Wednesday 24 April 2019

Crushed Raspberry Tart

I know it's a bit late in the year for we of the Antipodes to get raspberries, but you can easily substitute other fruit here.  This recipe (though it's more of an idea really) comes from Donna Hay's book Modern Baking, which I got this past Christmas.  Thanks Mr P.!  I love raspberries, but I buy them judiciously as they cost a fortune here in Queensland as most of them get shipped up from southern climes.  

tangy and creamy

Berries always make me think of my childhood, my little sister and I clambering around the dusty bushes in Summer, picking blackberries to sell to the local jam factory.  Nobody worried about us getting kidnapped or bitten by snakes and spiders, of which there were plenty in the bush.  Probably kidnappers too:-)  I am trying to learn to love Donna Hay's recipes.  I don't know why I have a problem with them, as they usually work and they taste fine.  Just chemistry, I guess...   

Serves 6:


1 sheet of butter puff pastry, thawed

1-2 tbs milk

2-3 tsp caster sugar, or icing sugar

250g. (8oz.) fresh raspberries or fruit of your choice

2 tbs caster sugar, extra

1.5 cups (375mLs) single (pouring) cream - (or whipping cream)

1 tsp vanilla extract


Pre-heat your oven to 200C

Place a piece of baking paper on a large baking tray, then

On goes the sheet of pastry, which you score with a small knife to get a 2cm. (1 inch) border around the edge

Brush the milk around the border and sprinkle on the caster sugar (the teaspoon measure, not the tablespoons)

Bake it for about 15 mins. till puffy and golden, then take out and let it cool down

Now the berries and extra sugar go into a medium bowl to be crushed with a fork

And whip your cream and vanilla together till you have soft peaks 

Now spoon the cream all over the pastry (within the borders)

Spread the berries lusciously over the top (as Nigella might say)

Cut into delightful portions and serve to your happy family/guests

See - simple and delicious:-)


You could try whatever fruit you fancy; just make sure you crush it or chop finely, or however you wish it to be.  Go ahead; feel free

Donna says to use a beaten egg to brush the border, but I think that's a waste of a perfectly good egg: you won't use all of it, and why not use a bit of milk instead?

you can just see my scoring

smother that pastry in cream

crush the berries with the sugar

slather the berries over the cream

cut into generous slices

ready for eating

berry artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Thursday 18 April 2019

Fasanjoon Or Fesenjoon Or Fesenjan = Walnut And Pomegranate Chicken

Pick your spelling, but however you spell it, it's a super tasty dish.  I've recently made pomegranate molasses, so I was hunting up a recipe which included this delicious sweet and sour syrup.  I found this nutty dish in one of my fave cookbooks Delights from the Garden of Eden by Nawal Nasrallah.  I love that this is a simplified version of this chicken and walnut recipe, while maintaining the marvellously tangy and nutty taste.  (Some recipes have you simmering the sauce for two hours!)

Regular readers know all my chicken stories: being attacked by crazy chooks when we were in the outside loo; watching headless chickens run around after our friends' dad chopped off their heads.  So I will leave you with a lovely picture in your mind of several pretty little chooks pecking around outside the local bakery, waiting for crumbs.  Not sure where they're from - maybe ferals?; maybe they belong to someone across the road ...   Ah, so that's why the chicken crossed the road:-)

tangy and nutty - who could ask for anything more? 

(Recipe slightly adapted by Sherry's Pickings)

Serves 4:


1 cup (115g./4oz.) walnuts, toasted - see method below

1.25kg (just over 2.5 lb) chicken thighs/pieces/Marylands, without skin

4-5 cardamom pods

about 2 Litres/8 cups cold water

1-2 tbs olive or vegetable oil

1 large brown onion, chopped coarsely

60-70 mLs (1/4 cup) pomegranate molassess

1.5 tsp sea salt flakes

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle

750 mLs (3 cups) chicken broth

For the garnish:

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

4 tbs pomegranate seeds (optional)

scattering of dried (edible) rose petals and 1-2 tsp ras-el-hanout


Firstly, toast the walnuts @ 175C for about 10 minutes till fragrant

Cool for a few minutes, then put them in a food processor and blitz till oily - they should be able to be squished together in your fingers and stay in a clump - then put aside till needed

Place the chicken pieces and cardamom pods in a 5 Litre saucepan

Pour in the cold water; add a bit more if needed to cover the chicken

Bring to the boil on high heat, taking off the scum as needed

Turn the heat to low, and simmer gently, lid on, for 25-30 minutes

Take the chicken pieces out of the broth and put aside

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and add the onion

Sauté the onion for about 8 minutes till it starts to go translucent

Add the walnuts, pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, coriander seeds and strained chicken broth

Bring it to the boil on high, then reduce to medium-low heat and let it boil gently, lid on, for 20-25 minutes till thickened - giving it a stir several times during the cooking period

Then add the chicken pieces and let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes without the lid

Scatter the garnish over this tangy dish and serve with salad and steamed rice


I used boneless chicken thighs, but I feel that at least half (or all?) the chicken should be bone-in (Mr P. doesn't like bones!)

