Tuesday 29 September 2015

Quaint Corn (And Chicken) Square

Just as we cherish Margaret Fulton in Australia,  and the Brits cherish Mary Berry, New Zealand has their own culinary icon in Alison Holst.  I bought a couple of her books years ago, and it was only when we travelled to NZ that I realised she was bigger than Ben-Hur!  Sadly, she is now struggling with dementia, and cooks no more, but her son Simon carries on the tradition.  (Rather like Margaret Fulton's daughter and granddaughters do).  

Mr P. and I were vegetarians for many years and her book Meals Without Meat was a winner.  Even when we started to eat meat again, her Meals Without Red Meat was tops too:=)  Just simple, homey meals for the family, but also some interesting tid-bits like home-made ginger beer, and yoghurt, and soy milk.  I must give that a go one day soon.  

I have often made 'busy person's pie' from an old recipe book that was compiled by colleagues at work.  This recipe is somewhat similar, in that you throw together all the ingredients and bake in the oven.  Alison suggests throwing in a tin of tomatoes, but not being a huge tomato fan, I decided to add some roast chicken, semi-dried tomatoes, and a heap of parsley.  Serve it with salad. You can feed 4-6 people with this.


4 large eggs
410g. can creamed corn
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups tasty cheese, grated
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2-1 tsp salt  (I like salt!)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
40g. semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
150g. baked or poached chicken, chopped
2-3 tbs parsley, finely chopped
black pepper (I used about 10 grinds)


Eggs, corn and sour cream go into a large mixing bowl
Give it a stir with a fork till well combined, but don't go crazy
Sprinkle over the cheese, the flour and the salt 
Now chuck in the spring onions, the tomatoes, the chicken, the parsley and the pepper
Stir gently till just mixed
Pour into a lightly greased baking dish about 20cm x 20cm
Bake at 180C for about half an hour till golden and just a teeny tiny bit wobbly in the middle


Use other proteins if you wish - fish or ham or just have it as a vego dish
Don't overbake it as it will keep cooking as it cools
Use whatever herbs you like
I used a mix of salts as I have many different kinds; here I used chilli salt and olive salt
It may take longer than 1/2 an hour to bake; my oven is slow so it took nearly 40 minutes

(An interesting aside - Alison has a can of corn being 440g.; I knew tins these days were shrinking!)


forking that eggy, corny, creamy mixture 

sprinkling over the cheese and flour  

give it all a good stir 

pouring the mix into the square pan (excuse the photo - I nearly dropped the bowl!) 

ready for the oven at 180C for 1/2 an hour   

and eat!

truly he's a chicken, not a duck:=) 

feeling a bit corny                 

Sunday 27 September 2015

My Sunday Photo 27 September 2015

a beautiful sunflower blooming in a back lane at Brunswick Heads NSW

I love this big, beautiful sunflower.  Mr P. and I were walking down a lane between our motel and the main street of Brunswick Heads which sits next to the gorgeous Brunswick River which heads to the sea.  In fact, the ocean waves crash just across the river, and past the scrub.  It is a lovely peaceful little town (for the moment, till the trendies move in).  We came across this stunning flower (never mind the stray boot in the foreground).  We love to head down to the Northern Rivers region of NSW as often as we can, to visit friends and take in the gorgeous countryside.


Friday 25 September 2015

Viennese Potato Soup - With A Twist of Mushrooms

I love potatoes!  But who doesn't?  The other day while puddling around in my cookbook collection, I found this little beauty.  Mr P. says it is mine; I say it is his.  It is a mystery as to how it appeared on our shelves.  (And I fear there are others lurking in the depths).

a mystery volume on the shelves :=)      

The Princess was a princess before she married the Prince.  She was born Princess Windischgraetz, so she could already hold her own in the Royalty stakes.  And clearly she was a lover of potatoes. She tells us that the Brits were eating over 100kg. of spuds per head each year (and that was back in the '80s!).  Amazingly, you can still buy this book which was first published in 1981.  See, potatoes are the cat's pyjamas; everyone loves them.

