Sunday 24 February 2019

Brooks & Stain - Restaurant Review

Brooks & Stain? - Bumbling detectives?  Laundry powder?  Nope, a new(ish) kitchen/bar in the local village of Wilston.  The owners Bis and Steve have returned to their old haunts to start up a new restaurant, just a few doors away from their previous incarnation.  Hubby and I headed down for lunch recently to check it out.  

And this is what we had:  vanilla milkshake for him; iced coffee for moi, along with crispy fried squid (me), and a bean and beetroot burger for him.

iced coffee $6; vanilla milkshake $6

Our thoughts?:  our drinks just weren't cold enough.  Mr P. and I find this is a common issue with Brissie cafés.  I'm not sure why, but it seems that the milk is never cold enough.  My coffee had good, strong flavours but was verging on unpleasantly warm.  I had to ask for ice cubes!  The vanilla milkshake was similarly afflicted. :-(  But yay for the bamboo straw rather than plastic.      

crispy fried squid $22

I enjoyed the squid, which came with two sauces (aioli being one of them) and a rocket salad.  The fried green olives were a lovely, sharp contrast in amongst the tender squid.  The baby rocket gave the dish a bit of texture and freshness.  Tried and true dish maybe, but it went down very well with me.

bean and beetroot burger $17.50 

Mr P. once again went down the vego route, as he often does.  The fries were thin and crispy, the bun was not sweet (yay) and the pattie was hearty and beany.  He said he loved this dish; it had lots of relish, and lots of flavour, so he was a big fan.  He remembered it with fondness, even as I asked him to remind me of its qualities. 

looking out from the patio/deck

On a recent Friday night on the spur of the moment, we visited again for dinner.  We sat outside on the patio/deck thingy, and lo and behold, our good mates turned up by sheer serendipity.  (Other friends strolled by with their dog and children.)  So we and our friends with the ravenous teenage man-child sat together for a chinwag and some good food.  Mr P. and I had already ordered, and were downing our drinks of Five Geese Rosé for me, and a lemon, lime and bitters for him.

Five Geese Rosé $8.50

Not so sure about the wine tumbler, folks:-)  It just ends up looking a bit ... sparse, don't you think?  Even though it is the regulation 100 mLs (maybe 150 mLs?).  A pleasant rosé though.  

lemon lime and bitters $4

Mr P.'s drink came out a bit anaemic, but Bis the owner quickly rectified this by getting the waiter/drinks guy to fix it up with extra - well, everything.  You can have this based on soda or lemonade.

mushroom risotto $24

The fellas both chose this mushroom risotto, which also had prosciutto and crispy pancetta.  It was fabulous - creamy and flavoursome and delicious.  And the crispy pancetta on top was a great accompaniment, adding texture and more flavour.  It is sometimes a dangerous move to choose risotto (or cook it in a Masterchef competition) but this was another winner. 

confit duck leg with fried cauliflower $28

I love duck!  The sherry vinegar jus added interest, the cauli was delicious (and tangy), the pear was a soft counter-point, and the duck was well cooked with a crispy skin.  Restaurants sometimes charge what seems like a huge amount for duck, but this was good value.  The confit duck dish on the current menu is without the cauli, but with ratatouille and enoki mushrooms, just so you know.

truffle and parmesan fries $12

Does anything need to be said about these wonders?  Yum to thin, crispy fries with shaved parmesan and truffle oil.  Anyway, these were delicious and moreish, but I'm sure you guessed that.

chicken pork and pistachio terrine $16

This came with hunks of thick, toasted Turkish bread, and tomato jam.  Our friend wasn't very hungry so she ordered the terrine from the starters menu.  She found it a moist and well-flavoured dish, with a good relish and soft bread with a good texture.  (Excuse the night-time shadows, please.)

fish and chips $32 

Mmm, is this a bit expensive for a plate of fish and chips?  I'm not sure, to be honest.  Yep, I know there's a small Asian salad with it, but ...  Anyway, the teenage lad (of great appetite) enjoyed his fresh and moist local fish, and the crispy fries with aioli.

