Saturday, 21 October 2017

Smoky Quinoa And Cacao Nib Bars

Quinoa (keenwah) - hard to say but not to eat.  I have used it in salads before, but this was new to me.  I mean the puffed bit, and using it in a sweet treat.  I have to be honest here -  this first turned out to be quinoa and cacao rubble rather than bars.  Mr P. said he would add clusters of it to his morning cereal.  I then made some adjustments to the recipe, which was already delicious but just didn't set as hard as it should have.  So I did a bit of recipe renovating.

This recipe is from Simon Bajada's book Nordic Light, which I have enjoyed reading.  I also enjoyed his Scandi photos, now that he lives in Sweden with his Swedish wife.  This has become more of a chocolate sweet treat rather than Simon's healthy bar, but it is still full of the nutty, seedy good stuff.  I have checked similar recipes to this one on the Net, and they all suggest using just coconut oil or a similar substance.  Just not sure how it would set.  Don't worry, with this amount of melted chocolate, you will succeed. 

ingredients gathered


220g. pitted soft prunes, diced

2 tbs butter or coconut oil

150g. nut butter - I used a mix of hazelnut, cashew and almond

50 mLs plain vegetable oil like peanut or rapeseed

1 tbs honey

(big) pinch of cayenne pepper

150g. pepitas, lightly toasted

20g. cacao nibs or chocolate bits

25g. puffed quinoa - or quinoa flakes or puffed amaranth or even rice bubbles!

90g. brazil nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

200g. dark chocolate, melted

a large pinch of smoked sea salt

for the topping:

100g. dark, milk or white chocolate, melted

1/2-1 tbs smoked sea salt flakes


Mash the prunes forcefully with a fork in a bowl till well-squished (or cheat and throw the prunes into a small food processor)

Add the prunes and the butter (or coconut oil) to a large saucepan over a medium-low heat

Stir in the nut butter, the veg. oil, the honey and the cayenne pepper

Grasp your wooden spoon and mash it all together

Keep stirring over a low heat for 2-3 minutes till beautifully squishy

Remove from the heat and add the pepitas, cacao nibs, the puffed quinoa, the brazil nuts, the melted dark chocolate and the pinch of smoked sea salt

Mix with gusto!

Take your lined loaf tin or baking tray and press the mixture very firmly into the tin with a big spoon or your hands

Melt the 100g. of chocolate and drizzle over the mixture

Sprinkle on the salt flakes and whack into the fridge for a few hours

Take it out of the tin and cut into nice sized bars


I chopped the prunes up with kitchen scissors - so much easier

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second bursts

I started off with a loaf tin, and ended up putting it into a tray (30cm x 20cm) the next morning when I realised that it hadn't set.  I then melted the 200g. of chocolate and stirred it in to the crumbly mix

Back it went into the fridge with a piece of baking paper and a couple of heavy tins on top - you don't have to do this!  Basically just follow the recipe and you won't have to worry about all the other stuff that I did to fix it up:=) 

mash the prunes with a fork

mash up the prunes and butter in a large saucepan

yep looking murky at this stage   

seeds and nuts in

mixing in the melted chocolate

press down very firmly with a spoon or hands 

You caught me out - yep I licked the spoon.  And somehow I seem to have chocolate all over my fingers too.  How did that happen?:=)

chocolate and smoked salt ready to go on top 

looking tasty and kinda pretty

slice it up as big or small as you like 

deliciously salty, chocolatey and nutty 

If you are feeling brave, try making it without the 200g. chocolate to bind it together.  I'd love to know how you go!

my seedy doodle

Monday, 16 October 2017

At Sixes And Sevens - Public House Review

I managed to drag Mr P. away the other day to have lunch with a friend.  And believe me, that is not an easy task, as hubby is a workaholic to the max.  I had in mind this place - At Sixes and Sevens which is in increasingly trendy Fortitude Valley.  Once known for its prostitutes and the Coke factory, the Valley now harbours expensive boutiques, fancy restaurants and some cosy bars.

