Tuesday 26 November 2019

Coconut Cake

Regular readers will remember my story of our Nan giving us a fresh coconut every so often as a treat.  Dad would grab the hammer and give it a darn good whack till it broke open.  I bet he loved that bit, after dealing with four young children all day!  (My family were ahead of their time - mum went to work, and dad stayed home.)  So we ate chunks of coconut for days after, chewing, chewing, chewing ...

I found this recipe in a book a while ago; but I can't remember which book!  You can also find it on the Net, using normal milk and without any icing or bling.  So I decided to tweak it a wee bit, and to up the coconutty flavour with coconut cream.  And then of course, chocolate glacé icing popped into my head - you know, Bounty bars and all.  You will need to be a coconut fan, if you make this cake, my friends.  It is indeed a coconutty treat.

my coconutty heart 

Cake ingredients:

90g. (a big 3 oz) shredded/desiccated coconut

150g. (5½ oz) self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder (optional) - if your flour is a wee bit old :-)

165g. (5¾ oz) caster sugar or vanilla sugar

185 mLs (6 fl oz) coconut cream or coconut milk or plain milk

Icing ingredients:

100g. icing sugar/icing mixture

25g. Dutch cocoa or black cocoa powder

50-60 mLs (around 3 tbs) coconut cream - you may need more or less, depending on how runny you like your icing

Bling!! for decoration


Place the coconut, flour, baking powder if using, caster sugar and coconut cream in a batter bowl/medium mixing bowl

Give it a thorough whisking, or use electric beaters like I did 

Butter a 20cm./8 inch cake tin really really well!  I suggest flouring it as well

Slide it into the middle of your pre-heated 180C (350F) oven

Bake for about 40 minutes till a skewer thrust into its heart comes out clean (and it's a pretty golden colour)

Let it sit in the tin for five minutes to cool, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely

Make up the glacé icing by putting the icing sugar and cocoa into a small bowl, add the coconut cream and stir till well combined

Tip/spoon/pour the icing over the cake and cast on your bling, my hearties

ingredients gathered, as Harry Potter might say :-)

ready to whisk

ready for the oven - 40 mins @ 180C

out of the oven

cool on a wire rack

get ready to do some glacé-ing :-)

bling-ed and ready to eat

oozy icing; all dressed up and ready to go

   artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Sardine Butter

Confession time again: as much as I love Ruby and Nigella for their recipes and writing, I also adore Nigel - Slater, that is.  There is just something about his English earnestness (or is that earnest Englishness?) that so appeals to me.  I love his fabulous writing, and some darn good recipes.  Mmm, interesting how the food writers I love are all English!

I saw this recipe (if you can call it that) some years ago in his book Real Fast Food, and it lingered in the back of my mind.  So since my pantry had two tins of sardines lurking, I thought - yep, it's time!  Nigel's 'recipe' consists of mashing together a tin of sardines and an equal amount of butter, plus some lemon juice.  I thought I'd add a bit of extra oomph for the modern age.  So here it is, my version of Nigel's fishy spread.

ingredients gathered

Recipe inspired by Nigel Slater, and improved (tee hee) by me

Makes one (very) scant cup, about 200g.


90g.  (3 oz + 1 tsp) of salted butter, softened

110g. (4 oz) tin of sardines in springwater or olive oil, drained

12-15 chives - more if you like

a big!! handful of curly-leaf parsley - use flat-leaf if you must:-) 

one wedge of preserved lemon, flesh discarded, skin cut into strips

4-5 tsp lemon juice

½ -1 tsp sea salt flakes

lots of freshly-ground black pepper

extra herbs for serving if you wish

add baby capers and preserved lemon strips on top too, if you fancy


Let the butter soften on your kitchen bench

Tip it into your food processor, and give it a quick whizz

Now add the snipped or ripped chives, parsley and preserved lemon strips, and give it a whirl

Then add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and blitz away

Taste it - and add more lemon juice, seasoning and herbs if you wish - I did!

Scrape it out into a jar (or plastic container), cover tightly and keep in the fridge for up to a week

Serve on hot toast with more pepper etc, if you wish


I used wild Scottish sardines in springwater, but you can use the ones in extra-virgin olive oil if you prefer - I ended up with about 70g. of drained sardines

I simply broke up the chives and parsley in my hands before adding to the processor

Can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months

everything goes in the processor

now add the little fishies :-)

and whizz till smooth

scoop into a pretty pot

ready for the fridge (for up to a week)

spread on hot toast

I know it looks like I've put on a major amount here, but it wasn't thaaaat much ... I love the beautiful speckled green colour, too!

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday 15 November 2019

Outside In Café - Review

"Got some time to check out a new(ish) café?" I asked Mr P. one sunny lunchtime a few weeks ago.  He slammed down his laptop lid, grabbed the car keys, and we hotfooted it out the door.  I'd noticed that a local café had changed its name (well, in April), so we dropped by recently to try out the new incarnation.  It looks much the same as before; it's a bit Tardis-like, as it looks tiny at the front but it kinda goes on and on out the back.  Like most eating places these days, you either get pretty much the usual café suspects, or burgers.  This is 'the usual suspects', not that that's a bad thing:-)  

inside the Tardis:-)

Hubby went for the sweet corn and pumpkin fritters, while I chose potato cakes with smoked salmon and poached eggs.  He drank a white chocolate milkshake, and guess what I had?  Yep my usual - a cappuccino.  My coffee went down well - strong, with some cute artwork on top plus chocolate powder - winner!  Hubby's shake was "nice and cold", said he.  Always a bugbear with him, that the milk is never cold enough, as a good shake should be - but no worries here.   

cappuccino $4

white choc milkshake $6   (love that straw!)

Then came the fritters, and the potato cake (aka The Favourite on the menu).  The hash cake (makes me giggle every time I write that) was a little grainy, nicely herby and crispy-browned on the outside.  I wasn't sure of the overall flavour?  Mr P. thought it may have been blue cheese, but on checking the menu I see it was fetta and chive.  I was expecting something more like a rosti, but it came as a soft-textured mash/hash (as per the menu - my bad).  My eggs were nicely runny (just the way I like 'em); there was zucchini and spinach and a tasty (mustard?) sauce over the top.  All up, a fine and tasty lunch.

'The Favourite' with salmon $18

the actual potato hash cake

sweet corn and pumpkin fritters $18

Hubby loves fritters, and he loves his veg, so this was a winner for him.  He is okay with café fritters being more flour than veg, but I steer clear as I prefer the more veg to less flour ratio.  He was fine with this version, which had lots of crispy bacon, a cherry tomato, some lettuce leaves and a wee mound of smashed avocado.  He isn't much of a bacon eater, so I very happily devoured most of his crispy serve.  (He has just advised me that the fritters were not of the too floury kind.)    

let's do it again!:-)

And then a couple of weeks later ...  "Let's do lunch!", I urged Mr P. on one of his staffless days, so off we trotted to Outside In again.  Like every café these days, you order at the counter, and your food is then brought to your table.  You can grab yourself some water at the water station, and find your own seat.  I sometimes sigh for the good old days of service, but anyway, it is what it is, my friends.  Cappuccino again for me, while the hubster had a strawberry thickshake this time.  (And Mr P. reminded me here that the lady behind the counter did in fact bring us a carafe of water with glasses.)

cappuccino $4

strawberry thickshake $7

He went for the sweet potato cakes special, as per the chalkboard above.  I chose deluxe smashed avo, with beetroot hummus, bacon and fetta.  His dish had a generous amount of sliced avo, with two eggs and the dreaded kale.  Neither of us are fans of this leaf (cowfeed, my friends, cowfeed) but Mr P. said it was not too bad and he scoffed it all down.  The sweet potato cake looked a wee bit over-browned and over-crisped for me, but hubby was happy.  

sweet potato cakes $18

deluxe smashed avo $19.50

I loved the beetroot hummus - a little bit chunky/creamy/earthy and a delightful hot pink; eggs once again perfectly runny, nice and crispy bacon, plus smashed avo and dukkah!  Not sure what sort of bread it came on, but it did the job.  And I think you can say it is a pretty healthy and enjoyable lunch.

a page from the clipboard menu showing some of the healthy choices

They do have a beef burger, and a healthy salad, and a goodie bowl with quinoa so you can indulge in the healthy stuff too, if  you so desire.  You can add extras like smoked salmon, bacon, mushrooms or halloumi to your meals for $4 a pop.  And there's coffees, and frappés, and smoothies (spinach anyone?) and teas galore.  It has bike racks, and room for kids and dogs, so everyone is covered:-)   

(All meals paid for by Mr P. - tee hee - lucky me)

110 Maygar St.,
Windsor 4030 

Ph: 0414 832 146

Hours:  5:30 to 2:30 M to Sat
Sun  5am to 2pm

Outside In Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday 8 November 2019

Chocolat Angelique

Confession time - I'm a bit obsessed with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.  I think I've read everything about them and by them!  And I have a large portrait of Virginia on my loungeroom wall.  Mmm, a bit like my obsession with Frida Kahlo...  So it will come as no surprise that I have a book called The Bloomsbury Cookbook, which I reviewed here some time ago.  (I made a savoury omelette from the book then.) 

I was flipping through the book again recently, and this dish caught my eye: a dessert this time.  It's from an unpublished cookery book by Angelica Garnett and her hubby David, a renowned gastronome.  She was the daughter of Vanessa Bell (Virginia's sister) and Duncan Grant, who was at one time the lover of Angelica's husband David.  Confused?  Yep, me too.  I think they all slept with each other at some stage:-)  Oh, and David was waaaay older than her too.  This rich and creamy number is a fair bit like Nigella's chocolate pots in taste and texture, which I make regularly.

so very dark, so very creamy, so very chocolate-y

(You will need a spare 35 minutes or so to make this recipe, though most of it is just making sure it doesn't boil over)

Serves 4:


70g. (2.5oz) of butter

250 mLs full-fat milk + 175 mLs pure cream = 425 mLs (3/4 pint) 

50g. (scant 2 oz) caster sugar/vanilla sugar

90g. (a hefty 3 oz) of dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa), grated or chopped into small pieces

3 tbs of rum - (make it 45-50 mLs)

a handful of pecans and/or macadamias chopped, to serve (optional)

a good big pinch of sea salt flakes, to serve (optional)


Grab a small (though high-sided if possible) saucepan, throw in the butter and melt on a medium heat till it starts to sizzle - you will hear it sizzling away at you :-)

Stir in the milk/cream mixture and the caster sugar, with a wooden spoon (as Angelica instructs)

Now chuck in the grated/chopped chocolate and stir in well

Bring it to the boil on medium heat, then turn it down to low, but make sure it is simmering/bubbling away gently the whole time

Keep a good eye on it!  I nearly had a disaster of the boiling-over kind when I stepped away at the beginning :-)

You will need to stir it every few minutes, for about 25-30 minutes till it has reduced by about half, and stays on the back of your wooden spoon when you run your finger through it

Now stir in the rum, and pour into 4 small cups or ramekins

Into the fridge it goes for at least 6-8 hours, but I firmly recommend overnight, my friends

Sprinkle on the nuts and salt if using, and savour the richness


Try using vanilla sugar, for that extra bit of flavour

I used Lindt chocolate which comes in a thin block, and zapped it in the food processor - so much faster and less messy than chopping or grating

Use any liquor of your choice, and any nut you like

I strongly suggest sprinkling on those sea salt flakes!  It really picks up the flavour, and cuts the richness

I have to confess I cooked my Angelique just a wee bit too long, and it started to go grainy.  It still tasted great, and the next night when we finished them off, it had smoothed out completely

zap the chocolate into small shards

melt the butter; stir in the milk/cream/sugar and chocolate

bubbling away for about half an hour and looking kinda icky :-) 

you end up with about half a litre of smooth chocolate cream 

throw on the nuts and sea salt - winner!

I promise you the sea salt adds such a delightful fillip of flavour to the rich creaminess of this dessert.

the original recipe from the book

I had to do a bit of adaptation here, as the recipe is rather ... minimalist in details:-)  This recipe was invented by Angelica during the Second World War, when butter and sugar were rare commodities, though somehow the Bloomsberries always seemed to be able to procure glorious food and drink.   

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday 1 November 2019

In My Kitchen - November 2019

Well, I was going to start off this post with a wonderful quote about November, but since they all relate to a cold Northern Hemisphere, they're not so applicable to our sunny Spring weather.  So forget all that stuff about terrible winds and rain and cold, and let's look forward to watermelon and cherries and prawns and ice cream and salad and swimming and beaches ...  

So let's get to it, my friends.  Another month is speeding by, and here we have in my kitchen:

my new oven!!

Some readers may remember I spoke of the new oven sitting in our dining room for a couple of months.  At last, it is installed and I can bake - with a fan, and a timer, and a door that closes! and a grill, and a door that closes!!  Oh my, I hardly know myself.

preserved lemons

Here we have my preserved organic lemons, using the home grown fruit from our neighbour's backyard tree.  Nothing better than a backyard lemon tree, my virtual friends.  I used my wooden cocktail muddler to push down the fruit into the juice; it worked a treat.

food essays

While I was reading Ruby Tandoh's book on food and eating, she mentioned this book, et voilà!  If Ruby and Nigella both approve, I had to have it, of course.  I haven't started it yet, so nothing to tell you about it for now.

Tassie EVOO

I love Tasmania, and I love their produce.  This is from a small farm in the Derwent Valley, which also makes beautiful elderflower and elderberry products.  All that gloriously clean air and water down there make for beautiful products.

and yet another cookbook

This one is by an ex-Brisbane lady, who moved to England some years ago.  She has a blog, where she cooks up recipes inspired by her reading.  This is her latest book.  I can't wait to delve into it.

home made guacamole

I made delicious guacamole with our friends' avocados.  (No sour cream here, folks.)  I was surprised that they grew in Toowoomba, which is a cold place in Winter, and hot and dry in Summer.  I thought they were more of a tropical fruit, but clearly they can grow in varying climes.  Yes they can, as Wiki confirms ...  And they're actually a berry!  Who knew?  

coriander leaves with EVOO and salt

As is my current practice, whenever I have leftover herbs in the fridge about to die, I throw them in the blitzer with a wee bit of olive oil and lots of salt.  And bang! the paste goes into the freezer till I need it.  I feel so thrifty and virtuous, I practically glow:-)

I'd love to see you here my fine foodie friends, so feel free to join us from Nov 1-13!  Let us share in your delightful produce and recipes and books and travel etc etc ... 

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