Thursday 22 October 2020

Chocolate And Coconut Cake

Okay, this is it: my final recipe from Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan!  Time to make a sweet treat, rather than the spicy mains I've made previously from her recipes.  I've made a tiny change or two (as per normal), just to ramp up the flavour.  And I've written the recipe in a manner that is just a wee bit clearer, I think!  Yasmin seems to go a bit vague at times :-)

Regular readers will know of my childhood filled with coconuts which our grandmother handed out regularly to our mum.  Dad would get the hammer and chisel, and whack away.  And we would be gnawing on chunks of coconut for days to come.  I think that was quite an unusual thing back in those days.  I certainly don't remember my comrades at school eating them.  Where on earth did Nan get them, I wonder?  Fresh coconuts were surely not the norm in cold and rainy Melbourne?  Maybe she was shimmying up coconut palms on her holidays?

darkly beautiful and delicious


The cake:

200g. (7 oz) butter (use unsalted if you wish)

200g. (7 oz) caster sugar - use vanilla sugar or raw caster for a deeper taste

3 large eggs

200g. (7 oz) plain flour

65g. (2.3 oz) cocoa powder 

1½ tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

100g. (3.5 oz) shredded or dessicated coconut

185 mL (6.2 fl oz) coconut milk, or milk of your choice - see notes

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

The ganache:

300 mL (10.5 oz) thickened cream

250g. (8 oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped - I used Lindt 70% cocoa

3 tbs icing sugar/confectioners' sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

a scattering of extra coconut or bling of your choice, to serve 


On goes your oven to heat @ 180C/350F

Grease a 20 cm/8 inch x 5 cm/2 inch cake tin, and line the base with baking paper

Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with electric hand beaters or a stand mixer (or a wooden spoon if you feel the need for some arm exercise)

Add the eggs one at a time, and beat in well

Tip in the sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and beat on a slow speed till incorporated into the batter

Stir in the shredded coconut, and add the coconut milk and vanilla extract - I gave it a gentle whizz with the beaters

Spoon/pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for about 35 minutes till a skewer thrust into its dark heart comes out clean

Let it sit and ponder the universe for five minutes, then out it comes onto a wire rack to get completely cool

Now you want to make the ganache, so heat the cream in a small saucepan till juuust boiling

Remove the saucepan from the heat and gently tip in the chopped chocolate

Stir, and keep stirring till the chocolate is melted

Now it sits and comes to room temperature, then you whip it good! (as the song goes) until light and fluffy like - you guessed it! - whipped cream 

In goes the icing sugar, and vanilla extract, and give it a quick stir

Spoon the ganache over the cake, and sprinkle on whatever bling you fancy - I used rose petals and glitter and sparkles ...


I used some black cocoa powder which gave the batter a dark hue

I decided on coconut milk for a deeper coconut flavour, but go ahead with whatever milk you fancy - it's best to stick to a full-fat milk though.  But don't use that pallid fakery of a coconut milk that comes in a carton - it's nearly all water! - use the tinned, unsweetened one

I must confess it took waaaay longer to whip the ganache into a firm consistency than I thought it would.  I ended up putting it into the fridge halfway thru, and letting it cool right down before whipping some more.  I guess room temp. in the 'other' hemisphere is not the same as Queensland room temp.:-)


Confession time: our quite new oven is giving me problems with the oven temp. - just like my old one!  I am having to add at least 15 degrees to the cooking temps. given; so this cake was a teensy bit dry when it came out.  My solution (which I've used several times in the past) is to make Nigella Lawson's chocolate syrup by simmering 125 mL of water, 100g. of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder for a few minutes then cooling slightly.  You then either sit the cake in it, and let it soak up the syrup (as I had already iced it), or pour the syrup all over the cake before icing.  This gives it a lovely and moist flavour boost.  Oh yes, I added 1 tablespoon of Frangelico to the syrup too!

cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy

sift the dry ingredients

beat together, and add the coconut

add the coconut milk

batter in the tin ready for baking at 180C for about 35 mins.

ready for icing

whip the ganache ingredients 

slather all over the cake

nice with a cuppa

© Sherry's Pickings

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Eggplant Relish/Pickle

I had been meaning to make eggplant relish for yonks, and I finally got around to it recently (as some will have noticed on my latest IMK post).  A few readers have asked me for the recipe, so I am doing a quick post here.  I can take no credit for it, as it is from the blog: In Search of Golden Pudding.  Beck says she got the recipe from Charmaine Solomon's book Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.  She adapted it a wee bit, and I've adapted hers a wee bit, so here we are.  Only a few photos as I wasn't expecting to blog it:-)

delicious on all sorts of things - spicy, oily and tangy

Makes about 1 Litre/34 oz:


1 kg. (35 oz) eggplant, diced or sliced thickly - see notes

12 dried red chillies - see notes 

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

a hefty 4-5 cm piece of fresh ginger (about the size of my thumb, don't cha know), chopped or grated

2 tbs black and/or yellow mustard seeds

1½ tsp ground turmeric

200-250 mL (6½-8 oz) EV olive oil or vegetable oil of your choice - see notes

3 tsp sea salt

100g. (3.5 oz) brown sugar

185 mL (6 oz) vinegar - I used a mix of whatever vinegars I had in the pantry

2 tsp garam masala


If using dried chillies, soak them in boiling water for 5 minutes

Combine the chillies, 2-3 tsp of the soaking water, the garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds in a blender or processor, and blend/zap to a rough paste

Heat 200 mL of the oil in a large saucepan, then add the spicy mixture plus the turmeric

Stir the spices in the oil for a few minutes, then chuck in the eggplant, and give it a good stir.  If it looks too dry, add the other 50 mL of oil

Let it cook away on a low heat, with a lid, till the eggplant is soft (25 minutes or so?) stirring now and then so it doesn't stick or burn

Add the salt, sugar, vinegar and garam masala

Let it simmer away for another 5-10 minutes till thick (the oil will be sitting on top most likely)

Cool for a few minutes, then put into sterilised jars.  Will last for months in the fridge!

If you find it too oily for your liking, just put the whole shebang through a strainer, like I did


The eggplants I bought weighed about 400 grams each.  I used 3 of these fruits (actually berries), and ended up with roughly 1.2 kg.  I kept back about 120 grams for another dish

I used six frozen red chillies and some chilli powder as I had no dried ones

Beck says to use a neutral oil, but we love EVOO chez Pickings so I used a whack of it, with some plain sunflower oil added in.  She also said to use 375 mL (12.5 oz) which led to a swimming pool of oil!  I ended up straining the relish, which worked out fine.  But I suggest using 200-250 mL (6½-8 oz); you may still need to strain this, though she does say it is meant to be oily, and her photos prove this

This recipe is so much easier than others I've seen around the Net - no frying off of spices, nor salting and rinsing the eggplant and so on.  It's really rather simple, and tastes great.  And will be even tastier once it has sat in the fridge for a few weeks to mature.

cook away on a low heat for about 25-30 mins.

bottled and heading for the fridge

© Sherry's Pickings

Friday 9 October 2020

Spiced Chicken And Rice AKA Dajaj Machbous

Yep another recipe from Yasmin Khan!  I've got my money's worth out of that book (Zaitoun).  Well, I borrowed it from the local library, so no actual money was involved :-)  She seems to have a penchant for spicy chicken dishes, as do I.  But I find her recipes a little lacking in flavour for our tastes, so I've added a bit more spice to bling it up.  To be honest, I find her recipes a bit weird in that she doesn't mention the seasoning or water or stock, except in the method.  So suddenly she's talking about adding something you had no idea was coming 'cos it ain't in the list of ingredients.  Oh well, I've added them to my recipe here, so no guessing for you, my friends.