the side view of this historical building

This is a gorgeous 1878 cottage, now made into a bar and kitchen with a courtyard and several comfy spaces to relax in.  I felt at home straightaway upon entering.  The bartender greeted us, told us to take any table and said that as it was early and not yet busy, we could just give a holler and he would come take our order, even though it is usually counter service only.

espresso martini $18

Yep a perfect way to start an early lunch.  I had this one!  Very delicious though surprisingly not that alcoholic in effect.  I felt just fine after drinking it.  Perhaps there was more espresso than the vodka, kahlua and cognac.

ginger beer $3.50

Well folks, you can guess what Mr P. had, can't you?  He loves his ginger beer.  Our mate Mr L. stuck to plain water.  (He watches his diet due to health issues.)

local Tiger chilli prawns $18.50 

I'm a big fan of prawns but this was not my fave dish.  There were 5 sweet and spicy prawns, but sadly I could mostly taste fish sauce, with a bit of zippy chilli heat.  The prawns themselves were large and firm but tender.  But even as we left, I still had the fishy taste in my mouth.  Let's just say that I would have preferred way less fish sauce, and less sweetness.  I wondered about the cos lettuce too.  It seemed out of place with an Asian style dish.       

fish tacos $14

I love a fish taco made on a soft tortilla.  I liked these, but I didn't love them. It was a bit difficult to actually find the fish amongst the coleslaw.  I had had fish tacos at another eating place recently which contained large pieces of battered fish - very delicious; these I am sorry to say paled in comparison.  They weren't bad, just not as tasty as I had expected.  Look, I liked the coleslaw and I love me some jalapeƱos, but I would have loved to see a bit more fish.  Oh, and I had to add a bit of salt, which is something I just never normally do. 

haloumi burger $20

and here's the view without Mr P.'s finger 

Mr P. loves halloumi, so this was an obvious choice for him.  He said the actual burger bun was not too sweet (a common problem these days); the filling was generous; he loved the grilled zucchini and the contrast of the creamy avocado sauce.  There were lots of fries which were...yes, fries.  I snuck a few for taste-testing purposes naturally. 

chicken schnitzel $26.50

Mr L. chose chicken (breast) schnitzel.  This was a very generous serving of panko crumbed chicken, accompanied by a bit of salad.  He declined the fries which normally come with this dish.  He enjoyed his lunch, which he said was spicy, with tender meat, and the batter not too thick.  He certainly scoffed it down very happily.  

fish and chips $20+?

I did the food blogger thing and asked the 2 lovely ladies next to me if I could take a photo of their lunches.  They graciously said yes.  I think this was one of the specials of the day; maybe $20+?  

Asian BBQ pork salad $20 

The other lovely lady had the pork salad.  She said it was a bit hard to find the pork!  So that's all I know about this one.

Mr L. being of somewhat conservative taste was disgruntled due to the fact that the cottage had been modernised, but I found it charming.  And I am just so happy that one of the very few old buildings in Brisbane still remains standing, and useful.  

Pickings' Verdict: a thumbs up, though the food could be tweaked a bit.  Then again, it is bar food, as the menu tells you, and tasty enough to soak up the drinks. 

inside the bar area

The kitchen is open from 11am to 10pm every day, and the Public House is open till midnight.  

67 James St., Fortitude Valley 
Ph: 07 3358 6067

At Sixes and Sevens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Home Made Baking Powder

You know how there are some things you just never, ever would think of making yourself?  Like Coca-Cola?:=)  Though I did find a recipe for it once that called for 30 lbs of sugar!  Well, I was flipping thru a recent cookbook purchase and came across this recipe for home-made baking powder.  I was amazed and intrigued.  Who would ever have thought to do this?  But back in granny's day, they did. 

