Tuesday 26 September 2017

Baked Cauliflower & Pepper Berry Soup - The Nordic/Aussie Way

When did cauliflower become a bank robber-only food item?  (I'm hunting up my balaclava as we speak.)  Yep, when the hipsters started slicing and roasting it so it became a "steak", or turning it into cauliflower rice.  Perhaps I was an odd child, but I always loved cauli and cabbage and brussels sprouts - yep the whole brassica family suits me just fine. But as a non-brassica-loving friend once said: "I don't care if they're the Addams Family; I hate 'em all!"  Ah, poor deluded gal...

I bought a couple of Nordic cookbooks recently, which both have a recipe for cauliflower soup.  One calls for steaming the cauli in a steam oven if you have one, then pushing it thru a sieve, and then blending it for 10 minutes, every so often turning the motor off to cool down!  Phew! Yep, you're right; I'm not making that one.  I've adapted a recipe from Simon Bajada's book The New Nordic. He's an Aussie chef/food photographer who moved to Sweden with his Swedish wife a few years ago. 

soup, glorious soup


6 Tasmanian mountain pepper berries or 5 juniper berries

1 tbs sea salt flakes (plus a pinch of smoked salt if you have it)

2 tbs (40 mLs) vegetable oil; he says rapeseed, I say olive 

800g. of cauliflower (near enough), trimmed of leaves and stems

3 cloves of garlic in their skins

800 mLs chicken stock

2 tbs toasted almond meal (optional)

100g. crème fraiche or sour cream (optional)

half a dozen grinds of white pepper

a sprinkle of smoked salt (optional)

to serve:  chopped hard-boiled eggs/snipped chives/diced bacon (optional)


Grind the berries and salt in a mortar and pestle

Add the oil to the mortar and mix together

Throw the cauliflower which you have broken up into florets or large chunks (doesn't matter which as long as they are about the same size) into a large bowl, tip in the oil mix and toss well

Place the cauli on a lined baking tray along with the 3 garlic cloves still in their skins 

Bake at 200C for 20 mins., give it a toss and place back in the oven for 10 mins still at 200C

Now turn the oven down to 180C and bake for another 10 mins = 40 mins all up cooking time

If using the almond meal, turn the oven down to 170C and toast the meal for 5-6 mins

Grab your tongs and put the roasted cauli into a large saucepan

Add the garlic that you squish out between your fingers straight into the pan

Heat the stock till gently simmering and add half to the pan

Blitz with a stick blender/wand - carefully 'cos it may splash 

Now pour in the rest of the stock, add the almond meal and a big knob of butter (about 1 tbs)

Whiz it all up, and add some pepper

Serve with hard boiled eggs, sour cream, chives, bacon if using and more pepper if liked


I bought 1 large whole cauliflower, which was just over a kilo (2.2 lbs). Once trimmed, there was a teeny bit over 800 grams of florets

The recipe calls for 50 grams of brown butter to be added just before serving.  Yes, you could do this; plenty of recipes on the Net, but I chose to add some smoked salt, toasted almond meal and 1 tbs of butter instead

Take note folks: this is a very thick soup, so you may want to add more stock or water or a bit of milk to thin it down

ingredients gleaming in the sun

about to bake the cauli and garlic @ 200C  

golden and toasty

into the saucepan for blitzing with the stock

get blending the cauli with the stock

toast the almond meal

garnish with boiled egg, chives and sour cream (yep that's my foot)

Well, this was interesting and different.  As Mr P. said, it just wouldn't have had much flavour without the garlic.  I'm glad I strayed from the recipe. I am still shuddering when I think about the other recipe book which used steamed and sieved cauli, without any herbs or spices or flavourings except salt and pepper.  Eek!   

my cauli doodle  

Thursday 21 September 2017

Travels Around Queensland - Hervey Bay And Environs

As regular readers will know, Mr P. and I headed north a while ago to help celebrate his uncle's 80th.  We tend to head south for breaks as we both like the cold, so this was a bit unusual for us.  I have put up a few photos of our trip on other posts, but I thought I would add a quick travelogue to show off what we found.

