardamom pods

1½ tsp of sea salt flakes

1/4 tsp black pepper (about 8 grinds of the mill)

1½-2 tbs olive oil

2 brown onions, thinly sliced - use red onions or (many) French shallots if preferred

150-200g. mushrooms, cut into chunks

¼ tsp black pepper (yes, another)

½ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp dried chilli flakes or powder

1 Turkish flatbread or flatbread of your choice, torn into chunks

1 tbs sumac

Plain Greek yoghurt, and chopped salad for serving


Method:



Place the skinless thighs into a medium saucepan, along with the onion, bay leaves, cardamom, 1 tsp of the salt, and the pepper

Add just enough cold water to cover it, and bring to a boil on high heat

Skim any scum off the top - there probably won't be much if using boneless thighs

Turn down the heat to low, and let it simmer away for about 25 minutes till the chicken is just cooked - if using bone-in thighs, you may need to let it simmer for another 10 minutes

While you wait, heat up the oil in a frypan, tip in the sliced onion, and stir every so often for about 15-20 mins. till it turns golden brown

Stir in the mushrooms, and let them cook for a couple of minutes

Now stir in the other ½ tsp of salt, the pepper, coriander and chilli

Grab a large casserole or roasting dish, preferably one with a lid, and place the torn-up pieces of bread in a layer on the bottom

Spoon half of the onion mixture over the bread, and place the strained chicken pieces on top, in a single layer - KEEP the broth!

Spread the other half of the onion mixture over the chicken, and sprinkle the sumac over the whole thing

You now pour the broth over the chicken, cover it (with alfoil if no lid) and bake at 200C/400F for 20-25 mins.

Now take off the lid/alfoil and cook for another 10 mins.

Serve with yoghurt which has garlic, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, lime oil, and lime juice mixed in, and a chopped salad of tomato and cucumber with salt, pepper, lime oil, and lime juice mixed thru


Notes:


If using boneless thighs, chop each one into 3 pieces before cooking

If you use bone-in thighs, you may need to cook it for another 10 mins. in the oven

If you use red onions or French shallots instead of brown onions, you will only need to sauté for 10-15 mins.

FYI, I had about 350 mLs of stock when the chicken was strained

Use plain olive oil if you don't have lime or lemon oil for the yoghurt and salad accompaniments; Nawal suggests using 1 cup (250 mLs) of yoghurt with 1/2 cup of chopped parsley,1/4 tsp salt and 1 garlic clove, grated




ingredients gathered



into the pot




gently stir the mushrooms into the onions



place the torn bread over the bottom of your dish 



ready for the oven @200C



making the yoghurt sauce




chopped salad 



yum!  ready to eat




brown onion - artwork by sherry's pickings

Monday, 13 August 2018

Caraway Scones - International Scone Week - August 2018 - #ISW2018

International Scone Week has come around so fast this year.  #ISW was started some years ago by Celia from the Fig Jam & Lime Cordial blog, and is now under the mantle of Tandy of Lavender and Lime fame.  Join in folks!  Everyone is welcome.  I don't often make scones; not sure why as they are incredibly quick and easy to make.  They can be sweet or savoury, and whipped up in a short time for surprise guests.

This recipe is from Old Farmhouse Recipes by Alison Uttley, known for her Little Grey Rabbit children's books.  She gives no oven temp. or baking time, and not much direction for this recipe - I guess any good cook of the (late Victorian) era would know these things already.  So I've done my best, and I think they turned out pretty well, if a bit flat.  I'm not sure if they're meant to be this way, or if my bicarb soda was just too darn old?:=)  And who would have thought to put marmalade and caraway seeds into scones?:=)  Pretty tricky those Victorians.  




slather on the butter and jam



ingredients:


450g. of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

110g. of butter

170g. of sugar

2 tbs of caraway seeds - I used US tablespoons here

2 tbs marmalade

1 tsp bicarb-soda dissolved in a tsp of water

1 tbs of vinegar

about 180 mLs of buttermilk or plain Greek yoghurt thinned out with water

1-2 tbs of cream or milk for brushing the tops before baking


Method:


Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl

Mix in chunks of the butter with a knife, then get your hands in and rub it together till it looks like breadcrumbs

Stir in the sugar and caraway seeds

Make a well in the middle of the flour and butter mixture

In goes the marmalade, bi-carb and vinegar - yes, it fizzes:) 

Mix to a stiff dough with the buttermilk or yoghurt - start with 125 mLs (half a cup), then use more if needed

Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 2 cm. (about 1 inch) thick shape - round or rectangle

Cut out rounds with a scone cutter (or glass) - you will get about 12

Place on a lightly floured, or a lined baking tray

Brush the tops with the cream or milk

Bake at 200C for about 15-20 mins. till lightly golden brown on top

Cool on a wire rack or just eat warm with butter and jam:=) 


Notes:

I didn't have buttermilk (Alison says to use 'sour milk'), so I made up some thick Greek yoghurt with water till I had about 180 mLs

I would probably use a bit less sugar next time, as the marmalade also makes them sweet

You may need more or less liquid, depending on your flour, etc

Leave the caraway seeds out if you're not a fan, or try another spice


I ended up with 19 scones!  I think it was because I made my dough shape too small - i.e. only 1 cm. thick rather than 2.  Silly me!  Maybe that's why they ended up a bit flat too





ingredients (mostly) gathered  



rub between your fingers till it looks like breadcrumbs 



yep the bicarb and vinegar fizz together



it should look like this when you squish it together




bring it together gently to a ball



pat out the dough with your hands till about 2cm. thick



cut out the rounds with a scone cutter or glass



golden brown and smelling great




delicious with lots of butter and jam




caraway seeds - artwork by sherry's pickings