Friday 28 April 2017

In My Kitchen - May 2017

Hi guys!  Thanks for joining me in my new role as host of IMK. Thanks to Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for starting this happy corner of the Web, and to Maureen Orgasmic Chef, and Liz of course from Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things who is handing over the baton to me.  I hope to see lots of eager foodie bloggers joining in the monthly feature.

Let's get started.  As you know if you have participated in IMK before, the host grabs the link that you have placed in the comments section of her own IMK post, and copies it into the sidebar. This allows everyone to check out who has posted this month.  I am going to tackle this a bit differently.  The sidebar is no more:=)  (N.B. I have added the sidebar back for a short time as some people have had problems seeing the links.)  

There will be 3 options for adding your link:

1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found at the top 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:, with your link or any queries about the link process

The preferred option is number 1 as this gives you the power to add your link when you have time.  Well, up to the 10th of each month that is.  I will keep adding the links for you via your comments or emails, but hopefully down the track, everyone will use the link.  (I have added a link here to the Add your Link page as I have just noticed that you can't see it on devices!)

It has been a really busy month chez Pickings, so I don't have a huge amount of new stuff to share.  Mr P. has been my IT go-to man, and has set up the link for me.  Phew, it took us both a while to get it all sorted:=)   So let's have a look at a few of my latest acquisitions over the last month or so:

Flanders Field Poppy cup

I bought another one of these on our very recent trip to Canberra.  I have one at home already, and find them the perfect size for my morning coffee.  I had my bag frisked and labelled before we could go into the War Memorial.  A ceremony (not just the usual one) was taking place, so they were taking precautions.  It was a bit odd, but I worried a bit 'cos they only checked one of the pockets.  What if I was a crazy person, not just the eccentric I am?

a glorious bunch of pink roses from Mr P. - just for  

a plate rack designed by Mr P. 

I thought I'd introduce you to a corner of my kitchen.  When we first moved to this house, we needed more space for plates so Mr P. designed and had made this lovely wooden rack which sits on the wall near the kitchen sink.  I have always loved it!

looks tasty

Our Tassie mate Miss TPT sent this interesting package up to Mr P. for his recent birthday.  Haven't opened it yet!

nope I didn't make it

Look at this glorious Black Forest Cake!  As I mentioned before, we've had busy times lately in the old ancestral so I decided to take the easy path and buy in a cake.  Oh my, it was so delish.  Chester Street Bakery - you are wonderful.

chilli oil and Iranian saffron

The chilli oil was a gift from my cousin, and the saffron came from an Iranian friend's mum who brought it over as a gift to me.  It smells like heaven.  It has the colour and aroma of magic!

lastly we have a pizza cutter 

So cute; such a sweet gift.  And I still haven't opened it.  Next time I make pizza ...

Well, that's it for this month's IMK.  I hope you have all found your way here, and that it all goes swimmingly.  Let me know if you have any problems joining in.  And I would love to see you all next month!

Sherrys Pickings

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Baked Spicy Rice & Chicken

Who doesn't love a good risotto?  Well, maybe not your average cooking show contestant; it seems to be the downfall of many of them:=).  I like mine soft and creamy (the rice, not the contestants), and a little bit wet. But - the but is they take a fair bit of time and energy, watching and stirring and watching and stirring...Well, you get the picture.  So here we have a rice dish that is easy, and once in the oven, takes no time or energy from you. 

Obviously, you could never call it a risotto, 'cos it's not one.  But it's really tasty, it has everything in one dish, and you can go off and do your own thang for a while, as it bakes ever so gently in the oven. Ring in the changes as you desire: use bacon instead of chicken, or add raw salmon chunks at the start of baking.  Try your own fave spices, or vegetables.  This is a dish you can happily customise.

delicious and ever so pretty dish 

Serves 4-6:

Original Recipe by Sherry's Pickings


2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 small, red chillies, finely chopped (optional)

12 strands of saffron

1 large zucchini (about 300g.), chopped roughly into chunks

300g. cooked, shredded chicken

1 tbs currants

2 tbs barberries or a mix of cranberries and currants

1 tbs flaked almonds

1 tbs pine nuts

1 tbs pistachios

4 cardamom pods, cracked

1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick

2-3 dashes of ground Allspice

big! pinch of smoked or plain sea salt flakes

about 10 grinds of black pepper

1 cup Arborio rice (or any short grain rice)

4 cups (1 Litre) of chicken or veg. stock - homemade or a good quality supermarket one

2 tbs (handfuls) of chopped parsley, chives etc - your choice

a big pinch of extra saffron - about 10 strands 

knob of butter about 10-15g.

To Serve:

2 tbs barberries extra

1 tbs currants extra

2-3 handfuls of nuts e.g. flaked almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios

piece of preserved orange or lemon about 6cm. long, finely chopped, or 1 tbs zest if you don't have the other on hand

extra herbs for serving: chop up your fave herbs to strew over at the end.  I used parsley and chives


Place the oil and onion in a large skillet/frypan on a medium-low heat

Stir for a few minutes then add the garlic, chillies and saffron

Stir for another few minutes then throw in the zucchini chunks

Cook for about 5 minutes till the veg. starts to look tender

Now stir in the chicken, currants, barberries and nuts

Add all the spices - cardamom, cinnamon, Allspice, salt and pepper

Don't forget the rice!  Pour that into the skillet

Add the other herbs, saffron and knob of butter

Combine all the ingredients gently, and tip into a large baking dish with a lid

Place the baking dish onto the middle rack of your oven

Pour in the boiling stock and combine everything gently

Whack on the lid and bake at 185C for about 30 mins.  It may take only 25 mins or perhaps 35; depends on your oven so check after 25 mins.

Strew over the extra fruits, nuts and herbs for serving


Feel free to replace the zucchini with cauliflower or veg. of your choice - or add it as well as the zucchini

You can buy a roasted chook and shred it like I did, or buy about 300g. of breast which you can poach or bake before cooling and chopping into small pieces

The smoked salt and the preserved orange are not essential but add such a depth of flavour, you will want to try them

My own palmful equals 1 tablespoon just FYI :=) 

sunny ingredients gathered

fry up the veg.

stir in the chicken and herbs 

in goes the stock; now bake at 185C for about 30 mins. 

baked and smelling delish 

so pretty, so tasty, so spicy

my Iranian saffron doodle

Thursday 20 April 2017

Two Streets Over - Café Review

I love to see our old corner shops retained, rather than knocked down or turned into some modern monstrosity.  We are lucky in the inner suburbs of Brisbane to have lots of cute, old shops still strutting their stuff.  Mr P. the architect type loved the way they have restored this recently opened, local coffee shop.  So did I!  

cute courtyard perfect for some coffee time 

Mr P. had some time free for lunch so we headed down to grab a bite to eat.  Now don't let this scare you off but there is a highway just near the café.  Surprisingly it didn't worry us at all.  There is ample street parking, and it was quieter than we expected.  It can be a bit tricky to get to, but we took some back roads.  You can also come in off the main road heading out of town, and turn left into Swan Street.

looking up at the overpass

This is the view from the front of the café.  Quite an interesting sight as it is not a vantage point you would normally have.  Not too noisy either.    

yep they make toasties:=)

But no, we didn't opt for the gourmet toasties.  Mr P. loves a fritter so he chose the corn and zucchini fritter with black bean salsa. Excuse my rant, but all too often a so-called fritter is a flour-heavy pancake with a kernel of corn or veg. thrown in.  Very happily, these were not like that.  Perhaps a tiny bit heavier than you would hope for, but these were full of corn and zucchini.  The salsa was "interesting", though he would have liked more oomph.  You know, spicy and tangy and maybe a bit of chilli heat. 

corn and zuke fritters $16

"Not quite as good as Bill's at Bondi", he tells me but pretty damn fine.

potato rosti, mushrooms and poached eggs $16 

I enjoyed this dish.  I am a big fan of mushies, and there was a generous serve here. The rosti was golden and crunchy outside (both of them), and soft inside.  I would have liked my eggs a bit softer and more runny, but they were still tasty.  A generous and filling lunch for me.  And yes it was nice to have a bit of green stuff on the plate, to cut the richness of the dish.

ginger beer for Mr P. $4

Mr P. liked his Capi ginger beer.  Lots of gingery tang apparently. The Council bus came by just as I took the photo.  There's another option for you in how to get here :=) 

cappuccino for me $4 

My coffee was fine, though I often find cafés make it too weak for me.  Get a double shot, you twit, I hear you say.  I hear you, folks. 

bring your pooch too!

This place is pooch-friendly; see the dog bowl and hitching post above.  Enjoy all-day breakfasts, cool drinks, tea, coffee and sweets.  They care about your gluten and dairy intolerances (unlike me ha ha!).  And open up early - 6 am weekdays, 6:30 am on weekends for your coffee and brekkie demands.  

3 Swan St., Gordon Park 4031
Ph: 0429 612 541
Open every day till 1pm

Two Streets Over Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday 15 April 2017

A - Z Guidebook: Wawona Hotel, Yosemite California

why am I looking so grumpy? :=)  Perhaps the lack of dinner the previous night 

This is the Wawona Hotel at the edge of Yosemite National Park. Now known as Big Trees Lodge.  It was getting late, it was getting dark, it was getting cold, and we had nowhere to stay!  Thank the Small Gods, we finally stumbled across Wawona.  Shared bathrooms down the open hallway.  No food with us except a packet of jelly beans.  And (as some readers may remember) the restaurant only allowed you in if you had evening dress!!  Yes, what the?!

Anyway, we were thankful not to be left out in the snow with the grizzly bears eating our toes.  Part of the reason we had nowhere to stay was that the Info Centre had phones where you could ring and book a room for the night.  Sadly, some tourists are not that good at making decisions on the spot.  Each person was therefore taking hours (or was it days?) trying to find a suitable place to rest their heads.  By the time we got to the phones, there was nothing left.   So we drove and drove (it's 30 miles from Yosemite Valley) and hit Wawona.  Phew!  Life saved.

Join in with Tiffin Fiona from Bite Sized Food Adventures for the monthly travel photo round-up.  Currently on the letter W, as you can see.

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Monday 10 April 2017

Dried Cranberry, Oats And White Choc Biscuits

I love the word cookies, don't you?  It just sounds so good and so crunchy in your mouth.  And so very descriptive.  But I refrain my dears, 'cos I won't give in to those damn Yankees:=)  Biscuits it is. And these are brilliant little morsels, great with a cuppa or a glass of bubbly. 

I discovered this recipe on the back of a Craisins packet.  It sounded so simple and (I hoped) delicious that I thought I'd give it a try.  I've had a bit of a bad run with recipes from cookbooks lately, so I am on a hunt for ones that work.  And this does.  It was easy to make, and tastes great, happily.  So here we go.  

layer upon layer of delish biscuits 


166g. (2/3 cup) butter, softened

133g. (2/3 cup) brown sugar or coconut blossom sugar or your fave

2 large eggs

113g. (1+1/4 cups) oats

156g. (1+1/4 cups) of plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

100g. (1 cup) dried cranberries

116g. (2/3 cup) white chocolate chips


Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl; preferably with electric beaters unless you are trying to build up your puny muscles

Add the eggs and beat well - yep, chuck them in together

Mix the oats, flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl

Combine the dry mixture with the buttery mixture, in 3 goes - i.e. add some, stir it in etc till the floury stuff is all mixed in

Now gently stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips

Then use a teaspoon to add rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased trays (no need for baking paper either)

