Friday 21 December 2018

Peanut Butter Truffles

Peanut butter - or maybe you call it peanut paste? - brings back childhood memories.  Slathering it on toast with butter dripping down your hand, or dipping your spoon into the jar evokes happy thoughts.  I like it crunchy and salty, but I've used a marvellous Byron Bay version here, which is 100% peanuts, no salt or sugar.

I was watching one of those kooky food shows on the Food Network the other day.  You know the one where they show you how commercial foods are made?  This was for a chocolate treat called Colts Bolts, from a company in Nashville.  I love chocolate and peanut butter together, so I decided to see what I could make with similar tones.

peanuts peanuts everywhere 

I was pondering how to make them, when I came across an old Australian Women's Weekly recipe (from the Dark Ages) for peanut butter truffles.  This gave me a great base, to which I added the almonds (as per Colts Bolts), and decided to roll them in melted chocolate and add bling.  But to be honest, these are not really like Colts Bolts at all, except for the PB and chocolate thingy going on.  And this is the AWW recipe on steroids. :-) 

Adapted by Sherry's Pickings:

Makes about 24 truffles


60g. (about 2 oz) almonds, roasted and chopped

2½ tbs brown sugar

1¼ tbs water

75g. (2.6oz) butter, chopped into chunks

125g. (4.4oz) dark chocolate (70%), melted and cooled slightly

155g. (5/8 cup) peanut butter (I used crunchy)

30g. (just over 1 oz) peanut butter chips (optional)

30g. dark chocolate chips

125g. (about 4.5 oz) crushed (finely chopped) peanuts for rolling

100g. (about 3.5 oz) milk (or dark) chocolate, melted - to roll the truffles

bling and sprinkles for decoration


Roast the almonds @170C for about 10 minutes till they smell toasty

Let them cool, then chop into small pieces

Place the sugar, water and butter into a small saucepan

Give them a good stir and allow to boil

Take it off the heat, and let the bubbles subside

Then add the melted chocolate, peanut butter and almonds

Stir well and put in the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool down - you don't want the chips to melt into the mixture

Take it out of the fridge and stir in the PB chips and chocolate chips

Scrape the mixture into a small bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes till it is firm enough to form into balls (truffles)

Grab a teaspoon, whack on a food-safe glove, and get rolling!

Make them walnut-sized or big enough to fit into a small patty pan

Roll some in just the crushed nuts, and dip some in the melted chocolate, then throw on some bling - I used chocolate crispies and glamour cake sparkles

Refrigerate for an hour or two 


I used raw almonds, skin-on, but feel free to use blanched if you wish

When melting the milk chocolate for the truffle coating, put it into a Pyrex jug so you can melt and dip in the one receptacle

Use one hand for the rolling, so you have a clean hand for grabbing things, moving things etc. :-)

I used ready-chopped nuts for rolling, but you could blitz your own in a food processor

sugar, water and butter into the saucepan 

yep, it really bubbles up so keep an eye on it  

tip in the nuts after stirring in the peanut butter and melted chocolate 

mixture cooled and ready for the chocolate chips 

in go the chips

mixture out of the freezer and ready for rolling 

rolling rolling rolling ... keep one hand clean  

some rolled in chocolate, some in nuts, some with bling 

I rolled some just in the nuts, while others were dipped into melted milk chocolate (use a Pyrex jug for the melting and the dipping) and covered in bling.  All equally delicious, and not as rich as you might think they'd be.  These took a bit of time due to the cooling and rolling, but they are fun and taste great.  Worth a go! 

This is my last post for 2018.  Thank you to everyone who has joined in the In My Kitchen link each month, and to all who have read and commented on my posts.  You make it all worthwhile.  Have a merry and very safe festive season, my friends.  See you for In My Kitchen (lite) on January 1!

nuts and more nuts - almonds and peanuts (artwork by sherry's pickings)

Friday 14 December 2018

George Banks Bistro - Review

Yes you're on the right track here: George Banks, Mary Poppins and so on.  This new rooftop bar and bistro sits on top of an old bank in the regional town of Toowoomba.  Toowoomba used to be a quiet, conservative sort of place, full of farmers and countryfolk, but is rapidly heading towards being a hot-spot of bars, caf├ęs and restaurants equal to any in the big city.