Back in the Dark Ages, when Mr P. and I had knee joints that didn't creak, we had (and still have) a dear friend who was married to an Iranian chap.  She learned to cook many wonderful Iranian dishes for him, which were eaten sitting on the floor (you see, knee joints needed to work).  We were staying with them in Sydney one time, when we suddenly felt the earth move.  And I don't mean like that, you naughty minds.  There had just been an earthquake up the road - well, I mean about 150 kilometres up the road:-)  And we don't have a lot of earthquakes in Australia, so let me tell you, this was a big surprise.  Mr P. and I seem to herald all sorts of interesting events!  That time we just missed the terrorist attack in the London Tube; that protest we accidentally attended in Athens with over 1 million people!; the London hurricane we slept through - we're Queenslanders, so we just thought it was a bit of a storm ...  

pound your spices

Serves 6:


50g. (1.7 oz) pine nuts

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cummin seeds

1/4 tsp (heaped) fenugreek seeds

seeds from 4 or 5 cardamom pods

2 dried black limes or 3-4 tsp black lime powder (loomi) - I used the powder

a hefty half teaspoon of ground turmeric

a hefty half teaspoon of ground allspice

1.5 kg chicken pieces - I used thigh fillets and cutlets

1½ tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbs EV olive oil plus another 2 tbs EV olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

250g. (8 oz) white basmati rice, rinsed and drained

600 mL (20 oz) just-boiled water 

1/2 tsp chicken stock powder

1 carrot, finely grated

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp dried thyme leaves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp mace

1/2 tsp mountain pepperberry powder (optional)

an extra 1/2 tsp sea salt if you feel the need

a biiig handful of fresh parsley, chopped

plain yoghurt to serve

eggplant relish (or your fave) to serve, optional


First toss the pine nuts in a small, dry frypan till they are lightly toasted; put aside

Use that small frypan again to toast the coriander, cummin, fenugreek and cardamom seeds

Either put the seeds plus the dried limes, turmeric and allspice into a small food processor or spice grinder, and blitz till you have a chunky powder, or do what I did - whack 'em into a mortar, and pestle away by hand

Now grab a large mixing bowl, chuck in the chicken pieces, toss in HALF the spice mixture plus the sea salt, pepper, and 2 tbs of the olive oil, and mix well with your hands

Warm the other 2 tbs of olive oil in a LARGE frypan/skillet over medium heat till hot; then add the chicken, brown on all sides and cook away for 8-10 minutes

Set aside the chicken (i.e. take the pieces out of the pan), and now add the onion, and cook, stirring now and then, for about ten minutes

Stir in the garlic, and let it cook for a few minutes

In goes the washed and drained rice, the just-boiled water, the stock powder, the carrot, the salt, and the other half of the spice mix plus the extra spices (that I decided to include) - cinnamon, thyme, ginger, mace, mountain pepperberry (and an extra half tsp sea salt if you wish)

Give it all a really hefty stir together, add the chicken pieces back in, and cook, covered, for about half an hour or till the chicken is tender and the rice cooked

Let it breathe off the heat for 5 minutes, then scatter over the parsley and pine nuts

Serve with the yoghurt and relish if using


I bought the dried black lime powder (loomi) online from a spice shop

Use whatever type of chicken pieces you prefer; Mr P. doesn't like skin or bones, so I generally go for thigh fillets.  For this dish, I had some fillets, and some cutlets (with skin and bone) so I used a mix of both

I transferred the chicken to a biiiiig saucepan, and cooked it in that 'cos my frypan was just that wee bit too small

If it starts to look dry during cooking, add a wee bit more water or stock

Regular readers will understand why I added the eggplant relish as a garnish:-)  Yep, I've got jars of the stuff sitting in the fridge ...

