Friday 25 July 2014

Lemon infused oil

On my kitchen trolley I have had lemons steeping in extra virgin olive oil for several weeks.   I love to use flavoured oils on salads, fish and chicken, and wherever else appropriate.  I am known in the family for my citrusy salad dressings made with any number of citrusy oils like mandarin or blood orange or lime.  So I thought it was about time I made some of my own infused oil.  This has been going the rounds of many blogs lately;  I am not sure where I saw it first but I know it was on Selma's Table recently.  Apologies to any other bloggers for forgetting you!

It is so simple- basically throwing unwaxed lemons into olive oil and letting it steep for about a month.  I had some organic lemons from my neighbour, and some EVOO sitting in the pantry so last month I did the deed. They have been infusing quietly since then, with the occasional opening up to make sure the gases could escape.  As I could only fit one lemon into each of my narrow jars, I decided to peel some of the other lemons then air-dry it for an hour and place into the jars with the whole lemons.  The peel did turn a funny brown colour over the 5 weeks and the jars smelled like bananas for a while but it all seems to have turned out ok in the end.  Today was the day where I finally got around to straining it and putting it into bottles.  I plan to give some of it away to friends as gifts, and splash it around into lots of my dishes.

beautiful home-grown lemons and peel

lemons steeping for about 5 weeks-and now ready for bottling

the big day- straining and bottling the now citrusy oil


Wednesday 23 July 2014

Northshore Riverside Cafe- review

It's not often that Mr Pickings can get away for a longer lunch than a quick sandwich so I jumped at the chance when he said he had a bit of spare time -"so how about going out to lunch?".   I just as quickly suggested we go to Northshore Riverside Cafe as I had already been here for a quick bite recently and wanted to try some other dishes on the menu.  It was a typical winter's day in Brisbane; sunny with blue skies but a bite to the breeze when out of the sun.  We grabbed jackets and scarves and set off.

Northshore is a bit of a hidden gem, being a fair way upriver from the CBD and ending -currently- in not much.  This will change over the next few years as apartment buildings are starting to go up rapidly.  The City Cat only stops here sporadically till there are more commuters living here, which won't take long.  It is a lovely spot with a small beach which kids and dogs love, and a fabulous view of the river and the fishing boats going up and down the river.  We enjoyed a brisk (as in cool breeze) lunch as Mr Pickings was keen to sit outside and take in the river sights, including a small flock of graceful pelicans following the tiny yellow fishing trawler.
I started my meal with a glass of Chandon, while Mr Pickings had his usual indulgence of a strawberry milkshake.  He liked the presentation in the jar, and said it was cold - essential to a good shake.  We were pleased to see sweet potato fries on the menu- clearly a 'thing' at the moment- with us and cafes in general.
A friend had recently been bemoaning the fact that he couldn't get these here, unlike in NZ.  I assured him that yes indeed they were also now an Aussie thing as well as a Kiwi thing.  These were delicious- thin with what seemed to be a crisp coating on the outside- perhaps polenta?  Mr Pickings was very happy as these are his fave sort of fries.

strawberry milkshake - $8

sweet potato fries with aioli and tomato sauce-$10.50

We also enjoyed our mains of confit duck salad for me (I love duck!) and wild mushroom risotto for him. The duck was in small shreds; tasty but it would have been nice to have some bigger pieces so you could really get a good mouthful of the duck, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Beetroots came out of a jar I would say; I don't mind this though some people may prefer/expect them house-made.  The overall flavours and textures with the hazelnuts, goat cheese etc made this a tasty dish.  Mr Pickings did not give much away about the risotto but cleaned up his plate quick-smart and told the lovely young waitress that he really enjoyed it.   He mentioned later that the rice was not gluggy and the flavour was great so clearly it was a hit with him.

wild mushroom risotto-$25.50

confit duck salad- $25.50

We ended our extended lunch with coffee and lemon curd tart for me, and hot chocolate for him.  The coffee was Di Manfredi, not a brand I had drunk before.  It was a really good coffee and I am quite fussy coffee-wise.  Mr Pickings said his hot choc was great, and he loved getting the marshmallows.  My tart was a tangy lemon curd in a short crust;  the crust was a good short one with plenty of crunch and texture and the curd was delicious.  We left feeling very satisfied and content, and completely unable to face the thought of any dinner.

lemon curd tart-$8


hot chocolate -$4.50

I am sneaking in a photo of the drink I had last time-citrus crush- a deliciously icy and fruity drink.

citrus crush-$8

We found the service to be really good; the staff were very helpful, friendly and efficient.  Food was enjoyable though perhaps a bit expensive for a cafe.  Perhaps we pay for the views?  All in all, we enjoyed our little escape from weekday reality, and had a fine lunch.  I believe this place is very popular for weekend breakfasts too.

