Thursday 27 July 2017

Cloudland, Costumes And Crazies

Cloudland is a venue with function rooms, bars, bands and a restaurant. It is a really interesting space with a roof that opens up to the sky.  It has a bit of a 1920's vibe going, with lots of spectacular lights, chandeliers, sumptuous couches and a water wall.  It is situated in The Valley, which was once home to prostitutes, homeless persons, crooked cops and drug dealers.  I have a feeling there are still a few of all of those around if you look hard enough.

looking up

The Valley is great if you are under 25, and looking for some fun. We felt like fish out of water as we walked up to the venue for the awards night we were attending.  (Mr P. was up for some building design awards). But that may also have been because we were dressed in 1920's gear.

Mr P. doing his gangsta impersonation 

a motley crew :=) of gorgeous friends 

the menu

I am not a fussy eater, people!  Honestly!  I will eat just about anything presented to me; I have even eaten tripe, and chicken hearts, and veal when I was vegetarian.  But sadly I went home hungry this night.  I would have to say this meal was one of the worst I've (not) eaten.  So, 'nuff said about that.

the lamb

the pork belly

the cute English croupier

Yes folks, there were roulette tables, and vingt-et-un, and whatever else you play at casinos.  Such fun!  I stood around just loving this fellow's accent, and expertise with the cards.

the chicken

the rib fillet 

Funny story: Mr P. is disabled and can't use a knife so I was cutting up the chicken for him.  The waiter very kindly noticed and asked if we wanted it to be cut up for him.  Yes please!  The funny part is the chicken came back as beef.  Yes miraculously his chicken had been reborn as cow.  Oh how we laughed and we laughed...

macadamia tart

sticky toffee pudding

gorgeous lights

more gorgeous friends

looking up at the glass ceiling - tables reflected above 

It was a great night!  And why did I mention crazies?  Because going to The Valley on a Saturday night is an exercise in craziness. There are just hundreds and hundreds of barely dressed girls (in Winter!), and drunken people everywhere, all trying to get into the trendiest clubs. Now that they have introduced ID scanning, the queues are even longer. Thankfully, not my worry:=)

Cloudland - 641 Ann Street, 
Fortitude Valley
Ph: 07 3872 6600

Saturday 22 July 2017

Lemon Panna Cotta

What would your answer be if you were asked what 3 food items you would like to have on a desert island?  My answer is always - lemons, olive oil and a live chicken.  I was going to say salt, but I reckon you could make your own on an island:=)  (And I want sugar too).  Anyway, I always have lemons (and often limes) in my crisper.  It would be a cold day in Hell before you found me lemon-less.  

lemons on a friend's tree 

So this recipe of Ruth Reichl's is perfect as I had lemons, and a few limes from our friends' tree, in the fridge needing to be used and loved very soon.  Regular readers will know that I have a copy of her latest book My Kitchen Year on my shelves.  I've really enjoyed reading her stories, even though she can be a bit melodramatic at times.  I am keenly trying out some of her recipes; this is number 3. Let's see how it goes friends.   

Serves 6:


500 mLs (2 cups) cream - pure or thickened

105g. white or caster sugar

150-170 mLs of lemon juice, and 1-2 tbs lemon zest


Pour the cream into a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat

Stir the sugar in and bring to the boil, stirring the whole time

Once boiled, let it boil for 2 minutes, stirring, stirring, stirring...

Take it off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and zest

Pour into 6 ramekins and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours; I think overnight is better

This is a soft cream, so you can't unmould it like a normal panna cotta, but it is delicious.  


Ruth does not give quantities other than cups, and to tell us to use the juice and zest of 3 lemons.  Grrrr!  This gets on my goat, as they say. Big lemon, little lemon, poor dried-out husk of a lemon!?!  I measured the juice from my fruit and got around 200 mLs.  As the ubiquitous but not always useful Web tells you, the average lemon can give anything from 45 to 55 mLs.  Not helpful.  So I went for 150, then upped it to 170, 'cos we love lemon here.  The zest came to about 1 tbs, but we like more...

