Tuesday 31 May 2016

Herman The German Friendship Cake - AKA Helga, Part 1

Well this is not really a cake recipe - yet.  This is how you begin the journey which results in the Friendship cake.  And I don't call her Herman; to me she is Helga.  Helga grows and expands, and is handed on to others in a continuing circle of cakes and loaves... Phew, I am getting a bit over the top there.

The Helga plant (as some call it) was given to me by a friend who had received it from a friend, and so on.  Helga is a sour-dough starter in fact, so that is why your kitchen ends up smelling like a brewery for the 10 days that you nurture her before divvying up and giving to friends - and making that cake.

shy little Helga on her first day with us   

On Helga's first day chez Pickings, I placed her in a large ceramic mixing bowl and covered her with a tea towel so she could ruminate in private.  The house began to smell like the XXXX beer factory just down the road from where we used to live.

On Day 2 and on  Day 3, you have a peek and then give her a good stir.  Cover her back up with the tea towel and let her sit and think again.

Helga is bubbling and growing and smelling  

On Day 4, you have to give Helga a feed.  So grab 1 cup each of plain flour, milk and sugar.  Stir them in well, and cover her up again.  She is a modest lady, and likes her privacy.  Her yeasty aroma will be enticing you and all your visitors by this stage.  Give them a peek if you really like them.

Day 4 - this is when you feed and stir Helga     

feeding the hungry gal   

Day 5 - give her a good stir - she loves it:=) 

Days 5, 6, 7 and 8 are the same old, same old - give her a good stir and cover her up again.  No need to do anything else at this point. Just enjoy the heady, bready, yeasty atmosphere.  

Day 6 - dig that spoon in and stir

Day 7 - yep stir again       

Day 8 - more stirring  

Day 9 is a big day!  You have to add 1 cup each of flour, sugar and milk again.  Then give her a big stir.  And then you divvy her up into 4 equal portions.

tip in the flour, sugar and milk

give it all a big stir  

divvy her up into 4 equal portions 

I got 4 portions of around 340g. each.  I kept one aside for Day 10 when Helga got turned into a cake, and the other 3 went into the freezer.  I know this may sound shocking to some, 'cos you are strictly told NEVER to put Helga in the fridge while the 10 day process is happening but this (into the freezer) you can do.

3 portions into the freezer for other cakes  

You can of course just hand over the starter to 3 friends with the instructions, but I want to make a few other cakes so I am keeping these 3 for now.  And my portion for making Helga went back on the bench with the towel over her till the next day.  (She needed to recover from the separation anxiety of being divvied up.)

On Day 10 you make the cake!  So stay tuned for Part 2 when Helga becomes a toothsome cake-y reality.

my milk doodle 

Thursday 26 May 2016

Hello Harry The Burger Joint - Review

Another burger place?  I wonder when this trend will change?  But for now it looks like it will keep on keeping on - as the old advert goes.  To be honest, I am not the biggest burger fan.  I like the old-fashioned kind of burger; you know - beetroot, fried egg, iceberg lettuce, pineapple even, sliced tomato and a big beefy burger pattie. Okay maybe I'm old school but I've been told that more than once:=)

easy to find this place:=)  

Mr P. and I were out and about recently having sushi and noticed this place flashing its name at us and begging for attention.  I liked the name and it looked interesting so off we trotted a week or so after it opened.  We brought along our friend Princess Pia, who is always willing to try something new. Witness her recent 2 month sojourn in South America, up the Amazon, and climbing Machu Picchu, and fishing for piranha!

yep that's a piranha!

You guessed it - here be burgers.  The menu is a simple one so you will find the usual suspects - beef, pork, fish, chicken, lamb, a vego option and sides.  You can also have yourself a glass of wine, cider or a beer to go with.  Or if you are the designated driver, you can have a Nutella, strawberry or salted caramel shake (flavourings made by the chefs). Guess what Mr P. chose.      