Our Insta friend who lives there, made noises about wanting to check out George Banks so I surprised her by saying "Okay, we're heading up in a couple of nights."  And so we did, and we tried out this very new place (our waitress said it had opened only two weeks before on 2 November.)  Once you pass inspection by the security officer, you head up in the lift to the rooftop where you can partake in a drink at the bar, or head into the bistro for a sophisticated meal.

looking into the kitchen from the bistro - love those pendant lamps

The bistro looks like a boardroom, (intentionally I guess) with heavy armchairs (a bit hard to pull up to the table in fact) and bright lighting.  The bar is outside, and had lots of happy Friday night customers.  Our waitress was friendly and helpful; sad to say we couldn't leave her a tip as their cash register system didn't allow it. 

sparkling water $8 per bottle

lemon lime and bitters $3.80

prosecco $9

We started with a drink - Prosecco for me; lemon lime and bitters for our Toowoomba friends, while Mr P. had a cranberry drink ($3.80).  Oops no photo of his glass.  

black olive crisp

barley sourdough

cultured butter

We moved on: there was a serve of barley sourdough with cultured butter ($7), and black olive crisp ($6) with smoked almond, chickpeas and pomegranate.  The bread was crusty and fresh, the butter was tangy, and there was a little bowl of Marmite gel (?) which tasted zippy on the palate.  I think I was the only one at our table to try it, and I really loved it.  (Yep, I ate it all.) 
The black olive crisp was just that - black and crispy, with a chunky chickpea dip.  Our friends shared that one, and really liked the rustic dip.  You could taste the earthy chickpeas, which lent a slightly grainy (but delicious) aspect to it.

you guessed it!  our cutlery 

I have to show you this, folks.  To be honest, Mr P. and I really didn't like the cutlery.  It was narrow and unwieldy, and just weird.  My blogger friend Sandra from Please Pass The Recipe told me that these are all over the place lately.  Eek!

yellowtail kingfish $16

I chose the kingfish for a refreshing start to the meal.  The waitress explained that it was a cold dish; I can only assume that the good countryfolk of Toowoomba had been surprised by this.  It was dressed with tomato, guanciale, mandarin and wattleseed.  This was refreshing and interesting.  The fish was dense and meaty, the accompaniments added a tangy balance, and the dressing was zesty.  The tiny jellied cubes were a fun item on the plate.  Oh, and pretty - did I say pretty with the flowers?   

buffalo labneh $17

Our friends shared the buffalo labneh - served with watermelon, pickled onion, brioche and bitter leaves.  They said the contrast of smooth labneh went well with the crisp leaves, the crunchy croutons and the pomegranate seeds.  No, hang on, I'm saying that, but that's what they meant :-) 

King salmon $38

The salmon, which came with baked celeriac, white bean, asparagus and hazelnut milk was a huge hit with our lady friend Madam S.  She said it was superb and deliciously moist, and cooked perfectly.  Not everyone gets this right, but GB did.    

wagyu rib fillet $39

Mr PE. went for the wagyu steak, which they happily cooked 'medium' without a murmur.  No throwing of plates and ordering him out of the restaurant for daring to have other than 'medium rare'.  It actually came out a bit more to the medium rare side, but he ended up loving it as it was.  Chunky chips came with it, and were readily devoured.

wagyu brisket $55

Extraordinarily, Mr P. suggested we share the brisket.  I nearly fell off my chair:-)  He usually eats vego when we are out, and is never one for huge lumps of meat.   Well, my friends, 'quelle surprise', as the French say.  It came out on a large plate, as one massive bit of cow.  And no steak knife.  Fortunately, it was tender and I could mostly pull it apart with my knife and fork, though Mr PE lent me his steak knife.  We enjoyed the flavour and the texture, though it was slightly drier than I expected.  I guess I'm just not used to big hunks of meat, but it was worth trying and I think many people would adore it.  

flatbread and yoghurt came with the brisket

Pickles were meant to come with this, but I think we may have missed out on those.  

a side of greens $10

The side of greens was garnished with salted lemon, almond tarator, buckwheat and egg yolk.  Mr P. and I shared a side of wagyu fat potatoes ($11), which came as chunky wedges.  They were delicious, and unctuous - sorry, I hate that word, but you know what I mean.  Oops again, forgot to take a photo.

We decided to head off to the nearby gelati place for dessert, as the noise and bright lights were affecting our poor old brains and ears.  We stood out in the bar area for a few minutes, to check out the scene.  It was dark; it was moody and merry and full of happy Toowoomba-ites, having a Friday night tipple.  A fun place to be.  

Picking's Verdict:  great food and friendly service; ambience with the bright light, heavy chairs and noise a tiny bit off-putting for these ancient folk.  A funny ending to our meal: an elderly couple were getting into the lift with us; as we stepped in, she turned to us and said: "I've had better!"  We chortled...

glorious chandelier

This amazing umbrella-shaped chandelier is in the bar area.  How very magical, how very Mary Poppins! 

looking up at the bar

Cnr of Ruthven & Margaret Streets,
Toowoomba 4350
Ph: 07 4580 0808

George Banks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday 7 December 2018

Beetroot, Orange and Smoked Fish Salad

Like the good Aussie I am, I love pickled beetroot.  You just can't call it a hamburger unless there is a slice or two of beetroot on top of the meat pattie!  Not that this recipe is for a hamburger, but for a refreshing, tangy salad which is just what we need during this heatwave we're having.  It is going to be 36C today, and very dusty and windy.  The fires up north are still burning, so it's a wee bit scary too.

I saw that Lorraine (Not Quite Nigella) had recently made a roasted beetroot salad, which reminded me to put up my version.  I had been meaning to do this for yonks!  So my recipe is inspired by an ancient red onion and orange recipe ripped out of a Cuisine NZ magazine, a huge whack of inspo from a recent Woolworth's Fresh magazine, and a wee kick up the backside from reading Lorraine's:-) 

juicing the orange (I grated mine) 

Serves 2-3 people as a main, or 4 as a side:

(Start preparing the onion about an hour before serving)


1 small (or half a large) red onion, finely sliced

1 tbs red wine vinegar

2 tbs lime or lemon juice

1 small orange (or half a large) - zest and juice

1 baby cos lettuce, torn into pieces 

100g. walnuts, toasted @ 170C for about 10 minutes

500g. of cooked beetroot - I used ready-cooked, vacuum packed

1 small Lebanese cucumber (approx 140g.), cut into chunks OR one apple, chopped into large chunks

200g. smoked salmon or ocean trout, roughly chopped (use scissors - it's easier)

a big handful of fresh parsley, chopped with scissors

2 tbs fresh dill, chopped

black pepper to taste


2-3 tbs plain Greek yoghurt

1/2-1 tbs tahini

1-2 tsp grain mustard

1 tbs lime or lemon juice

salt and ground black pepper to taste


Place the onion slices in a small, non-corrosive bowl

Stir in the vinegar and lime juice

Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for an hour

When the onion is done, place the orange zest and juice, lettuce, walnuts, beets and cucumber (or apple) in a large salad bowl and stir gently together

Mix the dressing ingredients together, and dollop it over the salad

Toss gently if you feel inclined

Now sprinkle the fish and herbs over the salad

Grind the pepper over the bowl

Serve as is for a main, or with baked potato etc. as a side


Feel free to cook up your own beetroot, but this is so easy on a hot, steamy night with pre-cooked beets - just make sure they're 100% beetroot and nothing else

For extra tang, toss the cucumber slices/chunks into some vinegar for 10 minutes before adding to the salad

marinate the red onion in vinegar and lime juice for about an hour 

zest and juice the orange

pile the ingredients into a large salad bowl

mix the dressing

dollop over the salad

snip the fish over the salad 

I threw a bit of this over the salad  

beetroot artwork by sherry's pickings

Saturday 1 December 2018

In My Kitchen - December 2018

I know, I know, your heart is pounding, your palms are sweating 'cos it's only a few weeks till Christmas and you forgot to make that pudding in October, and order that ham and turkey in November, and you just want to sit by the pool with a large G & T in hand, but you can't because the rellies are due to stay soon, and the tree needs to go up, and you need to spend days untangling the lights, and decorating the tree, and making the fruit mince for the tarts, and getting some Sherry (who, me?)  in for Santa, and glugging down a whole bottle of your fave tipple before collapsing in a huge, sweaty heap on the kitchen floor, nearly-empty bottle in hand, wiping the melted chocolate for the handmade truffles you just managed to get done in a 35C kitchen from your greasy, unwashed hair ('cos who has time to wash?), singing carols while you sway to the music - la, la, la, la, oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree ...

Nope, of course that's not me or you!  We are all serene, having calmly ordered gifts and turkey and ham weeks ago.  La, la, la ....  And anyway, Mr P. and I aren't doing Christmas this year.  Yep Grinch, Scrooge and the Kranks all in one.  Gifts for kids only is our mantra.  And no puddings or parties or Xmas lights ... Well, let's see how that goes. 

Anyway, here in my preternaturally calm pre-Christmas kitchen:

soy sauce??:-)

Well, you know my predilection for things Japanese, and my complete ignorance of their script, so we may have some soy sauce here:-)  This is supposedly some super-duper handmade in wooden vats etc. version - as you can see by the drawing on the label.  Here's hoping it's great.

a couple more Martin Boyd ramekins

It's a bit weird lately that I keep coming across all these Martin Boyd ceramics, mysteriously ranging in price from $10 each (as above) to $38 each.  Huh?  What the?  I've mentioned before that Martin Boyd was an australian ceramics factory, named after one of the famous Boyd family of artists.  I just adore these little beauties, so perfect for dessert servings.

more cookbooks?!!

I bought the school one as I like to support local endeavours, and a friend gave me the Latvian one after her European trip earlier this year.  Yep, definitely looking forward to making sauerkraut soup:-)

another tea-towel

I love tea-towels (and I do use them all); Princess Pia came back from New Zealand recently with this lovely one for me.  Who can resist a colourful Kiwi?

yep, more ceramics

A new store has popped up near us lately, full of local artists' work.  I saw a set of these, and thought they would make great gifts for Christmas.  So if you see this post my friends, know I was thinking of you if you get one for Christmas.

gin is so in these days, isn't it?

Guess what we're having chez Pickings at Christmas time?  Gin and more gin!  Four Pillars distillery makes this gin and the puddings only at this time of year (natch) and it sells out like hotcakes, so I scooped up one of each pronto.

gifts from the lovely Lorraine

Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella was up in Brisbane the other week, bearing gifts.  She knows of my love for spoons, as you can see.  And that dulce de leche was so good I hoed in with a spoon straight out of the jar.    

Mel's book

Our mate Mel from Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures has published her Culinary Quickies at last:-)  Lots of great recipes and tips here.  That lavosh bread you see on the cover is a winner, especially for this time of year.

gorgeous little tumbler

This is another beautiful piece from Magnolia Mountain, who make the loveliest ceramics.  I just cannot resist!  The beautiful pink represents cherry blossoms in Japan.

Well, that's about it for now.  Just wait till January, when I bet I bombard you with the culinary gifts I've received.  And please join in this month, my friends.  Can't wait to see what's in your kitchen.

Options for linking:

1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found      on the sidebar 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 (with your email address, please)

3. Email me:, with your link or any queries about the link



    An InLinkz Link-up


Sherrys Pickings