de-seed the cardamom pods

toast the spices

pound away

mix with the turmeric and allspice

add the olive oil to the spices

brown and cook the chicken for 8-10 mins,

rice, water, carrot, + other half of the spice mix in with the garlic + onion

chicken pieces on top

topped with toasted pine nuts

© Sherry's Pickings

Thursday 1 October 2020

In My Kitchen - October 2020

September was interesting, and quick, and busy.  We took a road trip back to Maryborough to pick up the sculpture that I bought in August.  She sits proudly in our lounge room on the plinth made by an old friend.  Spring has sprung; flowers are blooming and it's getting warm again.  They say we may have a La Niña summer, so cyclones and rain are expected.  We could certainly do with some rain, as the brown grass testifies. 

Time for another IMK; I have no idea if the link will work this month, so it may come to me doing manual links again.  We shall see, my friends!  Please do join in, if you can.  Tell us about your kitchen and garden delights: foods, produce, recipes, cookbooks, gadgets etc.  Just to make it abundantly clear once more: In My Kitchen is about your previous month's kitchen goodies, feasts and events.  I am more than happy to include everyone, but your post needs to fit the theme!   

In My Kitchen:

another spoon!

This is Italian juniper wood hand-carved by Wyldwood Spoons.  They use various types of foraged wood, and carve them in the forest.  It is a beautiful implement, and sits happily with my (many) other spoons.  Stop that laughing, Tiffin Fiona!    


sweet little jug by Starr

I love jugs!  And this gorgeous tiny jug by Starr was irresistible.  Starr has just opened her own gallery in the historical town of Ipswich.  Mr P. and I headed out there for the opening day, and I fell in love with this sweet jug.  It joins the other Starr pieces I have, like the Easter bunny, a platter, and a cup and saucer.  Such cheerful and colourful pieces. 

more herbs and spices from Herbie's

I ordered a few more herbs and spices from Herbie's, as they can be hard to find in the shops.  I love the freeze-dried chives!

and there's homemade strawberry jam

Our good friend who lives nearby bought some strawberries on special.  I think she ended up with four kilos!  So she made jam, and gifted us a (huge) jar of it.  Thanks Miss M!

as per the label

Okay, what's this weird stuff, you ask?  Apparently there were a couple of blokes on a TV show - Shark Tank - who invented this vegan seasoning, and now make mega bucks selling this stuff.  I've only used it once in a stew, and couldn't taste it at all.  I guess I'll have to try it again, maybe on a boiled egg:-)

we ate pecan and almond loaf

Having bought a kilo of farm-fresh pecans, I had a few lurking so I made this loaf.  And it was delicious, my friends - moist and nutty.  I even forgot to add the glacé icing it was that tasty.

and I made some relish

And I made eggplant relish.  The recipe called for 375 mils of oil!  What the?!  It was just swimming in oil, so I strained it through a strainer, and now it's not at all bad.  I had it on a snag sanger (sausage sandwich) today and I found it pretty good.

the anthology in which resides my story

And here's a wee bit of boasting: the anthology where my (short) story sits.  I was so very chuffed to have it chosen for this anthology.  As you can see, it is stories and poems of grief and loss.  There are so many beautiful stories in it.

Okay folks, that's it from me.  Now add your post so we can all enjoy your In My Kitchen happenings.  Everyone is welcome, but stick to the theme, my lovelies.  I've had a few more weird and wonderfuls lately, but you know the drill - kitchen and garden items and events over the past month.  Okay!?  Thanks! 

The link is open from the first to the thirteenth of the month, but if you are running late, just Tell me about it!  I get no magic feedback when you've done a post - it has to be done by you via the linky, or by me manually.  I am very happy to add it manually if you're late or having problems adding your post.  So here's how to join in:

1. Add via the Add Link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found on the sidebar of this page, under   the  Add your IMK link  OR:

2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can   add it manually to the list below OR:

3. Email me:, with your link or   any queries about the link process 

In My Kitchen:

1. Happy Retirees Kitchen

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