Friday, 8 November 2019

Chocolat Angelique

Confession time - I'm a bit obsessed with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.  I think I've read everything about them and by them!  And I have a large portrait of Virginia on my loungeroom wall.  Mmm, a bit like my obsession with Frida Kahlo...  So it will come as no surprise that I have a book called The Bloomsbury Cookbook, which I reviewed here some time ago.  (I made a savoury omelette from the book then.) 

I was flipping through the book again recently, and this dish caught my eye: a dessert this time.  It's from an unpublished cookery book by Angelica Garnett and her hubby David, a renowned gastronome.  She was the daughter of Vanessa Bell (Virginia's sister) and Duncan Grant, who was at one time the lover of Angelica's husband David.  Confused?  Yep, me too.  I think they all slept with each other at some stage:-)  Oh, and David was waaaay older than her too.  This rich and creamy number is a fair bit like Nigella's chocolate pots in taste and texture, which I make regularly.

so very dark, so very creamy, so very chocolate-y

(You will need a spare 35 minutes or so to make this recipe, though most of it is just making sure it doesn't boil over)

Serves 4:


70g. (2.5oz) of butter

250 mLs full-fat milk + 175 mLs pure cream = 425 mLs (3/4 pint) 

50g. (scant 2 oz) caster sugar/vanilla sugar

90g. (a hefty 3 oz) of dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa), grated or chopped into small pieces

3 tbs of rum - (make it 45-50 mLs)

a handful of pecans and/or macadamias chopped, to serve (optional)

a good big pinch of sea salt flakes, to serve (optional)


Grab a small (though high-sided if possible) saucepan, throw in the butter and melt on a medium heat till it starts to sizzle - you will hear it sizzling away at you :-)

Stir in the milk/cream mixture and the caster sugar, with a wooden spoon (as Angelica instructs)

Now chuck in the grated/chopped chocolate and stir in well

Bring it to the boil on medium heat, then turn it down to low, but make sure it is simmering/bubbling away gently the whole time

Keep a good eye on it!  I nearly had a disaster of the boiling-over kind when I stepped away at the beginning :-)

You will need to stir it every few minutes, for about 25-30 minutes till it has reduced by about half, and stays on the back of your wooden spoon when you run your finger through it

Now stir in the rum, and pour into 4 small cups or ramekins

Into the fridge it goes for at least 6-8 hours, but I firmly recommend overnight, my friends

Sprinkle on the nuts and salt if using, and savour the richness


Try using vanilla sugar, for that extra bit of flavour

I used Lindt chocolate which comes in a thin block, and zapped it in the food processor - so much faster and less messy than chopping or grating

Use any liquor of your choice, and any nut you like

I strongly suggest sprinkling on those sea salt flakes!  It really picks up the flavour, and cuts the richness

I have to confess I cooked my Angelique just a wee bit too long, and it started to go grainy.  It still tasted great, and the next night when we finished them off, it had smoothed out completely

zap the chocolate into small shards

melt the butter; stir in the milk/cream/sugar and chocolate

bubbling away for about half an hour and looking kinda icky :-) 

you end up with about half a litre of smooth chocolate cream 

throw on the nuts and sea salt - winner!

I promise you the sea salt adds such a delightful fillip of flavour to the rich creaminess of this dessert.

the original recipe from the book

I had to do a bit of adaptation here, as the recipe is rather ... minimalist in details:-)  This recipe was invented by Angelica during the Second World War, when butter and sugar were rare commodities, though somehow the Bloomsberries always seemed to be able to procure glorious food and drink.   

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday, 1 November 2019

In My Kitchen - November 2019

Well, I was going to start off this post with a wonderful quote about November, but since they all relate to a cold Northern Hemisphere, they're not so applicable to our sunny Spring weather.  So forget all that stuff about terrible winds and rain and cold, and let's look forward to watermelon and cherries and prawns and ice cream and salad and swimming and beaches ...  

So let's get to it, my friends.  Another month is speeding by, and here we have in my kitchen:

my new oven!!

Some readers may remember I spoke of the new oven sitting in our dining room for a couple of months.  At last, it is installed and I can bake - with a fan, and a timer, and a door that closes! and a grill, and a door that closes!!  Oh my, I hardly know myself.

preserved lemons

Here we have my preserved organic lemons, using the home grown fruit from our neighbour's backyard tree.  Nothing better than a backyard lemon tree, my virtual friends.  I used my wooden cocktail muddler to push down the fruit into the juice; it worked a treat.

food essays

While I was reading Ruby Tandoh's book on food and eating, she mentioned this book, et voilà!  If Ruby and Nigella both approve, I had to have it, of course.  I haven't started it yet, so nothing to tell you about it for now.

Tassie EVOO

I love Tasmania, and I love their produce.  This is from a small farm in the Derwent Valley, which also makes beautiful elderflower and elderberry products.  All that gloriously clean air and water down there make for beautiful products.

and yet another cookbook

This one is by an ex-Brisbane lady, who moved to England some years ago.  She has a blog, where she cooks up recipes inspired by her reading.  This is her latest book.  I can't wait to delve into it.

home made guacamole

I made delicious guacamole with our friends' avocados.  (No sour cream here, folks.)  I was surprised that they grew in Toowoomba, which is a cold place in Winter, and hot and dry in Summer.  I thought they were more of a tropical fruit, but clearly they can grow in varying climes.  Yes they can, as Wiki confirms ...  And they're actually a berry!  Who knew?  

coriander leaves with EVOO and salt

As is my current practice, whenever I have leftover herbs in the fridge about to die, I throw them in the blitzer with a wee bit of olive oil and lots of salt.  And bang! the paste goes into the freezer till I need it.  I feel so thrifty and virtuous, I practically glow:-)

I'd love to see you here my fine foodie friends, so feel free to join us from Nov 1-13!  Let us share in your delightful produce and recipes and books and travel etc etc ... 

How to join us here in In My Kitchen land:

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

2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to  the list below.  

3. Email me:, with your link or any    

    queries about the link process 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

In My Kitchen:

Happy Retirees Kitchen

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Chicken, Mushroom And Pearl Barley Soup

I can't remember how I first came upon this recipe, but it's from a blog called Scruff and Steph.  I've been meaning to make it for ages, through the Winter months, and now that it's Spring, ironically I got around to making my version of their tasty soup.  It was delicious!, and hearty.  And I used some of the bio-dynamic pearl barley I had bought in readiness early in Winter.

I had a bit of fun with this recipe, squeezing out the filling from the chicken sausage casings.  Who knew how very satisfying it could be?:-)  The meaty chunks just plopped right on out of their somewhat rude-looking casings (tee hee), ready to be browned up in the EV olive oil.  And they added a fabulous savoury taste and texture to the soup.  Mum used to make pearl barley soup all through the (long, freezing) Melbourne winter, so this reminds me happily of home and childhood.

chunky and delicious soup

Serves 4:


150g. (3/4 cup) pearl barley

400g. chicken sausages 

1 tbs EV olive oil

1-2 tbs butter

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 red chillies, finely chopped (optional)

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (optional)

80 mLs (1/3 cup) of verjuice or white wine vinegar

380g. mushrooms

2 tbs plain flour

1 Litre (4 cups) chicken stock

250 mLs (1 cup) water

1/2 tsp sea salt 

black pepper, about 8 grinds of the mill

80 mLs (1/3 cup) of thickened cream

2-3 tbs parsley, finely chopped


Soak the barley in cold water for about 20 minutes, then rinse and drain

Squeeze chunks of the filling out of the sausage casings

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and tip in the sausage chunks

Fry for a few minutes till they start to brown up

In go the butter and the onion; fry for a few more minutes

Now pop in the chillies and garlic, and stir for a couple of minutes

Pour in the verjuice or vinegar, and give the bottom of the pan a really good stir to get up all the good bits

Then add the mushrooms, stirring for a few minutes till they start to go tender

Stir the flour in well to the pot

Add the stock, water and barley, and the salt and pepper

Bring it to the boil, then turn down to medium and let it simmer away for 30 minutes, stirring regularly so it doesn't stick

Check to see if the barley is how you like it; you may want to cook for a wee bit longer if you like the barley more tender

Add the cream, adjust for seasoning, and throw in lots of parsley

Scruff and Steph suggest serving with crusty bread and grated Parmesan, tho Mr P. and I had it without either of these, and were content


Use beef sausages if you prefer, as Scruff and Steph suggest

We noticed that the barley I used was a darn sight better than the stuff you buy at the supermarket, so I suggest hunting out a really good quality one like this one from Mount Zero (nope, not a paid ad; I'm just a fan)

ingredients gathered

give everything a good stir 

ready to eat

hearty and creamy and chunky soup

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Bacon And Thyme Scones/Loaf

I really enjoy community cookbooks, those put out by schools and local groups.  They show us how regular people (like ourselves) eat and live.  I have quite the collection of them!  It's always handy to see how real people cook, using ingredients and methods that we all can use to make life a bit easier in the kitchen.   

Here we have a recipe from The Irish CountryWomen's Association Cookbook, put together by the ladies of the Association to share dishes that are cooked in their homes.  This particular recipe is by Edward Hayden, an Irish TV chef and food writer.  I'm guessing he's not one of the women, though he probably makes it in his own home:-).

cheesy and golden, ready for slicing and loads of butter 


140g. (5 oz) bacon, diced

450g. (1 lb) plain flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cayenne or paprika

pinch of salt

85g. (3 oz) cold butter, diced

85g. (3 oz) tasty cheddar cheese, grated

2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped or herb(s) of your choice

1 large egg, lightly whisked with a fork

200 mLs (7/8 cup) buttermilk

a handful of pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and extra grated cheese to top the scones/loaf if you wish


Fry the diced bacon in a dry pan till it starts to go brown; put aside to cool

Sieve the flour, baking powder and cayenne into a large mixing bowl

Add the salt and the diced butter

Rub the butter in with your fingertips till the mixture looks like breadcrumbs

Throw in the cheese, herbs and bacon

Pour the whisked egg into the middle of your flour mixture, and blend in with a knife

Gradually mix in the buttermilk, so you end up with a soft, sticky dough

At this point, decide whether you're making a loaf, or scones like Edward does

I went for the loaf, and spooned the dough into a lined loaf tin

Sprinkle on pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and extra cheese if using

Bake the loaf @185C for about 45 mins or till golden on top and a skewer in the middle comes out clean

If you go for the scones, roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface, cut into 10-12 pieces and place on a greased baking tray

Sprinkle on the pepitas and cheese

Scones bake at 180C for about 25 mins. till golden brown on top

Whether loaf or scones, this is delicious with lots of salty butter spread thickly

Keep any leftovers in an air-tight container for several days

If you made a loaf, you can slice thinly and toast or grill the next day(s)


Use a mix of vintage cheddar and parmesan if you like a strong, cheesy flavour

Edward suggests mixing an egg with a bit of milk to brush the tops of the scones/loaf, but I didn't bother - it was plenty moist enough to hold the pepitas 

ingredients go into the large mixing bowl 

mix till you have a smooth, sticky dough

plop the dough into the lined loaf tin

baked @ 185C for about 45 mins.

slice thinly and slather with butter

     artwork © Sherry's Pickings

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