I knew you'd guess - strawb. milkshake $7     

Mr P. loved his milkshake.  He said it was fluffy, and the flavouring okay.  But he would have liked a bigger one.  He can down them in seconds, folks.

the Princess and I had a glass of Sauv Blanc $9     

Yes of course we had one each, you silly.  Sorry the photos are a bit dim; we were sitting outside on funny little stools 'cos the music inside was a bit loud for the elderly and hard of hearing like us.:=)    (A few decent chairs wouldn't go astray guys!)  The waitress was very accommodating and did get the music turned down a bit for us though.  

onion rings $7 

The onion rings were crispy, and looked ever so cute in the bowl with the pretend newspaper.  But there is a big but here, the batter was just so incredibly over-sweet that it made them not so pleasing to the palate.  Is this some weird American idea?  Please leave out the sugar, guys!  Onions have enough natural sweetness in them so you really don't need anymore.

chips with seasoning $5 

These were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle just like a good chip should be - yep there's another but - we could detect sugar in the coating or seasoning.  Not a huge amount but enough to be disconcerting.  Just not necessary, and in fact it ruins a good chip.  I think the condiment with the chips was aioli but it may have been plain mayo. For me it was too mild to tell.  

grilled chicken burger $10    

My chicken burger was pleasant.  (I decided against the crumbed fish as I was afraid the crumbs would be sweetened.)  The bun was fresh, and the slaw added a nice crunch.  So this was a small but cute burger (like someone you know?)  And I love sesame seeds so that's a winner for me.

Middle Eastern Chickpea burger $10 - slightly burnt on top?     

Mr P. usually goes veggo when we are out so he chose this one. The chickpea pattie was mild in flavour (he wanted some spice) and he would have liked some more of the candied pumpkin and honey mustard.  "Sparse" was his comment.  He is like Manu on My Kitchen Rules - "where's the sauce?", and he is always after more relishes and more flavour.

grass fed beef burger $10   

Princess Pia had the beef burger with home made tomato jam.   Here is what she said about it: very tasty, hits the spot and just the right size for a lady.  Definitely American style burger, lots of flavour, tasty mayo and fillings but a little on the sweet side.   

We had to ask our waitress for cutlery which she happily brought out to us.  Not so keen on the kitchen paper roll sitting on the table. Perhaps they could try that idea of having a caddy on the table with the cutlery and napkins?  And we didn't find any water jugs around. Most places these days have a self-service water cooler or jug for customer use, so we were a bit surprised.  Maybe we just didn't see it?

the cover of the menu kindly given to me by the waiter in lieu of a businesscard  

Overall, an okay pit stop for a quick bite.  But I think a lad with a large appetite would need 2 burgers to assuage his hunger.  Maybe I was expecting too much, but I was a leetle disappointed by the small burgers and the startling amount of sweetness in everything. Sadly I will not be rushing back.  If I want sweet, I will hit the icecream parlour next door.:=)  

you can just make out the graffiti-type mural inside 

Portside Wharf
39 Hercules St., Hamilton Qld
Ph: 0477 277 280

Hello Harry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Chicken And Mushroom Stir-Fry

Well hello Nigel!  I have been perusing Nigel Slater's book The Kitchen Diaries again for some dinner inspo.  (See, I know the trendy words.)  We like chicken, we like mushrooms, we like a quick meal so this was just the thing.  After making it, I decided I would do more tweaking to the recipe next time.  You may laugh but I found this a very masculine dish.  Quite savoury and spicy, and simple.  Ooh -  do I mean just like a man? :=)

I took a few shortcuts - well, it was Sunday night - 'cos I didn't want to miss seeing the Masterchef boys do their thing.  Don't you love the way they have their favourites? Clearly George likes the teary young girls so he can have a bit of a weep with them.  He gets very emotional when one of them has to leave, doesn't he?  While Gary and Matt look on a bit helplessly.  Anyway let's get stuck into Nigel's stir-fry.

