Saturday 28 January 2017

Pineapple Slice

You may know that people who live in Queensland are called banana benders by those naughty people in southern States.  Apart from bananas, this State is also known for its pineapple farms, and sunshine.  And tropical fruits and macadamia nuts and seafood; well, the list goes on.

When Summer rolls around (not that it ever really leaves), fruit and cool salads are the go.  You could peel and finely dice the pineapple for this recipe yourself, but on a hot summer's day the least amount of time in the kitchen appeals so use tinned like I did. You can also buy already peeled and diced fresh chunks in the supermarkets these days so go for that version if you want it less sweet.

sweet and tangy pineapple slice

I have pretty much used the recipe from The Kitchen Magpie's blog, but tweaked it a bit to suit modern tastes and methods.  It is her grandmum's recipe and uses margarine (eek!) in the crust and filling.  She also melts the margarine for the crust but I have gone the Nigella route and just blitzed softened butter with the biscuits in a processor.  So much quicker and easier.  And then use the same processor bowl (no need to wash) for the filling.  I decided to add lemon zest and juice to cut the sweetness, as the original recipe is very sweet for modern tastes.



250g. of Granita or Shredded Wheatmeal biscuits

125g. butter, softened (not melted)

2 tbs almond meal

1 tbs sugar


200-250g. icing sugar, depending on how sweet you like it

120g. butter, softened

125g. Philly cream cheese, softened

zest of half a lemon

1-2 tbs lemon juice


1 cup of thickened cream, whipped till soft peaks form

1 tin (440g.) of crushed pineapple, drained very well


Throw the broken-up biscuits into a large food processor

Add the butter, almond meal and sugar

Blitz well till you have fine crumbs

Press 2/3 of the mixture into a lined baking pan - you can use a 20cm X 20cm square one or a 23cm round tin

Bake for 8-10 mins. at 150C (300F) till golden

Let it cool completely while you make the filling

Wipe the bowl of the processor out with kitchen paper; no need to be too precious if a tiny bit stays in the bowl

Place the icing sugar, butter, cream cheese, lemon zest and juice into the processor and blitz till very smooth

Tip this into the cooled crust and level out with a spatula

Put it into the fridge for half an hour to settle down

Whip the cream and stir in the very well-drained pineapple

Take the pan out of the fridge and spoon on the cream and pineapple topping

Smooth it out and scatter the rest of the buttery crumb mixture over the top

Refrigerate overnight if possible but at least 6 hours


Use only 200g. of biscuit crumbs if you like a thinner crust - which I do and did

The filling is very sweet so I suggest using only 200g. icing sugar

gather your ingredients

tip the blitzed biscuits into your lined pan  

levelled out and ready for baking 8-10 mins @150C  

baked and cooling 

now blitz the filling 

blitz till smooth

spread the filling over the biscuit base

smooth over the filling

spread the topping over the filling

scatter the reserved crumb mix over the top and chill overnight  

my pineapple doodle

Tuesday 24 January 2017

5 Boroughs Ascot - Review

Mr P. and I eat regularly at a local sushi place, but this night we decided to ring in the changes by stopping off at a nearby eatery serving New York street food.  Okay I will get the rant over first thing: when the heck are we going to get some decent cafés that serve real food, not endless burgers and fries?  No time soon, I fear. I know, I know, now you are thinking so why did she eat here? Well, no one ever said I was consistent, people.  Me, least of all.

exterior of the café

Service, often a bugbear these days, was fabulous.  Attentive staff quick to take our order and give advice made this dinner a pleasure from the get-go.  I started with an espresso martini which are all the rage lately.  This one was excellent if a little sweet for me.  Very cold, creamy and lots of coffee flavour.

espresso martini $12

Mr P.'s drink of choice $4.90 

And then I chose crab salad.  Well, who wouldn't?  I enjoyed this fresh and zingy dish. Thankfully the green leaves as per the menu were lettuce (cos or butter?) rather than the ghastly weeds you mostly get these days.  (Join my sister and me in the anti-rocket and other bitter weeds movement.)  This salad had radish and fennel, sandcrab and avocado.  Delightfully fresh, with some actual crab in it, not just a shred or two.  I felt very virtuous eating this rather than a stodgy burger.

crab salad $29

And speaking of burgers, Mr P. had the 5B vegan version, filled with a housemade black bean, quinoa and corn patty.  Hubby said it needed a sauce (a common refrain of his), and that the patty was a bit bland and needed some spice.  Other than that, he enjoyed it.    

5B vegan burger $13

look inside the burger- lots of salsa but sadly no sauce or dressing  

ale battered onion rings with chipotle mayo $8  

Thank heavens these onion rings did not have sweet batter.  It was  a thin and non-sweet coating on the onion rings with a spicy chipotle sauce.  Mr P. and I wolfed these down.  The rustic fries were thin and crispy with a choice of mustard or ketchup.  You pay $7 for the large size, but regular ($5) did us fine.

rustic fries $5 regular size

I had a glass of Bridgewater Mill sparkling wine $10 during the meal.  Yep I was getting tiddly by then.  There is lots to recommend this place: lively atmosphere, friendly staff, quick service. You can dine in or take away; you have a choice of burgers, tacos and salads as well as slightly unusual items like American BBQ - pork back ribs, beef brisket and short ribs. There is beer on tap, plus cocktails, cider and bottled beers.

interior with New York-style decor   

You can choose sirloin or snapper; a Reuben or a Cuban sandwich; and for something different try bourbon buttered corn on the cob. Don't forget the desserts like key lime pie and choc brownie icecream stack.  There is interior and exterior eating areas plus a side courtyard.  All in all, a pleasant evening with the usual suspects (food and company), with some interesting, quirky items to get you excited.  And yes, it is named after the 5 Boroughs of New York - hubby and I knew 4. We had no idea that Staten Island was one of them.:=) 

120 Racecourse Rd., Ascot QLD 4007
Ph: 07 3268 7400
Open 7 days a week

5 Boroughs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday 20 January 2017

Israeli Cherry Soup - AKA Marak Dhudevanim

I love cherries!  That glorious deep purple colour, the sweet juice, the short season of only 100 days in a year.  (Only buy local, folks.) Magical and wonderful.  Of course there are other sorts of cherries - Rainier is a wonderful variety with red and yellow skin and a sweet cherry tang.  I first encountered Rainiers at our friends' house in Hobart, where they grew along with other types on one grafted tree.  Some summers they get one sort, the next they pick another variety - on the same tree.  See, I told you cherries are magical.

If you know any Tasmanians, you will know that Summer is an incredibly busy time for them, as they harvest and preserve the many wonders in their gardens.  Hubby and I keep saying that they are a special breed these southern kin; full of arcane skills and knowledge:=)  And usually multi-talented, as they happily mountain-climb, play music, bake, hike trails, scuba-dive, fish, write books, all while picking fruit and veg. from their organic, seaweed covered garden beds.

I have long loved The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos, from which this recipe comes.  I have made many a recipe from it, and there are still heaps for me to try.  This (obviously) is one of her Israeli recipes, which you can eat as a starter or for dessert.  I served it at the start of a summery evening meal, followed by salads and fruit.  This is a useful recipe for that cherry bounty, if you are lucky enough to have a magical tree.


1 kg. cherries, pitted

625mLs (2.5 cups) water

100g. (1/2 cup) white sugar or to taste

2-3 pieces of lemon rind (not zest)

1 piece of cinnamon bark

1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)

1 cup (250mLs) dry red wine - I used a Tasmanian pinot noir

1 tbs arrowroot, OR potato OR corn flour

2 tsp lemon juice

sour cream to serve

a few grinds of black pepper, to serve


First pit your cherries (as Mrs. Beeton might have said)

Put into a large saucepan with the water, half the sugar (50g.), the lemon rind and cinnamon bark

Bring to a gentle boil

Cover and simmer gently till soft - about 15 mins.

Scoop out the rind and cinnamon bark

Press thru a sieve or blitz in a blender - the author suggests the sieve method is best for colour and texture

Tip the cherry purée back into the saucepan

Whisk in the ginger

Stir the flour into the wine till mixed to a smooth paste

 Add to the soup, and stir constantly while it thickens over heat

Add the other 50g. of sugar if desired, plus the lemon juice

Let it cool, then place in the fridge for a few hours to chill

Serve with a dollop of sour cream


The recipe calls for half a cup of white sugar.  If you hunt up the grammage (I know, not the right word exactly), you get 211.3g. in an Aussie cup.  Though others suggest it should be 200g.  And caster sugar is 237g. per cup!  I suggest you just assume a cup of regular white sugar is 200g.

I think rice flour would do the trick here too; any very fine flour could be used

Dare I say you could use frozen cherries?  Yep I do dare.  'Cos pitting these by hand left me a purply-fingered monster

Ah, come on!  You know I blitzed it.  Who the heck has time to sieve cherries?  Not this little black duck.

gather your ingredients

tip in the sugar and add the lemon rind and cinnamon bark  

stir together and bring to the simmer  

and simmer for 15 minutes till soft    

simmered till soft; ready for blitzing 

make the winey slurry by mixing a bit of wine with the flour 

simmered and blitzed to a smooth soupy perfection  

Miss PP holding up her soup

Miss PP came for dinner, and was the hand model for the soup entree.  Mr P. said it was fabulous!  Yep not bad for a summer's night.  
I just did a bit more research on this soup, and discovered it is a very popular Hungarian dish.  Perhaps carried to Israel by European migrants?

my cherry doodle

Monday 16 January 2017

A - Z Guidebook: Townsville Queensland

torso in Townsville QLD

Last July we headed up to Townsville in Far North Queensland for our niece's wedding. We were pleasantly surprised by the café scene, the Art Gallery and bookstores.  As we wandered around one sunny day, we came across this window.  This delightful silvery gal was I believe advertising a sex shop which was beside a lawyers' office.  Hubby and I had a bit of a laugh about that.  Oh, did I mention there was even some hipster rudeness in the cafés? Hilarious fun!

Join in with Tiffin Fiona at Bite-Sized Food Adventures in a monthly show-and-tell of travel adventures.  Show off yours too:=) Just like this gal.  I think that's my head you can see reflected in her nether regions.  

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Thursday 12 January 2017

Chicken And Couscous Salad

Happy New Year, folks!  Hope you had a fabulous festive season.  I caught a ghastly bug on Christmas Eve, can you believe?  So Christmas Day meant hallucinating in 38C heat at my cousin's, while the rest of the family enjoyed a huge lunch and a swim at the beach.  Ever tried to find a chemist open on Boxing Day at the seaside?

We had this salad twice over the Xmas break; my niece asked me for the recipe immediately.  Her brother texted me while we were in Melbourne to ask for my Dutch potato salad recipe, and hubby's sister texted for my berry semi-freddo recipe.  Phew! Just as well I had blogged them, so I was able to direct them to my posts.  Oh, and a friend asked for my guacamole recipe this week (thanks Sophie Dahl).  Happy to be the recipe repository for the family:=)

gather the ingredients


300g. couscous

260mls boiling water

1 tsp sea salt 

zest and juice of 1 lemon or lime

1 whole BBQ chicken, skin off, meat chopped into bite sized pieces

3 of the spring onions that have big bulbs - not sure of the name - thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves - more or less as you prefer - finely sliced

1/3 cup mint leaves or parsley or chives - use your fave herb - finely chopped

2-3 radishes, thinly sliced

3-4 tbs currants and/or barberries

100g. fetta, diced 

a handful of brazil nuts or your fave nuts, chopped

3-4 tbs olive oil - I used lime pressed olive oil

2-3 tbs vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


Place the couscous in a large bowl or a large Pyrex jug

Add the boiling water, salt, lemon zest and juice, and stir well

Put aside for 5 minutes covered

After 5 mins, give it a good stir with a fork to fluff it up

If you used a Pyrex jug for the couscous, at this point tip it into a large bowl for mixing

Add all the other ingredients and toss really well till combined


Use whatever herbs and nuts you fancy.  Try French shallots or normal spring onions if you like.  Splash with a flavoured vinegar for extra tang - I used raspberry vinegar  

The original recipe came from a magazine - Cuisine perhaps? - but I have adapted to our tastes and added extra ingredients and flavourings

salt and lemon zest/juice go into the couscous bowl 

fluff up the couscous with a fork 

ready for mixing

and mix!

looks a bit murky but tastes delicious 

my herby doodle

Sunday 8 January 2017

My Sunday Photo - 8 January 2017

Buddhist Temple in Melbourne Australia 

On our recent trip to Melbourne for Christmas, we came upon 4 temples all within a few kilometres of each other.  This one looks like the palace in the Forbidden City Beijing we thought.  Perhaps on a smaller scale, but still imposing and magnificent.  I think this statue is of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.  There were food offerings at the base of the various statues - bananas, bread and so on.  It was quite stunning to see in a Melbourne suburb.