Asian salad accompaniment

looking into the clean, white space 

I love the clean, white, open space inside the restaurant.  It is pleasant to sit inside, or outside on the patio which overlooks the bustling village.  Mr P. and I enjoyed our lunch and dinner here.  Indeed, we are about to head here again for dinner as I write this (another Friday night).

potato rosti with eggplant and beetroot $28

Delicious!  Perfectly grilled eggplant, fresh, zingy salad and the best rosti ever.

slow-cooked beef cheeks $32

I just had to finish by showing you what we had for dinner last night (last Friday by the time you read this).  Oh my word!  Hubby and I were in heaven.  We shared the beef cheeks and the potato rosti.  As I said to Mr P., this is the best rosti I've ever had!  And as for the beef cheeks - these were melt-in-your-mouth, tender, delicious ... I'm drooling here.  The rosti was a delight, and so clearly not just out of a packet in the freezer.  The chargrilled eggplant, and the roasted beetroot were just the right texture, and full of flavour.  The salad was fresh and zingy.  Well, you get the idea, folks.  In fact, I bumped up my rating from 8/10 to 9/10.

The Picking's Verdict: 9/10 -  great food; nice space; attentive service; good value - and did I say great food?:-) .  And it has table service at lunchtime, which is hard to find these days.  So why Brooks & Stain?  Check out the address below:=)  

They're open Tues to Sun 7am to 3pm, and for dinner Fri and Sat from 3pm till late.

Ph: 07 3356 2179
102 Kedron Brook Rd., cnr Stain St., Wilston 4051

(All meals were paid for by me and Mr P.)

Brooks & Stain Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday 18 February 2019

Stone Soup - I mean Asparagus, Pea And Parmesan Soup

Stone soup?  Nah, not really - it's asparagus, pea and parmesan soup.  Remember that old folk tale?  A solitary traveller comes to a small village; he's hungry and tired, but the villagers don't give a hooey.  So he tells them he can make a delicious soup from a large stone.  He makes a fire; they bring out a large cauldron into which he places his stone.  He asks them if they can provide a few items to make the soup even tastier, so they throw in carrots and potatoes and herbs and a chunk of beef.  Of course, the soup is delicious. 

I read a Wikipedia description of this story the other day (just to remind myself), and the sanitised version was all about how this tale teaches us to share and be kind and la la la ...  I grimaced, and swore, and told Mr P. that some idiot had missed the whole point of this story which is that people are easily fooled and manipulated, just like Nigerian scammers and the $10 million they will happily put into your bank account once you hand over your kidneys ...  La la la ...  Or maybe that we humans sometimes need a push to be kind.  

green and cheesy = delish soup 

I decided this soup was a bit like stone soup, in that it is made up of bits and bobs out of my freezer, with some extra goodies thrown in.  I knew I had some chopped-up asparagus spears lurking in the frozen depths; then I found a bit of home-made chicken stock, and an old parmesan rind.  Of course baby peas are always in there, and red chillies and garlic, and even some frozen parsley.  You get the idea!

Recipe by Sherry's Pickings:

Serves 6 as an entrée, or 4 as a main


2 tbs of butter

1 tbs olive oil

1 brown onion, chopped into chunks

1 red chilli, sliced

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

330g. (11½ oz.) of frozen baby peas  
2 bunches of fresh asparagus spears, chopped into large pieces, + leftover asparagus spears - (about 150g./5¼ oz.) - or use 3 bunches of fresh ones if you don't happen to have any lurking in your freezer

black pepper, about a dozen grinds of the mill (=1/4 tsp - probably)

1 parmesan rind or 60g. (2 oz.) of parmesan, chopped into small chunks

1 Litre (4 cups) of chicken or vegetable stock

a big handful (2-3 tbs) of herbs for serving - I used chives and parsley

(extra) pepper, and salt to taste - for serving

(extra) shaved parmesan for serving

a dollop of sour cream for each bowl (optional)


