Thursday, 15 March 2018

What I Did Last Summer, or Our Tassie Trip

Mr P. and I had been talking about heading down to Tasmania for ages.  This Year of the Dog started off with a bang, events both good and bad.  Truth to tell, we were feeling a bit battered, bemused and besmirched.  "Let's go to Tassie now!" I said, so we did.  

So here is a wee photo essay as they say, about our trip to Tassie:

what is this, you may well ask?

Yep, you guessed it!  This is a giant, inflatable raspberry.  What do you mean you didn't guess?  Looks kinda obscene to me.  This is sitting in the grounds of the Westerway Raspberry Farm, doing its knobbly, warty thing.  

a hops farm

Tasmania grows a lot of hops, as you can see.  And brews a lot of beer.  This is a farm near New Norfolk, hops heading off into the distance.  They also grow a lot of opium poppies, which have tiny wee fences around the crops.  Not sure why people don't jump over and grab them - maybe they do?  

the apartment in which we stayed

See those windows on the top right?  That's where we stayed.  It was a huge space with views over the water and back to the mountain.  Just glorious.  The building itself was constructed in 1826.  Thank goodness, the facilities are up to date :=) 

a beautiful peach tart

Well, since this is (mostly) a food blog, I thought I'd better stick in some food photos.  Here we have a most delicious little peach tart from Jackman and McRoss, wonderful bakers in Battery Point, Hobart.  There is something about pastries and breads made in a cool climate that is just so very delicious.

some Hobart street art in Salamanca Square

Regular readers will know I am a huge fan of public art, be it sculpture or murals aka graffiti :=)  This is a fabulous bronze dog taking a photo of a Marilyn Monroe-esque lady rabbit.  Mm, interesting but odd, a bit like your regular Taswegian.  Just joking, Tassie friends.  This bronze artwork is by husband and wife team Gillie and Marc.  The figures are known as Dogman and Rabbitgirl, and feature in other works by this arty duo.

on top of Mt. Wellington looking out to the Derwent River

Mr P. and I always drive up the mountain when we are in Hobart.  How can you not?  It is always several degrees cooler, and even in summer, you can find snow up there at times.  It is so very high, and a bit scary for a person who doesn't like heights. (Yes, me).

fabulous mousse cake 

Our Tassie friends suggested we get ourselves to Daci and Daci Bakers to try some of their delicious cakes, so we did.  After wandering through the Saturday morning Salamanca market, we meandered along and sat down to some coffee and cake.  It felt like being in a trendy Melbourne café; not a bad thing.

courtyard of Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery 

We then trotted off to the Art Gallery for a look-see.  The Gallery has had some restoration work done recently, so you now enter through this courtyard.  Inside, the ceiling space has been opened up, so you can see right to the top of the building.

(stuffed) birds swooping over head 

church at Richmond

There is so much history visible in Tasmania.  Historical buildings standing from colonial times are plentiful, like this decorative old church.  If you are a fan of architecture and/or history, Tasmania holds many delights.

ferns and falls

We headed to Mt. Field National Park with some friends who live in Hobart.  And took a gentle walk up (or is that down?) to Russell Falls.  A lovely and peaceful spot.  I do love a temperate rainforest.

Mr P. looking contemplative

Hubby standing in front of the new-ish MACq 01 hotel on Hunter Street.  This hotel is right on the waterfront, next to the cruise ships.  Built on the old Hunter Island, the bushrangers who were hanged here still lurk in the depths beneath the hotel.  Our hotel is very close to this one, but not quite as pricey.  Maybe next time.

who are these odd people?

Yep, that's me and Mr P., looking strangely distorted at the front of MONA - Museum of Old and New Art.  The entrance is a huge mirror as you can see.  In we went, to be confronted and amused and maybe even a bit shocked by the exhibits (and the huge entrance fee of $28 each!).  This was our third time and probably our last.  I think Mr. Walsh may have gone a step too far for the Pickings' folk.

Well that was a quick look into our Tassie break.  Always delightful, always leaves us wanting more.  Mm, maybe another visit coming up soon?

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Chicken Bacon And Mushroom Fettuccine

All the world loves pasta I'm told, but I don't think I got the memo.  I eat it when offered, or make it to please Mr P. who is a massive pasta fan.  Did I say massive?:=)  So being such a kind soul, I made this for him recently.  This is another recipe from Chelsea Winter's book Homemade Happiness.  There are lots of delicious-sounding dishes here, but I'm a wee bit bemused by her frequent use of large amounts of stock that she boils down for aeons, then thickens with a roux aka cornflour slurry.  Huh?  Why?  Maybe it's a Kiwi thing? or should that be 'thung'?

creamy chicken mushroom and bacon fettuccine

Serves 4:


225g. rindless bacon, chopped into smallish pieces

700g. approx of skinless chicken thigh fillets (i.e. no bones)

sea salt and ground black pepper

2 tbs olive oil

25g. (2.5 dsp) butter

7 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped

350g. mushrooms, thinly sliced

125 mLs (1/2 cup) dry white wine

1 tbs fresh herbs, finely chopped - use your fave - thyme, parsley etc

zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp chicken stock powder stirred into 125 mLs (1/2 cup) of boiling water

375 mLs (1.5 cups) of cream 

125g. (1 cup) parmesan, grated

1.5 tbs cornflour mixed in with 65 mLs (1/4 cup) of milk

1 cup of cooked peas, or 2 cups of baby spinach leaves

2 tbs parsley, finely chopped

fresh basil, torn with your fingers - try a handful, or to taste

350g. of fettucine, cooked as per the packet instructions


First fry the bacon pieces in a large frypan over medium-high heat

Scoop them out when nicely browned and put aside

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper

Add 1 tbs olive oil to the pan, bring to the heat and place the chicken fillets in the pan

Let them cook till you have a lovely brown colour on the bottom, then turn the chicken over and brown the other side

Set it aside while you add the other 1 tbs olive oil, the butter and the garlic to the pan

Stir over medium heat for a minute or 2

Add the mushrooms, wine, herbs and lemon zest

Allow to bubble away for a minute

Now into the pan goes the chopped up chicken, bacon, stock, cream, parmesan and cornflour slurry/roux

Let it simmer for about 10 minutes till it thickens and melds

Throw in the peas or spinach leaves, and the parsley and basil

Season with salt and pepper if needed

Toss as much of the fettuccine as you fancy in with the sauce

Throw on some extra parmesan and herbs if you feel inclined


Chelsea's recipe actually starts with reducing 2 cups of stock to 1/2 cup stock before you do anything else;  mmm frankly I have better things to do with my time so I figured adding stock powder to half a cup of boiling water would do instead - but feel free:=)

Chelsea also suggests using 500g. of pasta!  Mr P. told me that was too much, but I cooked it anyway.  Oh boy, was it too much.  If I had put it all in with the sauce, there would have been very little sauce and very little flavour.  And it was just way too much, but once again, feel free

ingredients gathered

bacon fried off

chicken cooked till golden

get Mr P. to chop up the chook

stir in the chicken, bacon etc

snip up the pasta if you like it shorter 

I'm not that keen on slurping up long strands of wet pasta, and having it drip all over my chin.  So, I grab a pair of scissors and give it a snip or 3 in the colander.  Yep, much better.

Mr P. tossing the pasta

sprinkle with extra parmesan and herbs if desired 

This was a really flavoursome, filling pasta dish that fed me and hubby for a couple of nights.  Chelsea's books are packed with homey, comforting dishes.  But I reckon you can skip or adjust some of her steps.  Spending 20 minutes to reduce down some stock for this dish is just not practical for the busy home cook.  Sure if you have plenty of time, go ahead, but I reckon we all need to simplify where possible.  Her recipes can easily be adjusted, so enjoy her books if you get hold of them.  She has some great ideas, which will give you some inspiration even if you don't slavishly follow her methods.

my herby, thymey-wimey doodle

Thursday, 1 March 2018

In My Kitchen - March 2018

So, the Year of the Dog has started off the blocks with a bang.  I barely saw February flash by, did you?  Mr P. and I are both dogs, Chinese horoscope-wise I mean, so this is our year.  So far, it has been strange and different and new.  I figure it is a year of change, and change can be either good or bad.  Who knows what else the year will bring?  But I've been lucky enough to get a few new goodies in my kitchen, so let's have a look.

