Saturday 23 December 2023

Tuna Dip With Dukkah

Here's a fishy dip for Christmas entertaining.  It includes tuna and anchovies but don't worry, it's not all that "fishy" in taste.  I found it fairly mild, but I guess if you're not a fish fan ...  But I definitely am, and I also like a fishy phrase.  One of my faves is about slapping an annoying person in the face with a wet herring.  Which reminds me of that Monty Python sketch.  But I digress ...  

This recipe calls for Philly (cream) cheese, which I have not used in a very long time.  I found that it is no longer the cheese I remember, sadly.  Okay for dips and cheesecakes, but the texture has clearly been dumbed-down.  After discussing it on a FaceBook group, we decided it is now full of water and 'fillers', rather than delicious milk from the cow.  Sigh! ...  And the texture is just so gummy and squishy and bluuuurrgghhh.  Anyways, it's fine in a dip where it gets blitzed up.

Merry Christmas and happy festive season to all.  See you in the New Year, my friends.  Thank you for all your support this year!

c. Sherry M.

(Recipe from Donna Hay's Christmas Feasts and Treats)

Makes one good-sized bowlful:  see Notes


185g./6.5 oz tuna in chilli oil - drain it but keep the oil 

3 white anchovy fillets  -  see Notes

250g./8 oz Philly cream cheese (use any brand), cut into chunks

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs EV olive oil

sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

dukkah, for sprinkling on top

baguette or ciabatta stick, to serve with

lemon wedges, if you fancy (I didn't)


Basically, you will chuck everything into your food processor, scraping down the sides as you go - for 3-4 minutes! says Donna.  Now this seems like a very long time to me; I guess it's to emulsify the mixture but I only did it for 2-3 minutes max.

Whack it in the fridge for at least 1 hour (longer in humid QLD), then sprinkle with the reserved chilli oil, and throw on the dukkah

Serve with the sliced up bread, and lemon wedges if using


Donna says this makes 2.5 cups of dip; I guess it did :=)

I hunted around for white anchovies but they were nowhere to be found, so I bought some good quality, organic regular variety

Add a bit of lemon zest, and maybe a few chilli flakes, if you fancy - 'cos I did!

ingredients gathered

drain the oil, and set aside till later

chuck everything into the food processor

and give it a good blitz - for 2 or 3 (or 4) minutes :=); shove into the fridge

chill it well, splash with chilli oil, sprinkle with dukkah, and serve with bread

c. Sherry M.

Saturday 16 December 2023

Chocolate Nut Bars

I was a bit worried about these to be honest, but they were delicious! ...  Now writing this some weeks later, I can't remember why I was so worried about them.  They were very delicious!  This recipe is from Liz Harfull's Tried Tested and True, a fabulous book with recipes from community cookbooks - my fave kind!

There are 3 layers to these bars, but they are easy to do, especially if you make the base in the food processor (yes, do it!).  I made these, and mini muffins, and berry muffins for a friend who was having a huge clean-up in her house and yard.  I snuck a couple of pieces for Mr P. and myself to test them out.  Yep, delicious!  

Talking of cleaning up the yard, I was planting out some freesia bulbs one day, when I dug up a tiny, wee baby eastern bearded dragon.  S/he reared up and opened her beautiful, bright yellow throat at me.  It was amazing to me that they actually live right under the soil!  S/he was a sweetheart, so her throaty little display didn't worry me at all.  We are so lucky to have abundant wildlife in our suburbs; well, maybe not so much with the foxes.  

pre-chocolate coating

Makes a 20cm x 20cm square:



110g./4 oz wholemeal plain flour

1.5 Tbs cocoa powder

3 Tbs raw caster sugar

90g./3.2 oz butter, chopped


2 large eggs

150g./5.3 oz raw caster sugar

3 Tbs plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

60g./2 big oz walnuts, chopped

45g./1.6 oz dessicated coconut (unsweetened)

110g./4 oz glacĂ© ginger, chopped 

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

90g./3.2 oz dark chocolate (70% is good)