Bake at 190C for 10-12 minutes or till golden

Cool on the trays, then place on racks to finish cooling - or just forget them like I did and whack them into a storage container when cold


If you do a search on baking measurements, you will find people who say a cup of brown sugar is 200 grams, and others who say it is 155 grams!  So as I was using mostly coconut blossom sugar which is not all that sweet, I used a bit more than one said, and a bit less than another said.  Or you can stick with cup measurements, but I find them very imprecise

I did think of adding spices, etc. but Mr P. said to try the recipe as is - so I did.  And I think he was right; they are great as they are

ingredients gathered

creamed butter and sugar; eggs ready to be beaten in 

dry stuff combined

mix it all together 

ready for baking @190C for 10-12 mins.

golden and ready for eating 

This is such a quick and easy recipe.  You can whip it up for guests in a flash.  I might even add more choc chips next time.  So the verdict is: a great little recipe.  Good to see that you can actually find workable recipes in printed form.  Boo to all those cookbooks and mags. who don't do it right.

my coconut palm doodle       
Why a coconut palm I can hear you asking?  'Cos I used coconut blossom sugar, sillies.

Thursday 6 April 2017

In My Kitchen April 2017

Well, hubby and I are just back from our week away in Sydney and Canberra.  We have eaten all the good stuff, and been total culture vultures at several Art Galleries and Museums.  Oh, and caught up with family and friends, including Liz from Bizzy Lizzy blog!  Hi Liz:=)  And Michele from Fine Eating - hi Michele.

So I have a few things to show you in my kitchen:

a box of purple garlic

I read on Celia's blog recently (Fig Jam & Lime Cordial) that she had bought local Australian garlic, which she freezes for her annual supply.  I have done this for some years too; usually from Patrice Newell's Elmswood Farm.  I divvy it up into cloves with skin on, and shove into plastic bags and into the freezer.  It lasts for a year!   I was a bit worried I may not have enough so I decided to order another 500g. from Westmead Park Natural Farm.  

divvied up and ready for freezing

These gorgeous purple cloves are now sitting in my freezer for the coming months.  After having to buy some Mexican garlic last year in desperation (which was rotten and instantly thrown in the bin), I do not want to run out again.

fresh apples from the farm

Every autumn, a Stanthorpe farmer drives down to the big smoke and goes around the 'burbs hawking his fresh fruit.  I feel compelled to buy a box; gotta keep the locals thriving.  These are lovely and crisp.  I have given heaps away to friends but still have lots left in my fridge for eating, juicing and tea cake making.

baking choc oat biscuits on a rainy day 

A few days before the cyclone up north, we had a really rainy day in Brisbane.  Perfect for biscuit making.  These are easy and delicious.  And speaking of the cyclone, how odd it was to be away from home this past week, and to feel very removed from it all.   Just to let you know, there is now a fund set up by the Lismore City Council to help those in need after the floods (so you know it's legit. unlike some of the fraudulent ones that have popped up).

yes another wooden spoon - made from old callistemon wood 

I can hear Tiffin Fiona chuckling all the way from Texas!  Yes I had to buy another spoon.  Mr P. and I trotted along to the Old Bus Depot Markets in Canberra, and found a charming fella who makes implements from reclaimed wood.  How could I resist such frugality and resourcefulness?

John Olsen squid plate

We went along to the Art Gallery in Sydney (in the pouring rain mind you), and visited the John Olsen exhibition.  Regular readers may remember I bought a book recently which has recipes and artwork by Mr. Olsen (who loves to cook apparently).  It was a very interesting showing of his work over the last 5 or 6 decades of his career.  I admit I don't like a fair bit of it, (I don't understand it I guess) but there was heaps to admire and enjoy.  And he is still going strong at 89!

Well, that's about it for this month, other than to let you know I am taking over the mantle of In My Kitchen as of May.  So please hop along then to visit and contribute to the global peek into fascinating kitchens.  But for this month, check out Liz's blog for her last hosting posting of IMK :=)