Here is my version of the Princess's potato soup; ramped up with extra mushrooms and bacon.  Oh, and even a few more tatties.  I had planned to make mushroom paprika soup (from an old photocopied page; not sure where it came from), but then I saw this book and the die was cast.  Who could resist recipes like Prague potato soup, potato wine or even better - pommes de terre (potatoes) au lard? Happily, that means bacon in English, not pig fat! 


1 tbs olive oil 
2 tbs butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
140g. rindless bacon, chopped (4 or 5 slices)
1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
4-5 medium potatoes, diced  (I only had wee ones so I used 9)
500g. mushrooms, sliced 
A few caraway seeds (optional)
2 tbs plain flour
Zest of half a lemon
A handful of parsley, chopped
1.25 L of stock (chicken or beef is fine)
1 tsp salt
Black pepper (I used about a dozen grinds of the mill)
200 mls. sour cream


Heat the oil and 1 tbs of butter in a large saucepan
Add the onion, and stir till just turning golden
Tip in the bacon and stir some more
In goes the paprika
Then the potatoes and mushrooms
Throw in the caraway seeds if using
Give it a good stir
Add the other 1 tbs of butter and stir in
Sprinkle over the flour and stir it well in
Add half the lemon zest and parsley
Pour in the stock and - you guessed it! -  stir it together
Add salt and pepper
Turn it down low and simmer gently for about 25 minutes
When the potatoes are tender, add the sour cream and heat gently - do not boil the cream as it will curdle (will still taste great!)
Throw in the other half of the lemon zest and parsley
Season with more salt and pepper if desired

a mountain of sliced mushies 

a benchful of ingredients 

a bowlful of bacon   

tip in the mushies  

give it a good stir 

simmer for about 25 minutes till potatoes are tender 

a dollop of sour cream

me in my cooking gear!  (I have lots of aprons)  

my mushie doodle:=) 


Tuesday 22 September 2015

Fat Belly Kaf - Restaurant Review

the Greek-inspired shopfront 

Why Fat Belly you ask?  Because the previous owner was vastly pregnant, and they thought this would be a great name for a restaurant.  Let's face it, the location is odd, being right in front of a local motel, and on a road that takes you through town.  But don't let this faze you!  Inside it is quite charming, the food is very tasty and our waitress Henrietta (from Argentina) was lovely.   

We met up with our potter friend Miss BP for dinner and a chat. We live nearly 3 hours apart, so don't often get to see each other. Miss BP is having a bit of a life change at the moment, so we had lots to catch up on.  And we were all hungry, so dinner was an urgent must.

babaganoush with smoked sesame and flatbread $9

This was only very lightly smoky, and for me could have had a bit more flavour.  I like this dip to be really tangy and bringing back memories of campfires:)  But it was pleasant enough, and kept our hunger at bay till the rest of the dishes came out.

Next came oysters (of unknown source) with a fingerlime sherbert. Yep folks,  I ate them all by myself.  Mr P. doesn't indulge, and Miss BP wasn't indulging either (reasons unknown:=)).  

1/2 doz. oysters w/- fingerlime sherbert $18

These were delightful little morsels, and were consumed very quickly.  Henrietta came back to pick up the plate, and said with surprise: "You had them all?"  Yes indeedy Henrietta, I did!

By this time, we were sipping on our drinks; a glass of sparkling wine for me, chardonnay for Miss BP, and chinotto for Mr P.  As we were staying at the motel, we only had to walk about 30 metres to our room, but Mr P. still abstained:=)

sparkling wine $10  

chinotto $3.50 
delicious, salty pan-fried sheeps' milk saganaki $16  

The saganaki was really tasty.  It had a zingy, cheesy saltiness which leaves you craving more.  It is a little like halloumi, but without the slippy-slidy skid across your teeth.

Miss BP's strong potter's hand squeezing the life out of the lemon:)

eggplant and feta balls $4 each 

Loved these balls!  So tasty, so flavoursome.  I could easily have had a few of these charmers.

crispy spiced squid w/- mojo picon $18  

I think there was some cummin in the coating here.  Delicious!   The squid was tender and spicy, and very moreish.  I think I ate some of Miss BP's share too.  (Mr P. doesn't eat squid either).  He is a sad disappointment to me in the seafood department:=))

I nearly forgot to mention the chicken souvlaki!  The 2 skewers rested on a bed of roasted buckwheat salad.  This was a new flavour to me, as I have only ever had gloopy buckwheat porridge that my mad housemate used to make us eat back in the day. (Oops, getting carried away there).  

This dish was crunchy and different and tasty according to Mr P.  I think he was talking about the salad!  I had some reservations about the souvlaki itself; it seemed a bit dried out and not as flavourful as it could have been.  And perhaps a leetle bit expensive for 2 skewers?

chicken souvlaki with buckwheat salad $27 

vegetable moussaka w/- almond sauce, zucchini chips and tabouleh $28  
This dish belonged to Mr P. and Miss BP, but I did have a wee taste.  Sadly for me, I found it too overwhelmingly sweet.  I think the caramelised onion had been braised with a fair bit of sugar, and not left to do its own thing for long enough.  So instead of getting the natural sweetness of the onion, it seemed to be mostly sugar.  I may be wrong here, so excuse me Fat Belly Kaf if so.  The zucchini chips were splendid though!

To finish the night, and even though we were bursting, we just had to share a kataifi crema.  This came in a large glass bowl, and was worth every mouthful of the overstuffed bellies we were going to bed with.  It was rich and creamy, and full of lovely pastry and nuts.  

kataifi crema $16    

the (newish) wooden deck which would be great on a summer's night  

We had a lovely night catching up over dinner in beautiful Brunswick Heads.  This is the cutest little coastal village you can imagine, sitting at the head of the Brunswick river, with the sea just a whisper away.  It is still a bit hippie, a bit downmarket (in a good way), with interesting shops and not many Sydney tourists - yet!
Don't tell anyone else about it:=)  

26 Tweed St., Brunswick Heads NSW

Ph: 02 6685 1100

Fat Belly Kaf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday 20 September 2015

My Sunday Photo 20 September 2015

Swell Sculpture Festival Currumbin Beach Queensland  

Isn't this a fabulous sculpture?  Swell is an annual festival, showcasing artists from here and other states.  There are over 50 sculptures which wend their way along the beach.  Many of them are lit up at night, giving you a completely different feel to it all.  Just our luck it poured like billy-oh, but never mind it was still a wonderful event.


Friday 18 September 2015

Turkey Meatballs - Paddling in a Coconut/Tomato Pool

I love turkey.  And I love meatballs, so yep I adore turkey balls!  So much tastier than chicken mince, which is what the original recipe calls for.  I love shoving a massive turkey breast into the oven at Christmas, wrapped in lots of lovely bacon.  Then eating it for days afterwards in sandwiches, or salads.  Turkey brings back fond memories of our time staying with friends in Philadelphia during the holiday season, which lasts from Halloween in October to New Year's in January.  

Our friends would put a humongous turkey (about 10 kilos) in the Weber BBQ on the back deck in the snow, and leave it cook for hours while we got stuck into fresh artichokes with butter.  Imagine my dismay as I tried to suck the butter off the leaves through a mouthful of braces!  (I got braces as an adult, and sadly was not able to savour many of the edible delights during our trip.)

When the turkey was done, we ate it with sweet fruit pies, vegetable-filled sweet jellies, ham and that weird dish Americans seem to love - sweet potato pie covered in marshmallows.  I still get the shivers thinking of these combos. Another regular dinner was sweet blintzes with vegetables.  Now I adore blintzes, but usually fried in butter and dredged in icing sugar!  Ah well, it was all made with love.

I first made these meatballs based on a recipe in Gourmet magazine, which uses chicken mince, and is served in a coconut and red lentil soup.  This isn't that recipe, but I have used the basic idea of making meatballs and letting them float around in a spicy sauce.

meatball on a fork; not a tree:=)  



1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, finely chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated - (feel free to throw these 4 ingredients, roughly chopped, into a food processor and blitz like I did!)
1 tbs ground cummin
1 tbs ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried fingerlime powder (optional)
1 tbs lemongrass paste  
1 tbs coriander paste     
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce (I used my own home-made sauce)
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1- 1.5 cups bread crumbs (depends on the wetness of the mince)
750g. turkey mince


1-2 tbs olive oil
1 red onion, diced (brown or white is fine too)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp lemongrass paste
1 tsp coriander paste
1/2 tbs ground cummin
1/2 tbs ground coriander
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tin coconut milk
2 tins diced tomatoes
1 tbs lime juice
a handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped or torn



Grab a large mixing bowl and throw in all the ingredients for the balls
Mix together with a large spoon (but best with your hands)
Roll into plum-sized balls
Place on 2 lined baking trays
Bake at 190C for 10 minutes then swap shelves and bake for another 5 minutes (they will finish cooking in the sauce)


Heat the oil in a large saucepan
Throw in the onion, garlic and chillies
Stir till they start to go golden (but don't burn 'em)
Tip in the fish sauce
In goes the lemongrass and coriander pastes
Then the cummin, coriander, sugar, salt and pepper
Pour in the coconut milk and tins of tomatoes
Heat the mixture gently
Place the meatballs into the sauce 
Heat for 5-10 minutes till balls are warmed through
Throw in the lime juice and coriander leaves at the end
Serve with rice   (serves 6 easily)

ready to blitz


ingredients ready to become cute little balls       

cute little plum-sized balls ready for the baking   

ingredients for the sauce   

frying them up in olive oil 

balls paddling in their tomato/coconut pool   

Mr P. really wolfed this down:=) 

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Mexican Independence Day - September 16 - And Spicy Hot Chocolate To Excite Your Senses

thick, luscious, and spicy Mexican hot chocolate    

Today is Mexican Independence Day, otherwise known as Grito de Dolores, the start of the war for independence against Spain.  Regular readers will know hubby and I have been to the border of USA and Mexico, which is a real eye-opener for innocent Aussie tourists.  Be wary of the gun-toting guards and the vehicle inspections!  And you may remember I have a great yearning to see The Blue House of Frida Kahlo, one of my favourite artists.  One day mis amigos, one day.

File:The Blue House 1.jpg
(image Wikimedia commons; author Peter Andersen)  

In honour of the day, I made a pot of Mexican hot chocolate for breakfast.  This is what happens when you only get 4 hours sleep!  (A la Mrs Thatcher).  The sunrise was divine anyway:=))
This recipe is a mish-mash from a heap of different ones on the Net, but mostly like this one from ciachowbambina. 


2 cups milk
125g. dark chocolate
1 tbs caster sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used my grinder and gave it about 15 turns)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you are brave)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used my vanilla bean grinder - about a dozen turns)
Adjust the spices to your taste


Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan
Put the pan onto a very low heat
Stir constantly till the chocolate melts
Heat till just bubbling around the edges
Pour into a mug
Add whipped cream and more spices on top if you wish

It goes slightly thick as the chocolate melts, and thus lingers on your tongue delightfully.  Oh and fills the belly even more delightfully.  

grab your ingredients 

stirring (first use of my new spirtle)  

stir while the chocolate melts and heats up 

soooo delicious! (the figurine is Frida)  

wonky flag my own doodle; Mexican state emblem courtesy of Wikimedia-public domain)