On goes your oven to 180C/350F

Butter and line with baking paper a 20cm/8 inch square and shallow cake pan/baking tray (with sides)

For the base, you sift the flour and cocoa into a large bowl, and then stir in the sugar

Now rub in the butter with your fingers till it's looking like fine breadcrumbs, or do what I did - chuck the flour, cocoa and sugar into your food processor and pulse the butter into it till - yes, you guessed it - it looks like fine breadcrumbs

Pulse it a few more times till it comes together,  then press it into your baking tin

Bake for 15 minutes - and in the meantime - 

You will be making the topping during this 15 minutes :=) so, beat your eggs well in a large mixing bowl; add the sugar and beat till thick and light and fluffy (but the sugar doesn't have to be dissolved, says Liz)

Grab another bowl, sift (or whisk) the flour and baking powder together, then fold this mixture into the fluffy, eggy mixture

And now add the walnuts, coconut, ginger and vanilla - gently my dears, with a firm but tender hand till beautifully combined

Pour this topping mixture over your still-hot base, then whack it back into the oven for 30 minutes - you want it a lovely golden-brown colour and firm to the touch of your delicate fingers :=)

Now let it cool down, melt your chocolate (in the microwave is a good method) and spread it all over the top of the nutty base

When cool (but before the chocolate has completely set), slice it up into squares

Keep in an airtight container for a couple of days


Use whatever nut you fancy here

Liz suggests melting 20g./0.7 oz butter with the chocolate if you are worried about it setting too hard on top, so that cutting will be easier

press the chocolate-y base into the lined baking tin

pour on the topping 

golden-brown after baking for 30 mins.

slather on that chocolate 

Sadly, I didn't get to take any photos of this looking pretty on a platter, but you can guess how pretty and delicious it looked!

c. Sherry M.

Eastern bearded dragon (author JJ Harrison)

(Joining in with Min from Write of the Middle blog - #WWWhimsy)

Saturday 9 December 2023

Christmas Crack

AKA Chatters' Crack, and most likely known as many other kinds of crack :=)  Nope, not the drug nor the Irish version of a good yarn in a pub, but rather, that delicious sweet treat of salty crackers topped with a caramel layer, and a chocolate layer, and lots of sweet bits and bobs of your choosing.

I have seen YouTube videos of people using pretzels and similar salty bases, but the Saladas worked out really well.  This recipe is a mish-mash from B. Dylan Hollis's book Baking Yesteryear, various foodie YouTubers, and a recipe from the Chatters' - i.e. Chat 10 Looks 3 - Facebook Page.  I pretty much halved Dylan's recipe; I was taking this to Cookbook Club, and there's only so much we can eat.  Just double it if you fancy more, or have a bigger baking tray!

so delicious!

Makes 1 tray of delicious chocolate treats:


7 x Salada biscuits  see Notes

110g./4 oz butter, softened

110g./4 oz light brown sugar

1/2-1 tsp vanilla extract

big pinch of sea salt flakes

110g./4 oz chocolate chips or thin chocolate like Lindt 70%

1 Flake chocolate bar (or choc. bar of your choice) - 30g./1 big ounce! - broken or chopped up

30g./1 big ounce chocolate hail/sprinkles

70g./2.5 oz pecans

And bling of your choice - M & M's, + chocolate hail, + sprinkles, whatever you fancy!


Turn on your oven to 180C/350F to heat up

Line your tray with alfoil and baking paper, and lay the biscuits down over the base - make sure you've left a large paper overhang so the caramel stays in the tray and you can easily pick the whole shebang up out of the tray when cutting/breaking up

Grab a medium saucepan, combine the butter and sugar over low to medium heat, and bring it to a boil, while giving it the occasional stir 

Now let it boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring now and then, till thick and gloopy (as Annabel from the Chatters' Page says) - watch it carefully; don't let it burn like some people may have done at some stage :=)

Stir in the vanilla and salt, and pour the hot, bubbly caramel mixture over the salty biscuits - you may need to spread it with a palette knife

Whack into the oven for 7 minutes, then take it out and sprinkle on the chocolate chips or pieces of chocolate (I used a Flake bar and chocolate hail also)

Let it sit and melt for a couple of minutes, then spread it out over the caramel-y crackers   see Notes

And throw on your nuts and bling!

Let it cool down, then break it up/slice it up into delicious chunks

Store leftovers (leftovers??) in an airtight container (the Arnott's recipe says not to refrigerate, but if you live in sub-tropical climes like me ...


Dylan says to use 40 saltine crackers; my 36cm x 25cm baking tray held 7 Salada biscuits comfortably (one was broken in half to fit)

FYI - Saltines are 5cm x 5cm, whereas Saladas are 10cm x 10cm

If your chocolate layer isn't melted enough, whack it back in the oven for a minute or two

If you are doubling the recipe, bake it for a bit longer - maybe 12-15 minutes before adding the chocolate

oops! forgot the alfoil under the baking paper

Dylan getting into his crack :=)

let that mixture bubble!

throw on the chocolate!

and even more chocolate :=)

heading out to Cookbook Club

we had lots of goodies!

c. Sherry M.

(Joining up with Min for #WWWhimsy linkup.)

Friday 1 December 2023

In My Kitchen - December 2023

I am pre-empting myself, but by the time you read this, I will have had (Fates allowing) my second eye operation.  Yay!!  And I've had another crown put on a tooth in the meantime.  My bank balance is teetering on the edge at the moment :=)  Why are doctors and dentists so blithe with OUR money?  

Sure, give me one of those extra-expensive dental crowns and yep, throw in a massive filling, and an expensive bone scan etc etc ...  Grrrr!  Let's hope next year is a lot less hard on the purse, emotions and mental health.  Anyway, enough whingeing, my friends.  Let's look at some good stuff, before we all descend into Christmas madness.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays of whatever sort you fancy!  See you all in January, my friends!  Have a marvellous and wonderful festive season.

c. Sherry M.

In My Kitchen:

there were Halloween biscuits
I gave some to my dentist's office.  Tee hee ... Cavities here they come.

there was homemade chicken soup

and blanched green beans for the freezer

I bought local honey at Tyalgum Country Store

This is a fabulous general store out in the countryside.  They serve food and coffee, and sell groceries, and bits and bobs.  I loved it!!

and coffee drip bags from a coffee roaster down the coast

there were Diwali sweets from our Fijian-Indian friend

and another cute tumbler from Miss E. pottery

I made blackberry compote for my porridge 

and I blanched cauliflower, which was heading to the freezer

and I bought this online from a Japanese store in Sydney -
 there is roasted sesame dressing, and a yuzu ponzu

and the curveball: a portrait of our house by our friend Ms. Atee

c. Sherry M.

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Thursday 23 November 2023

Pineapple Mini Muffins

Mini muffins?  Yes please!  They are so cute.  I have had mini muffin tin liners in my pantry for mmm... quite some time, so I decided to use them - and use them.  I've made these twice in a week, once for the talk I gave to the Historical Society and once for our friend who is having a massive cleanup of her home.  She ordered in a big skip, and asked everyone who could, to help with getting rid of junk.  Hope it doesn't sound mean, but her hubby (who passed away in January) was - shall we say? - a blooming great hoarder :=)

Mr P. and I are getting into the de-clutter mode lately, so things are getting turfed!  I usually read a book and give it away, and we are chucking or selling lots of our stuff!  There was a TV show once, which was actually called Stuff, about the things we humans collect, and what we do with them.  It's such a ubiquitous human trait.

This recipe is from a website called: Chocolate Covered Katie.  She apparently has one of the top 25 food websites in the U.S.  This is a great recipe I have to say!  I am of course using local pineapple (even though Heinz bought the Aussie company out some time ago.)  They also make tinned beetroot, which is a massive part of our culture; I mean a real Aussie burger HAS to have tinned beetroot!  (And often a slice of pineapple.)

I need one of these now :=)

Makes 24 mini muffins or 9 normal ones:


1 x 450g./16 oz tin of crushed pineapple, well-drained (drink the juice/syrup if you fancy)

2 Tbs milk - your choice

1 Tbs white or cider vinegar

1.5 tsp vanilla extract or paste

3 Tbs vegetable (neutral) oil  - I used sunflower oil

1 cup plain flour

1/2 tsp each of - bi-carb (baking) soda, sea salt and baking powder

1/3 cup caster sugar


Grab a large mixing bowl, and whisk together the first 5 ingredients

Set aside for 10 minutes - just do it! :=)   See Notes

On goes your oven to 180C/355F

Line a muffin tin with cute paper liners

Stir the other ingredients into the mixture in the bowl till just combined - go gently, not like a mad cement mixer

Bake for 20 minutes if using a normal-sized tin, and a bit less for the mini muffins - stick a skewer in one to check if done - you want it mostly clean

Let 'em cool down; eat at once if you can't wait, or leave for a day in an airtight container, as the flavour becomes better after a day


Yes, it is important to set aside the first 5 ingredients for 10 minutes; some chemical reaction going on, my friends

For once in my blogging/baking life I did indeed just use cup measurements rather than finding out the grammage!

combine the pineapple et al together

and baked!  so cute, so delicious

I shall be making these again (after this post goes up) for a friend's art studio Christmas event.  Weirdly, I took only these 2 photos when baking these!  Usually I have a plethora to choose from for the blog post!

c. Sherry M.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Potato Chip Cookies

I have made a chocolate bark with salty, delicious potato chips/crisps before, so I was very happy to give this one a go for Cookbook Club.  I really enjoy a sweet and salty treat.  This recipe is from Baking Yesteryear by B. Dylan Hollis, one of my fave cooking YouTubers.  He is hilarious!

I rushed to buy his book when it came out recently (sounds familiar; he came out not that long ago) hehehe!  These are his tried and tested recipes from the 1900s to the 1980s.  And for a bit of hilarity, he includes a chapter at the end on the Worst of the Worst, including Prune Whip Pie and Pickle Cheesecake.  Oh me, oh my!  

Speaking of the worst - reminds me of the time my SIL stayed with us, and laboriously hand-chopped many nuts for baklava, and made a beautiful syrup to pour over ...  You guessed it; she picked up the salt instead of the sugar.  Catastrophe, my friends!

can't wait to eat 'em!

Makes 2 dozen:


170g./6 oz butter, softened

165g./6 oz dark brown sugar

100g./3.5 oz white sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

230g./8 oz potato chips/crisps of your choice - crushed and divided into two lots

280g./10 oz plain flour

1 tsp bicarb-soda (baking soda)

1/4 tsp sea salt flakes

255g./9 oz chocolate chips - I chose dark but you choose


Cream together the butter and the sugars in a large bowl, till pale, light and fluffy

Beat in the eggs and vanilla

Stir in one half of the crushed chips

Grab a medium mixing bowl, and mix together the flour, bi-carb soda and salt

Stir this dry mix gently into your creamed butter and sugar, then kindly stir in the chocolate chips

Whack it in the fridge for at least an hour!

In the meantime, give the other half of your potato chips a really good belting so you end up with finer chips than before :=)

On goes your oven to 180C/350F

Dylan says to make rounded tablespoons of the dough (I used 2 spoons), and roll it happily in the crushed chips

Put the tablespoons of dough onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 11-15 minutes, or till the edges of the cookies are going brown (I say cookies rather than biscuits as that is what Dylan calls them, even though here in Australia we say biscuits; except for chocolate chip cookies!)


beat the butter, sugar and eggs

beat those chips

and fold them into the dough

and in go the chocolate chips

ready for rolling in the twice-thrashed chips

spoons at the ready

rolled and coated in chips

looking tasty and super golden :=)

salty sweet treats

3 at once?  why not? :)

c. Sherry M.

he's so hilarious

(Joining up with Min from Write of the Middle blog for the ##WWWhimsy linkup.)