Friday, 25 September 2020

Pecan Soup

Mr P. and I did the backpacking thing years ago.  We started in Greece, travelled through Europe and Britain, and ended up staying with a friend in her Philadelphia home for a few months.  We were her pet Aussies, you could say :-)  'Yes, we speak English at home; yes we have a democracy, okay yes, we sound like we come from Boston ....'  As a going away present, she gave me a book called The American Table by Ronald Johnson - over 400 recipes of American regional cooking. 

    I have often made Ronald's Shaker cornbread, and have finally (after how many years?) got around to making this pecan soup recipe.  I was inspired by seeing former food blogger Tiffin Fiona's photo on Facebook of fresh pecans from the farm.  Phew, now there's a sentence ...  I ordered a one kilo bag of pecan pieces, fresh and nutty, unlike the raggedy old things you buy in the supermarkets.  They were perfect for this soup.  (Ronald suggests buying new-crop nuts and keeping them in the freezer for later.)

© Sherry's Pickings         

an ancient edition :-)

Serves 4-6:


2 tbs butter

2 tbs flour

1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock, heated

3 cups (750 mL) milk, scalded - i.e. just brought to boiling

1 generous cup (115g.) fresh pecans - I used 125 grams

a biiiig pinch of sea salt flakes

a dash or six of Tabasco sauce

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 egg yolks

1 cup (250 mL) thickened cream

sour cream for serving - optional


Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and keep stirring for a few minutes over medium heat

Tip in the stock and milk all together, and stir for a few minutes till it starts to thicken

Now pour half this milky mixture into a food processor or blender, chuck in the pecans and blitz - you want a nice, grainy consistency

Tip this back into the saucepan, give it a good stir and simmer without a lid for 30 minutes - check and stir a few times

Now add the salt, Tabasco and Worcester, and simmer for another ten minutes

Whisk the egg yolks into the cream, take the saucepan off the stove and then whisk the eggy cream into the soup

Warm it gently for a few minutes back on the heat

Serve with sour cream if using - we didn't as we thought it was creamy enough:-)

Check for seasoning - you may want to add a bit more salt, and maybe a wee bit of black pepper


ingredients gathered

in go the stock and milk

half the milky mixture plus the pecans get blitzed

simmer for 30 minutes

whisk the egg yolks into the cream

pour the eggy cream into the soup

and enjoy this creamy, nutty soup

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Thursday, 17 September 2020

A Long Weekend in Historical Maryborough Queensland

While we may not be able to travel interstate or overseas, we can still travel within our state.  A dear friend was having an art exhibition in beautiful and historical Maryborough recently, so we headed up for the weekend.  We stayed in a waterfront hotel (down the road at Hervey Bay), with views of the marina and bay.  And it rained ... and it rained ... but who cared?  Not us.  We were just happy to be away.

a view from our room

We stayed at Hervey Bay (30 km/19 miles) down the road, and drove back to Maryborough each day.  The whale watching boats were in the marina below us, so we could watch them go out each morning.  

there were Alice in Wonderland figures

Our friend had her exhibition at Gataker's Artspace, which is in the historical part of town.  It is full of lovely old buildings, cafés, river walks, museums and artworks.  A great place to while away some time.

and chandeliers in the local pub 

We had dinner at the Federal Hotel, after the opening night.  It was cold and rainy, but we sat outside - 'cos we're tough:-).  Dinner was a tasty salad and a glass of wine.  

we ate roast veg and halloumi salad

and grilled chicken salad plus a poached egg

there's lots of street art like this

The signal boxes around town are decorated with steampunk/historical art.  So cute, so colourful, so fascinating.

You can visit Mary Poppins at The Story Bank Museum

P. L. Travers, the writer of Mary Poppins, was born in this building, which is now restored and converted to a museum.  Kitsch you ask?  No my dears, it's fun and interesting and full of art.  We loved it!

and take a ride in the lift with me and Mr P.

and zoom up and down the banisters with her

you can eat a sloppy joe here

We ate lunch at Portside Café, overlooking the Mary river.  Known as Moocooboola by the indigenous Kabi people, this river is the home of the endangered QLD Lungfish and the Mary River turtle.  The Port of Maryborough was one of Australia's busiest immigration ports from the 1850s.  It is now a quiet country town but still shows its history in the buildings and museums. 

or a beef and beetroot salad

take a walk and check out beautiful old buildings at Portside

buy yourself some pig at the local butcher

admire the bollards down by the river

view the beautiful old buildings

check out more street art

Is it co-incidence that all those cars are the same?:-)  And check out all those air-con units - like sentinels watching over the car park.  

wander past more street art

Here we have The Match Making Machine by Russell Anderson.  You can find his public art in various towns around Queensland.  He is one of my faves.  Another couple was checking it out too, and mumbled something about: 'You Queenslanders like this sort of thing...?'  We wondered how non-Queenslanders were even there, as our borders were and are still closed!

enjoy a hearty Benny with bacon at Hervey Bay

We had a late breakfast on the Sunday we were leaving, here at Eat at Dan & Steph's (alumni of the tv cooking show My Kitchen Rules).  Fabulous food, a view of the bay, just slightly iffy service.

eat grilled halloumi and corn fritters

head to Hervey Bay and watch the dragon boats head out

and maybe buy a sculpture like I did!

I couldn't help myself, dear readers!  I bought one of our friend's pieces - The Red Queen.  Catherine made a beautiful body of work for this Alice exhibition.  I was in love with all of them.

We had a wonderful weekend here, and will head up again soon to pick up our sculpture when the exhibition ends.  If ever you are here ... spare a day or two to check out this marvellous wee town.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Chicken, Pineapple and Sauerkraut Hotpot

Several readers have asked me about the chicken and sauerkraut dish I mentioned in my IMK post, so I thought I would throw up a quick recipe.  I have no in-progress photos, but nevertheless, here we go.  You can wing it a bit here, using more or less of the pineapple and sauerkraut, as you wish.  Use the herbs you like, and use stock instead of cream if you must.  But really, no, you have to have some cream, so maybe use half stock/half cream, if you feel it necessary.  This is very comforting on a cold winter's night.  So get to it, my friends.  Spring is upon us already!

crispy potatoes on top; ready for cheese, and heading for the oven

Original recipe: Sherry M.

Serves 4-5:


3-4 tbs EV olive oil - two for baking the potato slices, and one or two when cooking the chicken

5-6 large potatoes (about 1 kg./2.2lb), peeled and thinly sliced

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2-3 small red chillies, finely chopped

1 kg./2.2lb chicken thigh fillets, each chopped into three pieces

a big splash or two of white wine - optional

1 tsp chicken stock powder

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

a big handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used parsley) and 1 dsp dried herbs - I used oregano

1 x 440g./15.5 oz tin of pineapple pieces in natural juice, drained - KEEP THE JUICE

400g./14 oz sauerkraut

400mL/13.5 oz cream

1½-2 cups (190g.-250g.) vintage or tasty cheddar cheese, grated


First, tip the peeled and sliced potatoes into a large bowl, throw in the olive oil and mix with your hands

Place them in a single layer on a lined baking tray (you will need two trays), season with salt and pepper and bake @220C for 20-25 mins. or till golden and even a wee bit charred at the edges

Take them out and put aside while you cook the chook 🐔

Grab a large frypan, pour in the olive oil, chuck in the onion, and stir till tender

Now in goes the garlic and chillies; stir for a few minutes

Add the chicken pieces, and stir for a few more minutes

Splash in the wine and a fair slug of the pineapple juice - use it all if you like

In go the stock powder, salt and pepper

Let it all simmer away for about ten minutes

Add the chopped and dried herbs, and stir in well for a couple of minutes

Now you can put the whole shebang together: take a large baking dish or casserole dish

Spoon the chicken mixture into the dish

Spread the pineapple pieces and sauerkraut over the chicken

Pour on the cream

Layer the potato slices over the top of the dish, add the cheese, then season with salt and pepper

Bake @ 220C for about 25 minutes till the top is golden and the dish is bubbling

Serve with a green salad if you fancy.  Tell yourself it will counteract the artery-hardening delights of this dish :-)


Use your fave herbs and cheese here

Maybe try thinly-sliced sweet potato instead of the regular sort 

photo from an earlier, slightly different version

I used my homemade sauerkraut in the latest version of this dish.

spoon on the sauerkraut

deliciously crispy and golden

This is how it comes out from the oven.  Very tasty!  Very crispy!  Very cheesy!  Very delicious!

Veteran readers have read my stories of the mad chooks attacking us in the outdoor dunny when we were children.  And the roast Christmas chicken that slid off the bench and onto the floor, just as it was about to be served.  And the mad Lithuanian neighbour (our friends' father) who used to lop off their heads (the chooks, I mean) and let the headless bodies run amok as we children ran away screaming.  Oh yes, so many happy chook tales!  But this dish will make you happy - guaranteed.

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

In My Kitchen - September 2020

September, and Spring is here.  I can see those luscious lime-green leaves starting to appear at the ends of the branches outside my window already.  And oh boy, what a year this has been.  I hope everyone is well and safe, and coping with the buffeting we have all received lately.  For those readers in the 'other' hemisphere, I hope your summer has been restful, and that you're looking forward to Autumn/Fall.

    Not much has gone on in my kitchen this month.  Well, a fair bit of cooking and baking and eating, but nothing very blog-worthy.  So join me in a quick squizz, and please do hop on the IMK bandwagon.  Looking forward to your posts, be they about the stuff you grow, or buy, or cook or eat ... 

Here in my kitchen:

I bought this!

    I love salt, to the extent that I was dipping my licked finger into the fleur de sel jar the other day.  And I have this in my pantry, as well as a jar of Greek salt, and some pink Murray River salt and Maldon sea salt - well, you get the salty picture, my friends.  I adore smoked salt (my arteries are starting to have a tideline now), and since I can't get my fave Yakima applewood salt at the moment, I went for this one.  I hope it's good. 

and this ...

    Mr P. and I dropped into a bulk shop the other day.  Not sure what they're called these days, but you know the shop where they have tubs of nuts and grains and so on, and you grab your scoop and pour it into the brown paper bags ...  Yep, that one.  I saw this, and even though I had to pawn my firstborn (non-existent) child to buy it, I thought - yep, I'm going all out here.  Heck, it's Covid; I need a treat:-)  The mixture looks like specks of gold in the jar, and tastes like very strong stock powder.  I may have to pawn back (is that a word?) the non-existent child.

a gnocchi cum chopping board

    This board was made by an old friend (long-term friend), who retired many years ago after selling off his law publishing company at the ripe old age of forty-three.  He managed to chop off quite a few fingers a few years back, (a rogue knot in the wood made the saw bounce back onto his left hand) but he still manages to make many beautiful things.

and chicken with sauerkraut hotpot

    I made a large hotpot of chicken, pineapple and (homemade) sauerkraut topped with potato.   Sooooo delish, my friends.  Our nonagenarian neighbour loved it too!  Sounds odd, you say?  Yep, but it's so tasty.  Sautéed chicken and onion, plus a tin of pineapple and a jar of sauerkraut, topped with baked potato slices and heaps of cream and cheese.  Heart attack in a bowl, but worth it :-)

what is this, you ask?

    See the ingredients?  Don't we all love enzymatically decomposed yolk?  Go on, of course you do.

golden sesame dressing, I hope!

    I'm hoping that this is what I think it is - golden sesame dressing.  There is not much English on this bottle, except the label above with the decomposed yolk, etc.

a new spoon rest

    Here we have a new spoon rest made by the delicious Ms B., down in Northern Rivers territory.  Sadly we haven't been able to visit her for months, due to the nasty C-word.  It is over the border, and over the border we must not go.

Ms P. the poet

    And to finish off, here in our toasty Brisbane kitchen, we had a visit from the wonderful and clever poet Ms P. who is currently getting her second volume of poems together.  She helped us chop and eat dinner, before flying back to cold and snowy Tasmania the next day for fourteen days of self-isolation.

Well, that's it for me this month.  Hurry up you lot, and get your posts in :-)  Just a quick reminder about In My Kitchen, since I've had a few spurious posts coming my way lately.  This link is about sharing what is in our kitchens, or gardens for that matter.  You can tell us about your herbs and veg. gardens, your kitchen gadgets and goodies, your produce, your preserves, your meals ...  I don't even mind the occasional sneaky peek at other stuff but hopefully somewhat pertinent to the theme.  You know I throw in my arty purchases sometimes.

The link is open from the first to the thirteenth of the month, but being the kind soul I am (tee hee), I can add a late post manually - but Tell me about it!  I get no magic feedback when you've done a post - it has to be done by you via the linky, or by me manually.  I've come across IMK posts by sheer accident sometimes.  Indeed I discovered that one foodie blogger had done six months of them, without telling me:(  So after that mild scolding, please join in!  And here's how:

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:, with your link or any queries about the link process 


Blogger has gone mad, and won't let me add the links anymore.  Grrrr!  Therefore I will need to add your posts manually.  I'll try to work it out for next month!  So please just advise me of your posts in the comments or via email, and I will see what I can do.  Thanks muchly!


Hopefully all is fixed now, and everyone can add their own IMK posts!!


1. Mae's Food Blog

2. Allotment2Kitchen

3. Spades Spatulas & Spoons

4. Lavender and Lime

5. Let's Curry

6. Happy Retirees Kitchen

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Click here to enter

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Choc-Orange Chocolate Ripple Cakes

Strangely, some people don't like the jaffa combo of chocolate and orange.  Who are these people?:-)  Frankly my dears, I love it!  Recently friends came over for a quick arvo tea (they were soon off gallivanting somewhere else), so I decided to make some jaffa crème (yep, sorry, I know it's a wanky word), and sandwich up some choc ripple biscuits.  As I still had heaps of the crème afterwards, I then thought of the old-fashioned choc ripple fridge cakes of our younger days.  You know where you throw mounds of whipped cream over the biscuits, and turn them into a delicious log?    

    By sheer chance, I had bought a food magazine (not a trendy, expensive one) that weekend, and came across a recipe for espresso martini ripple cakes.  Neither of our friends are coffee drinkers, so that was a no-go, but jaffa?  Yep, we were all in.  So off I went to buy more choc ripple biscuits, and make this extravaganza of chocolate and orange (and a wee dram or three of whiskey).  

the hands of Ms. P holding her dessert

    Best started the day before serving, but make it at least 6-8 hours ahead.  Make the jaffa crème a day ahead, and even the chocolate syrup if you wish.  I used Nigella Lawson's recipe for the syrup, and splashed some Irish whiskey in for good measure!

Original recipe by Sherry M:

Serves 6:


Jaffa crème:

1 tub (250g./8 oz) soft Philly cheese 

1 tub (250g./8 oz) mascarpone cheese

50-60g. (5-6 hefty tbs) soft icing mixture/sugar

zest and juice of 1 large orange (I ended up with 150 mL/5 fl oz)

100g. (3½ oz) dark chocolate, melted and cooled - I used Lindt 70%

Chocolate syrup:

1 tsp cocoa powder

125 mL (4.2 fl oz) water 

100g. (3½ oz) caster sugar 

3 tbs whiskey (optional)

For the ripple cakes:

1 packet (250g./8 oz) Chocolate Ripple biscuits

Jaffa crème

chocolate syrup

some crème fraîche (or mascarpone) to dollop on top (optional) 

1 Flake bar - or grate some chocolate from a block


Jaffa crème:

Tip the 2 cheeses into a large mixing bowl, and beat together well - you want this to be light and airy

Add the icing mixture or sugar into the bowl, and beat some more

Now you add the zest, juice and melted chocolate, and beat till well combined

Spoon the mixture into a container and place in the fridge till you make the cakes (give it a few hours to firm up)

The choc syrup:

Place the cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan

Stir to combine, bring to the boil, then turn down and let simmer for just a few minutes - you don't actually want a sticky syrup here, as it is just to moisten the biscuits

Cool for a few minutes, stir in the whiskey, and pour into a jar or bottle.  Keep in the fridge for when you make the cakes later

The Cakes:

Grab a serving plate, and line with a piece of baking paper

Lay out 6 biscuits along the plate (however they fit), then dip each one of their chocolatey bottoms into the syrup briefly

Place them back on the plate in a single layer, and brush the biscuits generously with the syrup

Top each biscuit with a generous tablespoonful of the crème 

See where this is going?  You are building up 6 gorgeous stacks of biscuit and crème!

Dip another biscuity bottom, and place it on one of the stacks.  Brush with syrup, and smother in crème; then a third biscuit dipped in the syrup, then brushed with more syrup, and topped with more crème; then a fourth dipped biscuit brushed with more syrup - so now you have 6 pretty cakes all ready for the final crème layer 

Now smother each cake with crème, and smooth it out over the top and sides with a palette knife/spatula - don't worry too much here if it's a bit clumpy (mine was!)

Dollop on the crème fraîche if using

Break up the Flake bar (or grate the chocolate) and sprinkle over each cake

Place in the fridge for 6-8 hours, or overnight


Chocolate ripple are plain chocolate biscuits/cookies; use whatever brand you have available

If you don't have an organic or unwaxed orange, do what I did - scrub it under warm tap water with a wee brush, then pat dry

The average orange holds about 75 mL/2.5 fl oz apparently; I used the whole amount that came out of my huge orange - 150 mL/5 fl oz!

My well-rounded tablespoonful of icing sugar mixture was about 10g., so 5 tbs = 50g./1.7 oz roughly

You will have leftover syrup and crème; so put the syrup in your coffee, and slather a biscuit with the crème

first, scrub your orange

beat the 2 cheeses with the orange and chocolate

simmer the syrup for 2-3 minutes

start making your stacks of  biscuit, syrup and crème

creamy stacks nearly done

on goes the final layer of jaffa crème

ready for eating

reflections of cake

These final photos were taken on my first go at making these cakes.  A dollop of mascarpone went on top.  I took this one over to our 90 year-old neighbour, who was a definite fan.  As our Tassie mate (who was staying the night before flying back to freezing cold Hobart) Ms. P said: "I'm so full, but the tastes are so good, I just can't stop..."

a smiley shot of the charming Ms. P with the salsa she chopped for dinner

           orangey artwork © Sherry's Pickings