Slightly adapted from Nigel's recipe:

Serves 2:


1-2 tbs olive oil or peanut oil - whatever you fancy

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 tbs fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped

3 spring onions, thinly sliced

3 red chillies, finely chopped

2 stalks of lemon grass finely sliced, or 2 dessertspoons of lemon grass paste 

480g. diced chicken breast - or just use tenderloins

225g. mushrooms, thinly sliced or chopped

2 tbs lime juice

2 tbs Thai fish sauce, or if you forget to buy some (who me?), use 2 mashed-up-with-a-fork anchovies

1 tsp palm sugar or raw sugar 

a few Thai basil or mint leaves

1-2 x 85g. packets of Mi Goreng Noodles (or similar noodles) - minus the salty little sachets of flavouring


Heat the oil in a work or large frying pan

Throw in the garlic, ginger, spring onions, chillies and lemon grass

Stir it around for a few minutes

Tip the mix out onto a plate and put aside

Now chuck in the chook (chicken) with more oil if needed

Stir it and let it turn golden while you stir every so often

In go the mushrooms - and stir

Grab your aromatics and tip back into the pan

Mix the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a cup

And pour into the pan

Toss in the herbs

Now add the plain noodles that you have boiled for a few minutes (as per the packet)

Stir it all around and eat with glee!

ingredients gathered  

get Mr P. to stir the aromatics   

and then he stirs the chicken   

and then he stirs the mushrooms in  

chuck the aromatics back in     

stir the juice, sugar and fish sauce together  

toss the noodles around   

and slurp away 

Nigel didn't actually say what cut of chicken to use, so I chose breast but you could try diced thigh meat.  I wasn't keen on the mint I threw in at the end, but that could be because I only had regular mint not the Thai kind.  And a bit oddly, Nigel doesn't mention what to eat the dish with, so we grabbed some noodles, which went down really well. You could use whatever noodles you like - rice, egg, rice vermicelli, ramen, instant - take your pick, folks.

my wok-y doodle


Sunday 22 May 2016

My Sunday Photo 22 May 2016

sunset through a bushfire haze

Hubby and I took a drive out into the countryside yesterday.  It was a beautiful Autumn day here with blue skies, just a few clouds and brilliant sunshine.  All pretty normal for a south-east Queensland day.  On the way home, coming down the mountain, we noticed masses of smoke.  There was a bushfire of some sort - it may have just been back burning which is done at this time of year.  And what a glorious sunset it became!


Thursday 19 May 2016

A - Z Guidebook - L for Lansdale, Pennsylvania

Remember that film Witness with Harrison Ford?  He was trying to solve a murder that was witnessed by an Amish boy, and subsequently he himself had to hide out in Amish country.  We actually spent a fair bit of time there, sometimes getting stuck behind the Amish carts being dragged uphill by horse power (literally). Often we would be in fear for our lives as huge trucks would be stuck behind them too, trying to get up hills, braking on the rise and on black ice.  Hearts in our mouths I tell you!  

Why am I telling you this?  Cos I had planned to put up a photo of Amish carts in Lancaster County PA; see that's where the L came in for this month's travel linky:=). But I came across this photo that I couldn't resist of me freezing my buns off at the Thanksgiving Parade in Lansdale PA where we were staying with friends of friends.


Thanksgiving Parade in Lansdale PA     

Yep that little red pixie in the foreground is me.  I had so many clothes on I could barely move.  I was actually crying with cold!  I think it was about minus 10, and we were sitting in deck chairs on the footpath to watch it.  The little girls were in tiny fairy costumes with tights and tutus.  OMG!!  Such fortitude, though they seemed to think nothing of it.  I have never been so cold in my life, even in the snow in Central Park in December.  (No, my nose wasn't that red - it's the scanner). 

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Macabella/Nutella Coffee Mousse

Well, here's a surprise - another recipe from the Donna Hay magazine I bought last week.  I want to get my money's worth out of this unusual (for me) purchase so I kept flicking through and found this.  I have noticed Donna simply puts all the ingredients into her recipe names, so no fancy terms or cutesy titles; this one she describes as chocolate hazelnut coffee mousse.  Aw come on, you know you are going to use Nutella, unless you make your own.