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Here in my kitchen:

semi-frozen tomato juice

Yep, I bet you were wondering what that is.  The grocery store delivered a feeble brand of tomato juice to me, which I was going to pour down the sink.  Then I thought - ah ha - freeze it and use it in stews and soups.  Et voilà!  Very useful.

gorgeous new mug

I bought this one at the Hobart Airport on our way back home to Brisbane.  It really spoke to me!  Made by a local artist Mark Knight; speckled with cute dots on the inside - the mug, not the potter.

yep just like the label says 

Bought this one at an info centre at Mt. Field National Park, about 60 kilometres north-west of Hobart.  We took a lovely walk through the temperate rainforest, up to Russell Falls.  Such a lovely day.   

sweet little chestnut wood tumbler

This was another Tasmanian find, which I bought in a wonderful deli cum greengrocer cum wine store cum kitchenware-store cum florist ... well, you get the gist.  Needless to say I was in foodie 7th heaven.

as per the label :=) 

Funnily enough, I got this in Tassie, but it is a Queensland product.  Oh the irony of going all that way to get it:=)

yep another bottle of mystery sauce 

I can't resist the siren call of the Japanese grocer, so I was there again last week buying more fishy rice crackers and this mystery sauce.  Hopefully, it is a type of soy sauce, but who knows? 


This is my fave smoked salt of all time, and I have tried quite a few.  This one reminds me of childhood; rainy days in the mountains and heading off into foggy lanes ... It is divine, my friends.

rice crackers

As you can see, they are 100% - something!  Very hard to bite into, but delicious nonetheless.  Probably full of MSG and salts and artificial flavours - or maybe just full of dried fish.  Dried bonito flakes are a recurring theme in Japanese snacks, I have found.

Well, as usual, I have other things to show you, but that will have to wait.  My patience (and yours) only goes so far:=)  Tee hee.  I refuse, I refuse I tell you, to say that awful LOL.  Hoping to see many of you keen blogger types here this month.  Cheers!


    An InLinkz Link-up


Sherrys Pickings

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Upside-Down Cherry Loaf

You've heard of Enid Blyton, haven't you?  Famous English children's book author, apparently a terrible mum: writer of the Famous Five, Secret Seven, adventures galore, Noddy and Big Ears - hmm, the less said about those two naughty creatures the better:=)  Well, I loved her books as a child, and wished I could go along with George and Timmy et al on their adventures. 

Well, in lieu of that childhood fantasy, let's have a look at this recipe from Enid Blyton Jolly Good Food by Allegra McEvedy.  These recipes are inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton, and there are extracts throughout this book from Ms. Blyton's books.  Can't wait to try the baked bean and bacon quiche:=)  And it uses a big tin of beans, not a wee one.  Anyway, we'll try that another day.

have a cuppa and a slice of cake 

Upside-Down Cherry Loaf:


the cake:

320g. glacé cherries

180g. unsalted butter, plus a bit more for greasing the loaf tin

180g. caster sugar

3 large eggs

180g. self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2-3 tbs milk (possibly)

zest of 1 lemon

50g. mixed peel (optional)

the icing:

75g. icing sugar

1 tbs water or lemon juice 


Put the oven on to 180C to heat up

Grease a 23cm x 13cm. loaf tin with butter, and line with baking paper

Rinse the cherries and pat dry with kitchen paper

Line the bottom of the loaf tin with the cherries, all in pretty rows

Into a large bowl go the butter and sugar; now beat together for several minutes, till fluffy, creamy and pale

Beat in the eggs one at a time

Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture

Spoon in a bit of the milk if it seems too thick

Lastly the zest goes in with the mixed peel if using

Give it all a final fold and spoon into the lined loaf tin

Bake for about 1 hour 10 mins., or until a skewer in the middle comes out clean

Let it rest for 10 mins. in the tin, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely

Make sure you have the cherries on top now

Now you are going to make the icing, you little scamps:

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl

Add a bit of water/lemon juice, and maybe a bit more, till you get a runny paste

Now randomly drizzle it all over your cooled loaf

Cut a slice and have a cuppa!


Don't panic if you only have salted butter; go ahead and use it!