This is incredibly simple.  Only 3 ingredients, and a bit of sifting.  I am halving the recipe, 'cos I'm just not sure how this will turn out.  And really who needs that much baking powder?  Grannies must have been baking all day every day, back in the day:=)  Alison gives no temperature or timing for the drying-out part, so I have made a stab at it.  As we don't live in the damp environs of Victorian Derbyshire, I think this will be sufficient.

funnily enough, I came upon this ad. for baking powder the other day


110g. (4 oz.) of cream of tartar

55g. (2 oz.) of bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tbs rice flour


Sift the 3 ingredients into a small mixing bowl

Give it a good stir

Spread it out on a baking tray

Place in the oven to dry at 100C for 6 minutes - the powdery mix should feel warm to the touch

Take it out of the oven; give it another stir and leave to cool down on the tray

Grab 2 mixing bowls and sift the mixture twice

Give it another good stir before spooning into very clean and sterilised small jars

ingredients gathered

sift the 3 ingredients together 

tip into the baking tray to dry out in the oven

give it a good stir and allow to cool

a cornucopia of baking powder 

Now I just have to try it in some baking, and see if it actually works.

Recipe is from Alison Uttley's book Old Farmhouse Recipes; a collection of recipes and stories based on her childhood growing up on a Derbyshire farm.  Her mum made everything from scratch, using their own farm produce, eggs, meat etc.  Alison Uttley lovingly took the recipes from her mum's handwritten recipe book, and turned them into this charming collection.  A real family treasure.

you can guess what this is:=)

Friday, 6 October 2017

Gunpowder Potatoes

Is this dish new to you too, folks?  How had I never heard of this before?  I finished a novel a couple of weeks ago, and the author thanked her editor, saying she would make her these potatoes.  So I hit ye old Google, and found a few variations.  I have mixed and matched to suit our tastes, and you can do the same.  Phew, the list of spices and flavours is huge, but it's actually very quick and simple to make.  

crush those little red devils:=)

I may have mentioned the story of my dad's curry before.  He forgot about it on the stove, and the curry was burnt; I mean seriously blackened to within an inch of its life.  Did this mean we poor children got out of eating it for dinner?  Uh uh, no indeedy.  We had to chow down on this lovely charcoaled dinner.  My lucky younger sister being a vego. got out of it tho:=)  So keep an eye on this one folks.  The spices can burn easily.

Serves 4 as a side dish:


600g. (or about 1.3lb) of small or baby potatoes, unpeeled

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/8 - 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

40g. butter

a slurp of olive oil

1 small red chilli (optional)

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin powder

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1/4 tsp sea or smoked salt flakes

1 medium tomato, chopped into small chunks

1/2-1 tsp raw sugar or palm sugar

a small handful (2 tbs) of coriander stalks, finely chopped

juice of half a lime

a big pinch of salt flakes

5 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped

a palmful of coriander leaves, roughly torn or chopped


Boil the potatoes till tender - mine took about 15 mins.

Drain well and set aside to cool and dry off

Dry roast the whole seeds and chilli flakes in a small, cast iron skillet, tossing all the while till you can smell the toasty aroma - be careful not to burn - this will only take a few minutes

When cooled down, throw this mix into a mortar and pestle or a flavour shaker and give it a good bash/shake - you don't want a fine powder; just everything nicely broken up

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add a slurp of olive oil

When sizzling, throw in the potatoes and cook for 5 mins. on a medium-low heat

Crush (gently) with a fork or masher and turn them over

Give them another few minutes till they start getting a golden crust

Push the potatoes to the side of the pan; add the roasted seeds to the middle - you may need a dash more oil or butter

Keep an eye on it while you stir, as it burns easily

Now add the chopped chilli, the dried spices and salt 

Add the tomato, sugar and coriander stalks; and do the stirring thang for a couple of mins.