Concrete pavers have maritime facts about old Brisbane
etched into them giving you a chance
to increase your knowledge AND  feed the face.

Northshore Riverside Cafe on Urbanspoon

The cafe is open 7 days a week from 7am to 3pm.

Ph: 3868 4264
297 MacArthur Avenue,
Hamilton QLD

Friday 18 July 2014


Ok yes, I admit it- here we have yet another creamy flavoured dessert.  I am on a bit of a roll with these lately- and guess what!  There will surely be more.  This one is an Indian-inspired recipe made famous by Rick Stein in his TV series Rick Stein's India.  I am a big fan of flowery notes like rosewater and lavender, (I know not everyone is as keen, as it reminds them of their grandmother's facepowder)  and I love how saffron gives such a gorgeous yellow colour with a tangy undertone.  I thought Rick was being a bit cautious about leaving it overnight in the fridge, but it does allow the flavours and colours to develop most wonderfully.
It has been a very sad week in the Pickings household with one of my oldest and dearest friends passing away unexpectedly. I am still reeling, but it is a comforting thing to have a cherished memento sitting on my desk.  She was a very spiritual person, always seeking the answer to the purpose of life.  She spent quite a lot of time in India, seeking spiritual fulfillment.  I hope she has now found the answer.  I picture her at the feet of some guru thumbing her nose at the rest of us, saying, "ha ha I know what it is all about now, suckers!"  I am going to savour this rich and creamy sweet, and contemplate my navel for a while.  And I wish my dear friend all the love and peace in the world.


100mls milk
pinch of saffron threads- very generous- and not saffron powder or the fake stuff
450mls thickened cream
50g icing sugar or icing mixture
1 tsp rosewater
pistachios and organic dried rosebuds to decorate


Warm the milk gently in a small saucepan; do not boil- you want it just a bit more than lukewarm
Add the saffron threads to the warmed milk and let steep for 20 minutes
Whip the cream while you wait for the milk to cool down.  Don't go crazy here-  you want very soft peaks; make sure not to overwhip
Sift in the icing sugar
Add the rosewater and the cooled saffron milk (with the saffron threads still in it)
Whisk it all together for a minute or 2 till it is smooth and softly peaked and a lovely creamy-yellow colour
Leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours but overnight is better
When you are going to eat it, sprinkle some chopped pistachios and rosebud petals over the top

(And for something different, I think orange blossom water could ring a nice change next time.)

(photo by Saeed Akhtar-public domain)

(stock image)

Luba's plate from Turkey sitting on my desk as I write

Monday 7 July 2014

Form7even Cafe

Believe it or not, it does get quite cold here in sunny Brisbane during the winter months and we are currently experiencing a bit of an Antarctic chill in the air.  Skies are still blue and the sun is shining and warm, but the air is freezing- well at least to a Queenslander!  So when Mr Pickings and myself went out to lunch last week at a local cafe, we rugged up good! :)  We sat outside bravely and they were kind enough to turn on the overhead heater.  We were pretty much on our own outside as less hardy souls went into the warm interior.
I had heard good things about this cafe so was looking forward to trying it out.  I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and quality of the menu, considering that this place is next to offices in a very small commercial zone in outermost suburbia.  Well, these days Stafford Heights is touted as inner-city almost.  Funny how the inner-city keeps creeping further and further out from the CBD:)
Mr Pickings and I started with a hefty milkshake each- foolish of me 'cos I find they fill me up so quickly. But they were delicious and presented quirkily in a large glass jar.

delish milkshakes in glass jars-$6.00

I moved on to the fish of the day after downing my shake.  Fish was barramundi, and came with scallops and prosciutto and avocado salad.  It looked beautiful and tasted wonderful.  Can you believe- in the interests of research of course- that we had sides of sweet potato fries AND beer battered potato fries with aioli?  Go forth dear friends and have those sweet potato fries with wasabi aioli.  You will not regret one mouthful.

tasty barramundi-$22.50

to die-for sweet potato fries-$6.50

Mr Pickings opted for the grass-fed veg hoagie which was in fact a vegetarian felafel sandwich.  He said they were the best felafels he had ever eaten, moist and very flavourful.  Mr Pickings usually chooses the vego option when we go out so this was quite a rave from him.

heaps of juicy felafels  $16.50 -and see those fries!
-$7.50 as a side but they come with the hoagies

love those lights! and see the counter
- you can grab a muffin on your way out

They use Maleny milk in their drinks and Elixir coffee from the well-loved roasting house not far away in Stafford.   Good to know there is a kids' menu too.  And they do dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.  Good news- it is licensed so you don't have to go roaming the streets to find a bottle shop:)  Did I forget to say they have tapas also? - with the usual suspects like the fries, chicken wings, oysters, stuffed olives and arancini to name a few!  This cafe has a nice feel to it; staff are helpful, and prices are very reasonable.  I intend to grab a few friends and hop along to dinner one night soon.

lovely front courtyard with beautiful trees

this is my artistic shot of their front area

Form 7even (Form Seven) on Urbanspoon

Form7even cafe
69 Wilgarning St, Stafford Heights 4053
07 3630 5225

Thursday 3 July 2014

In My Kitchen July 2014

This month I am joining with Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial again to show off the latest stuff in my kitchen.  As it was my birthday in June, I was lucky enough to get some lovely things for my kitchen.  Mr Pickings knows I love kitchenware and food, so he keeps a list of things I have mentioned over the months before my birthday.  This way he knows he will get me something I really want!

In my kitchen:

my oldest friend came to visit bearing gifts.
she knows I collect cook books so she got me these lovely old books.

i couldn't resist these when I saw them at a local IGA store.

like alot of other bloggers at the moment
I am steeping lemons in olive oil-can't wait to try it when it is ready

beautiful avocadoes from just across the border in northern NSW-so delicious

I have lots of oils in my pantry at the moment;
 the Lloyd Brothers lime oil is a birthday gift from hubby

yep I succumbed - to Falconware. Who can resist?  so easy to clean too

my sister gave me the Himalayan salt,
and sis-in-laws gave me the fabulous purple spoon thingy.
  The weird looking thing behind them
 is the bronze crab I bought myself for my birthday.

did I forget to mention my beautiful birthday flowers?

last but not least is the truly delightful drawing I bought
 from fellow blogger Anne Lawson
who is a very talented artist as well as blogger!

So get yourself over to Celia's blog and check out the other kitchens this month.  There are always heaps of gorgeous kitchen-y things to see.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Macadamia milk ice cream

Winter and ice cream- crazy talk you might say but lots of people like it any time of year.  (BTW I just found out that ice cream is 2 words!  Good old Google.)   And here's an interesting factoid for you:  Australia is second on the ice cream eating list for most consumed, followed by the Scandi countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark.  Not surprisingly, the USA is the biggest consumer.  And of course it is damn cold in those Scandi countries a lot of the time, as we know from all those Scandi noir crime novels, where the victim is found buried under a pile of snow or floating face up in the frozen lake.  Eek I am giving myself goosebumps!  And heaven knows it is cold enough in sunny Brisbane today even with the sun shining and the sky bright blue, and not a cloud in sight.
Well, to get on with the story, I made macadamia milk last week and had plenty lurking in my fridge.  I was wondering what to do with it and decided on ice cream as hubby is very fond of it.  So I checked out Nigella's no-churn ice cream, and using that recipe as a base, I concocted my own version with macadamias and chocolate.


225 mls thickened cream
150 mls macadamia milk
175g condensed milk
80g roasted and chopped macadamias
60g dark chocolate chopped into shards (or bashed up with a muddler)


Place the cream, the macadamia and condensed milks into a mixing bowl
Grab your electric beaters and start whizzing till it becomes softly whipped and nicely aerated
Add the nuts and chocolate- I bashed up both with my muddler as I find chopping them very tedious and it is a wonderful workout and tension-reliever to bash away at them
Place in the fridge overnight or for about 8 hours if you can't wait
Take it out about 20 minutes before you want to eat it as it freezes rather hard

I served this with chocolate and potato cake; Mr Pickings was very happy!  You could try other milks and nuts; the hazelnut milk I found last week at the health store for instance with roasted hazelnuts.  Maybe almond milk and roasted almonds could also be a goer.

kitchen smelt divine with nuts roasting

bashing up the chocolate and nuts=so much fun

those ice cream containers get a workout in my kitchen

(library image)