Except I didn't use it.  Rather I went for Macabella Crunch which is a chocolate and macadamia nut spread - with crunchy bits of nut in it.  I thought it was Australian, but turns out it is made in Belgium. (Though Buderim Ginger owns the brand.) This is a dead easy mousse and incredibly delicious.  Great for the arteries too:=) 

Serves 4-6


250g. tub of mascarpone

1 cup (330g.) of Macabella or Nutella spread 

1/4 cup (15g.) instant coffee granules

375 mls of pure (pouring) cream

2 tbs cacao nibs


Spoon the mascarpone and the nut spread of your choice into a medium mixing bowl

Stir well to combine

Grab another medium bowl, add the coffee granules and pour in the cream

Now beat the coffee and cream together till you get soft peaks

Add the 2 mixtures together and beat for 30 seconds till you get stiff peaks

Spoon into 4 x 1½ cup ramekins or small bowls

Top each bowl with a sprinkle of cacao nibs

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving


Use less coffee if you are not a huge coffee lover - this was strong

Use 6 smaller cups unless you are a piggie!  It is rich, and I think having a quarter of this mousse is a bit extravagant in one sitting

For some odd reason I only bought a 300 mls carton of cream so I made up the difference with sour cream and yoghurt - still good!

I decided to add the cacao nibs; I think it needs a bit of texture - as those Masterchef boys would say


stir the mascarpone and nut spread together  

whizz the cream and coffee together till soft peaks form     


beat the 2 mixes together for 30 seconds  


you caught me out! but I had to try it      

my nut spread doodle

Thursday 12 May 2016

Paddington Deli And Epicerie - Review

What do you do when hubby has no clients or employees in for the day?  Go off for lunch that's what.  So go we did.  We headed off to the western suburbs, which funnily enough are a bit hard to get to from the northern suburbs that we live in.  Brisbane is made up of lots of hills and ridges, so you have to take a circuitous route to get around to some areas.  But never fear, we got there in plenty of time for lunch.

the view from our outdoor table-they have high chairs and a dog bowl and a lollipop bush  

Paddington has been a trendy suburb for many years, and the main road through it has lots of boutiques and cafes.  We decided on Paddington Deli, as it is part of a complex that contains a very old (former) cinema now an antiques centre.  I couldn't miss a chance to check it out again.

Brut Monmousseau bubbles from the Loire Valley $10    

You have your choice of various wines and beers from Australia, France, New Zealand and so on, with prices being average for a local cafe.  Our charming Italian waiter told me I had made a good choice, but just between you and me I think they always tell you that!

the inevitable strawb. milkshake for Mr P.- $6   

You can get all the usual suspects here - frappes, coffee, tea, soft drinks, and even coconut water if you feel the need to replenish your electrolytes.

yep Eggs Benny with smoked salmon $18      

I know, I know, I am a creature of habit.  But this is lunch eggs Benny so that clearly means it is different :=)  The asparagus was lightly blanched - I know, it looks raw - and rather crunchy.  Not to everyone's taste I think, but okay by me.  Better than being limp anyway.  Hollandaise is house made so that's a winner.  My eggs were overdone sadly - I like them runny, and my sourdough bread was too crusty.  I really hate fighting with my food.  I just couldn't cut through them so I ended up leaving most of the crusty bits.  Not a bad dish over all, it just needs tweaking to be perfect.  

house made beef cheeseburger $18   

Mr P. was happy that his beef burger had relish on it, and that it came with an extra amount too.  He has been vociferous lately about dry, relish-free zones on his burgers. I was surprised by a comment from an English blogger that they are relish-free there too. What has come over the global burger arena?  Bring back the relish!

The beef pattie was flavoursome when I tried a bit; the salad dressing "great" according to Mr P. - just the right amount of balsamic.  He was unsure of the cauliflower in his salad though.  I know cauli is trendy but...

I would like to regale you with tales of other dishes tried, but Mr P. had to get back to work.  And I had to have a peek into the Antiques Centre; so many lovely and expensive things there.

The Deli is now open for Friday and Saturday night dinners too, so we must get along to check it out.  And don't forget that it is a deli also, so you can buy provisions like cheese, olives and oils while you are there.

looking into the brick-lined cafe   

the lovely character-filled interior  

153-155 Latrobe Tce., Paddington 4064
Ph: 07 3367 8819

Paddington Deli & Epicerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato