Sunday 31 January 2016

My Sunday Photo 31 January 2016

sign outside an antiques store in Newrybar NSW   

Mr P. and I are enjoying a wee break away for our wedding anniversary down in the depths of glorious northern New South Wales.  It is a stunning area; you must all come and visit!:=)  This is outside an antiques store which resides in an old, former butcher's shop.  You can still see the old blood stains on the concrete floors which are original. (That's Mr P. lurking in the background on the right). 


Thursday 28 January 2016

Tweed Gallery Cafe - Review

Mr P. and I love northern New South Wales (really? who knew?) and we love the Tweed Regional Gallery.  An extra wing was opened in March 2014 to house the Margaret Olley Centre.  Along with this extra gallery, they extended the cafe. Yay! - 'cos it used to be tiny folks.  Now it is a big open space with fabulous views over the Tweed Valley and Mount Warning.  

We head down there regularly, and enjoy a spot of lunch as well as the latest exhibitions.  I have to tell you that they are a tiny bit odd about alcohol in NSW.  For years, this cafe has been licensed but would you have known it?  Oh no; they hid the booze away and had no wine lists around.  You felt like you were in Prohibition times in America, with gangsters and guns:=)  At least you can see the bottles in the fridge now, and there is a wine list on the menu.  

grilled barramundi and fried potatoes $24.50      

This dish was a nice take on fish and chips.  Firm and golden potatoes with a nutty flavour, a bit of salsa, a pretty flower and you are good to go.  The fish was well cooked, and the potatoes were my fave!  There were beetroot sprouts on the plate.  Never had those before.  They were cute and they tasted fine.  Thank god they weren't that other kind that chokes you on the way down.

Brillo Pad (regular readers may remember the nephew) had another special of the day - grilled halloumi with watermelon salad and pomegranate dressing.  This was a lick the plate job!  Oh yes he did!  And he pointed out the beetroot sprouts to me as he grows them (clever boy).  He loved the tangy dressing, and said the cheese and watermelon was a great combo, with great textures and contrast in flavours.  Well, that's what it boiled down to; I may have tidied up the prose.

       grilled halloumi and watermelon salad $19.50 on Specials board               

Mr P. had the Angus beef burger with chips.  He likes to tuck into a burger now and then; well quite often actually.  This one went down well.  His verdict?  Fabulous chips - crunchy outside, fluffy inside.  Burger? - okay, but not enough relish.  The burger comes out on a board which neither of us like (think of the germs!) and so difficult to eat from. They kindly gave him a plate as well so he could transfer his food to it.  Relief all round.  
Gallery beef burger  $19.90      

Drinks you ask?  Well yes we did, thanks for asking.  I had iced mocha, which was not bad.  It was cold and creamy but it didn't knock my socks off.  I think I have been spoiled by the amazing iced drinks at Mockingbird Cafe, Kingscliff.

iced mocha $7  

No photos but Mr P. had a vanilla milkshake ($7), and Blondie had a pot of peppermint tea ($4).  (I think she was a bit under the weather, 'cos no lunch for her).  Milkshakes are never cold enough for Mr P.  He likes them in metal containers which this was not = sad disappointment.  Sis and the nephew shared a piece of pecan tart; this was apparently warmed through and wonderful.

apple slice 

Because the nephew ordered the special, he also got the apple slice for an extra dollar. Due to some mix up, sis also ordered the pecan tart.  Mm, a mix up you say? :=).  They loved the tart but were not fussed on the slice, so they took it "to go".  We were a bit confused about the $25 special, which included any main meal and the cake of the day. As most of the meals are under $20, we didn't see how that was a "special" as you could easily be paying more than a regular main and a cake - very odd these NSWelshers.

the glorious view from the café deck   

The family verdict? - a beautiful place to be with amazing views. The food is tasty and filling, but on the expensive side.  Service has never been a priority here sad to say though it was adequate. And I really dislike the current trend for ordering at the counter; it seems a bit too casual to me.  Cutlery and paper napkins sit in a wooden box on the table. Perhaps not quite what you would expect in a gallery like this. This is cafe food in a glorious environment however ; oh and don't forget the art!

2 Mistral Road, Murwillumbah NSW
Ph: 02 6672 5088
Open Wed - Sun
9 am to 5 pm

Tweed River Art Gallery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Buttered Eggs - courtesy of Mrs. Charles Darwin (deceased)

creamy, buttery buttered eggs   

I love eggs; who doesn't?  Well vegans I guess.  I was just reading that you can use apple sauce instead of eggs in recipes.  Maybe not when you are scrambling them though :=)  I love brunch dishes too so when I got hold of Mrs. Charles Darwin's Recipe Book, I just couldn't go past this lovely little recipe for buttered eggs.  No worries about cholesterol in the Darwin household my friends.

So basically you take as many eggs as you want, add to cream and butter, and heat over a double boiler till you have a deliciously soft, creamy, luscious eggy delight which you pour over your buttered toast.  Yep, more butter.  Are you still worrying about cholesterol?

Serves 2 generously


5 eggs

for each egg - use 5g. of butter and 1 tbs of cream so I used 25g. butter and 5 tbs of cream

salt and pepper to taste

2 slices of toast per person


Whisk those lovely eggs till well mixed

Add the salt and pepper and whisk in

Grab a double boiler (or a bowl over a pan of simmering water)

Tip in the butter and cream

Heat very gently till the butter is melted and the mixture is bubbling sweetly round the edges

Pour in your whisked eggs and keep stirring till you have a lovely, smooth consistency - or if you really have to, till it gets well done and rubbery:=)

Spoon over the buttered toast and throw on a handful of chopped herbs if you have them

easy on the bank balance - just a few ingredients    

ready for action  

whisk the eggs

tip the eggs into the warmed butter and cream   

take it off the heat just before it starts to set too firmly  

very delectable  


Maybe 2 eggs per person is plenty!  They're very rich, and even Mr P. was getting full. 

You may need to take the bowl/pan off the simmering water every so often so the eggy mix doesn't get too hot.  Just take it off, let it cool while stirring then put back over the water.  Make sure not to let it get too rubbery; it will keep cooking once you lift it off the water

I really enjoyed flipping through Emma's recipes.  They would have had access to their own animals for meat, eggs and milk; thus we see instructions like - "cut up the pig's head and cut off ears, tongue and cheeks".  Her husband Charles (yes he of  'Origin of Species' fame) had a poor digestive system so the recipes had to be for wholesome, family food.  

Emma had a busy houseful of children and servants, so feeding them all well would have been quite a task.  I love her handwritten recipes throughout the book, and the botanical illustrations. Recipes come under headings such as Dairy, Fish, Meat, Puddings etc. There are also sections on Preserves and even a cold cream recipe - as in beauty cream made with spermaceti which is a fatty substance found in the head of a whale.  Mm, don't think I will try that one:=)

A really enjoyable read if you are at all interested in food history.  

Emma Darwin née Wedgwood
  (artist George Richmond-public domain)

     can't you guess?  it's a bowl of eggs!

Sunday 24 January 2016

My Sunday Photo 24 January 2016

yep that's me snapping away  

A few days ago I went out to lunch with an old mate from work. We catch up about once a month, and head off to an art gallery and then lunch.  This is me in The Chelsea Bistro, taking a photo of the ceiling lights.  I'm not actually sitting in the corner and there are only 3 lights.  I was in fact facing the other way into a mirror!  I like the way this one turned out.  And lunch wasn't bad either.


Friday 22 January 2016

Summer Lasagne

summer lasagne   

Lasagne/lasagna?  Spell it how you will my friends.  It tastes just as good either way.  I am not a huge fan of hearty, meaty, tomato-ey lasagne, which is definitely a winter dish. Some readers may remember I don't go out of my way to eat pasta, but this one is light and summery, and does not leave you feeling that a small herd of elephants has taken up residence in your innards.

This is such an easy, uncomplicated dish, and leaves you feeling well-fed, and virtuous. Yes truly!  All those veggies dance across your palate and into your stomach like ballerinas' feet.  I have some bad memories of lasagne made by a friend who used lasagne sheets which should have been pre-cooked, but she didn't.  Oh my, talk about crunchy and heavy.  Never fear, you can't go wrong with the instant pasta sheets.

Serves 4


2-3 tbs olive oil for greasing the dish

2 tins of tomatoes, chopped

50g. kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

6 large instant lasagne sheets - no prior cooking needed:=)

150g. ham or any leftover meat like turkey or chicken, chopped

125g. mozzarella, grated

2 small zucchini, grated

50g. tasty cheese, grated

20g. parmesan, grated

salt and pepper to taste


Spread 1/4 cup of the tomatoes over the base of the generously oiled baking dish - I used a dish about 28cm x 22cm across the top, which fitted it splendidly

Plonk on 2 sheets of the lasagne side by side

Spoon on 3/4 cup tomatoes

Sprinkle with the ham, the olives and 1/4 cup of mozzarella (you will have about 1 cup left of the cheese)

Whack on 2 more sheets of lasagne

Spoon over 1 cup tomatoes

Sprinkle with the zucchini and 1/4 cup mozzarella

Yep - another layer (2 sheets) of lasagne goes on top

On goes the rest of the tomatoes and the remaining cheeses

Now add salt and pepper to the top - I threw on some chilli salt too

Bake for 35 mins. at 180C or till golden on top

Let it rest for a few minutes

Serve with salad and a nice glass of vino


Follow the assembly instructions!  I tried to wing it one time and it just didn't work out the same.  The lasagne fairy did not approve!

If your tinned tomatoes are whole, do the Nigella thing - grab a pair of scissors and snip them in the tin or a bowl

Want a vego version?  Replace the ham with mushrooms

Want a bit more of a salty zing?  Throw in a few rinsed capers

snipping the tomatoes in a bowl; makes it easy to scoop them up with a cup  

slip on a glove and squeeze out those slippery little suckers          

tomatoes over the first layer of pasta - see how the large sheets fit side by side?               

scatter over the olives, 1/4 cup mozzarella and ham - or in this case, left over turkey (no, not from Xmas silly)    

zukes on top -  look at all that veggie goodness:)     

the remaining tomatoes and cheeses go on  top    

now chuck on the salt and pepper   

all golden and crunchy - in a good way    

hoe in folks!  

I first found this recipe as part of an ad for tinned tomatoes.  I have made it regularly since then, with a few tweaks.  Mr P. is a bread and pasta fiend so this goes down very well with him.  And yes even with me, regardless of it being a tomato-ey pasta dish. Like I have said before, who said you have to be consistent? :=)

my zucchini foodle   

Tuesday 19 January 2016

A - Z Guidebook - Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, U. K.

See that wall?  Yep that's me leaning on it.  (Wow, look at those insane pants.)  Mr P. and I did the backpacking thing some years ago, and ended up here one blustery English day.  We found a wall, a very long wall!  And we walked a lot along this wall, but maybe not for 80 miles:=) 

Those crazy Romans decided to build a defensive wall which was 80 Roman miles long.  I think our fave part was checking out the communal toilets.  You know the bench-like seating covering multiple holes?  Made it so easy to have a chat about your day whilst doing your business.  The Romans I mean, not us.

a somewhat younger me leaning nonchalantly on Hadrian's Wall         

Mr P. and I walked many many wet and squelchy miles all around the UK.  Ah the memories!  We stayed in the local Youth Hostel at Once Brewed, also known as Twice Brewed (yeah, what the?!?). And the next day headed down the map to the town of Beer in Devon, where we enjoyed local blackberry wine made by the publican.  I could go a glass of that right now.

Join in with Fiona from Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures on her monthly travel linky. This month we are delving into the letter H.

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Sunday 17 January 2016

My Sunday Photo 17 January 2016

feeling a bit headless  

Mr P. and I went off early to the markets this morning as our niece had a stall selling her organic pet treats.  I took a little stroll and came across this lovely headless lady showing off her black and sparkly dress.  The market is in West End, a trendy inner-city area still catering to the old hippie types that used to live there (think organic, think local, think hemp and bamboo) but who can't afford to anymore:=)    


Thursday 14 January 2016

Billykart Kitchen West End - Review

Mr P. and I finally got a minute to ourselves last week, so we raced off to have a nice quiet lunch at Ben O'Donoghue's second Brisbane restaurant.  Sadly the quiet part was lacking as they were doing some serious digging out the front to fix up leaks and overflowing pipes outside.  We soldiered on and went in for lunch, though we did scurry off a bit quicker than we may have normally.

great signage

Mr P. went for his usual liquid refreshment - strawberry milkshake. It came in an ice-cold metal container; just the way he likes it.  Is $8 a bit much for a milkshake?  Mm perhaps so.    

icy cold strawb. milkshake $8

I asked him for more info.:  did it taste like real fruit?, how was it? His answer was - "really cold and that's all that matters."  Okay then...