You may need a bit more or less milk for the cake batter, and a bit more or less water/lemon juice for the icing - my batter didn't need any milk, but I put a couple of teaspoons in just for the heck of it

You can beat the cake batter by hand if you need a bit of exercise, but otherwise I suggest using an electric mixer or handbeater

My oven is contrary, and has a mind of its own; my cake took about an hour to bake

Now for our American readers, I think the loaf tin is 9 x 5 inches

ingredients gathered

a whole heap of glacé cherries lining the tin

butter and sugar creamed till pale and fluffy; eggs beaten in

fold in the lemon zest and mixed peel

ready to bake @180C for about an hour or so   

let the icing drizzle onto the cooled cake

delicious with a cuppa 

My contrary oven burned the top of the cake, which ends up being the bottom, so it's easy to trim off the bits if you wish.  Though Mr P. said he likes them anyway.  This is such an easy to make cake, moist and buttery and pretty.  The recipes in this book are simple, and tasty.  And this cake was a hit with hubby and our mates.  I'm sure Ms. Blyton would approve.

my glacé cherries doodle

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Freja's Café - Review

Freja is an Old Norse name meaning 'lady'.  She was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility.  Apparently a blonde, blue-eyed beauty, just like the charming front of house/owner at the new, local (for us) café Freja's.  I've now eaten here 3 times, twice for lunch and again for coffee with Mr P.  Each time we have had a friendly, efficient and delicious experience.

looking in from the outside dining area  

Formerly an Indian restaurant, this is now a clean, white space with pale wood accents (which I find very appealing).  And here at Freja's you don't end up with the usual 'same old, same old' that you get at many other eateries.  The food is innovative, fresh and pretty too.  Even bog standards like croissants may have a quirky twist to them - e.g. accompanied by pulled beef cheek.

matcha pancakes $17.50

Mr P. loooves pancakes, and these were a hit.  The matcha flavouring wasn't strong, which pleased him.  "Not too moist, or too dry; just beautifully fluffy."  Quote, unquote:=).  Berries, blueberry coulis and a white chocolate 'lump' (his words) came with it.  Yep he hoovered these up very happily.  (Looks like a creamy, mousse-y 'lump' to me.)  

mushroom, rosti, egg, and asparagus  $17.90 

Here we have my lunch, in all its tasty glory.  The asparagus was fresh with a bit of texture, the egg soft, the rosti a nice crunchy outside and soft inside.  Not fond of the sprouty things, but hey that's just me.  The wild rice crumble gave the whole softly textured dish a pleasant bit of crunch.  Oh, and there's a field mushroom in there too, but you know what a mushroom tastes like already.  

iced mocha $5

I had the iced mocha; sorry but it didn't thrill me. It was okay, but I like 'em longer and colder and stronger:=)

lychee apple and orange juice $6.90

Mr P. chose a freshly squeezed juice of lychee, apple and orange.  He loved it, and said it had heaps of lychee flavour.

chips with lime aioli $7

Okay yes you found us out.  We had chips too!  Nice and squishy with a crispy coat.  And you can't go wrong with aioli at any time.

the specials board

On a recent weekend, I went off with our mate Princess Pia to check out possible new abodes for her.  After inspecting a few places, we sought refreshment at Freja's.  I was enticed by the specials, and chose the bacon waffle with buttermilk chicken.  And my stomach was very happy that I did.      

bacon waffles, buttermilk chicken and chipotle aioli $19.00  

The waffles were a bit too hard and crispy for me, but Princess Pia loved them (and took home the half that I didn't eat).  I loved that the bacon was in the waffle batter.  The chicken was to die for, tender and juicy and fried.  Who could resist such tasty morsels?  You're right, not me.  I adore maple syrup, and I loved the wee jug of it on the plate.  Sprouts not so much :=(  Oh, and there were a few lovely bits of onion too.  It may not look like a huge plateful, but it was an elegant sufficiency for this gal's belly. 

fig and almond tart $6

Here we have Princess Pia showing off her tart, which she ate with gusto.  I had a wee bite, and yes it was a moist and flavoursome number.

cappuccino $4.50

Actually that may be Princess Pia's flat white.  Ah well, you get the picture.  A nice crema and a pretty little swan (?) on top.

delicious croissants

I had one of these stuffed croissants another day with my coffee.  So deliciously soft and flaky, and a delight to eat.  The dough is from France; coffee roasted locally at Seven Miles, and the organic teas are by Mayde, which is based in Byron Bay.

Freja and moi

Freja's is a cool, calm space, with mostly outdoor dining.  The staff are friendly and accommodating, and the food is just that little bit different in a delicious way.  Worth stopping by for coffee, cake or something more substantial.  

Ph: 0458 159 945
3/1 MacGregor St., Wilston 4051

Freja's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato