Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A - Z Guidebook: Yosemite National Park, California USA

Half-Dome 


Half-Dome is an iconic granite peak in Yosemite National Park.  It is very beautiful, and definitely something to put on your bucket list.  We were lucky enough to be there for sunset, and watched the beautiful golden light being chased by the shadows on the peak as the sun disappeared.  The sun vanished and the cold set in.  

As you may have seen in a previous post, we very nearly didn't have a place to lay our heads for the night so we rushed off to find a hotel after this.  Luckily, we managed to find a spare (very cold) room for the night in a local lodge.  Our memories of this place revolve around the cold (even though it was only October), the incredible scenery and of course the stunning redwood trees.  A must-do!


Join in with Fiona from Tiffin Bite Size Food Adventures and have a wander around the globe.  Share in and post your own photo.  The letter Y is clearly the go-to this month.





TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -


Friday, 16 June 2017

Dark Chocolate Nutty Brownies

Brownies?  I mentioned them to a friend recently; her response: "you mean those Girl Guide types?"  No girlfriend, I mean chocolatey, nutty, gooey lumps that you hoover up with a cup of tea.  I made a batch the other day, and as is my wont, I added a few little twists.  I prefer dark chocolate so I used that, and I added some PB chips and white choc chips to give it an even bigger chocolatey boost. 

The basic recipe is from a cookbook printed in 1978, called The Australian & New Zealand Family Cookbook, a treasure trove of what we would now see as somewhat old-fashioned dishes.   Can't wait to try out the Seamen's Stew!  And I bet you thought using cauliflower as a steak or rice was a new-fangled idea.  Nope, this book has a recipe for nut and cauliflower flan, set on a shortcrust pastry base.  Sounds really delicious.



ingredients: 


125g. butter

185g. dark chocolate with roast almonds - I used an Old Gold block

6 tsp water

125g. caster sugar 

1 tsp vanilla extract

125g. self-raising flour

pinch of salt

2 large eggs

60g. chopped nuts - I used 30g. each of walnuts and pecans

50g. peanut butter chips

40g. white chocolate chips


Method:


Set your oven to 180C/325F

Put the butter, dark chocolate and water in a medium saucepan

Melt it gently, giving it a stir now and then

Take it off the stove, add the sugar and vanilla, give it a good stir and set it aside to cool

Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl

Then stir the chocolate mixture into the flour

Add the eggs one at a time and mix in well

Fold in the nuts and peanut butter chips

Spoon the batter into a greased 20cm. (8 inch) square baking tin - some recipes suggest lining with baking paper instead of greasing so take your pick

Throw over the white choc chips on top of the delicious batter


Bake for 30-35 minutes or until "a knife plunged into the centre comes out clean" - I had to quote that bit 'cos it sounds so good

I actually like my brownies a leetle bit squidgy so you can take them out of the oven a few minutes before you have a clean knife if you fancy them like that too

Cool, cut into squares and sift some icing sugar over the top if you like even more decadence - of course you do!




casting on the cute little white choc buttons 



yep I could eat a few of these 


This recipe is so easy peasy, even your toddler could do it - blindfolded:=)  And you can ring up the changes as you please - different nuts, different chocolates, add some spices like cinnamon, whatever takes your fancy.




Author: Girl Guides of Canada 1945

Young Canadian girl in her Brownies uniform  (source: Wikimedia Commons).




or the other type of Brownie


Source: Wikimedia Commons- author VateVG - Public Domain


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Putia Pure Food Kitchen - Review

Putia, you may be saying to yourself?  What the heck is a Putia? Yep me too.  So I looked it up; it is an old Sicilian word for a small corner store selling food, wine and household goods.  It's also a Maori word for butcher's shop, just by the by.  But in this instance it is a café cum cooking school cum caterer cum function venue.




gorgeous day; tasty lunch at Putia 


Mr P. and I headed out to Banyo one sunny day to try out this intriguing place.  It is owned and run by Dominique Rizzo, she of Sicilian heritage and TV fame.  She used to chef at an organic café in inner Brisbane, but has now turned her hand to her own place which aims to provide healthy, seasonal food, as well as the catering, and the cooking school.



cappucino $4 and vanilla milkshake $8


We both had our usuals.  These were both fine; not much you can say about a coffee unless it is bad:=)  Mr P. said his milkshake was fine too.  He does have very high standards in regard to milkshakes - i.e. it has to be ice-cold and creamy.  I get the feeling this was okay but not outstanding.  I chose grilled house-smoked salmon from the breakfast menu, which goes till 2 pm.  It too was okay but not my fave lunch dish ever.   




grilled house-smoked salmon $21 


I appreciate that the salmon was house-smoked, but to be brutally honest, I would have preferred just plain old grilled fish.  I couldn't really discern much of the smokiness, and for my tastes, the fish was a bit drier than it should have been.  If the smoking had given it more depth and flavour, I could understand why you would go that extra step.  Sadly it just wasn't to my taste.  But the eggs were soft and runny, just how I like them.  The greens on the plate I found a bit trying.  They were just in the way, and not pleasant.  I had to fight them off!  




truffle polenta fries $10 


We absolutely adored these polenta fries.  Even better than Jamie Oliver's, said Mr P. And boy, does he love those!  So crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, with only the teensiest hint of truffle, if any.  That didn't worry me as I am not a huge fan anyway. My only quibble is that they seemed a wee bit expensive; there were just 6 fries.  We were begging for more.  




handmade tagliatelle pasta with Italian pork sausage $23 


This dish also had rocket, pancetta, peas, onions and parmesan.  A bit surprisingly, Mr P. said it didn't have much flavour.  He felt it needed some kind of lift - herbs, spices, chilli - something along those lines.  He found it a bit bland and lacklustre.  He is a big fan of pasta though, so he wolfed it all down anyway.


Service was okay; not bad, not good.  Yes it was lunchtime, and yes it was fairly busy, but we weren't inspired by the friendliness or service.  It was average and okay.  The atmosphere is nice; it is an open space on a back deck with plenty of air and light.  And I would love to go back for a cooking class sometime.  I loved the train station being just across the road; it gave an air of excitement and interest.  All up, a decent place to spend a bit of time and have a healthy bite to eat.




the seat outside the café


Yes that's the train station just across the road from the café.  Fun to watch the trains go in and out.




Putia interior shots


After our lunch, we were served by the lady herself, Dominique, who took our money at the cash register.  She gave us a big smile, and was quite lovely.  She was a nice end to a pleasant meal.



Ph: 07 3267 6654
Shop 4/17 Royal Pde.,
Banyo 4014  



Putia Pure Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Berry Compote - aka Relish aka Sauce

Perhaps your freezer is like mine?  Full of interesting 'stuff' that takes me by surprise every time I scrabble around in its icy depths. Well, I sort of knew there were various types of frozen berries hidden in the backblocks, and I kept meaning to do something with them all. This morning I got up horribly early (why brain, why?), so once Mr P. was out of bed, I grabbed them and began to make this saucy little mixture for our breakfasts.

I prefer this to be not very sweet, and I like it a little spicy, so I added a couple of spices and a wee bit of caramelised balsamic vinegar to give it tang.  Mr P. put it on his morning cereal and yoghurt straightaway, telling me that the taste was "mediaeval".  I asked what that meant?  Perhaps he meant the spices? :=)  He wasn't sure! 






love those sunny stripes across the cloth


Recipe by Sherry's Pickings:


ingredients:


300g. frozen berries of your choice - I used cherries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries

a (big) splash of whiskey (optional)

2 tbs maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1 tbs caster sugar

1 tsp caramelised strawberry balsamic vinegar

1/4-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

a couple of grinds of black pepper

1/4 tsp ground ginger 


Method:


Put everything into a medium saucepan

Stir and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes till slightly thickened - keep an eye it and give it a stir every so often

Cool then store in the fridge

Will last for a week or more in a sealed jar in the fridge


Notes:


I really love cherries so I used more of those than the other fruits

Use a good Italian red wine vinegar or perhaps a Sherry vinegar if you don't have a fruity one

Leave out the whiskey if you are worried about the gluten. Apparently, there are arguments both ways saying that distilled liquor is either gluten-free or not!  Take your pick!





a real mix of berries here





cooking down the compote 




sunny stripes across the pot 





spooning into the jar




gloopy and luscious




looks like jewels




delish on your breakfast yoghurt






my fruity compote doodle

Thursday, 1 June 2017

In My Kitchen - June 2017

Hi fellow IMK friends!  I am happy to catch up with you here again this month, for another fascinating look into everyone's global kitchens. Hopefully any glitches from my first hosting gig last month are fixed, and all will go great guns from now on.  I'll keep the sidebar going for a bit longer, as well as the link images.  So here is the link to the guidelines for adding your wonderful posts. And I thank you for joining in!  


(Just in case you've forgotten, here are the options for adding your post:
1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found at the top of this page, under Add your IMK link
2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to the linky list below
3. Email me: sherrym1au@gmail.com, with your link or any queries about the link process)



Let's check out some of my own recently acquired kitchen goodies:


a huge bunch of dried oregano


Whenever I run out of oregano, I make a trip over the river to bohemian West End to grab a monstrously huge (dried) bunch from the Greek deli.  I then spend a bit of time pulling the leaves from the stems, risking a rash from the pungent oils.  It is worth it, not to have to use the ghastly dustbin scrapings they sell in the supermarket.




Marigold pattern breakfast plate 

I happened to buy a bowl in this pattern last time we were in Toowoomba at a lovely Antiques Store.  When hubby and I were up again recently to meet some Instagram friends, I had to have another rootle around this huge, jam-packed store.  It is sooo tempting, but I restrained myself and only bought this one. 




a foodie gift from Sandra @Please Pass The Recipe 

I caught up with Sandra, a fellow Brisbane food blogger for lunch recently.  She kindly gave me one of her jars of cumquat marmalade.  Look how it gleams in the sunlight. Thanks Sandra, and let's do it again soon.   




lovely local capers


I just received these in the post from Bunya Red Farm.  They grow and sell their capers and caperberries from their farm in the South Burnett region of Queensland.  I can't wait till the caperberries are in season again.



wonderful Mexican molinillo



I also have to say a huge thank you to Fiona from Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures for giving me this wonderful wooden hot chocolate whisker.  It is a thing of beauty for sure. She knows of my attraction to things Mexican, including the fabulous artwork of Frida Kahlo.  I followed her recent adventures in Mexico with a smile and a slightly jealous heart.



oh, and don't forget the Mexican chocolate  


This chocolate bar has such a divine smell.  Yes it is indeed sunshine chocolate as the name states.  Mexican chocolate is made up of milk chocolate and cinnamon, though sometimes other spices are used.  Great for mole sauces also apparently.  Thanks, Fiona.




new season olive oil  



Every year I buy a bottle of the new season's Limited Release oil from Cobram Estate. It is a blissful, golden liquid.  And yes, I use mine for everything including frying up aromates and ...well, everything.




my tin of dried oregano


I can't resist showing you the tin of oregano, all labelled and ready to use.  I remembered I had a heap of bookplates sitting around so I thought why not put them to use as food labels?  So much better to make use of them, than have them sitting there doing nothing:=) 

   


                   
Sherrys Pickings

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Fish Café - Review

Hubby had a birthday last month, so we decided to head down to the bay and have lunch at the Fish Café in Manly, also known as the Barramundi Boys.  It had been ages since we'd eaten there (since our friend's son was one of the chefs), so it was well time to check it out again.




a bit of a nautical feel going on inside 


We sat at the front overlooking the yachts, and escaping the rain outside.  Guess what Mr P. had to drink?  Yep, ginger beer, of course.  His fave Bundaberg brand.




ginger beer for Mr P. - (surprise, surprise) - $4



Brown Brothers Prosecco for me - $9.50 

You can't go past a nice glass of Prosecco, I always say.  This one was sparkly and refreshing.  Not a bad drop.  And it went well with my main of grilled salmon, which came with a smoked eel croquette and pea purée.




grilled salmon $32

My salmon was a wee bit overdone for me.  I do like mine a bit pink in the middle.  This had been taken just that 60 seconds too far.  (The crispy skin was great.)  I didn't really enjoy the accompaniments with the fish.  The smoked eel was very strong in flavour, and overtook the salmon. The pea purée also had a very strong, somewhat bitter taste and overpowered the salmon.  There was an overall sweetness to the purée too, which was not to my liking.  Not a bad dish, but needed just a little more thought and care. 




Mr P. had fish and chips $29


You can have this either battered, crumbed or grilled.  Mr P. went for battered as you can see.  I would have to say that $29 is pretty steep for fish and chips and a bit of salad though.  But Mr P. really enjoyed his pieces of battered snapper; he said the fish was moist and the batter crispy.  He really appreciated that it was not oily. The chips were fat and well seasoned, and the tartare sauce was a hit too - tangy and creamy.




a side of extra chips with aioli $5


Rather ambitiously, we ordered a side of chips too!  And no, we didn't get through them all.  They were delicious, but our eyes had been bigger than our stomachs, as the saying goes.  The café was by no means full, but service was surprisingly slow (but friendly). Our drinks came fairly quickly, but our meals took nearly half an hour more, so we had been there about an hour before we ate.  We were just about ready to nibble our fingers off at that stage. 





so many masts on so many boats


The Pickings' Verdict?:  A lovely place to sit and watch the weather and the yachts. Food comes in generous serves; the atmosphere is friendly, and with a bit of tweaking, the food would be very good indeed.



The Fish Café is open 7 days a week.  It has a children's menu, and also does takeaways.  It is a wine bar also, so you can sit and have a drink, while dreaming of far away places.



461 The Esplanade
Manly Harbour Village 4179
Ph: 07 3893 0195



Barramundi Boys Fish Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pecan Liqueur - The Sequel

Well, the fascinating, nutty brew has now been double-filtered and bottled.  And it now sits in my fridge, saying "drink me, drink me," just like the potion in Alice in Wonderland. All right, you found me out: I heeded its siren song, and had a sip or 2 over ice.  Mm, mm, rather nice. Strangely, both myself and Mr P. said "it tastes like coffee," even though there is no coffee involved.  

It has been such fun watching it get thicker and darker each day.   By the end of the fortnight, the pecans have swollen and sunk down, and you have an incredibly dark brown, syrupy mixture, ripe for bottling.  So grab your super-clean Chux (cleaning cloth), and let's start filtering.    




ready for filtering


First you grab a medium-sized bowl, and place a large strainer over it.  Then place a scrupulously clean Chux cloth over the strainer.




bowl and strainer in place  




Chux cloth over the strainer 




you can see the speckly vanilla seeds around the edge of the jar  




pouring the mixture into the cloth 



squeeze out all the liquid from the nuts 



you will end up with a bowl of luscious liqueur 



and a heap of vodka-infused pecans 


Once you have poured the mixture into the cloth, you will squeeze and squeeze till all the liquid has come through.  Replace the cloth with another clean cloth, and pour the liquid through again.  Then you are left with the lovely stuff in your bowl, and the vodka-infused pecans in the original cloth.  Now pour the liqueur into bottles and store in the fridge. Keep the nuts in a container in the fridge too; I figure they will go well on ice-cream.




bottling the filtered liquid




ready for the fridge


Notes:

I used 2 brand-new Chux cloths for this.  I rinsed and dried them before use.  You can then wash them out and re-use the cloths, or do as I did (since they were a generic brand) - chuck 'em away. 

(Check out my original post for the recipe here).




my "drink me" potion doodle