only 3 ingredients - gotta love that

get ready to grate those citrus  

cream and sugar on the stove about to be boiled

boil for 2 minutes, stirring all the while   

bring to the boil, then boil for 2 minutes 

golden and creamy

pour the lemony cream into 6 ramekins  

ready to eat after at least 6 hours in the fridge 

Happily, Ruth is now 3 for 3.  I have tried this one, her quiche recipe, and the ginger cake which was so good.  My quiches are always a bit hit and miss, but I am set now that I have her guiding hand.  Mr P. and I loved this lemon panna cotta, especially since it doesn't have gelatine, which we both hate - on principle, and because of the often hit-and-miss texture.  

my lemony doodle

Monday 17 July 2017

Baked Potato Rösti or Roesti

Ah, potatoes.  How did we live without you before you were brought back from the New World?  It seems that everyone adores you, in whatever form you take on our plates.  Fried, baked, mashed, in wedges or chips, or even in cakes, you have a multitude of uses.  Oh, and we can't forget your liquid form - i.e. potato vodka - the really good stuff.

For some reason, Mr P. always takes on the role of cooking rice and pasta dishes in our household.  It is also his (self-appointed) job to deal with any sort of frying.  Now that I think about it, he has made us latkes, Polish placki, chips, wedges, mashed potato... and on it goes.  So yes, all forms of potato are his forté.  You guessed it!  He did the frying up for these delicious rösti too.


1.5 kg potatoes

2 medium onions

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2-3 small red chillies, finely chopped

herbs of your choice - I used 1 tbs dried oregano and 2 tbs lightly dried parsley (or use fresh)

lots of pepper and at least 2 tsp of sea salt

olive oil - start with 1 tbs in the frypan and go from there


First grate the potatoes and onions in a food processor on a coarse blade; you will have to do this in a few batches

Tip into a large mixing bowl

Add the finely chopped garlic, chillies and herbs

Season well with salt and pepper 

Mix gently but firmly together

Put the olive oil into a large frypan and heat up

Place spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the pan, and level it out till no more than 1 cm. thick

Fry for about 6 minutes on a medium heat without stirring till you have a nice golden crust on the bottom

Flip it over and cook for another 4-5 minutes

Now transfer to a lightly oiled, shallow baking tray

Keep frying the potato in batches till it is all done; you will need to add a little more oil each time you fry up the next batch

Spread out over the tray(s) till it is about 1 cm. thick

Bake for about 25-30 minutes @ 220C till golden brown


No need to peel the spuds if they are washed

You will need 2 baking trays 

Try breaking an egg or 2 on top of the potatoes for the last 5 minutes of baking

By the time you get to the last lot of mixture for frying, there will be a lot of liquid in the bottom.  Throw it into a colander and strain it out before shallow frying

potatoes and onions gleaming in the sun  

gather your ingredients 

chop up the onions for blitzing

tip everything into a large bowl

Mr P. looking after the potato mix 

spread it out onto a lightly oiled baking tray

we broke some eggs on top and baked them for the last 5 mins. 

served with cranberry relish and chopped up turkey

I actually made this dish twice.  The first time was without the eggs and turkey.  I served it plain with tomato relish, as you can see below. The second time I got a bit creative; as I had left-over turkey, and cranberry relish from the Christmas in July dinner we had had with my sister and nephew, I added that to the plate.  It was damn fine, I tell you.  You could have all sorts of meat with it, and whatever relish you fancy.  Ah, I just remembered - I have beetroot relish in the pantry....

the first version of this dish - with tomato relish

my chilli doodle

Saturday 15 July 2017

A - Z Guidebook: Sveti Marka Church, Zagreb

Sveti Marka, Zagreb

This is St. Mark's Church in Old Zagreb, Croatia.  As you can see in this photo, when we were there they were doing some refurbs to it.  The city was being renovated for the World Student Games, and there were thousands of athletes filling up the place.  We nearly didn't get a room!  If you check out Google Earth, the Church is now bright white.  Clearly the plaster on the outside has been whitewashed in recent times.

Seeing that this is the last of the A-Z Guidebook posts, I am going to be a bit naughty and add a photo from Google Earth so you can see the difference.  I noticed that this church is now called Svetog Marka; I think the difference is that it was previously in Serbian, and now it is in Croatian. We were there when it was actually still Yugoslavia, rather than Croatia. Yes, quite some time ago!

Can you believe we are up to Z now?  I have been joining in with Fiona from Tiffin Bite-Sized Food Adventures from A to Z, literally:=)   In some ways, this time has flown, but then again, it has also been a long and interesting, jam-packed couple of years.  I am sad to see the last of the A - Z Guidebook, but I know we will all keep travelling and sharing our adventures.  Thanks to Fiona for hosting this mammoth effort.  Adios, amigos!

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Tuesday 11 July 2017

The Farm House Kedron - Review

Once upon a time there was a huge fruit and veg. shop called Farmer Joe's in our local area.  It was very popular, as it also housed a butcher, and a liquor store next door.  Sadly it was demolished in 2009 so they could whack in a new inner-northern busway.  

A new café has decided to pay homage to Farmer Joe's by naming their business The Farm House.  They like to use local and seasonal produce, and to buy from farmers and producers in the region.  It's a big industrial sort of place with outdoor areas and lots of wooden furniture.They also have flowers and herbs growing, which gives a homey, rustic feel to it.

herbs growing out the front 

a beautiful sunny day at The Farm House 

Our stomachs were rumbling one recent sunny day, so we headed out to try this new place. Service was fast and friendly and very efficient.  We were impressed! 'Cos you know how rare it is to get great service these days.  I chose the crispy cheese and potato cake with eggs, hollandaise and bacon. This one was a winner for me. The potato cake was a hearty little number (sorry the photo doesn't show more of it); the hollandaise was fresh, and the bacon was delightfully soft and tender, just the way I like it.  Eggs were poached perfectly, and the potato cake was herby and fresh.

cheese and potato cake $19.50

Mr P. is a pasta fiend so he had the breakfast gnocchi, which comes with arriabata sauce, spinach, parmesan and a poached egg.  He said the sauce had enough chilli, and the egg was perfectly nice and runny.  The gnocchi was fine, not too hard as sometimes happens in other eating places.  So yes, a big tick from him.  

Breakfast gnocchi $19.50

Hubby also loves a strawberry smoothie so he decided on this gorgeous looking thing, made with yoghurt and honey.  He said it was tasty and fruity.  And nice to have fruit on top.

strawberry honey smoothie $7.90

I know this may shock some of you but yes, I the avowed banana-hater have suddenly gone mad for banana-based drinks!  Yep, a world gone insane, I tell you.  Here I had a Javanana, which is banana, milk, espresso and honey.  And I loved it.  Lots of coffee flavour; thick and delicious.  Not sure about the crunchy beans on top though, and I don't know what the funny leaves were all about:=)  Mr P. reckons they're instead of a spoon.

Javanana $9

We decided to head here again last week for lunch, while Mr P. was having a staff-less day.  Unlike our first visit, this time it was grey and rainy so we sat on the front porch, with a lovely, warm gas heater providing a blast of heat over our heads.

This time I went for the crispy, white fish tacos with peanuts, cucumber and rice vermicelli.  I could only eat 2 of the 3 tacos, and was very pleased by the efficiency of the waiter who offered to box the last one up for me to take home.  I loved the softness of the tacos, and the crunch of the peanuts.  The lime juice gave it extra flavour, as did the nam jim chilli sauce.

crispy white fish tacos 

We shared a bowl of farmhouse chips with aioli ($8-no photo sorry). These were a bit disappointing though a generous serve. They were sadly a bit limp.  I do love me a crispy outside, and soft inside but these were a bit lacking.  I know I have a taste for strong flavours so I would've loved more garlic in the aioli.  It is sadly rare to find an aioli that is garlicky enough for me.

I went for a drink called a Strofield on this visit.  It is similar to the Javanana but has almond milk and nutmeg.  I chose to have a double shot of espresso added.  Very yum!  Just wish they'd given me a spoon too.  Hubby went for the strawberry smoothie again, and he ate the cheese and potato cake that I had last time.  He really enjoyed it too.

The current Winter menu has all-day breakfasts, with the lunch menu from 11:45am.  Can't wait to try fried turmeric cauliflower or roasted root vegetables.  

feel like cake?:)

Ph: 07 3861 1956
9 Somerset Rd.,
Kedron 4031
M-F 6.30am-4pm
S-S   7am-3pm

Farm House  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday 6 July 2017

Ginger Cake - the Ruth Reichl Way

You may remember that when Ruth Reichl was the food critic for the New York Times, she used to dress up in weird outfits and book restaurants under a false name so they didn't twig who she was.  I don't think that always worked.  But it must have been fun to do, and oh so funny to discover her disguises.  I even do it myself sometimes - the fake name thing, not the disguises.  For some reason, people can't seem to understand my name or even hubby's (he has a different surname to me).  But then I forget which name I've used, so it gets tricky.:=)

I am getting more and more dubious in my vintage years about cookbooks - aren't you? So many times the recipes don't seem to work, but let me tell you that Ruth has done herself proud.  I have made 2 dishes out of this book (I know, I know, not a huge sample), and they have both been superb.  This cake is sublime.  A must-do, folks.  It doesn't look or sound like much, but it is so deeeelicious!

try this! so delish

This recipe is from her book my kitchen year which is chock-a-block with interesting dishes.  It was written after she was made redundant at Gourmet magazine in 2009, when the whole shebang was abruptly closed down.  She retreated to her holiday home in upstate New York, and ended up writing this cookbook of "Recipes that Saved My Life."


2 large eggs

220g. white sugar

75g. brown sugar

a piece of ginger root - about 6 cm long - grated finely - to obtain 2 tbs of ginger

400g. unsweetened apple sauce

170 mLs plain vegetable oil (I used peanut) 

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g. plain flour

1.5 tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp sea salt

black pepper - a few grinds

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2-1 tsp ground ginger

For the Glaze:

250 mLs of cream - pure or thickened

75g. brown sugar

3 tsp light corn syrup or golden syrup

a pinch of  sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract


Turn your oven to 180C

Butter and flour a 3 Litre Bundt pan

The Cake:

Grab a large mixing bowl and break the eggs into it

Whisk both sugars with the eggs

Add the grated ginger and the apple sauce

Whisk in the oil and vanilla till smooth

Tip the flour into a small mixing bowl

Whisk in the bicarb, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and ground ginger

Combine the flour mix and the apple sauce mix together gently

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan

Bake for about 45 minutes till the cake bounces back when you press on the surface

Take it out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes

Then turn it out onto a wire rack and leave it cool down

The Glaze:

Grab a small saucepan and pour the cream in

Whisk in the sugar, corn syrup and salt

Bring it to the boil then lower to medium heat

Let it boil for about 15 minutes, whisking every few - watch it, it tends to boil over quickly

When it has started to become smooth and thick, take it off the heat and whisk in the vanilla

Put the cake on a serving plate and spoon the luscious glaze all over it - yes you will end up with a puddle of sauce and you will think it is way too much but believe me, you want all that glaze!

This cake tastes better and is more moist the next day, so if you can wait...

Ruth says you can carefully put the cake on a rack over baking paper so you don't end up with a mess, but who cares!


It's really hard to buy unsweetened apple sauce!  Even the one I checked carefully (so I thought) had about 10% sugar.  So my suggestion is to buy one of those big tins of apple slices, which are unsweetened and just apples, and give them a whizz with a stick blender to purée them

Ruth calls this a gingered applesauce cake with caramel glaze.  Her recipe says to use 1/2 tbs of grated ginger, but we couldn't even taste it so I upped it to 2 tbs! and added ground ginger.  Mr P. said he thought the glaze was butterscotch rather than caramel, which I'd have to agree with - delicious whatever you call it

Grate the whole knob of ginger, take out what you need and place the rest in a freezer bag.  It will last for months in the freezer

Ruth says the glaze is optional.  Nah!  It is so wonderful, you have to make it (I kept sticking my finger into the sauce and devouring it)

I had to adapt those pesky cup measures that Ruth uses (grrr); a real bugbear of mine. I also find the way she lists ingredients a tad annoying as they aren't in order of use. What's with that?

gather your ingredients

whisk the eggs, sugar, apple sauce, ginger, oil and vanilla together 

whisk the dry ingredients together 

mix the wet and the dry ingredients together  

This is like a muffin batter, where you want to mix the wet and dry together gently.  So don't beat it up, just whisk in with love.

butter and flour your Bundt pan well  

Shake out the excess flour carefully.  You don't want big globules of flour on your perfect Bundt-y beauty.

into the oven and out of the oven 

look how pretty!

the glaze is stirred every few minutes for 15 minutes 

shiny, gooey, luscious glaze drips all over your cake  

Yep, it looks like too much glaze you are thinking, but wait till you try it!  You will thank Ruth for her extravagance.  Grab your spoon now and lick it up, I tell you :=)  This cake tastes even better the next day; the first day the outer surface was a tiny bit rubbery, but it became softer and more delish the day after.  By the third day, it was still fabulous and all gone, 'cos we ate it all up.

my gingery doodle