Monday, 14 October 2019

James Street Grocer - Review

Mr P. is a born and bred Queenslander, and hails from Toowoomba on the Darling Downs.  This fast-growing city sits at the top of the Great Dividing Range, and sadly (and weirdly too) was severely flooded in 2011.  But now they are steaming ahead with a new airport, and a new highway bypass, and an ever-growing population.  (According to Wiki, it's the second most populous inland city in Australia - who knew?)  This means new cafés to try out too!      

fresh organic veg for sale

We headed up the range last month for the annual Carnival of Flowers, (great, though smaller than usual due to the drought) and to meet up with an Insta friend (IRL).  She booked us a table at this fairly new and very popular grocer cum café.  It used to be a fish and chippery, and a butcher shop before that, but has now been renovated and decked out so that you feel you are in someone's home.  Very warm and welcoming.

love the lights

So the four of us - Madam S, moi, Mr P. and Mr PE. met up, all ready for a rejuvenating cuppa and a sweet treat.  I dove into a cappuccino, which was frothy and strong, just how I like it.  Madam S had a latte, while Mr P. enjoyed a hot and creamy chocolate, dusted with more chocolate powder.  Sorry Mr PE, what did you have?:-)  A long black maybe...  The coffee comes from Brisbane roastery Seven Miles - their Cat's Pyjamas blend. 

strong, frothy coffee  

hot chocolate

latte (I think) tee hee

banoffee pie for me

Okay long-term readers, you may remember my many protestations about the banana and how I do not like its fibrous, slimy being.  But here we have a banoffee pie which has slices of the beastie piled into its luscious creamy and caramel-y filling.  And I loved it!  What can I say?  I am a creature of strange and conflicting habits:-)  Great pastry, great filling, yum.

Mr P. went for quiche and salad

Just to be different, hubby chose the quiche Lorraine with crumbed and fried (but cold) cauliflower with a random almond.  He really liked this dish.  Great tender pastry, tasty filling and a few greens to keep it healthy.  

house-made apple pie

This was a huge hit with Mr PE.  He loved its homely rusticity; its tender, spicy apples and short, flaky pastry.  He said it was just like (better than?) home made.  

gluten-free delights

Madam S. requires gluten-free goodies, so here she has a moistly delicious brownie and maybe a shortbread?  These went down a treat with the Madam. 

just a few of their house-made goodies

The owners pride themselves on using fresh seasonal produce, and local, ethically sourced ingredients.  They provide "sensational" catering, breakfast and lunches, and take-home dinners.  I can only confirm that we were all happy with our afternoon tea, the homely atmosphere and friendly service.  Mr P. and I will definitely make a return visit next time we head up to trendy Toowoomba, the university and Cathedral city.  

(Meals paid for by us, the  Fantastic Four - tee hee.)

95 Mary Street,
East Toowoomba QLD.  
Ph: 07 4637 9985

Open 7 days a week 8am to 4pm

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Crunchy Nut Cookies/Biscuits

Cookies or biscuits - whatever you call them, they're delicious.  This is actually a recipe for peanut cookies, but since Mr P. is not a fan of peanut butter, I used the macadamia and raw cacao butter from my pantry instead.  And they worked a treat!  So you can use whatever your fave nut butter is for this recipe.  And there's a funny debate - do you call it peanut paste or butter?  Depends where you grew up; I was brought up in Victoria where it was definitely butter, but other States call it paste - those crazy loons :-)      

crunchy and delicious

This recipe comes from The Australian Women's Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits.  The weekly (now monthly) magazine started in 1933, and is still going strong.  Their recipe books have been going strong for many decades too.  If you want a simple, easy, successful and tasty recipe for just about anything, you can't go wrong with them behind you.  I sound like an ad, don't I?  But no, I'm just a fan.