I used 1 red onion + 1 large French shallot 'cos that's what I had

Because I was using the broth that the chicken was cooked in, I added some salt and pepper, dried herbs and 1-2 tsp of chicken stock powder to boost the flavour as the broth was very light

Ras-el-hanout is a Moroccan spice mix, available in spice stores, delis and online

ingredients gathered

blitz your nuts :-)

grind the coriander seeds and chop the onion

skim off the scum with your spider :-)

sauté the onion and add the walnuts, etc

broth in; now simmer for about 25 mins.

chicken pieces in for 5-10 mins.

ready to eat

Okay, so it's hard to make a stew-type dish look fabulous, but it tastes wonderful.  Definitely worth a go.

        walnutty artwork by Sherry's Pickings

Friday 12 April 2019

Six Feet Under Newstead - Café Review

This might sound odd but Mr P. and I had totally different experiences at this café.  We have been for lunch twice recently; both my meals were super pretty and delicious, while hubby was not a fan of either of his choices.  It was almost schizophrenic how different they were. Their menu has just clicked over to an Autumn one, while our first visit came under the Summer menu. 

The café is a bit of a surprise in itself; it's down a side-street, from which you enter into a space that is large and long.  It has a really nice feel to it, though you are surrounded by concrete above and below.  It tends to be a bit loud for oldies like me and Mr P.; we do wish that this trend for hard surfaces would quietly fade away:-)  But there is a lovely atmosphere, and it is nice to spend a bit of time here, chilling out. 

heading into the depths

Let me tell you about our most recent (Autumn) lunch here: I started with a cappuccino, while Mr P. had a freshly-squeezed orange juice.  My drink hit the spot - strong and hot, with lots of chocolate sprinkled on top and lurking delightfully in the bottom.  Hubby's OJ was frothy and cold and delicious.  Nothing nicer than juice straight out of the fruit :-)

delish coffee with choc sprinkles $4.50  

freshly-squeezed OJ $8

We moved on to our meals: hubby had an OG Cheesy (burger), while I chose the Banoffee French toast.  Is that not a beautiful dish, my friends?  At a glance, it looks like avocado purée and scallops, but it is actually caramelised banana, with miso caramel, banana cream and blood-orange gel.  Yes, very sweet, but oh so delicious.  I even ate the banana!  And as regular readers know, that is a big call for me:-)  My only suggestion would be to add a bit of crunch with a herby/salted praline - just to give it a bit of a twist, and to cut the sweetness.  And maybe a scattering of fresh mint?  Oh, and the toast itself was well done, without being soggy or too dry.

pretty as - Banoffee French toast $18

Here's where my tale gets a bit sad.  Mr P. was disappointed with his burger.  (Not sure what OG means, and the waitress didn't know either.)  Is this burger meant to be like one from that chain - you know, the one with the big yellow M?  I have to tell you that even though this is a wagyu beef pattie, we both felt it was very similar in taste and texture to the big yellow M version.  

OG Cheesy (burger) $20 - lid on 

Here are the things that Mr P. didn't like about his lunch: the pattie was incredibly bland, with little or no seasoning.  I had to agree; it was crying out for some salt and pepper.  There was very little sauce and no relish.  I guess the sauce is also meant to be like the big M's?  I could taste gherkin juice (?) in it; it was okay but not outstanding.  Hubby is not a fan of brioche as a burger bun; nor am I.  It just doesn't make sense to have a sweet, buttery bun with a meat pattie! We were confused about the 'rustic' fries as they seemed like normal chips.  I expect rustic to be thick and probably with a bit of skin on.  They tasted fine though; crunchy outside, soft inside.  Hubby would have loved a bit more than a slice of cheese and a bit of lettuce on his OG though.  So, not a winner for Mr P.

OG Cheesy - lid off 

Our Summer visit was similar; I had a wonderful meal, while Mr P. was underwhelmed with his choice.  Our milkshakes were cold and delicious, but we wondered why they had used syrup instead of real fruit for his drink?  Frozen fruit is so easy to come by these days, and lots of cafés use it for their drinks.  Happily my Nutella shake was wonderfully cold and so delicious; I chose well (as the waitress said).

Strawberry shake/Nutella shake $6.50

Wow, my dish of cured ocean trout was just so pretty and so delicious.  Cured in beetroot and vodka, it came with a yuzu gel (citrusy but a bit too sweet for me), beetroot, fennel, buttermilk and salmon roe.  I was very happy with this dish.  The trout had a great texture, the pickled beetroot was a bit crunchy (a good thing), and the pop when you ate the roe was a bit of fun and flavour.  Such a good choice!  This dish is not on the Autumn menu, FYI.

cured ocean trout $24

Oh dear, Mr P. made an unhappy choice from the Summer menu too.  He chose the king oyster mushrooms, with asparagus, parmesan custard, onion jam and sourdough.  And a 63° egg, with a side of hash browns which he enjoyed, though we figured the hash browns were not house-made.  The mushrooms and woody asparagus were unpleasantly chewy; the dobs of white sauce turned out to be the parmesan custard which was grainy and tasteless.  And so very little of it!  We expected the custard to come out in a ramekin, or to be a big dollop at least.  The sourdough had a tangy flavour, but one piece was over-toasted and the other underdone.  Poor Mr P. was not a happy man:-(  And I have to say, $25 all up for his plate was... mmm... kinda expensive.   

mushrooms $20 with hash browns $5

So, weirdly if you asked me about this place, I would say 'fabulous, go for it!'  But if you asked Mr P., he would say 'be very careful about which dish you choose'.  Not sure how this can happen within one kitchen.  Another thing we found a bit of a worry is that there seems to be no disabled access.  Hubby is partly disabled, and found it a bit difficult to get inside without a railing to hold onto.  Perhaps we missed another entrance?    

on each table 

inside the café - modern but still welcoming

Final thoughts: Service was friendly and prompt; the atmosphere is very welcoming, but the food can be a bit hit and miss.  All up, we had a pleasant lunch both times, though I luckily chose better than Mr P.

The Pickings' Verdict:

Food: 8/10 from me; 5/10 from Mr P.

Atmosphere: 8/10

Value: 7/10

(Our meals were independently paid for.)

2 Masters St., Newstead 4006

Ph: 07 3257 4523

Open 7 days a week from 7am to 3pm

Six Feet Under Newstead Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday 6 April 2019

Salade Parisienne

Regular readers may have noticed that another cookbook snuck onto my bookshelves recently - Mirka & Georges, by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan.  Mirka was an artist, who along with her husband Georges owned several cafés and a restaurant in Melbourne in the 1950s and 60s.  This book, subtitled A Culinary Affair, includes recipes found amongst her notebooks and papers, plus dishes noted in her personal cookbook collection.  Mirka being French, cooked French dishes so you will find bouillabaisse, omelette, coq au vin and similar recipes in this book.   

one of Mirka's artworks on the cover

This recipe was a first for me, folks.  I needed a chunk of beef for this dish, so I cooked a mini rump roast, something I've never done before.  And much to my surprise, it actually turned out just like it was supposed to - medium rare.  Well, to be fair I did just follow the instructions on the wrapping paper :-)  This is a salad composed of beef and potatoes, with a very robust dressing.  I briefly thought of subbing the beef with chicken, but I decided Mirka must have known what she was doing.  So beef it is!   

Serves 4:

Serve at room temperature or cold



450g. (1 lb) roast beef - I used a mini rump roast

12 baby potatoes (or 8 medium), boiled or steamed till tender

8-12 gherkins (depending on size), sliced on the diagonal

sea salt flakes - say 1 teaspoon?

freshly ground black pepper, maybe 10-12 grinds of the mill?

3-4 French shallots, finely chopped

1 cup parsley, finely chopped or snipped with scissors


4 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs grain or Dijon mustard

1 tbs white wine vinegar

1 tbs (baby) capers, rinsed well and chopped small(er) if liked


Slice up the roasted beef  as thick or thin as you prefer - I like it thin:-)

Cut up the spuds as you desire - I sliced mine about 1/2 cm. thick

Place the beef and potato slices in a salad bowl

Throw in the gherkins, shallots, seasoning and parsley

Mix the dressing ingredients in a small jug till well combined

Tip the dressing over the salad, and give it all a good stir

Serve with crusty bread if you want to make it even more of a meal

OR do as Mirka did - serve it on a platter, putting beef, potatoes and gherkins in a layer, then on goes salt and pepper, shallots, parsley and dressing over.  Continue layering till all the ingredients are used up 


Cook the beef to your taste; I like it medium-rare, though Mirka goes for rare.  I just followed the instructions on the meat wrapper as I didn't have a clue how to cook it!

Mr P. actually micro-waved the spuds with seasoning and a bit of olive oil (and/or butter).  This is his new party trick!

after seasoning, the cute little rump goes into the oven  

ingredients gathered, my little wizard friends :-) 

waiting for its dressing

dressing ingredients

turn into this:-)

ready for mixing

dressing mixed in, and salad ready to eat   

tangy dressing over a hearty salad

Mr P. and I are not big meat eaters, having been vegetarian for a decade in our youth, but this was a deliciously hearty and tangy salad.  I may not make it again, just 'cos all that meat, but let me hasten to tell you folks, it really is a pleasure to eat.  I do recommend giving it a go.

  portrait of Mirka by James McArdle
 (Wikimedia Commons) 
(This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.)

gherkins artwork by Sherry's Pickings      

Monday 1 April 2019

In My Kitchen - April 2019

April is a big month here at chez Pickings:  we have Mr P.'s birthday, several friends' birthdays and Easter.  Hopefully Autumn will actually start to feel like Autumn too.  I am so looking forward to some cool weather, and pulling out my many and varied scarves.  I hope you've all had a great month, with lots of fun and food in your kitchen.  

So come along and join in this month, folks!  I am breathless with anticipation to see what you've all been up to lately.    

Let's take a look - here in my April kitchen:

another cookbook

This one is by Karen Burns-Booth (as you can see), the author of the above-named (award-winning) blog.  The name always makes me think of that play with Maggie Smith - Lettice and Lovage, which we saw in London years ago.  We were living in the house of Alyson Segal, the interior designer and textile gallery owner who supplied the glorious antique textiles for the play.  We were lucky enough to be given a private showing of the beautiful costumes to be worn by the actors.  Anyway, I will get back to you about the book when I've had a thorough perusal.  

Japanese spice mix

These Japanese demons look a bit scary; hopefully not indicative of the spice level.  Not that we mind a bit of heat chez Pickings.

yep, "it makes you addicted."

This spice mix from Japan was given to me by my cousin.  It is Shichimi - a mix of chilli, sesame seeds, mustard seeds and a few other things.  They make it with confidence, as you can see :-)  

everything chilli!

Yep, we went to a chilli festival a few weeks ago.  All the stalls were selling chilli-enhanced items, including the fudge, and salt and cordial.  We had great fun watching some tough blokes showing how tough they were by eating some of the hottest chillies on the planet.  The winner calmly scoffed down a selection of chillies, followed by just a sip of milk.  Eek!

another ceramic bowl

This beautiful dinner bowl by Sit Still Lauren gives me joy, every time I look at it.  And I know that's what is important in life, to fill your life with joy.  Well, amongst lots of other important things, but you know what I mean.

oh can it be?  yes another one

I admit it; I am a cookbook junkie and my shelves are bursting at the seams.  Dare I tell you that two more are on their way to my house?  Wait till next month for those, my friends.  For those of you who don't know about Mirka and Georges Mora, they were European refugees from the Second World War.  Mirka narrowly escaped being sent to Auschwitz along with her mother.  She became an artist in Australia, and she and Georges started up a number of cafés and a restaurant in Melbourne.  They were very bohemian, and were a big influence on the cultural scene of their adopted city.  I have tried one of her recipes, and will share that on the blog soon.

a view of my kitchen

Our newish fridge looks a bit small here, but it is actually a big one that looms in the room (see I'm poetic too:-))  Our old one died a horrible, gaseous, poisonous death, so this new and sparkling and extremely efficient one is a delight. 

more Japanese goodies

I hit the local Japanese grocery store again last week, and yippee! I found a supply of 'Soft Salad', my fave ricey snack.  Along with some salt reduced, gluten free tamari, and black sesame seeds that I was hunting around for without success.  Thank goodness they had a supply, so now I can make that salmon salad I've been planning for a while.

one guess? yep weights for my sauerkraut crock 

Finally the weights for my crock have turned up, so when it gets a bit cooler (ha ha!), I shall try making sauerkraut.  I'm a bit afraid it would ferment and explode with the current heat that never stops:-)

fresh limes off the tree

A friend who lives nearby gave us some fresh limes, straight off the tree.  I didn't know that limes can grow well in sub-tropical climes, but clearly they can and do!  

Well, that's it from me for this month's IMK post.  Please feel free to join in; we all love to share what's happening in our global kitchens.  So come along!

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In My Kitchen posts:

american foodie abroad
an evolving life IMK Apr2019

Green Gourmet Giraffe IMK Apr2019

NotQuiteNigella IMK Apr2019

Sherrys Pickings