Monday 20 December 2021

Triple Chocolate Bark

This is my last post for 2021.  And can I say how glad I am that this year is on its way out?  It has been tough, my friends, and I know many of you have had it tough too.  But I'm hearing D:Ream in my head: 'Things can only get better ... '  And I'm picturing that gorgeous Prof. Brian Cox who used to be in that U.K. band before becoming a world-famous physicist.  Some people have all the talent :-)   

This is a wonderfully simple and delicious treat.  And you can use any combo of chocolate you like.  White and ruby chocolate?  Oh yes.  Any kind of nut or bling you like.  Yep for sure.  Let it set, break it up and hand out to your loved ones wrapped up in cellophane, and tied with a pretty ribbon.  I went to a local newsagent the other day, asking for cellophane.  They didn't have any, nor a clue as to what it was ...  I felt like such an old fogey.  But I don't care, my friends.  My loooong and painful illness has made me realise that life is way too short to worry about stuff like that.  

triple chocolate deliciousness

Makes one large baking tray full!


200g./7 oz dark chocolate

200g./7 oz white chocolate

200g./7 oz milk chocolate

3-4 tsp thickened cream

a palmful of dried oranges, chopped

a scattering of dried rose petals, and 2 tsp of dried rose powder 

a big handful of walnuts, or nut of your choice, chopped

sea salt flakes, to taste - optional

lots and lots of bling!!


Grab a baking tray and line it with baking paper

Melt the dark chocolate and a teaspoon or two of the cream in the microwave, give it a stir, and pour it over one third of the paper

Then melt the white chocolate with a teaspoon of the cream, stir and pour that onto the next third of the paper

Now melt the milk chocolate and a teaspoon of cream, stir and spread that over the tray

Run a knife thru them gently so you get a lovely swirly effect

Over the dark chocolate, you place the chopped up dried orange

Then the rose petals and rose powder go over the white chocolate

And lastly, the nuts go over the milk chocolate

Sprinkle over the sea salt flakes if using

Now grab the bling, and go crazy over the whole shebang

Into the fridge to set, then break up and wrap up for friends and family - or just enjoy


Toast the nuts in a low oven for a few minutes if you can be bothered - I didn't bother, so they're just raw and real

I used dried blood oranges 'cos they were in the pantry, which I snipped up with kitchen shears

Rose powder is optional

Our microwave is downstairs in the kitchenette, so the photos are from down there.  I had two baskets of ingredients and implements to take down with me!  And Mr P. washed up for me.  What a champion he is.

gather your bling

chop your nuts

off to the fridge to set

all blinged up and ready to eat

P.S. - In My Kitchen will re-appear in February!  I am taking a blog break.  Merry Christmas and a fabulous festive season to all!! xx

© Sherry M.

Monday 13 December 2021

Chicken And Pearl Barley Risotto

Pearl barley brings back memories of our mum's soup - a big pot being cooked up on a cold winter's night.  Definitely cheap, cheerful, and delicious.  I bought some biodynamic stuff in winter, and just to finish it off, I decided to make this barley risotto.  I'd chanced upon an episode of Nigella Lawson's where she made her version, and then I came upon this one by Tori Haschka from her book A Suitcase And A Spatula - so here we are.

To be honest, this was not Mr P.'s favourite dish.  But he valiantly ate it for dinner, while I drifted off into childhood memories of playing outside on a winter's afternoon, while fog drifted all around us, and I imagined brave knights in armour riding through the mist ...  I was a very imaginative child :-)

Serves 4:


750 mL - 1 Litre (3-4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbs (15-20 mL) EV olive oil

1 brown or red onion, finely diced

3 small red chillies, chopped finely

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200g. (1 cup) pearl barley

100 mL (a scant half cup) of white wine

200g. (7 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced

500g. (a generous 1 lb) boneless chicken thighs, chopped into big chunks

a big!! pinch of saffron threads

a big handful (20g./1/2 cup) of parsley, chopped

2 tbs cream (or evaporated milk)

zest of half a lemon

sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste - maybe 1/2-1 tsp of salt (?)

a really big!! handful of baby spinach leaves

more chopped parsley to strew over the top


Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, and let it sit while you start on the risotto

Sauté the onion, chillies and garlic in the EV olive oil (in a large saucepan) for about 5 minutes till translucent

Add the barley, and give it a good stir

Throw in the wine, and stir it until the wine has reduced by half

Now spoon in 2 ladles of stock, and stir for 5 minutes

Spoon in the rest of the hot stock, and add the mushrooms and chicken pieces

And in goes the saffron and parsley; give it a stir and let it simmer away on medium-low heat, uncovered, for about 45-50 minutes till the barley is tender, and the stock absorbed

No need for constant stirring; just check it every so often, and add more stock if it looks like it's drying out

When the barley is cooked, add the cream, lemon zest, salt and pepper, spinach leaves and the extra parsley


I bought a sleeved bunch of parsley, and the entire bunch was 20 grams!