fizz $7

I had a cooling fizz with smashed fruit, soda, ginger, pear and lime. I found it a bit dull to be honest.  No sweetener at all, and not much flavour.  I guess I was expecting the tang of bitters, or at least a really fruity taste.  Mr P. finished it off for me.

eggs Bender $21.50   
This dish was crispy potato waffle, hot smoked salmon, poached eggs and hollandaise. Mr P. loved the waffle, but he was keen on having another one.  He felt the meal really needed that extra waffle.:=)  He wasn't sure what the green pile was - spinach?, kale? Looks like silverbeet to me.  All up, he loved this meal.

billykart potato waffle croque madame $18.50

I really enjoyed the potato waffle here too.  This dish was so fresh and home-style.  And I mean that in a good way.  The béchamel tasted like it had just been made.  I am assuming that it was actually being kept warm somewhere but it tasted like your nan was out in the kitchen stirring it over a hot stove.  The egg was perfect too, just the way I like it - nice and runny.

the man himself - nice to see a celebrity chef actually in the kitchen     

See those tiny herbs on our meals?  Ben himself was in the kitchen, snipping the cute baby herbs from pots on the shelf.  We both enjoyed our lunch, which was fresh and tasty and a little bit different.  It felt like someone really cared about serving flavoursome meals.

Poor Ben was being "papped" by a tourist with a monstrous lens. The rude tourist shoved this thing at him and snapped away without even asking if he could take a photo.  I had a bit of a giggle as Ben skedaddled into the back blocks.

fun wall art with a billy cart vibe  

The service was efficient and the decor was fun, with great wall art, neon signs, and a touch of an old Queenslander (house) popping up in the coloured glass windows.  It is deceptively large, with plenty of room inside even though it looks like a Tardis on the outside.  

I love these windows    

Drinks are the usual suspects - smoothies, juices, milkshakes and teas.  They make house made nut milks; they ferment their own butter and cure their own fish.  Mains include yoghurt baked fish, free range chicken and smoked rump cap.  I hear the truffle fries calling my name for next time. 

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner nightly.  

Ph: 07 3177 9477
2 Edmondstone St.,
West End 4101

Billykart Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Cheese Muffins

We had our big family lunch on New Year's Day as hubby's relatives had flown in the day before.  We kept it simple but I did make cheese muffins with not 1 not 2 but 4 types of cheese. Strangely the recipe is called 3 cheese muffins; not sure which one they don't consider a cheesy comestible (as Monty Python would say).

This recipe comes from a Cuisine NZ magazine, who got it from a cafe at Lake Taupo (such a beautiful town and lake).  So while I can take no credit for the recipe, I did make a lovely batch that turned out well.  So if I can do it, so can you my friends.  As long as your hand is light without too much mixing of the batter, you will end up with great muffins.

cheesy muffins 


2.5 cups self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup tasty cheese, grated

1 cup fetta, crumbled or diced

75g. camembert or brie, diced

1/2 cup parmesan, grated

1 cup parsley, chopped or snipped

2 eggs, beaten with a fork

125g. butter, melted

375 mls milk or half milk/half buttermilk

extra diced camembert or brie if you wish to put a knob on top of each muffin - I did!


Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl

Mix in the cheeses and parsley

Grab a small mixing bowl, break in the eggs and whisk well

Add the butter and milk and whisk everything together

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and very gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together in the large bowl - don't worry if you have a few lumps and you can see a bit of flour.  You definitely don't want to beat the bejabbers out of this batter:=)

The recipe says to grease a large 8-hole muffin tray.  What they actually meant was JUMBO holes.  I ended up using both my normal-size muffin trays.  I think the final count was 15 muffins! So whatever you are using, grease well with butter.  (This is where I get Mr P. to grab some butter on his fingers and go for it.)  Spoon in the batter and drop the extra diced cheese on top if using  

Bake at 200C for about 20-25 minutes (check after 15 and switch the trays around if you are using both shelves).  They will be golden and delicious, and asking to be smothered in butter

ingredients gathered - where's the (4th) cheese, Grommit?   

yep the mysterious 4th cheese has turned up   

whisking the eggs    

milk and butter now in with the eggs    

wet and dry now go in the large bowl together     

yep lumpy and floury is okay  (sorry about the thumb)   

just about to go in the 200C oven  

golden and crunchy on the outside and soft inside    


my muffin foodle