Thursday 28 May 2020

Green Beans With Olive Oil

Mr P. and I have always called this dish Greek beans, but here in the book called Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan it is Fasolia Bi Zait, a Palestinian recipe.  The book is subtitled Recipes and stories from the Palestinian kitchen.  I love the recipes here, so you'll be seeing a few more of them over the coming weeks, my virtual friends.  

This is a lovely book, full of stories from local Palestinian women, and complemented by beautiful, and colourful photos.  The author travelled over several years to Israel, and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.  She visited local communities, cooked with the women, and ate at the restaurants.  She decided to bring all these food experiences together in this interesting and informative book.  (BTW, zaitoun means olive in English.)   

tasty green beans with spiced potatoes

Serves 4:


400g. (14 oz) green beans

2 tbs olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped or sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 small red chillies, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

3/4 tsp ground cummin

1/2 tsp ground allspice

400g. (14 oz) tin of diced tomatoes

1 fresh tomato, diced

1/2 cup of water

a dash of red or white wine - maybe 1/4 cup

1 tsp white sugar

a dozen grinds of black pepper

¾ - 1 tsp of sea salt

more EV olive oil to drizzle over the top


First trim your beans - i.e. - cut off the top and tail, then cut each bean into three pieces

Now boil or steam them for about twenty minutes till crisp-tender (as the Americans say)

Drain and put aside while you make the sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large frypan, tip in the onions and let them cook for about fifteen minutes on a gentle heat, stirring now and then

Stir in the garlic, chillies and spices, and cook for a few minutes more

Add the tinned and fresh tomatoes, water, wine, sugar, pepper and salt

Give the mixture a good stir, cover and let simmer on a low heat for ten minutes - check it now and then; and add a wee bit more water if it starts to look too dry

Add the beans to the sauce, and stir them in gently

Check for seasoning, drizzle over the olive oil and serve - as a side for 4 people, or as a main for 2 or 3 with some spicy potato wedges


If you like your beans very tender, by all means go ahead and cook till they're as tender as you wish

I think this amount of sauce would happily accommodate another 50-100 grams of beans, so if you're feeling hungry ...

trim, top and tail your beans
Mr P. is posing for this shot, but I actually did all the gritty bean work:-)

steam your beans till tender - as you please

get Mr P. to stir the onions and garlic, etc

sauce cooked down and  beans added

all ready - with spiced spuds in the background

delicious - hot or room temp.

Confession time - I did adapt this recipe slightly by adding oregano and a fresh tomato.  I also felt it needed a bit of wine, and the red chillies that Mr P. always adds to his Greek beans!  Delicious!

colourful cover caught my eye

This is a book after my own heart; full of personal stories, interesting recipes, great photos, and providing lots of inspiration.  It is divided into five chapters: Mazzeh/Salads/Soups/Mains/Desserts.  Each recipe has a little story, a list of ingredients and straightforward directions.  Yasmin tells us how to make each dish very clearly, so that even a novice cook should be able to follow along.  I am really enjoying this book, and have sent off for some spices so I can make more of these recipes.  Do you know how hard it is to buy za'atar at the moment? :-) 

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday 22 May 2020

Chocolate Crackle And Caramel Ice-Cream Loaf

I tend to be lactose intolerant, so I don't eat a lot of dairy.  And some readers may remember my horror story of eating vanilla ice cream as a child, and vomiting into my favourite pair of boots!  Sorry, too graphic?! :-)  But I do occasionally indulge in some Italian gelato, or a really good supermarket ice cream.  

My shelves hold half a dozen of Belinda Jeffery's cookbooks, and this is an easy to make and delicious treat from Utterly Delicious Simple Food.  I added an embellishment, I must confess, by including the smashed-up honeycomb bars:-)  What's that old saying?  Nothing exceeds like excess ...

soooo delicious

Start this recipe in the morning, or even the day before eating it!


80g. butter

75g. dark chocolate

100g. rice bubbles/rice krispies

1 L (2 pints) of fabulous caramel or coffee ice cream

2 Crunchie or Violet Crumble bars (x 50g./1.7oz each) = 100g./3.5oz


Line a baking tray (Belinda says 34cm x 23cm x 2cm) with baking paper

Place the butter and chocolate (I used Lindt 70%) in a medium saucepan over a low heat, stirring now and then while it melts into a glossy puddle

Take the pan off the heat, and gently stir in the rice bubbles

Spoon the mixture onto the lined baking tray, and spread it out as evenly as you can - don't worry too much about this, as you will be breaking it up later anyway

Whack the tray in the freezer for a couple of hours

Lightly oil a loaf tin (mine is 23 x 13 x 6.5cm), and line it with cling-wrap or baking paper, and put it in the freezer to chill - make sure you leave a big overhang of paper or wrap so you can easily pull the loaf out of the tin later

Zap the chocolate bars in a small food processor, or chop finely

After the two hours is up, break up the chocolate crackle into pieces, and line the base of the loaf tin with a third of the pieces, like a pretty mosaic

Scoop out half the ice cream, and spread it evenly over the chocolate crackle with a palette knife or spatula

Back it goes into the freezer for ten minutes

Place another pretty mosaic layer of chocolate crackle on top (using a third of the pieces), and half the crushed chocolate bars

Spread the other half of the ice cream over, then the rest of the chocolate crackle (the last third) and the chocolate bar rubble

Cover the top with the overhang of cling wrap/paper, press down firmly and place in the freezer for eight hours or overnight

Two hours before eating this delectable dish, take out the loaf to soften for a few minutes; put a serving platter into the freezer to chill for a bit, then turn out the loaf onto the platter, making sure you have removed the overlap of clingfilm first 

Carefully peel away the remaining film/paper, and pop the whole thing back into the freezer for two hours

I sliced up the entire loaf before serving, so that the next time we ate it, I didn't have to worry about finding a large knife and impatiently waiting to hack it into slices

Store in a freezer-proof container for the couple of days it lasts in your house!


Belinda suggests using unsalted butter, but I like a bit of salt in my sweets so I used salted

Use whatever ice cream flavour you fancy; I used Murray River salted caramel with hazelnuts

The ice cream I used was quite soft, but you may need to take the tub out of the freezer for ten minutes before making this

And try your fave chocolate bar; anything that goes well with caramel and chocolate

The loaf tin is 9 x 5 x 2.5 inches for you non-metric users; you'll have to work out the baking tray yourself :-)

melt the butter and dark chocolate till smooth  

loaf tin lined; chocolate crackle made

zap the honeycomb bars till you have a chunky rubble

layer the choc crackle on the base

smooth over the ice cream

second layer of chocolate crackle and ice cream

all wrapped up and ready for the freezer

ready to slice and eat after two hours

gimme gimme gimme ...

I gave a large slice of this to our ninety-year old neighbour, who said she loved it.  I was feeling a bit down this week due to an illness in the family, so I ended up eating rather a lot of this loaf.  It only lasted a few days in the freezer!

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Thursday 14 May 2020

The BanananaNuttO Smoothie

You may remember, dear regular readers, that bananas and I are not friends.  But hide them well in a loaf or a drink, and I'm your man - well, woman.  Mr P. and I often head south to Kingscliff, a little seaside town just over the border in New South Wales.  There we always drop in to our fave bookstore, buy a book and hug our fave bookstore lady Katrina.  And next-door is our fave coffee shop - Mockingbird café.  Well, they have in fact just moved from the esplanade to a wee side street.  Sadly, we haven't been there yet due to COVID-19!  But soon ...

Their menu has interesting meals using local ingredients, with lots of vego/vegan options.  Kingy (as it's known by the locals) is old hippie territory, remember - with a fair few anti-vaxxer, vegan and anti-Government types thrown in:-)  I always have a Go Nuts smoothie when I'm there, so I've been hanging out for one during social isolation.  Since I've been deprived for so long, I decided to make my own version.  And voilà, here it is!  (With just a teensy bit of modification of their recipe.)

a delicious, nutty drink to get you going

Serves 2:


1 dsp (2 tsp) coffee granules mixed with 1 Tbs (4 tsp) boiling water, then allowed to cool

1 ripe banana, sliced thinly (and preferably frozen)

half a dozen frozen coconut chunks (optional)

1 large Tbs peanut butter, or nut butter of your choice

1 large dsp honey (I used espresso honey)

a few dashes of ground cinnamon

1 cup (250 mL) almond milk or milk of your choice

2 scoops of vanilla ice cream (or yoghurt if you must)

a few ice cubes, and a few more if you have forgotten to freeze the banana slices beforehand


What could be easier?   Throw everything into the blender, and blitz till smooth and frothy

Pour into 2 glasses, grab a straw and ... suck lustily


If you have been canny, you will have sliced the banana and chucked it into the freezer for a few hours - makes your drink colder and possibly frothier :-) 