My risotto needed a bit more stock and a bit longer on the stove; the biodynamic barley is obviously of hardier stock than the normal store-bought stuff

ingredients gathered

simmering stock at the back; aromates sautéing in the front

sauté the barley

hot stock

stir in the chicken, parsley etc.

throw in the spinach at the end

throw on the parsley

Barley stalks © Sherry M.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

In My Kitchen - December 2021

There wasn't a lot going on in my kitchen this past month.  Rib cage still not entirely right, and my motivation is a wee bit sunk, but I'm trying.  These last few months have been rather hard, my friends, but thanks to a great physio, I am finally getting there.  I feel like my life has been kinda topsy-turvy; a difficult illness can be a bit of a life-changer I find.  My sister says that now that the once-in-600-years lunar eclipse is over, things will get better.  And it will, and they are!

Our first Christmas decorations went up today, so I'm feeling like life is getting back to normal.  So I hope you're all doing well, my friends!  Looking forward to your posts this month.

In My Kitchen:

there was lemon cordial

One of our Tassie friends came up to visit with these homegrown Meyer lemons, with which I made cordial.  Or did I tell you this already? :-)  Organic and juicy; wonderful to work with. 

and choc-coated strawberries

Not homemade, but ordered with love from a local gift service.  This was a huge thank you to Mr P. who has looked after me wonderfully during my illness.  And that's not easy for a disabled fella.  He is Super Man, I tell you.

and preserved lemons

And I made preserved lemons with the rest of the Meyer lemons.  They are mild and soft-skinned, which makes them easy to shove into the jars.  And now we wait till they get ... just right.

yep another book

This is a collection of weekly posts by Belinda Jeffery.  I have been to a couple of her wonderful cooking classes in the Northern Rivers area.  Sadly not possible these days due to Covid, as she is over the border.  I adore her writing, her recipes and her kindly, thoughtful and respectful manner.

and a Masterchef knife

Not in my kitchen in this photo, but normally.  Goodness knows what the locals thought as I waved my knife around.  I can't even remember what the knife was doing in the car when we took a drive to the seaside for a walk.  It was so marvellous to get out of the house after what seemed like aeons.

oh no! not another cookbook ?!?

Yes indeed.  But Nigel is the best.  I love his prose, I love his voice, his recipes, his floppy fringe ...  Not possible to resist this one. 

the kitchen poster I did up for my friend

She asked and I obeyed.  Kitchen poster with some of my drawings duly done and dusted and dispatched.  Like my blue shoes?

chunky apple sauce with lurking apples

I'd had half a dozen apples lurking in the crisper drawer for weeks.  Throw them to the birds or make some apple sauce?  Yep sauce it was; now used in muffins and soon in an apple cake.  That's it for now.  See you soon, global people.  Everyone welcome to join in for In My Kitchen.

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Lavender & Lime

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Thursday 25 November 2021

Dragon Fruit Muffins - (AKA Pitahaya Or Pitaya)

Dragon fruit?  I do believe dragon fruit is a cactus, indigenous to the Americas.  It can have white, pink or yellow flesh.  I used pink-fleshed chunks, fresh from the supermarket freezer :-)  And some dragon fruit powder, delightfully, iridescently pink.  The basic muffin recipe (by Suzanne Gibbs) is from an ancient recipe I cut from a New Idea magazine aeons ago.  It called for blueberries, but I wanted to change it up.  So here we are!

see the dragon fruit seeds?

I made these in the morning, before Mr P. and I (and our friend Mr. N.) were to give a talk at the local Historical Society, of which we are members.  This was a talk we had previously given at our other Hist. Soc.  Yes, we are in two!   This one was postponed 3 times (over 18 months) due to Covid, so we were happy to finally be able to present it. 

Hubby to the left of me; Mr. N. on the right

And that's Frank Corley on the very right.  We had a lot of fun giving this talk at the Windsor & Districts Historical Society.  The funny thing is when you type in Windsor Hist. Soc., the English one pops up, so you get people adding posts to that one.  Just a wee bit far away ...


250g. (2 cups) plain flour (wholemeal if you have it)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarb soda

2 tsp dragon fruit powder (optional)

1/2 tsp of nutmeg, and of cinnamon, and of salt

165g. (3/4 cup) demerara or raw sugar

45g. (1.6 oz) melted butter

180 mL (3/4 cup) buttermilk

1 cup frozen dragon fruit (150g.) - or blueberries or fruit of your choice

extra demerara and/or raw caster sugar to strew on top before baking


Sift the dry ingredients (EXCEPT the sugar) into a large mixing bowl, then whisk the sugar into the sifted mixture

Stir in the butter, buttermilk and fruit till just mixed - be gentle; you don't want to get the gluten into a frenzy

Spoon in the batter so your muffin holes (cups?) are three quarters full, then sprinkle on the extra sugar, if using

Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 190C/375F for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden, have risen and smell deeeelicious 


My batter was very dry, so I ended up adding about 60 mL (3-4 tbs) extra milk; still a rather dry, lumpy batter but that's okay!

I made my own buttermilk as I didn't have any: 3/4 cup milk to 2.5 tsp of lemon juice (or use a mild vinegar).  Leave it sit for 10 minutes, then you will have a delightfully lumpy, curdled mixture ready for the baking

sift your dry ingredients (bar the sugar) 

make your buttermilk

introduce the wet to the dry

a pretty dry batter

whack 'em in the oven for 15-20 mins.

after 20 mins. baking

they didn't last long

not too sweet, moist and fruity

Sadly the pink batter turns into a caramel-coloured muffin.  'Twas delicious nonetheless.  I feel another batch coming on soon ...

© Sherry M.

Monday 15 November 2021

Pickled Cucumbers - The Quick And Easy Way

Pickles - the quick and easy Curtis Stone way.  Curtis, a well-known TV chef and food writer, lives in the U.S., but is originally an Aussie boy.  He writes a monthly column for the Coles supermarket magazine, and this was one of his latest recipes.  I figured I could put this together even with my wrecked ribcage, so I did - with just a few tweaks.  (All the optional items are my additions.)

Next time I will use the smaller amount of sugar, as it was too sweet for me, but see how you go ...  Curtis just blithely states to use 1 cup, but wow, that's very sweet.  I've had the pickles in my fridge for a week, but I'm getting through them like the clappers (an ancient British phrase, but I like to use it - tee hee).  Great on sandwiches, and good for your gut health.

ready to go into the fridge


5 Lebanese cucumbers (about 12-15cm/5-6 in) long

1 tbs sea salt

1/2-1 cup (110-220g.) of caster sugar

1 cup (250 mL) apple cider vinegar

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

10 black peppercorns (optional)

2 small red chillies (optional)

2 bay leaves (optional)

6 mountain pepper berries (optional)


Slice those cukes nice and thin, after topping and tailing of course :)

Place them into a sterilised jar (or 2) then add all the other ingredients

Give it a good swirl, leave on the kitchen bench for 3 days, swirling once a day, then into the fridge, where they will happily last for at least a week (or 2)


Lebanese cukes are those cute little ones, with dark-green skin

It's hot and humid here in Brisbane atm, so I only kept mine out for 2 nights

Curtis says to use a 450 mL/1 lb jar, but I only had 2 smaller ones

gather your ingredients

thinly slice those cukes

ready for the vinegar

vinegar in; ready for jarring

now to sit for 3 days

© Sherry M.

Monday 1 November 2021

In My Kitchen - November 2021

I'm heading out soon for my first haircut in? ...  how many months?  Can't recall:-)  My hair is a mess, just like my bones these days.  Maybe by Christmas, I'll be back to normal, with any luck.  Here's hoping.  Actually, I have started to feel a good bit better after 9 weeks!!

November you have come at us like a meteor or a comet or a freight train or something.  Where did the year go?  Eeeek; not possible that the Christmas prep (i.e. cards and gifts and food planning) is almost upon us.  

But anyways, here is my kitchen this month; a bit sad and wobbly like me, but still in there.  Mr P. has been doing most of the cooking lately.  Thank goodness for husbands who cook, and shop, and tuck you into bed when you can't even roll over.

In My Kitchen:


I love Dr. Annie Gray and I love Kathy Hipperson and I love Mrs. Crocombe.  You must watch her on Youtube - the English Heritage channel!  So delightful, so relaxing.  And that's my kitchen poster the books are lying on.  A friend requested one for her Christmas gift this year, so I do as I am asked :-)

and another cookbook

Desiree is my new food guru :-)  She is Canadian, has a wonderful smile, and she is an actual dietitian who knows her stuff.  I love her Instagram account too where she debunks all the junk, and tells you about the good stuff.

olive oil tasting

This is almost a curveball.  Cobram Estate who have olive groves in Australia and California are doing (have done by the time you read this) a Guiness Book of Records challenge for the biggest virtual olive oil tasting ever.  And we did it!  They had over 11,000 people for the virtual tasting.  Such fun.  And yes we did have actual olive oils to taste, as they sent out the kits weeks before.   

yep another wooden spoon

This is a sweet little skinny spoon carved out of walnut wood by Thea Conway.  Love her stuff, and love a wooden spoon.  But you know that already :-)

and there was medieval hummus

We love this stuff (aka Himmas Kassa), and eat it by the bucketful.  So tasty, my dear.  Full of spices and herbs, and nuts and preserved lemons.  So good on toast!  Somehow I managed to make it, broken rib and all.

love these!

I love these, but they are no longer on my eating list.  Since Mr P.'s health scare recently, we have cut down on delicious things like this.  He has lost 5 kilos already while I have only lost 2.5!  But as a friend said, "you haven't been doing anything physical because of the rib."  Anyway, it's not about losing weight as about keeping healthy.

That's it from my kitchen.  Now let's see yours, my friends.  Every being on this planet and on any others are welcome!  And here's the usual reminder, folks: IMK posts are about your kitchen (and kitchen garden) happenings over the past month.  Dishes you've cooked, preserves you've made, herbs and veg in your garden, kitchen gadgets, and goings-on.  And a curveball is welcome - whatever you fancy; no need to be kitchen-related.  

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