Makes about 30


3/4 cup (155g.) self-raising flour

1/4 tsp bi-carb of soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup (250g.) caster sugar

1/2 cup (50g.) rolled oats

1/3 cup (90g.) shredded coconut

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup (140g.) peanut butter or your fave nut butter

1 tbs golden syrup

2-3 tbs water (you may need a bit more)


Sift flour, bi-carb and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl

Chuck in the sugar, oats, coconut and lemon zest and mix well

Rub the nut butter/paste into the floury mixture with your fingers till it looks like coarse breadcrumbs

Add the golden syrup, then the water gradually, stirring to make a soft dough - you may only need 2 tbs water but add more if needed

Tip out the mixture onto a lightly-floured surface, and knead lightly till you have a smooth dough

Wrap in clingfilm, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill

Unwrap, cut into two halves and roll out each half to 5 mm (1/4 in) thickness

Use a 6cm. (2½ in) fluted cookie cutter dipped in flour to cut out shapes

Place on lightly-greased baking trays/sheets for 8 minutes @ 180C, or till golden-brown

Let cool on the trays for a few minutes, then place on wire racks

dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl

rub the nut butter into the dry stuff

pour in the golden syrup

knead lightly into a smooth dough

cut out the shapes

place on baking tray - @180C for 8 mins.

ready to eat or dunk into a cuppa

crunchy and golden brown 

These biscuits are somewhat like Anzac biscuits, the quintessential Aussie biscuit that the Diggers (First World War soldiers) used to receive from their mums and girlfriends when fighting overseas.  Crunchy so they lasted a long time:-)  Mr P. said he loves the crunchiness of this nutty version!  I'm still testing out my new gas oven, so it's a tiny bit hit and miss at the moment.  These bikkies are just a wee bit browner than I wanted, but tasted sublime anyway.  (She says modestly :-) )

  artwork © Sherry's Pickings


Tuesday, 1 October 2019

in My Kitchen - October 2019

October, October - "There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir," as William Bliss would have it.  I have to agree; I always feel like running off to distant climes in October.  Spring has sprung, flowers are rioting, birds are nesting, and the sap is rising in my mature (but zippy) blood...  Phew, getting a bit lyrical there, my friends.    Anyways on a more mundane level, here is my October kitchen.  Join in, join in, one and all; show us your kitchen/garden/literary goodies, folks :-)  

So here we have in my kitchen:

as per the label:=)

Well, you can see what this is - Dutch cocoa of the black persuasion.  I haven't opened it yet, but I believe it's very dark in colour.  Must give it a go soon.  Apparently, you have to mix it with ordinary cocoa so it doesn't overtake the flavour of your bake.

Japanese goodies

Off I went to visit the local Japanese grocery store again a while back.  I had to buy Kewpie mayo and wasabi paste naturally, but I couldn't resist a few more mystery items like the sesame seed dressing and the strangely sweet rice crackers.  And you get 19 crackers - why??  It's like Lucky Dip here!

oh yes, another book!

I can tell you nothing about this one yet, as I haven't even cracked it open.  Looks interesting though.  Fishman - great name for a memoir with recipes.

take a guess!:-)

These are from a country store down south.  I love that their products are housemade, so it's worth it to me to buy them online now and again.  Love those freckles!  And the tomato relish is a cracker.


Mr P. and I went to the Bakery Lane Bake Off recently.  We got a goodie bag each, filled with the items above.  There's only so much unicorn confetti one girl can use, so I gave most of it away.  And butter popcorn flavouring?  What on earth do you do with that? :-)  (The Queen factory is just a bit up the road from us, so I love that these are local products.)

gifted fruit from friends

Our neighbour has kindly given me some of her lemons, and a friend has handed over some more.  Along with gorgeously ripe Hass avocadoes from their neighbours' tree.  Lucky me!  I made a splendid guacamole last night with the lovely ripe, creamy, organic avoes.  Delish!  Funny how they look like they've gone off, so black and squishy but no - they are at their peak.  Just like a good passionfruit.

a new apron

And last but definitely not least is our model Ms. K (in our downstairs kitchenette), sporting an apron with quotes from our mate Mel, who runs the local cooking school Vanilla Zulu.  Mel has many an interesting cooking quote!

Well, I guess that's it for this month.  I am looking forward to your lovely posts, my friends.  Everyone around the globe is welcome!

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In My Kitchen:

The Mother Hubbard's Cupboard


Sherrys Pickings

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Coconut Rice Pudding With Vanilla And Lime

When I think of rice pudding, I think of tins.  Our grandma used to give our mum tins of rice pudding as a treat for her kids (me and my three siblings).  Surprisingly, it didn't put me off rice pudding at all, and I still make a baked version now and then with cream and lemon juice.  Tinned quinces on the other hand were a childhood nightmare, and if we didn't eat them at dinnertime, we got them for breakfast the next day.  Oh, how we suffered, poor darlings.:-) 

This is a recipe from Stokehouse Q, a local restaurant overlooking the Brisbane River.  They serve it with mangoes, in the summertime when mangoes are at their peak.  Mr P. and I are not fans of this squishy fruit, so I served it with what I had in the freezer - coconut chunks and cranberries.  Choose your favourite fruit!   

creamy and sweetly delicious


170g. (6 oz) arborio rice (or other short-grain rice)

170 mLs (2/3 cup) water

400 mLs (1.6 cups) coconut milk

400 mLs (14 oz) coconut cream

3 tsp vanilla paste or fabulous-quality extract

1/2 tsp (3g.) sea salt 

75g. (2.6 oz) macadamia nuts

a splash (or light spray) of plain vegetable oil

a veeeerrry large pinch of sea salt

zest of 1 lime

250 mLs cream

100g. (3.5 oz) caster sugar

fruit and fruit sorbet, to serve


Place the rice and water into a large saucepan, and give it a good stir

Let it come to a low simmer, stirring until the water is absorbed - this will only take a few minutes

Now add the coconut milk, coconut cream, the vanilla and salt, and stir in well

Stir regularly as it simmers gently, till the rice is tender - this took about 30 minutes - and keep a very good watch on it towards the end so it doesn't stick or burn (you may need to add a bit of extra coconut cream to keep it from sticking)

Let it cool in the saucepan for 5-10 minutes, then push clingfilm right onto the surface of the pudding

Put it in the fridge overnight, or if you're in a hurry, for 6-8 hours

The next day, take the pudding out of the fridge and let it warm up for about 20 minutes before adding the other ingredients - I warn you, it is like spakfilla at this stage :-) 

Roast the nuts with veg. oil and salt for 10 mins @150C

Cool 'em down, then chop as finely or roughly as you like

Zest the lime (after scrubbing and drying, if it's not organic)

Whip the cream and sugar together till you get medium peaks

Haul the pudding into a large mixing bowl, and loosen it with extra cream or coconut cream (I used about 3 tbs of both!)

Stir the nuts and lime zest into the rice pudding, then stir a few spoonfuls of the whipped cream into the rice mixture

Tip in the rest of the cream, and fold it through the rice pudding

Serve with fruit, coconut chunks, and a scoop of your fave fruity sorbet


I scrubbed my lime with a potato brush, then dried on a clean towel

Choose your fave sorbet and your fave fruit to go with - they suggest mango and mango sorbet

rice and water

thick and creamy after 30 mins. simmering

into the bowl for cooling overnight in the fridge

slap on that clingfilm and rest overnight - yep, you too:-) 

roast and chop the nuts

I told you it was thick, my friends

in go the chopped nuts and lime zest

sweet and ready to eat with coconut chunks and cranberries

    artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Burghul/Bulgur Salad With Blueberries And Lemons

Burghul, bulgur or bourghoul?  Depends whether you're Turkish or Persian or Lebanese.  Whatever you call it, it's been around for a long time, and is still a popular grain in many cultures.  I remember as a young, greenie, vego Uni. student eating a lot of this stuff!  Along with other weird and wonderful things; how could I forget buckwheat porridge, which looked like brown glue and tasted just the same? :-)  Or endless soy beans and seaweed, and yoghurt and potatoes (not together).  Ah, the memories...  

fresh and zingy

Here we have a recipe from plum gorgeous, by Romney Steele, an American artist, writer and cook.  She spent a year living in a mountaintop orchard, which inspired the seasonal, fruity recipes in her book.  Since we're having very warm weather already (it's only the second week of Spring!), a fruit-laden salad appealed to me.  This book has lovely photos, and over sixty homey recipes, using simple and fresh ingredients.  The methods are (mostly) uncomplicated, the recipes full of flavour; this is a book to appeal to many a home cook.

Serves 4-6:


160g. (1 cup) burghul wheat

a large pinch of salt - maybe 1/8 of a tsp?

240 mLs (1 scant cup) boiling water or vegetable stock

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

130g. (3/4 cup) of fresh corn kernels 

1 Continental cucumber, diced

150g. (1 cup) fresh blueberries

40g. (1/4 cup dried blueberries), softened in just-boiled water for five minutes

50g. (1/3 cup) pine nuts, lightly toasted in a small, dry frypan

1 bunch parsley or fresh coriander leaves, chopped

handful of fresh mint or chives, chopped finely

3-4 tbs lemon juice

2-3 pieces of preserved lemon, chopped finely - just the skin, flesh discarded

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste - maybe 1/2 tsp

black pepper to taste - a dozen grinds of the mill perhaps?


Place the burghul and salt in a medium bowl

Pour the boiling water over, stir, cover and let sit for 15-20 minutes

Then drain any excess liquid, and fluff up with a fork

While you wait for the burghul to 'cook', mix the onion, corn, cucumber, blueberries, pine nuts and herbs in a large mixing bowl

Now stir in the burghul, and the amount of lemon juice you fancy

Then in go the preserved lemon and olive oil

Season with salt and pepper

Adjust the lemon juice, salt and pepper to your taste

If you fancy, serve with a protein like chicken or fish


Try quinoa or couscous if you don't have burghul

Blanch the corn kernels for a few minutes then refresh under cold water if you like your corn a little less crunchy

Use frozen corn kernels if you can't be bothered taking them off a cob - but you'll need to sit them in boiling water for a few minutes to defrost them

If you prefer, choose two small cucumbers of whatever sort you fancy

Use a different dried fruit if you don't have blueberries - cranberries perhaps?

This is a great side, but you could eat it happily as a main

I served this with baked buttermilk panko chicken

ingredients gathered

looks delicious already

tossed and ready to eat

panko chicken to go with ...

knobs of panko chicken on top of this fruity salad = yum!

To be honest, Mr P. and I prefer couscous so when I make it next time, that's what I'll use.  I bought the burghul from a bulk store; maybe it had been sitting in its plastic (!?!) tub for way too long :-)  Anyways, this was a really tasty and fresh salad, and you could feel it doing you good as you masticated.  And I felt very virtuous using up some frozen buttermilk that was lurking in the depths of the freezer.  A delicious and surprisingly hearty dish, my friends.

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday, 13 September 2019

Sticky Midnight Gingerbread

I love the name of this: midnight gingerbread.  Sounds a bit magical to me.  And it certainly tastes a bit magical too.  This is a recipe from Ruby Tandoh's book Flavour Eat What You Love.  Now you know I love Ruby, my friends, so I was really hoping this would be a great recipe and happily it is.  Not too sweet, wonderfully spicy, moist and delicious.  This would be great to take to a big gathering of friends and/or family.  Or give some away to your neighbours, as I did:-)

be generous with the icing sugar

Serves 12, or many if cut into small slices:


225g. butter

225g. black treacle

225g. soft dark brown sugar

thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

3 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork

375g. plain flour

4 tbs cocoa powder

2 tbs ground ginger

4½ tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

375 mLs strong black tea, still hot

icing sugar, to dust the top


Line the bottom of a 20cm X 30cm X 3cm slice tray with baking paper, and lightly butter the sides

Melt the butter and treacle in a small saucepan, then tip into a large mixing bowl

Now stir in the brown sugar and grated ginger

Whisk in the eggs, then add the flour, cocoa, ground ginger, baking powder and salt and give it a really good whisking till smooth

Pour in the hot tea, and beat in really well

Whack the batter straight into the baking tin and into the oven @ 180C for 35-45 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake (Ruby says "more or less clean")

Let it cool right down, then swaddle like a baby in clingfilm and a tea-towel and put it away somewhere safe

And WAIT for 48 hours!

Then toss icing sugar very generously all over it, and slice it up

Store in an airtight container for up to a week


After peeling the ginger, I ended up with about 35g., which was proclaimed "the perfect amount" by our houseguest Ms. MA

ingredients gathered

dry ingredients ready for whisking in 

strong hot black tea

luscious black treacle

whisk everything together till you get a smooth batter

after baking for close to 45 mins @180C

ready to slice up - yep I ate that wee corner already:-)

icing sugar strewn over, and ready to eat and/or gift 

There was a lot of cake, and only me and Mr P. to eat it, so I cut it up and gave heaps away.  We still had some a week later, and it was still in tip-top condition.  Of course, I kept it in an airtight container.  This really is a lovely, moist cake with a lovely flavour.  Good on ya' Ruby!

artwork © Sherry's Pickings