Melt the butter in a large saucepan on a medium-low heat, then add the oil

Tip the onion in; stir it for about 5 minutes

Add the chilli and garlic, and keep stirring for 2-3 minutes

Now the peas go in (no need to thaw); stir them around for another 2-3 minutes

Whack in the asparagus chunks, and stir it all together for another couple of minutes

Stir in the black pepper, parmesan rind/chunks and stock

Turn it to low, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes till the vegetables are tender

Let it cool for 2-3 minutes, and take out any unmelted bits of parmesan rind  (you can leave in any parmesan chunks)

Now grab your stick blender and carefully! whizz the soup till it becomes smooth

Throw in the herbs, pepper and salt 

Serve in soup bowls with the shaved parmesan and sour cream

This goes well with a couple of slices of cheesy bread; simply bread buttered on one side, with a slice of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and into the oven at about 190C (on a baking tray) for a few minutes till the cheese melts


There are about 8 or 9 asparagus spears per bunch, but don't stress over it.  The Australian Asparagus Council (yes, there is such a thing!) says the average bunch is 185g. (6½ oz.)

I thawed and trimmed my leftover spears to get rid of any woody bits

ingredients gathered

ready for simmering

throw in the parmesan rind (or chunks)

simmer away for 20 mins.

and blitz till smooth

serve with sour cream, parmesan and cheesy bread

Sure, it's a funny greeny/grey colour but it tastes great!  Oh, and you and your bed partner may need to excuse yourself all night.  This tends to be a windy experience :=) 

   asparagus spears artwork by Sherry's Pickings

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Sassafras Of Paddington Café And Bar - Review

Sassafras always makes me think of my childhood, since I grew up not far from a teensy, tiny country town called just that.  I was very happy to check out this café in the Brisbane suburb of Paddington, when Chris the owner invited me (and a guest) to come visit.  Funny story: Mr P. and I headed there on a very recent Friday, only to be told there was no booking for me, and Chris was not in that day.  I was very befuddled, but soon realised that I had my Fridays completely confused and we were there a week early.  Sorry Chris!

We were made welcome by Laura the friendly server, and were led out to the courtyard.  Suddenly it started to spit rain, so we moved to the large bench under a sturdier awning than the tarp we had been sitting under.  Laura told us that Chris the owner (who took over in May last year) is planning to update the courtyard with some new umbrellas.  (And to be honest, a good going-over of the pavers with a high-pressure gerni would be a fab idea.)  It is a very leafy and pleasant space (and we saw a waterdragon), where dogs are welcome too.  They even have their own menu which includes doggy treats and puppuccinos.  And we met the cutest black pug dog who had to say hello :-)  (Check out the photo at the bottom of my post.) 

the entrance to the cute old building

Let's head inside, and check it out.  As you can see by the sign below, they are conscious of the environment - straws on their way out! - which is great.  The building is an old worker's cottage, so it's full of interesting features like the VJ walls.  There are lots of nooks and crannies, and spaces to sit, inside and out.

looking into the café

Like most eating places these days, you order at the counter but as they weren't too busy, Laura came out to help us move tables when the rain came, and took our order then.  Mr P. chose the pie of the day - butter chicken - with salad and fries.  He said he would never have thought of putting this filling in a pie, but he loved it.  He loved the crisp, shortcrust pastry which encased it too.  The fries were crunchy and tasty, but his faves were the salads of spiced cauli and sweet potato and snow peas.  He said over and over how delicious they were, and how fresh the dressing was!   

pie of the day with fries and salad $16.90 

freshly squeezed juice $7

Mr P. was already over-caffeinated so chose a freshly squeezed, cold-pressed juice of watermelon, pineapple, orange and passionfruit.  He really loved the addition of passionfruit as it gave the juice a big hit of tang.

eggs benedict $18.90 - with house-cured salmon gravlax

Excuse the wobbly photo; the eggs did a slip-slide across my plate before I could snap it.  I chose from the breakfast menu which goes till 2pm, as I wanted to try the house-cured salmon gravlax.  And yes, it was a triumph.  Not too salty, not too firm, not too thick, and with a delicious aftertaste.  You can choose bacon or avocado as an extra if you wish.  Laura told us the hollandaise is house-made also.  I am a huge hollandaise fan, and this was a delicious version, though there can never be too much lemon in it for me.  The Turkish bread was soft enough to cut and eat - the roof of my mouth has sometimes bled due to the incredibly glassy bread you can find at some cafés.  Not a problem here.  And the eggs were beautifully runny, just how I like them.

Sassaffogato $5.50

Yep, this was delicious.  Like a dessert really but I had it before my meal.  Just 'cos!  Espresso and ice cream and dark chocolate; refreshing and zippy.

I promised you a pug; this is Kelly

Kelly belonged to the people sharing the long bench with us.  She was adorable, and I had to take her photo.  And of the beautiful water dragon with the flaming-red belly.  

water dragon staring me out

peeking into the kitchen

We had a really delicious lunch in the very pleasant and calm courtyard.  I almost had to drag Mr P. away as he was starting to settle in for the afternoon.  He loved the Byron Bay feel (his words) of this café.  He also appreciated that the music was not too loud, as it can be in other eating places.  What else can I tell you?  They are licensed, they use Bear Bones coffee, they have a bar.  There is a kids' menu too.  They do private events; they are famous for their ricotta hotcakes with house-made honeycomb butter:-)  Mr P. is insisting we go back for the chilli corn fritters (him) and the French toast (moi).  I feel we may be heading back soon, and bringing friends.   


Mr P. and I were kindly invited as guests by Chris the owner, but opinions remain my (our) own.

Opening hours: 6:30am to 2:30pm, and to 3pm Fri/Sat/Sun.

88 Latrobe Tce., Paddington 4064

Ph: 07 3369 0600

Sassafras of Paddington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Smoked Chicken And Pickled Cherry Salad

Like many people, I guess you too have been talking about the weather.  It's crazy, isn't it?  Floods up north, bushfires down south, drought in the middle, and endless days of heat without any of the storms we normally get in summer.  And if you live in the U.S., you may have been suffering the reverse with extreme cold and snow lately.

Hubby's niece lives in Townsville where they released the local dam's floodgates over the weekend.  This has meant that a lot of water has been let loose.  Hundreds of people evacuated, or being rescued.  The Army, Police and Emergency crews out, doorknocking and saving people.  Fortunately, our niece is safe, and though her backyard is inundated, her house hasn't been flooded.  

salad for a sultry night

So the weather is lending itself to cold meals like salads, and lots of icy drinks.  Did anyone say bourbon on the rocks?  And I thought I'd give quinoa another go.  It's a bit of a weird, almost flavourless grain (seed in fact), but adds a gentle crunch to a salad.  So here is my chicken and cherry salad, with that ancient grain/seed giving you a good dose of added vitamins and protein. 

Serves 4 as a main, or 6 as a side salad:

Recipe by Sherry's Pickings:


1 baby Gem or Cos lettuce, leaves separated and torn by hand

400g. of honey smoked chicken breasts, cut into chunks

80g. of walnuts, toasted

1.5 cups of cooked red or white quinoa

1 French shallot or 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped/sliced

2 big tbs pickled cherries

1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks

60g. (2 oz.) of fetta, diced

a really big handful of fresh raspberries

40g. (3/8 cup) of parmesan cheese, shaved or grated

lots of herbs of your choice (snipped):  I used chives and parsley

salt and pepper to taste


8 fresh raspberries, squished with a fork in a small bowl

juice of 1 lime (or lemon)

2-3 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Well, this is pretty darn easy.  Throw all the salad ingredients into a large bowl

Whisk the dressing ingredients together well

Pour the dressing over the salad, and give it a really thorough (but gentle) toss

Scatter over some extra walnuts and/or parmesan if you desire


Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions.  I made a large amount and will use the rest in other dishes