 In goes the lime juice and a pinch of salt

Scatter over the spring onions and coriander leaves 

Serve with yoghurt 


I used Red Royale baby potatoes but use your fave.  I chopped a few biggies in half so they cooked at the same time

What is a slurp of oil, you may well ask?  2-3 tsp should do the trick

all the tasty ingredients gathered

dry roast the seeds and chilli flakes in a small, cast iron skillet

shake the seeds (this is my Jamie Oliver flavour shaker) 

crush the potatoes-gently

stir in the roasted whole spices 

squeeze in the lime juice 

chop up the spring onions and coriander leaves

and ... eat!

This is a fiery and spicy dish, so the yoghurt goes down a treat with it.  Serve with chicken, or a hunk of spicy baked salmon.

my Red Royale baby potato doodle

Sunday, 1 October 2017

In My Kitchen - October 2017

I won't say it, I won't say it, I won't say it!...Oh no, I said it.  I can hear Xmas sleigh bells in the back of my head folks.  We were at a shopping centre on the weekend, and there was some Christmas stuff in a shop window.  Blaaagh, too soon, too soon.  Anyways, let's get on with IMK this month.  Not a lot happening kitchen-wise for me.  But here we go:

local olive oil bought in Toowoomba 

We went to a newly-opened Bulk Store in Toowoomba last weekend called The Source.  You wander around and scoop up the goodies into brown paper bags from bulk containers.  We bought chocolate:)  Ha ha!  And this local olive oil.  Dunno where exactly 'local' is, as the label is devoid of info.

blue bilby by Blu Art Xinja 

Not sure if I've shown you this before.  It hangs on my kitchen wall.  Made by a local art warrior known as Blu Art Xinja.  He puts up (illegal) artworks all over Brisbane, and in Melbourne and New Zealand.  Long may he or she prosper!  I'm guessing he's a he, but you don't get to see the face.


lovely silver spoon 

I bought this in the Bulk Store too.  A gorgeous silver-plated spoon which has been engraved with Eat drink and be merry.  "A great Xmas present" the nice store lady said...

single forest maple syrup

Single forest maple syrup?  Who knew there was such a thing?  Not this little black duck.  I adore maple syrup, especially on bacon.  And it's organic too; win, win.

ever so pretty rosy little jug

I found this little beauty in a Vintage shop in Brunswick Heads on our recent trip to Northern Rivers.  It is a Clarice Cliff design, called Janice Rose.  Very different from her Art Deco pieces.

another cutie from our potter mate Miss B

We had dinner with Miss B. when down in Northern Rivers, at the incredibly trendy restaurant Harvest in Newrybar.  The wee village used to be just a general store and a post office- c'est tout, but now has a bakery, deli, restaurant and a very expensive artisan co-op.  Bloody Chris Hemsworth!  All his fault for moving there from Hollywood.

yep that's him Chris Hemsworth  taken by me in Sept 2014 

He lives down near Byron Bay, which is a mixture of ye old-time hippies/greenies and very rich actors etc.  So now you gotta pay more for stuff down there:=)

self-portrait by Abigail Stratton (excuse the shadows please)

On the wall near my kitchen is this wonderful graphite drawing by a young girl down in Uki, New South Wales.  We were wandering thru this quaint little village, in fact on our way to an artist's studio when we came upon an art show in the Buttery Bazaar.  It was the last afternoon of the show, and I was lucky enough to find and fall in love with this girl.  They only took cash so we had to hunt up a store that would give us some real money:=)  The ladies were very excited for the young girl.    

my prize-winning entry for the Neff Cooking Comp.

I managed to win myself a prize and have my recipe printed in the Neff e-book.  The link is here if you'd like a squizz. 

Laurel Bank Park in Toowoomba

And just to finish off, here is a photo of the beautiful gardens that we saw on the weekend when we were in Toowoomba for the annual Carnival of Flowers.  Just glorious.

Well, that's about it for me.  I really hope you can join in this month!  I really appreciate and enjoy seeing everybody's global delights.  Cheers till November.  (one step closer to Xmas!)


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Sherrys Pickings