Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Alcove Café and Deli Wilston - Review

To be honest, I'm not feeling the blog love at the moment.  What I mean is that it somehow seems incongruous and superfluous, but there will be good times ahead, so I'm going to 'Keep Calm and Carry on' as they said on those ubiquitous wartime posters.  We can still enjoy takeaways from our fave places, like this one.  (And when did takeaways become pickups?!)  We all need to support our local businesses, otherwise when all this is but a bad dream, we won't have anywhere to sit and relax, and eat good food and drink great coffee...



rustic exterior

We actually had brunch here a few months ago with a friend up from Sydney.  We all enjoyed our meals, and the friendly service, so we were happy to head here again last week (before the social distancing and isolation came into effect).  Braving the COVID-19 fears, Mr P. and I went out for a quick lunch.  It was early lunchtime, it was very busy, and it was starting to rain.  We dashed under the large umbrellas, and grabbed a seat.  A very friendly and charming waitress came by with menus, glasses and a carafe of water. 

Mr P. went to order at the counter, which is the norm these days, and we rapidly received – a cappuccino for me, and a mango and vanilla bean smoothie for him.  My coffee was fine, though I prefer it a little stronger; hubby loved his thick and cold smoothie.  You could even see the specks of vanilla in his drink, and there was a fruity taste of mango.  I went for the avocado smash with bacon, on organic sourdough.  Sadly, we both felt the bacon was a little light-on, considering you pay extra.  (At our December lunch here, the bacon was very generous!)  The bread was tangy, soft inside, crisp on the outside but not too hard.  You know how crusts sometimes cut your mouth?  Nope, this was not like that.  The radish gave the dish a nice little peppery zing, and the dukkah gave it a spicy hit.  

Mr P. chose the roast pumpkin fritters.  A common whinge from me is that cafes often when serving ‘fritters’ are really serving pancakes!  Once again, I would call these pancakes, rather than fritters which to my mind, should be mostly veg. with a wee bit of flour and egg to bind them.  These were flavoursome enough with pumpkin and chickpeas, but not to my taste – I felt they were somewhat stodgy.  Fortunately it wasn’t me eating them; hubby was perfectly content!  

It started to pour down, and the umbrellas were starting to leak, so we grabbed our belongings and ran back to the car.  We felt virtuous, and well-fed, happy to have helped a local business in this time of crazy, crazy madness.  Enough toilet paper yet, everyone? :-)



mango and vanilla bean smoothie $7.90


cappuccino $4


avocado smash on organic sourdough $13.90

The bacon is a bit light on, don't you think?  I think I paid an extra $6
for it:-(  Below is a photo of the same dish in December!  Sooo generous, and bacon-heavy, to my delight.



smashed avo with bacon and egg (in Dec 2019)


roast pumpkin fritters $17.90

Sadly, Alcove like every other café and restaurant is closed except for takeaways for the foreseeable future.  Good luck everyone!  Keep well, keep happy and wash your hands (to the tune of Happy Birthday for twenty seconds - tee hee).



rustic exterior but great food and service



Ph: 07 3161 1591

92 Kedron Brook Road, Wilston Q 4051

Friday, 20 March 2020

Chocolate Mousse - With A Twist

When I was a teenager, I used to make chocolate mousse the old-fashioned way with beaten egg whites, egg yolks and whipped cream.  So so rich and heavy.  My go-to chocolate dessert these days is Nigella's choc pots, made in minutes.  But I once made a version with avocado, for friends who were being vegans for five minutes.  It was delicious actually!  And this one is similarly surprising and delicious.  

Last year I did my annual cooking class pilgrimage with Princess Pia, a ring-in for Ms. M who had to fly back home due to a family emergency, and thus sadly missed out on the class.  We drove down to the Northern Rivers area, just over the Queensland border, where we attended one of the wonderful classes held by Belinda Jeffery.  Belinda is a cook, writer, and ex-tv presenter, amongst her many talents.  Her classes are always fun and educational.  We made this surprising recipe in class, and we all loved it.  I've made some tiny changes to her recipe, by adding some spice, and a toffee nut topping rather than the praline she suggests.          


Serves 8:


ingredients:


600g. silken tofu

320g. dark chocolate - 70% Lindt is a good choice, or your fave

2-3 tbs maple syrup or honey

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

a big pinch of cinnamon (optional)


Nut topping:


125g. slivered and/or flaked almonds

25g. butter

1 tbs golden syrup

a pinch of sea salt

a big dash of ground cinnamon - 1/8 tsp perhaps


Method:


Drain the tofu in a large sieve over a bowl

Melt the chocolate - either in the microwave (easy-peasy) or in a bowl over simmering water on the cooktop, and let it cool slightly

The tofu, maple syrup, and vanilla (and optional cinnamon) go into a food processor; add the chocolate and whiz till smooth (will only take seconds)

Spoon into 8 ramekins or a large bowl if you wish, and refrigerate till cold (mine went thick instantly)

Put all the topping ingredients into a small saucepan over a medium-low heat

Stir for five minutes, and watch carefully - it is so easy to burn this

When cooled down, put some topping onto each of the ramekins

Pour on a dash of cream when serving, if you fancy


Notes:


Make sure you buy silken tofu, not the firm stuff

Belinda suggests using a stick blender in a tall jug for the mixing part if you don't have a food processor

Her recipe calls for an almond praline on top, but I used the topping from Chelsea Winter's coffee cake that I made and blogged recently



ingredients gathered


ready for whizzing


looking splendidly rich and chocolatey


ready for the fridge


stir and stir and stir - for 5 minutes


add the cinnamon and you get this glorious golden colour 


nutty topping


I'm digging in:-)




artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Oat Biscuit Ice Cream Sandwich

Way back in 2013, when I started this blog, one of my first posts was for chocolate oat biscuits.  It starts: 'As today is such a grey and miserable day...'  Well, funnily enough, today is another grey and miserable day, and here I am writing up a post with a version of these biscuits, turned into an ice cream sandwich.  I made the ice cream the day before the biscuits, but you can do it on the same day, or buy a tub of your fave if you run out of time or inclination.

The biscuit recipe comes from another Brisbane blogger Faux Fuchsia, who is now an Instagrammer rather than a Blogger:-)  I followed her for some time before deciding to take the plunge myself into the blogging world.  Funny how you can feel so attached to people, even though you've never met them in real life.  Anyway, I feel that she inspired me to start my own blog, with her tales of family life (and quite a few recipes) in sunny ol' Brisbane. 


   
squidgy squishy chocolatey ice cream sandwich


(Makes a couple of trays of biscuits - maybe 15 or 16)


ingredients:


90g. (1 cup) of rolled oats

110g. (4 oz) butter, at room temp.

90g. (1/2 cup) brown sugar

85g. (1/3 cup) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

1 large egg

1 tsp baking powder

75g. (1/2 cup) plain flour

35g. (a handful) of white chocolate chips

35g. (a handful) of milk chocolate chips 

a pinch of sea salt

For serving:

ice cream of your choice - I used chocolate



Method:


Whiz the rolled oats in a food processor till they look like flour

Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla together till light and fluffy - electric beaters work well here

Add the egg, baking powder, flour, and oats into the mixture and beat in well

Stir in the chocolate chips and sea salt

Drop tablespoonfuls onto lined baking trays and bake for 10-12 minutes @ 180C/350F - they will spread out, so leave a bit of room

Leave to cool on the trays for five to ten minutes, then place on wire racks to cool completely

Store the biscuits in an airtight container for several days


Oops, I almost forgot the sandwich part!  Put one biscuit on a plate, place a scoop of the softened ice cream on top of the biscuit, and taking another biscuit, squish the ice cream firmly but gently onto the first biscuit  

Here is the link to my chocolate ice cream recipe, folks: chocolate ice cream - original recipe by Sherry's Pickings.




ice cream mixture


creamy and chocolatey ice cream ready for the freezer


Notes:


Use your fave kind of chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips like I did

You can add the baking powder and flour into the whizzed oats, if you prefer.  Just give it a quick whiz to incorporate them, before tipping into the creamed butter and sugar mixture

I decided to make a few chocolate oat biscuits too, so I added a tablespoonful of black cocoa powder (ordinary is fine) to the batter that was still in the bowl - ét voilà - dark and chocolatey oat biscuits 




beat the butter and sugars together till fluffy


add the oats, flour etc, then throw in the chocolate chips


place on a lined baking tray for 10-12 mins. @ 180C


let them cool on wire racks


squish that ice cream onto the biscuit





   artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Almond Ricotta Cake

I confess now - almonds are not my favourite nuts.  They're a bit bland, a bit ho hum, but they are useful in baking.  And handy in place of flour, if you have a gluten intolerance.  But don't get me started on those who make a huge fuss about not eating gluten, then leave their gluten-free bread on the plate at the café ...  You know who you are :-)  No, not Mr P.  What did he tell me the other day?  Oh yes - "I'm not precious."  Very true, too.