Toast the walnuts at 180C for about 8 minutes - keep an eye on them, as they tend to burn quickly towards the end.  I know 'cos i ruined 2 lots!  Mr P. bravely said he would eat them anyway, so he's eating them with his cereal

gather the ingredients

whisk up the dressing

salad ready for dressing

pour it on! and toss - gently

Serves 4 (with some crusty bread) as a main, or as an entrée for 6.  The sweet and tangy flavours perk up the appetite on a hot night!

  raspberry artwork by Sherry's Pickings 

Friday 1 February 2019

In My Kitchen - February 2019

So, we're all back to it, then?  Work, school, real life ...  And blogging :-)  I hope you all had a lovely break and festive season.  We did, even though it has been one of the hottest summers on record.  The air con has been working overtime, and our water tank is only 1/3 full.  Bats are falling dead out of the trees, and feral horses are dying in the outback due to the heat and lack of water.  Sad days indeed.  And there are bushfires down south too ...    

I told you I'd have a lot to show you this month, and I do.  These things accrued over a couple of months just FYI :-)  Here we go:

a fair bit of mustard

Every summer I make a batch of sun-dried tomato and basil mustard for Mr P.  He is a big fan, and loves to smother his lunchtime sangers (sandwiches) in it.  I'm more of a sweet mustard pickle gal myself.  Oddly I've never made pickles so I must give that a try one of these days.  I learned to enjoy mustard while travelling in Britain years ago, where we would buy Marks & Spencer's (the department store) ham sandwiches, which came with a liberal dose of dark brown mustard.

my annual delivery of bio-dynamic garlic 

Also every summer, I rush to buy a box of Patrice Newell's garlic, as it is snapped up quickly by restaurateurs and canny cooks from all over the country.  I divvy up the cloves, and freeze them, skin and all for the rest of the year, hopefully.  Sometimes I run out!

as per the label

And I make mango chutney every Christmas break too.  I recently discovered frozen 100% mango chunks at the stores so I often use them when I'm in a hurry.  I know, I know, it's crazy when fresh mangoes are around, but it is so quick and easy ... sorry to all the purists out there :-)  

my new sauerkraut crock

Our friend Miss B. made this for me.  She forgot to glaze and fire the weights so I'm still waiting on those before I can make some sauerkraut.  Plus I think Winter is probably a better time to make and eat it anyway.

a Christmas gift

Haven't tried this one yet but looking forward to it.  I think it would be marvellous on bacon.  We were in Yosemite National Park one time, and not able to get dinner due to not having evening wear with us (in a National Park!  Those crazy Americans!), so breakfast the next day was a most marvellous, fabulous thing. Overlooking the redwood trees, we ate lashings of bacon and eggs and maple syrup.  The best ever!  I have been a huge fan of the combo ever since.

my homemade Irish Cream liqueur

I always make this at Christmas, giving away a bottle if I'm feeling generous.  It is very rich and moreish.  And absolutely has to be made with Irish whiskey.  I've tried others and it's just not the same.

dare I say?  yes another wooden spoon  

This is a little sweetie I bought over the Christmas break, up in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast when visiting friends who were staying up there.  Yep, it had to come home with me.

another cookbook (and a Snow Gromit in the background) 

There are lots of fab recipes in this book.  I've never been much of a Donna Hay fan, but there looks to be many interesting recipes to try ... so hang onto your horses, you will be seeing some luscious bakes soon on the blog.

And last but definitely not least:  here is my great-niece Lolly, all dressed-up appropriately in her lolly-strewn costume for her recent first birthday party.  I call this her Frida Kahlo look:-)  She's sitting here on her granddad's knee, delighting in a cherry tomato.  What is she thinking? :-)  Tomatoes - eek!

the great, the magnificent Lolly

Permission kindly granted by her mum (my niece) for this photo to go out into the IMK world.

I won't overload you with more stuff this month, my friends.  But please feel free to join in with your IMK post too.  Everyone is welcome!  Here's how to add your post to the IMK link:

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Sherrys Pickings