Friday 26 July 2019

Hazelnut Porridge

I must confess, my friends: I have a foodie fangirl crush on Ruby Tandoh.  Those eyes, that hair, her forthright manner and her heartfelt writing...  I really loved watching her on the Great British Bake Off years ago, girlishly fluttering her lashes at Paul Hollywood.  Then she came out!  And Paul cast his eyes elsewhere, as he is now seeing a 24-year-old female person.  It makes you wonder what a 53-year-old bloke has in common with such a youngster.  Anyways, we are not here to talk about middle-aged men having a crisis:-)

I've bought a couple of Ruby's books lately, including Flavour: Eat What You Love.  It contains 170+ recipes, written in Ruby's inimitable style, feisty and conversational.  In fact, her writing reminds me a little of Nigella's - friendly and factual and comforting.  Mr P. and I were not feeling well on the weekend, so I decided to make one of her simplest recipes - porridge.  Perfect for a cold Brisbane morning.  Yep, it actually has been rather chilly these last few mornings.      

Ah Ruby...

Fortunately, I had roasted the nuts the day before when I was feeling less sick and exhausted, so they were all ready to be blitzed.  It was just a matter of throwing everything into the saucepan, and stirring for a few minutes.  Easy peasy, and so deliciously comforting.

Serves 4:


200g. (7 oz) rolled oats - I used rolled wholegrain oats  

100g. (3.5 oz) hazelnuts, roasted and ground  -  see Notes

850 mLs (28 fluid oz/3.5 cups) full-fat milk

400 mLs (1.6 cups) water

big pinch of salt : say 1/8 tsp?

big dash of ground cinnamon : 1/8-1/4 tsp (optional)

thick cream and brown sugar to serve - optional, but you'd be crazy not to:-)


Put the oats, nuts, milk, water, salt and cinnamon in a large saucepan over a medium heat

Bring to a simmer, stirring all the while

Once simmering, turn it down low and keep stirring for several minutes till it is thick

Serve with the cream and sugar


Roast the nuts in a single layer on a baking tray @ 180C for about 12-15 minutes (watch them carefully as they burn easily when almost done); rub them between your fingers in a tea towel or piece of kitchen paper to get rid of most of the skin, then blitz in a food processor till you have a crumbly meal

You could use a store-bought nut meal (try almond meal), but it won't have the same flavour as a freshly roasted and ground one

I used my Scottish spurtle to stir the porridge; this is a traditional implement dating from the fifteenth century (well, not mine personally - tee hee).  And you must stir with your right hand in a clockwise direction, otherwise you will invoke the Devil.  Phew!  Crisis averted:-)

ingredients gathered

roasted and ready for blitzing

and blitzed to a nice crumbly meal

ready to start cooking - see my lovely spurtle?

Just about done - see the bubbles?

ready to serve

 so creamy, so nutty, so warming 

Flavour is divided into five chapters: Vegetables and Herbs/Fruit/Eggs and Dairy/Meat and Fish and Storecupboard.  She further divides the chapters into various ingredients.  This is a useful tack when you are trying to think of a recipe that uses up a particular old veg. lurking in the back of your fridge.  Her recipes appear to be readily made, and with common ingredients.  I'm looking forward to trying more of them!

   artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday 19 July 2019

Pumpyard Bar Ipswich - Review

Okay, I'm going to tell you a secret.  I am a member of a secret Instagram pod.  Oh yes indeedy.  So keep it to yourselves, my friends:-)  We got together recently for a Winter instameet, (dragging husbands along with us), to have a nice lunch, and to take some IG photos. 

We went to historical Ipswich, home to many fabulous old buildings, an art gallery and some trendy caf├ęs.  Oh, and did I mention the local brewery, the first to open there in over a hundred years?  We did a wander along the river, taking some interesting photos, but lunch was calling our names.  So we headed to the Pumpyard Bar at 4 Hearts Brewery where they brew beers made without chemicals, and also create small seasonal batches.  (Nope, I'm not being paid to mention them, you sillies.)  

looking into the Bar - Dr. Who and the Daleks much?

We sat outside in the winter sunshine, after asking a staff member if they could turn down the music (a bit loud for Mr P. and me).  They were happy to oblige, and were helpful and pleasant all round.  We sat and perused the menu eagerly.  They have burgers and pizza, and the usual pub suspects like chicken, a seafood basket, and a couple of salads.  And delicious eggplant chips!  If only we'd had room for the sweet potato fries too...    

ginger beer $4 and sparkling piccolo $10

Yep, Mr P. had his usual - ginger beer, while I had the Dunes and Green sparkling piccolo.  Mine was a zesty little number, while the ginger beer was its usual gingery self.

a beer and a lemonade?

Sorry, not sure what the other pod people drank.  Yep, remiss of me I know.

eggplant chips with tomato relish $12
These were ever so crunchy on the outside, and tender on the inside.  The coating was a wee bit salty for me, but the relish was a spicy and delicious winner.  The pod people were very happy with these little numbers.  Our pod leader chose a pizza, while her mum had brisket sliders.  Mr P. went for a polenta stack; I had calamari while hubby no. 2 chose a pumpyard burger.  And yes, there were beer-battered chips, which were freshly made and delicious.   

Italian pizza with pancetta $20
This was a tasty pizza with a thin and crispy base (yay, my fave kind).  So there was pancetta, and fresh basil and black olives, salami and mozzarella - all the good things.  It was a wee bit too salty for my tastes, but all up, this was a delicious pizza.  Ah, come on, I only ate one piece:-) 

7 spice calamari with lemon and aioli $16 

I enjoyed the calamari; it was delightfully spicy and not at all greasy.  A bit more aioli would have been nice, but I managed.  It was tender, it was tasty; I liked it.  And I had it all to myself:-)  Can I help it if some people just don't eat fishy things? (sniff).  

brisket sliders $16

The pod leader's mum chose the sliders, but they defeated her, and she only ate two of them.  She enjoyed them both though; the slow-cooked brisket with slaw and BBQ sauce was flavourful and tender.  And terrific value, too!

Pumpyard burger $20

The burger came with onion, Swiss cheese, pickles, tomato, beetroot and bacon, tomato relish and beer-battered chips.  This was a hefty sort of a burger, and thankfully not on brioche or any of those fancy buns!  Hubby No. 2 hoovered this down.     

polenta stack $26

Mr P. always loves a vego option, so he went for this dish.  It included mushroom, eggplant, capsicum, red onion and a napoli sauce.  He loved the large pieces of polenta, with their crispy outside and tender interior.  The tasty yellow capsicum and red onion added flavour and texture to the dish.  I found the flavour of the polenta a bit odd for my tastes, but Mr P. was happy with his choice.  It's gluten free too for all those coeliacs out there.

the outside wall of the Bar

The brewery and bar is located inside a beautiful old building which has been refurbished in recent times.  Part of a precinct originally built as a College, the buildings had been left to run down over the years, but were restored and rescued, and now house the brewery, bar, a restaurant, an ice cream shop and function space.  

heading down to the Bar

We finished our meals, and wandered off to take some more photos of this photogenic town.  Well worth a drive out from Brisbane to indulge in some tasty food (and ice cream!), and to check out the historical buildings (and antique shops!).  

beautiful local church dating from 1849

looking to the pedestrian bridge over the Bremer River  

This meal was paid for by us, the pod people:-) 

Open Wed- Sun

88 Limestone St.,

Ipswich QLD 4305
Ph: 07 3282 9076
Pumpyard Bar - 4 Hearts Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Monday 15 July 2019

Ruby And White Chocolate Cheesescake

Here is where Mr P. and I differ: he adores white chocolate, while I love it thrillingly dark and sophisticated and bitter.  I keep telling him white chocolate is no chocolate at all:-)  But here I am making a cheesecake which is blessed with copious amounts of the stuff...

I recently got hold of some ruby chocolate, made from the ruby cocoa bean.  This chocolate is apparently made from unfermented cocoa beans with a natural red-pink colour, and a unique fruity flavour.  Crumbs, I sound like an ad, don't I?  Mm, truth to tell, I am a cynic at heart, and I wonder if the pink colour is real.  But hey, that's just little ol' sceptical Sherry talking:-)

so pretty - oops! forgot the nuts 

As ruby chocolate doesn't take well to cooking, I hunted around for a no-bake dish.  I found a recipe for white chocolate cheesecake submitted by Kay Orford, in the lovely Emmanuel Anglican College Ballina cookbook Our Ballina Table.  Kay's recipe is brief, and I have to say it has a few dodgy details (sorry my unknown friend), so I have adapted, blinged up and modernised her recipe.


the base:

150g. of plain biscuits - I used a mix of digestives and butternut snaps

75g. butter, softened (not melted) 

the filling:

250g. (8oz.) cream cheese at room temp.

250 mLs (1 cup) of cream - I used thickened

250g. (8oz.) mascarpone

55g.-110g. (/¼-½ cup) caster sugar (superfine if you are from the U.S.) - this is a very sweet filling, so you may want to use the lesser amount of sugar :-) 

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

250g. (8oz.) good quality white chocolate

250g. (8oz.) ruby chocolate - or milk chocolate if you can't find ruby

the top:

30g. pistachios or blanched almonds, chopped (optional)

60g. cranberries or raspberries or fruit of your choice - preferably one that has a bit of tang or acidity rather than a very sweet one

20g. ruby chocolate and 20g. white chocolate, grated or chopped to decorate


Blitz the biscuits in a food processor till they resemble breadcrumbs, or bash them in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin

Add the softened butter to the processor and zap away till the mixture starts to clump together; if you don't have a processor, I suggest melting the butter and combining that with the biscuit crumbs

Tip the mixture out into a 23cm (9 in.) springform pan that has been lightly buttered and lined on the base with baking paper

Use your hands or the back of a large spoon to push the crumbs onto the base 

Place in the fridge for an hour to settle down

When the hour is up, make the filling: place the cream cheese in the processor (or large mixing bowl), and give it a few pulses to break it up - or beat it soundly with your wooden spoon

Now add the cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla and whiz or beat as appropriate till smooth; divide the mixture into two separate bowls

Melt the two chocolates separately in microwave-proof bowls (the ruby chocolate took 70 seconds, and the white took 80 seconds)

Let them cool for a few minutes, then fold the ruby gently into one of the bowls of cream cheese mixture, and the white into the other bowl

Spoon the mixtures alternately onto the biscuit crumb base, and swirl with a knife; you want that lovely swirl of colours to show

Now scatter the fruit, nuts (if using) and grated chocolate over the top and refrigerate for several hours or overnight


You can use ruby with white, or white with milk, or white with dark chocolate - your choice

I used frozen cranberries which I had thawed well (we don't have fresh ones here in Australia), but use your fave fruit

ingredients gathered

blitz the biscuits and softened butter together 

press the mixture firmly into the lined base of the tin 

beat the cream cheese etc together till smooth 

melt the chocolate(s) separately

pour the melted chocolate(s) into the cream mixture 

spoon and swirl the mixtures into the tin 

smooth out the top

decorate with the fruit and grated chocolate

ready to eat

     artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Monday 8 July 2019

Homemade Mascarpone

I feel weird putting 'cheese' as a label for this one, but that's what it is according to the Italians - an Italian cream cheese from Lombardy.  So here we have my first attempt at making it.  I'll tell you from the get-go that my version turned out a bit well...thinner than I would have liked.  But it is very simple to make, and tastes tangy and creamy and quite moreish.  I figure that since it will melt anyway in dishes like soups and risottos, or be beaten up in cheesecake fillings (clue as to my next blog post - tee hee), that it doesn't really matter too much.  

I came across this recipe in a Cuisine (NZ) magazine a few years ago, and finally I've gotten round to trying it.  This is a microwave version, really simple and quick, though I did leave it in the fridge for a couple of days to thicken up, which they suggest too.  I had to go on a Great Tartaric Acid hunt, as it was not readily found in our nearby supermarkets.  I finally found it in a small, independent grocer in a small country town!  We were out that way, anyway...

ingredients (all two of them) gathered :-) 

Makes about 350g.


600 mLs (25 mLs under 2.5 cups) of pure cream (not thickened)

1/2 tsp tartaric acid


Pour the cream into a microwave-proof jug

Zap it in the microwave on High for 2 minutes (our microwave is 800W)

Let it stand for two minutes

Scatter the tartaric acid over the surface of the cream, and give it a good stir with a whisk

Back in the microwave for another two minutes on High

Set aside for an hour or two to cool and thicken

Now stir it, and leave to strain through a sieve/strainer which has been lined with a double layer of muslin, into a bowl: put the whole shebang - bowl, sieve and cream mixture - into the fridge to finish straining overnight (oh dear, that sounds a bit rude, doesn't it?)

The next day, spoon it into a container, seal it and use within five days - use it in risottos, soups, cheesecakes, pasta sauce - basically anywhere you want to add a bit of richness to a dish


Don't use thickened cream as it has gelatine and/or other thickeners in it which won't work here apparently

You can try this with lemon juice (about 1 hefty tablespoon so about 20 mLs or 4 teaspoons) instead of the tartaric acid

This will thicken more over time, so best to make it a couple of days prior to needing it

I had no muslin so used two brand new, unused Chux wipes

ready for microwaving

pour the cream mixture into the lined sieve 

let it dribble through the muslin or Chux wipes

the last bit of the mixture going through - scrape any extra off with a spatula 

the next day - good-lumpy but not as thick as I'd hoped 

and another day

the second day - and ready to use in various dishes

Wait with bated breath my friends, for my next post, where I use my delicious, homemade mascarpone:-)

 artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Monday 1 July 2019

In My Kitchen - July 2019

July - the month of American Independence Day and French Bastille Day and Canada Day; the month marking halfway through an Aussie winter.  We've only had a couple of cold nights here in sunny Queensland so far.  I noticed the other day that Scotland was having the same temperatures as we were! - and they're in mid Summer.  You gotta laugh!

So here are a few more things in my kitchen.  Feel free to join in this month, my lovely virtual friends.  And it would be brilliant to see some newbies here, so any of you foodie folk who read IMK but don't join in ...  I am sending brain waves out to you - join in, join in :-) ... 

 In My Kitchen:

a chocolate haul

I bought a few things online from Coco Chocolate; that's their hot chocolate mix bottom left.  Sooo delicious, but not cheap so that's why I made my own.

and then there's olive oils

I ordered these from an olive grove in Victoria; beautifully zingy oils; the lemon one is great in hummus.

another beauty from Sit Still Lauren 

I love her kinda clunky but gorgeous work, with that tell-tale indent for your thumb, making it easy to hold.  There is something so comforting about holding a beautiful, handmade object and drinking delicious beverages from it.

hmm another book?!  Yes indeedy

I loved reading all the Gerald Durrell books when I was young, though I cringe these days thinking about the awful way he 'collected' animals for zoos.  Babies taken from mothers, trees chopped down to reach them, mothers killed to get the babies ...  Oh, how it makes me shudder!  But anyway - I shall enjoy these family recipes, and think of their (somewhat) idyllic life on Corfu in the 1930s.

and more chocolate

And then there was more chocolate; this time from The Chocolate Box in Melbourne.  Online shopping, you are killing my bank account :-)  Delicious peanut butter frogs and fluffy marshmallows.  And a few other things which I shall show you another time, my friends.

as per the label :-) 

I bought this little gem in a very quirky general store in the backblocks of the Northern Rivers hinterland (you know it's the place of my heart) in a village called Clunes.  They have the best cemetery ever!  I might have to be buried there, with the cows and the rolling green paddocks...

 cute green tree frog and black bean pod 

Okay, not strictly in my kitchen but close by.  This is the sweetest little green tree frog sitting in a black bean pod, all made from clay.  The artist is Lindsay Muir, who hails from the Sunshine Coast hinterland.  Below is a photo of the actual pod (courtesy of the Australian National Herbarium).  Lindsay's beans look so real, don't they?  

Image result for black bean pod
black bean aka Moreton Bay Chestnut 

I didn't realise these are Australian natives; for some reason, I thought they came from South America, but no.  In fact, the indigenous Australians have used them for food for millennia.  The leaves and seeds are toxic to livestock though, so farmers have to make sure they don't let their cows near them.  

delicious one tray chicken and veg bake

Nothing nicer than a delicious one tray bake with chicken and veg., flavoured with wedges of lemon and garlic cloves.  We had this with rice one recent cold (for Queensland) night.

brilliant red chillies from a friend's garden

A gift from a friend's garden.  We love chillies in this household!  They go into just about everything we cook and eat: chilli, stews, curries, stir-fries, soups, you name it.  You could even add them to chocolate mousse to give it an Aztec aura.

Okay, that's it from me for this month.  I will await your wonderful posts with breathless anticipation!

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In My July Kitchen:

Avocado & Finger Lime Toast
Not Quite Nigella

Sherrys Pickings