I bought the frozen coconut chunks at my local supermarket; you could use a wee handful of dessicated coconut, or just leave it out

gather your ingredients - see, even my PB is local :-)

a fascinating shot of the inside of my blender:-)

and an amazing shot of my ice cream scoop - tee hee 

ready for slurping (and a bonus view of our neighbours' fence)

looking up at Mockingbird's eclectic lights

   artwork © Sherry's Pickings           

Friday 1 May 2020

In My Kitchen - May 2020

How are you going, my IMK friends?  I'm feeling much better lately, I must say.  I'm slowly getting used to social isolation, and in fact, I may even miss many aspects of it when life goes back to normal.  No demands on my time, nowhere I have to be, nothing screaming for immediate attention.  Perhaps you feel the same?  I hope you're all keeping well, and getting into your Corona routine.

Let's get right into the May IMK.  Can you believe how fast the year is flying?  Nope, nor me:-)  I'll see what I can find for this post: since we've been nowhere and done nothing, it may be a wee bit grim.  (Kidding!)  I've been making and sharing food with the neighbours (our immediate neighbour is nearly 90), taking them muffins and cake and lasagne and chicken soup.  It helps me feel useful, and I love fattening them up.  Just like the wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel:-)  

We've also been doing driveway drinks on Sundays at 5pm.  Yep, we're allowed to have two guests, and of course stay 1.5 metres apart, so no sins committed.  Unlike the rugby players who went camping in a big group on the weekend, and were firing rifles without permits to boot.  What is wrong with these ball-kicking boofheads?  Anyway, let's cut to the IMK chase...

In My Kitchen:

corn muffins
I've done a lot of cooking and baking during COVID-19; I made corn muffins to use up some frozen corn.  They didn't do their puffing-up thing, so they were flat but toothsome.  'Toothsome' - what a wonderfully chewy word.

garlic heads and dried granules
I usually buy garlic from Patrice Newell's farm, but she didn't have a crop this summer, sadly.  So I found these online, and had them sent up from Victoria.  I really love the dried granules; so easy and convenient.

birthday cake
There was birthday cake for Mr P.  This is one of Nigella Lawson's recipes, which I've made often.  For some reason, the icing went thin and weird (I think I misread the recipe), so most of it slid off the cake, which ended up sitting in a puddle of chocolate.  Still good!

garlic cloves
Here's me breaking up the garlic heads into cloves, ready for the freezer.  Thankfully, there always seems to be a bag lurking in the back of the freezer drawers.  I just finished off my last bag from November 2018.  They were less pungent, but still fine.

there was cordial
I made lemon and lime cordial with fruit gifted by friends.  It turned a beautiful pink due to the wild hibiscus sugar that my cousin gave me for Christmas.  I might even try making my own sugar since you can buy wild hibiscus powder online ...

organic limes
And here are the limes from our friends' tree.  Gorgeous green globes full of juice and vitamin C.  

plain flour
You know how hard it has been to get flour?  Well, our mate Mel who runs a cooking school here in Brisbane, has had to cancel her classes during the crisis.  So she decided to set up shop selling flour and yeast and so on.  And she does classes via Zoom these days.  What a whacko world it has become, but interesting.  So I hotfooted it down to her cooking school, and bought some plain flour.  Ah, what a relief to have some in the pantry again ...

I bought this from a local lady; her sister is a beekeeper who lives on the Sunshine Coast, an hour or so north from here.  She normally sells her honey up there to cafés and shops, but due to COVID-19, the need for honey had dried up.  So she had lots of spare honey to sell.  Luckily for us!

the mystery bucket
'What's this?', I hear you asking.  You know that infamous bottom drawer we all have in the kitchen, full of stuff ... like alfoil and baking paper.  Somehow I had ended up with eight rolls of various things lurking there.  I suddenly had a brainwave.  Why not buy a container, shove them all in it, and whack them into the pantry?  I love it!  Problem solved, and I now have a bit of room down there to shove other junk:-)

That's all for this month, folks.  Hoping to see you here.  You know the drill:  add your link as per the button below, or give me a yell via email ( so I can help you add your post.  Cheers till next month.  (Oh, and just a reminder for you Wordpress aficionados - Blogger doesn't have the pingback function so you need to let me know about your post, if it's other than via the Add a Link button.  I don't get notification from your post automatically.)

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