Tuesday 25 June 2019

Homemade Sauerkraut - Part The Second

So I checked the crock after thirteen days.  It smelled ... okay, just a bit earthy and socklike, no bubbles, no mould, all good.  I pulled one of the weights out; everything fine underneath, no nasty surprises.  I tasted it, and it was like salty, pickled cabbage, but not really like sauerkraut.  Mr P. said 'let it be' for another week, so I did. 

looking good on the thirteenth day

I kept checking it each morning, and topped it up with some plain water on the fifteenth day.  And it sat, and it sat ... And on the nineteenth day, I decided enough was enough, and I'd whack it into a jar, and then the fridge.  Did I say one jar?  Hee hee, I needed four jars!  I washed the jars in hot soapy water then shoved them into the oven for fifteen minutes at 170C to sterilise, let them cool for a few and then scooped the kraut into the jars.  I tipped the leftover brine into a jug, and then over the kraut in the jars.  And luckily, I had the perfect amount of brine:-)

peering into the salty depths

and off come the weights

ta dah! 

ready to be jarred :-)

piling it into the jars

brine fills the jars and covers the sauerkraut 

into the fridge for a week or two or three to mature  

I read one blog post which said she puts it into the fridge for eight weeks!  I probably won't last that long.  Okay, so I'm not sure how homemade sauerkraut should taste; apparently it is tangier and crunchier than the bought stuff.  Yes indeed, mine is crunchier, and it is a bit salty and a bit tangy.  I'm hoping it matures a bit more, and gains a bit more tang, but never having done this before, I don't know if it will.  I mean, chutneys and mustards etc taste so much better after time ruminating and maturing, don't they? :-)  We shall see how it goes.  Mmm, Polish cabbage and my chicken and sauerkraut dish coming up soon ...

   artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

As a winter treat, I sometimes buy a mm mm somewhat crazy-expensive hot chocolate mix online.  Mr P. is going through it like a bull in a china shop, so I thought I'd better come up with another way to get a hold of this delicious drink.  I checked the ingredients, which are very simple, and while still not cheap, I will be able to get more bang for my buck putting it together myself.

hot chocolate - warm, dark and delicious

The cacao bean is a thing of beauty and mystery to me.  How on earth did someone think that there was a marvellous drink (or chocolate bar) waiting for them inside that big 'ol bean thingy?  Thank you to the Mayans (and Aztecs) back in 450 BC!  We love you for thinking of it:-) 

Original recipe by Sherry's Pickings:


90g. Valrhona or other good quality dark cocoa powder (unsweetened)

100g. Lindt 70% chocolate block - or any good quality dark chocolate

4 x 30g. Flake chocolate bars or 120g. milk chocolate block

1/4 tsp chilli powder or cinnamon or cardamom (optional)


Place the cocoa powder into a medium mixing bowl

Shave or grate the chocolate blocks, and tip the shards into the bowl with the cocoa powder and spice.  The Flake bars can be crumbled by hand or smashed gleefully with a mallet or muddler :-)

Give it a really good stir with a very dry spoon

Place in a glass jar or tin that you seal tightly; the mix will last for ages in a dark place

On those cold nights, grab yourself a mug, place 2-3 heaped teaspoonfuls of the luscious mix inside, and add boiling water and maybe a spoonful of cream or ice cream on top.  You may want to add a wee bit of sugar to your mug, but Mr P. and myself like it dark, rich and sophisticated :-)  (Remind you of anybody?  Tee hee.)  


You can zap the chocolate by chopping into chunks and throwing into a food processor.  Just don't blitz it too hard; you want lovely shards of chocolate.  I blitzed some of the chocolate in the processor till very small, and got Mr P. to chop the rest into lovely slivers

Add whatever spice you like to the mix; maybe even black pepper, or nutmeg or dried lavender

If you like your hot chocolate a little sweeter or lighter, vary the amounts of dark and milk chocolate, or use a lesser % dark chocolate

If you happen to have one in your pantry (thanks Tiffin Fiona), you can give your mug a big twiddle with a molinillo/frother

glorious chocolate

pebbly chocolate bits

Get Mr P. to chop your chocolate :-)

cocoa powder and chocolate shards

ready for storing - and drinking

got my mug ready already :-)

molinillo/Mexican hot chocolate frother

This homemade version is less than half the cost of the bought one, so I'll be making it myself from now on.  Mr P. is very happy!

artwork © Sherry's Pickings 

Thursday 13 June 2019

Mary Mae's Bar & Kitchen - Review

My former workmate Mr L. and I have a regular monthly lunch.  For our May outing, we decided on Mary Mae's, (previously Watt's) at the Brisbane Powerhouse.  It's a great spot, as it overlooks the (gotta say) brown Brisbane river.  Sometimes you may even spy a dolphin or two cavorting up or downriver.  On very special occasions, you may be lucky enough to see a small whale!  Oh yes folks, it has been known to happen:-)

looking in

We didn't see any aquatic wildlife this grey Thursday (except for the non-aquatic pooches sitting outside with their owners), but we did relax into a corner bench seat with our menus.  As per the custom these days, we had to order at the counter.  Normally they give you one of those buzzer things, and you go pick up your food, but since it wasn't busy, they brought the food to our table.  A nice gesture!  They also let us run up a tab, as Mr L. had a voucher, which he was able to use for the meal and drinks when we'd finished our lunch.

fresh, tasty and delicious tuna with salad $26

Mr L. who is on a special (health-driven) diet, chose the tuna heirloom grain salad with pomegranate, kale and almond ($26).  The tuna looked nicely done, though I do prefer mine just a leetle under-done, more seared on the outside and rare on the inside.  The salad was fresh and tasty, and bursting with goodness.  I think Mr L.'s blood was zinging after that!

mine was the fish and chips $25 - how lewd is that fish:-) tee hee

I went for the beer-battered flathead with chips and coleslaw.  This was a very generous portion with 2 long pieces of fish.  I didn't get through it all, but it was delicious.  The fish was tender, with just the right amount of batter, i.e. not too thick nor thin; chips were crispy outside, soft inside; coleslaw was ... well, coleslaw, nothing remarkably good or bad about it.  I had to laugh at the wire basket; maybe they haven't seen that Facebook page - We Want Plates?  (BTW, I recommend that FB page for a few (many) belly laughs.)

glass of prosecco $12

I had a glass of Prosecco, while Mr L. had a healthy cup of green tea ($4).  If only a fly hadn't dropped into my drink ...  I scooped it out, and drank a bit more, but finally the Ghost of Flies Past stopped me in my alcoholic tracks:-)

looking to the New Farm ferry from the restaurant  

And then a week later, Mr P. took me out for dinner on a Friday night.  I suggested we try Mary Mae's again, for the night-time effect.  It was a busy night at the Powerhouse, as there were a couple of shows on, and the crowds were obviously getting a drink and a meal in first.  We were there about 6:30, and the tables were already mostly taken.  We managed to snag a table inside, and marvelled at the girls with their bare legs and sandals on this winter's night.  

barramundi with cauliflower $32

I had spied this dish on the menu the week before, so really wanted to try it.  It was a crispy-skinned barra with a cauli purée and roasted cauli.  The fish was deliciously tender, the cauli was tasty, and the pistachio gremolata gave it a lovely bit of crunch.  But strangely, I think I enjoyed the fish and chips the previous week a wee bit more than this dish.  The barra just didn't have that je ne sais quoi; somehow it needed a bit more oomph - maybe some spice or a crispier skin.  And a few chips would not have gone astray.  

spiced chickpea burger $21

Mr P. nearly always goes for the vego option when out, so he chose the chickpea burger with roast peppers, celeriac remoulade and fries.  It was on a hefty bun, which was nicely charred.  The chips were great, but didn't come with any aioli or sauce - is that odd?  I guess we could have asked for some ...  Mr P. said the pattie was good, but needed more spice.  The celeriac was crunchy and well seasoned, and had a tangy hit from the horseradish.  He was a big fan of this burger.  We both laughed at the wooden board; Mr P. has a thing about them.  See my note re: We Want Plates!      

prosecco $12

Coke $4.50

Luckily, this glass came sans fly, and was also a bit fresher and sparklier than the one from the week before.  The bar was busy, so they were obviously opening up new bottles.  Hubby had a soft drink; sadly they only had alcoholic ginger beer which he doesn't drink (he's the designated driver), so he went for a Coke.

warm fleece blankets

They had fleece blankets if you were cold.  And they were setting up some outdoor patio heaters as we left.  But then again, those girls with short shorts weren't really worrying ...  

All up, we had a pleasant meal in a fun atmosphere.  The staff were very friendly and helpful, the music wasn't too loud, and the food was flavoursome.

a busy Friday night - were all the men dressed by the same person? :-)

The Pickings' Verdict:

Food: 8/10 from Mr P. and 7/10 from me

Service: 8/10

Ambience:  7/10

Open every day from 8:30 a.m. Mon-Fri, and from 8 a.m. Sat and Sun

Ph: 07 3358 5464
Brisbane Powerhouse
119 Lamington St., New Farm 
QLD 4005

    Mary Mae's Bar & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday 7 June 2019

Homemade Sauerkraut - Part The First

I love sauerkraut, and thankfully so does Mr P.  Well, he eats it readily, unlike seafood, much to my dismay.  All those unmade prawn and crab dishes ...  I've been making a dish which we call Polish Cabbage (borrowed from a Polish-Australian actress's recipe) for many years.  It consists of cabbage, bacon and lots of sauerkraut, so this winter I am determined to make my own sauerkraut for it at last.  

sauerkraut crock fermenting away in our walk-in robe  

Our gorgeous potter friend Miss B. made me a wonderful sauerkraut crock this year, which I have been dying to try.  Now that the weather is more suitable to the making and the eating thereof, I am giving it a red-hot go!  'Double, double, toil and trouble.  Fire burn, and cauldron bubble' - as the three witches said in Macbeth.  Hopefully there won't be too much bubbling - or  trouble:-)   


1kg. white cabbage - aka green cabbage

15g. sea salt or any good quality salt flakes

3 bay leaves

4 black peppercorns


Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage, and take out the core

Shred finely with a sharp knife till you have lovely, small slivers

Pack it down into your very clean crock or jar, in layers, sprinkling some salt on each layer

Give each layer a bit of a pounding before adding the next layer

Now you pound for anything from five minutes to fifteen!  You will start to see clear liquid at the bottom of your crock

When your arms are about to fall off, stop pounding, add the bay leaves and peppercorns, whack on the weights if you have them, or fill a very clean (large) ziploc bag with water and lay that on top of your well-pounded cabbage

If the cabbage is not completely submerged in liquid, make up a cup of brine (or two if needed) and pour over

Now let it sit in a cupboard or some dark place in your house, with a tea towel over the top

Check it every day to see if it is starting to bubble and ferment; and make sure the cabbage is still completely submerged

Now here's the important part:  if it looks fuzzy, or green or disgusting or smells foul, you will have to start again!  If it has a bit of white scum or foam on top, that's okay.  Just scoop it out as you see it, or when you refrigerate it after the fermenting period.  Basically, use your common sense.  If it just doesn't seem right to you, start again

The fermentation process can take from one to three weeks, depending on how tangy you like it to be

Part two: the unveiling, will be coming in another post

I had to add 1 cup extra brine, so I made up 1 cup water to 1 tsp salt


June to August is peak cabbage season down south here in Australia, so now is the perfect time to make sauerkraut:-)

I had a 1.3kg cabbage which, after peeling off the outer leaves and taking out the core, left me with about 950g.

The usual formula is 1kg of cabbage to 15g of salt, so keep that in mind if you wish to make more than a kilo in one go

If you need extra brine, make up 1 cup of water to 1 tsp salt

You don't have to have a crock to make this, but it is a heap of fun.  Just mix it all together in a large bowl and stuff it into a jar, making sure you let the gases escape each day    

My crock has a moat around the top, into which you pour water.  This seals the crock from the bad guys (hopefully).  So just keep the water level up so your seal remains intact

I checked out a number of recipes for making sauerkraut, in particular from The Healthy Chef, Curious Cuisiniere and The Kitchn blog.  Emma at The Kitchn suggests that you can still keep fermenting even if there is mould!  Just scrape it off, she says, but obvs, use your common sense here.  If it's smelly and looks disgusting, toss it!

I used my wooden cocktail muddler as a sauerkraut stomper.  You can buy one online, or just use your perfectly clean hands, my friends

ingredients gathered

shred the cabbage finely

keep pounding

and pounding

pounding done and brine added

throw in the peppercorns and bay leaves

on go the weights

lid on, and ready for the dark cupboard for 1-3 weeks :-)

All will be revealed in Part Two.  I am praying it doesn't go mouldy or disgusting!

  artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Saturday 1 June 2019

In My Kitchen - June 2019

June and it's finally getting a bit colder here in sunny Brisbane town.  Still sunny but cool.  We are heading out soon for sushi and I may have to wear a big scarf!...  And I did indeed put on my warm winter coat and a scarf last night.  I'm sitting here now with two scarves, and socks on my feet (well, where else would I have them?  Silly me.)  Brrrr....

Let's get to it, my virtual friends.  And don't forget to join in this month.  I wanna see you all right here! :-) 

So, in my kitchen:

home made hummus

I whizzed up a batch of hummus one recent morning, adding some lime pressed olive oil.  So delicious!  And so good for your gut health.

bags of grated cheese heading for the freezer 

I had a block of cheddar and one of parmesan in the fridge, heading to oblivion, so I grated them up and shoved them into the freezer.  So handy, so thrifty, no waste:-)

yep another cookbook for the shelves

This book was put together by generous cooks and photographers to help farmers in need who have been living under the terrible stress of prolonged drought then flood.  Many farmers had been hand-feeding their stock for months, only to have them swept away and/or drowned in recent floods.  So heartbreaking for them.  Proceeds from the book go towards helping the farmers.

more salt! and some sprinkles

Who could resist Nonna's spaghetti sprinkle?  Not me.  A mix of herbs, chillies and spices, ready to be thrown over pasta and olive oil.  Gotta try it soon.

a fancy shark peeler from friends

Lady J. and Lord N. came to dinner bearing gifts including this shark peeler: it peels, it shreds, it slices, it juliennes - a master of all trades in fact:-) 

raw local honey

They also brought us this raw honey from up the coast, at Mount Kilcoy.  As you can see, it is an Aussie product, and unprocessed.  And it has a cute bee on the label.  Winner!

Mr P.'s birthday cake

I forgot to put up a photo of hubby's cake last month, so here it is.  I made Nigella's birthday custard sponge, and went wild with chocolate ganache and sprinkles.  I think she'd be proud.

as per the label

I'd just run out of the curry powder I use, so I dashed out to the local spice store to grab a packet, and noticed this cute little supoon.  Yes it is indeed a supoon.  Perfect for scraping out tall jars etc.  I thought of giving it away as a gift, but I loved it too much.

a gorgeous little bowl by Starr

I have a beautiful cup and saucer and a plate made by the delightful Starr, so I had to add this sparkly little bowl to my collection.  It is full of colour and shine; just so pretty.

I hope you all can join in IMK this month, my friends.  Always a treat to see what has been happening in your global kitchens.  And please email me with any problems when linking.  I know the new system can be a bit chaotic at times.  Cheers!  

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In My June Kitchen:

In My June Kitchen Not Quite Nigella 


Sherrys Pickings