Ceratodus (Lungfish) by John Distler Olsen

This is a fabulous sculpture down by the river in Bundaberg, near the motel we stayed at.  The Latin name is Ceratodus. Apparently, they have been around for 380 million years, and Queensland has one of only 6 remaining species in the world.

sugar cane train

This was taken from our car, as we drove by.  There were seemingly endless wagons going by, filled with newly-harvested sugar cane.  The harvest period is from May to November, and you will see the trains go by up to 15 times a day.

sugar mill at Bundaberg - kinda spooky at night  

Looks like they keep the Milliquin mill going 24/7 during harvesting season. A bit of a steampunk atmosphere there, don't you think?  And that's steam coming out of the chimneys, not smoke.  It creates surplus electricity which goes back into the grid.

just a few things to watch out for when swimming in QLD waters

Phew, at least it wasn't stinger season when we were there:=)  And no sharks on this sign, unlike the one down in the Northern Rivers area when we were there on the weekend.

Sea Crab sculpture by Chris Trotter 

This was on the reverse side of an artwork also by Chris Trotter called White's Seahorse.  There is a similar piece close to our house in Brisbane, so we were interested to see this one in Tannum Sands.

octopus bike rack outside Hervey Bay Regional Gallery

Art by Stainless steel artist Chris Calcutt, who did several other artworks around the Hervey Bay area.  I even bought a very small whale sculpture of his at the Gallery shop.  Such clever stuff.

sea turtle

I didn't get the artist's name - oops!  I love the colours of this beautiful public artwork outside the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery.

of course cake!

doughnut and cannoli

And of course there had to be cakes.  Mr P. had 2 as you can see. My Black Forest cake was a bit dried out sadly.  Hubby scoffed his down so I don't know what they were like.  These were from Santini's in Torquay, which also runs a pizza place next door.

look at all those electric jugs!

I had to show this one again.  These are full-sized, old-fashioned electric jugs just like mum used to have:=)  They are on every step and on the little balcony.  This small, art deco house sits all by itself on the Esplanade.  Wonder how long before the developers whack a hotel or units on the block?

looking out over the Bay from Urangan Pier 

Such a shame we were too early for the whales that come right into the bay each winter.  Next year for sure.

not too early for the pelicans tho

another piece by Chris Calcutt

A mackerel as you can see.  There are a few fish scattered around the lawns, sculpted in stainless steel.

my fave!

I had to end with this one!  An absolutely stunning artwork by Chris Calcutt (I think) and others, standing at the front of the Gallery.  It had just been polished for the first time since being installed in 2012, so it was shining and gleaming in the winter sun.

We had a lovely couple of days here; and hope to return next winter when the whales are swimming by.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Mum's Bran Loaf

Mum used to make this many moons ago when we were kids. Sounds a bit blah but it's a healthy, vegan loaf that tastes pretty good.  Mum of course didn't worry about vegan options - come on, meat and 3 veg all the way! - but this loaf is easily made vegan with the use of almond milk, as I do here.  

a bit of loaf with my butter :=)


1 cup bran - I used All bran cereal

1 cup sultanas or mixed dried fruit of your choice - I used sultanas, currants, cranberries and mixed peel

1½-2 tsp ground ginger

1-1½ tsp ground mace

1/2-1 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 cup of sugar - I used mostly raw sugar with a bit of vanilla caster sugar to top it off

1¼ cups of milk - I used almond but use whatever milk you fancy - cow's, macadamia, whatever

1½ cups of self-raising flour

a handful of walnuts (optional)


Place the bran, the fruit, the spices, the sugar, and milk in a large mixing bowl

Give it a good stir and leave for 2 hours covered with a cloth, or as mum said, stand 2 hours

Grease your loaf tin liberally with butter (or get hubby to do it)

Sift the flour into the bran and fruit mixture

Stir very well and spoon into the loaf tin

Throw the walnuts (if using) on the top

Bake at 180C for 1 hour or till a skewer in the middle comes out clean - check it after 50 mins.

If your nuts are starting to burn, whack some alfoil over the top in the last 30 mins.

Let it cool in the tin for a few minutes then put onto a wire rack 

Spread slices liberally with butter


I don't often use cup measurements (so imprecise) but as I am using mum's handwritten recipe, I will go along with her instructions.  As long as you use the same cup for each of the ingredients, all will be well

I am chuckling to myself here re the bran.  I had it in mind that mum always used All Bran cereal in this recipe but I am starting to wonder? Was it in fact just regular, normal bran?  Don't know; and All Bran is what's in the pantry.  (I texted my sister; she said yes mum used All Bran)

mum's handwritten recipe

As you can see, mum was pretty sparing with the details of this recipe.  I guess like many family cooks and cookery writers assumed, you would just know this cooking stuff.

ingredients gathered -  as Harry Potter might say 

ready for mixing

before and after 2 hours' standing

sift in the self-raising flour

before and after baking for an hour @ 180C

resting before devouring

yep slather it with butter

This must have been a wonderfully cheap loaf to bake for a big family. No worries about eggs or butter either.  These are the kinds of ingredients that would always be in the pantry.  Thanks mum!

my mace doodle 

Monday 11 September 2017

Coast Hervey Bay - Restaurant Review

On our recent trip up north, we decided to take a couple of nights R&R at Hervey Bay, on the Fraser Coast.  Sadly we were a little early for the whale migration, and the dolphins were staying out of sight too.  But there was plenty to see, and plenty to eat.  We went for a pre-dinner drink at Coast, but then couldn't drag ourselves away so stayed for dinner too. 

looking in, 'cos we were sitting outside 

I started off with a rhubarb and rose Bellini, which was fabulous. Fruity and pretty and refreshing.  In fact, it was so good I had 2. Made up of rhubarb and rose petal purée, topped up with prosecco.

Bellini $13

cider $10

Mr P. had a cider, one of his faves.  I find it very sweet, but yes delicious. Since we were walking back to our hotel, he could indulge for once in something alcoholic.

house-baked bread $8

For our pre-dinner nibbles, we had house-baked bread with cultured butter and smoked salt.  This was so good.  I am a huge fan of smoked salt, so this was a winner for me.  Mr P. loved it too. But I wanted way more butter! :=)  It was a very teeny bowl with only a wee bit of butter.  I bet I could have asked for more.  The staff were very obliging in every way.

triple cooked fat chips $10

Mm, yes okay, we had chips too.  Triple cooked with rosemary aioli. Yep, nice and thick-cut and tasty.  They were very big; firm and tender if you get what I mean.  (I hate soggy chips).  These were just right.  

pear and rocket salad $11

So here's the healthy side dish: pear, rocket, candied walnuts and parmesan salad.  Also delicious.  Such a fab combination at any time. The walnuts were really fresh and crunchy; we both loved them.  And even my nemesis - rocket - was okay.  I just have this thing about weeds:=)  Sorry folks.  

zucchini textures $20

The zucchini was interesting.  Some of it was battered and stuffed as you can see.  There were also grilled chunks of it, and lots of dill scattered over.  I think it was stuffed with lemon and ricotta; also a great combo.

beef cheek $32

We had ordered beef cheek, but they mistakenly brought out beef short ribs instead.  They very kindly gave us a complimentary side order of cauliflower with almond cream while we waited for the beef cheek to arrive.  (Normally $12).  

And look at that gorgeous plate on which the cheek is reclining.  So delightful.  The beef cheek was very tender, and so full of flavour. It came with gremolata and smoked cauliflower.  Oh, and don't forget the onion ring on top.  I think it looked a tad odd up there, but it tasted like a battered onion ring, which can only be a good thing.

cauliflower with almond cream $12

This dish was very rich and creamy.  We were sooo full after all our starters, sides and tasting plates.  This just about did us in, but in a good way.

The staff were fabulous, efficient and friendly.  As we were sitting outside, and the sun was going down, they asked if we wanted to come in to the warmth.  We are tough old coots so stuck it out in the great outdoors.  Who could resist that sunset?  What a wonderful, flavoursome, enjoyable dinner we had.  If only we lived closer!

glorious sunset over Hervey Bay 

469 Esplanade, Hervey Bay QLD 4655
Ph: 07 4125 5454

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

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Cumquat Marmalade - or is that Jam or Kumquat?

Odd just how many spellings of this fruit - also known as calamondin - are buzzing around the blogosphere.  And do we call it jam or marmalade?  I give up folks!  Let's just make it and eat it 'cos it's delicious.  I was very lucky to receive a bagful of home grown fruit from our English mates, who have a garden full of herbs and veg., and fruit of course.

These were the most exquisite, glowing orange globes; all soft and pretty.  Just crying out to be used in a conserve.  I had made cumquat jam years ago that took forever to make as you had to finely slice the fruit into teeny tiny pieces before boiling up with sugar.  Nup, I wasn't doing that again so I found an easy peasy recipe on the Net from the website EssentialKids.  So here is my version of that; clearly not for kids with the gin:=)

glorious glowing globes


1 kg. cumquats

5 cups water

2 (40 mLs) tbs lemon juice

5 cups of sugar - I used raw and white

1/4-1/2 cup of gin or vodka


Cut the fruit into quarters and place in a large (non-metallic) bowl

Cover the fruit with the cold water; cover the bowl with a cloth or cling film and leave to soak overnight

Next day, tip it all into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan

Stir in the lemon juice and bring it to a boil

Turn down the heat till it is just simmering and let it go for 30 minutes

Now that the fruit is soft, tip in the sugar and stir till dissolved

Bring it all to a boil and let it rip on high heat without stirring for 20-30 minutes

To test if ready, spoon a wee amount onto a cold saucer (i.e. one you have placed in the freezer for a few minutes) and whack it back into the freezer for a couple of minutes

Take it out, run your finger thru it, and if it stays apart, and appears a bit thick, it is ready

If not, keep boiling for a few more minutes till the freezer test tells you it is done

Stir in the gin or vodka

Let it rest for 10 minutes; take out any obvious pips (and the muslin bag of pips if doing that step) and bottle it in clean, hot, sterilised jars - if your jars are cold, the jam will probably crack them

I keep the jars of jam in our second fridge, but they will last in the pantry for many months too


5 cups of sugar equals c. 1050 grams; I used about 650g. raw sugar and 400g. white sugar

I didn't worry about the pips.  Any that came out when I quartered the fruit were scooped up into a little muslin bag which I threw into the pan when making the jam.  I spooned out any obvious ones when the jam was all finished boiling up, and just left the rest to be put in the jars with the jam.  Spit them out when you eat it folks! Warn your guests of course

Jars can be left to soak in hot, soapy water then shoved into a 150C oven for 20 minutes while you cook the jam

quartering the fruit

in the pan ready for jamming, after soaking for at least 12 hours 

I love my 9 litre Mad Millie preserving pan.  Perfect for making jams and chutneys.  You can use any large pot of course, but this one stays cool to the touch for ages.  If you are going to make a lot of preserves, I recommend getting a large pan like this.  (Not being paid to say this folks.  I just love it a lot.)

beautiful purple gin made with butterfly pea flowers  

This gin is so pretty.  And it turns a lovely pink when you add tonic, BTW.  Add 1/4 cup to the jam, or if you want it a bit more boozy, add half a cup.   

so what if there are some pips? :=)

Well, this was a hit with Mr P. and me!  And I'm not usually a huge jam fan.  This is an incredibly easy recipe compared to other jams I have made, so give it a go.  So nice to use organic, home grown fruit if you can get it.

thick golden chunky jam/marmalade 

my cumquat doodle