Normally I would make my own almond meal here, by zapping almonds (skin-on) till you get a beautiful powder.  But sometimes the will is weak, my friends, so store-bought almond meal it was.  And believe it or not, I had to go out and buy another cake tin!  I have only used 20cm (8 in) tins my whole life by the look of it. 



almond ricotta cake done and dusted:)

Oh, I forgot to mention this (Sicilian) recipe is from a book by Helen Bennetts called Willunga Almonds: Stories + Recipes.  She and her husband bought a small property in South Australia with almond trees, which led to her interest in the history and use of this ubiquitous nut.  She began to collect recipes, some of which you can find in this book.  There are lots of interesting recipes, mouth-watering photos, a general history of almonds, plus the history of almonds in South Australia.       


ingredients:


250g. (8 oz) ricotta

4 large eggs, separated

1 tsp almond extract

175g. (6 oz) caster sugar

250g. (8 oz) almond meal

zest and juice of two lemons

1/4 cup flaked almonds

icing sugar for dusting


Method:


Grease and flour a 22 cm (9 in) cake tin, and line the base with baking paper

Place the ricotta, egg yolks, almond extract and caster sugar into a mixing bowl, and beat until smooth

Stir in the almond meal, lemon zest and juice

Beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks, then fold a few spoonfuls into the ricotta and almond mixture

Gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture till nicely incorporated - but don't go mad here!  Gently does it

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, and bake at 150C (300F) for 35 minutes, then ...

Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the cake, and bake for another 10 minutes till golden and a skewer thrust into its cakey heart comes out clean

Leave to cool for ten minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack

Dust with icing sugar when completely cool

Store in an airtight container for a few days


Notes:

I used natural, sliced almonds for the top of the cake.  This means skin-on!  Just for a bit of extra colour and flavour




in go the ingredients, ready for a beating 


beaten up


in go the egg whites


almonds go on after 35 mins. baking 


another 10 mins. baking


baked, sugar-dusted and ready to eat


mm, delish!




     artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Sunday, 1 March 2020

In My Kitchen - March 2020

Well, shall I say it?   Yes, go on!  The year is Marching on, and here we are in ... well, March of course.  Makes me think of Alice in Wonderland - you know, the March Hare.  As Alice says: " The March Hare will be much the most interesting".  Let's hope March is very interesting.  Anyway, onwards.  Let's have a look at some of my kitchen goodies, and you show me yours!  

In My Kitchen:  



another Chelsea book

I may have mentioned this one before.  More of her recipes to try out.  And I think she has another book after this.  'Oh dear', say my groaning shelves: 'We have no more room for your books.  Leave us alone.'  Ha ha ha.  I laugh in their general direction:-)  That's me channelling Monty Python, in case it isn't obvious:-)



more Scottish deliciousness

This was a Christmas gift from the same friend who gave me books from Orkney, and the Alice teacup.  The Orkneys are on my bucket list, along with the Shetlands and the Hebrides.  Isle of Skye I have been to, and what a fabulous place.  Walk a hundred metres from your cottage, and it is as black as pitch.  Exhilarating and a bit scary.



my mugs

I had some mugs made up for Christmas gifts, using my drawings as decoration.  'Where do I buy your merchandise?', said a friend.  I had to laugh at that; I hadn't thought of them as 'merchandise'.  An artist friend demanded one of the green mugs, and asked where I had got them done.  I think she is going to get some of her own made, so I will demand one of hers in return:-)



Bruny Island products

Bruny Island is a long way from here, way on down in cold, but beautiful Tasmania.  I bought a couple of their products, though their main business revolves around cheese.  I didn't fancy having it posted up, and sitting in the sun so I got these instead.  



KI products

As many of you would know, the bushfires have raged over summer, killing many animals, some people, and destroying so much bushland.  It is pretty devastating for those who lost houses, and their livelihoods.  I bought a couple of Kangaroo Island products to support the farmers there.



cranachan for Robbie Burns' Night

I'm sure many of you will have heard of Robert Burns, the Scottish poet.  He is celebrated on January 25 each year, with Burns' Day/Night.  I made cranachan in celebration, the Scottish dessert made with cream, toasted oats, raspberries and whisky - lots of whisky.  It was delicious, but next time I will toast those oats even longer to make them crispy and golden.



recipe books

Friend M. brought these back from the Orkneys for me.  I thought I had put them up on IMK before, but maybe not.  Lots of hearty recipes I'm sure, to keep them warm on those freezing Scottish nights.

That's it from me for this month.  Awaiting your posts with anticipation, my friends.


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In My Kitchen:



Not Quite Nigella