Monday 23 April 2018

E'cco Bistro - Review

It was hubby's big birthday last week.  I mean big - I mean, how the heck am I married to this old dude?:=)  Clearly, he deserved a big treat for hanging around so long, and surviving the fatal diagnosis he got from doctors years ago.  So we headed to E'cco, a Brisbane institution, which has just moved to a new location in trendy Newstead.  Foolishly, and I admit this is my fault not theirs, we went to lunch rather than dinner.  I should have known better!  Lunch is full of businessmen doing deals, and showing off their big ... well, you get the picture.

I shall get the whinges out of the way first.  The waiter, nice lad though I'm sure he is, managed to drive me just that little bit crazy.  Did he really feel it necessary to explain what a jowl was, even though I said we had no questions about the menu?  Did he have to tell us how the menu was divided up into various sizes and prices?  And what about the noise level?  Mr P. being the sensible designer that he is, checked the decibel level, which was way over the comfort zone for humans.  Just imagine the noise at dinner, when the restaurant is full!  Those poor chefs and waitstaff will be deaf by the time they're 40.   

reflections in the glass

A fairly minimalist entrance, which surprised me a bit.  Not sure what I was expecting.  Or perhaps I should call it lean and sophisticated?  

Tasmanian sparkling water $10

Some lovely Tassie water from the windswept cliffs of north-west Tasmania.  Cape Grim is also where cattle are grown to become beef.  Tassie - how we adore you:=)  

sourdough bread with French butter $8
This was deliciously tasty bread, as was the butter.  I think there were half a dozen pieces of bread, so not a bad deal for the money.

ginger ale or ginger beer? $4

Mr P. ordered ginger beer, but the receipt said ginger ale.  Whatever it was, hubby really enjoyed the strong gingery taste.

oysters $5 each - with fermented chilli mignonette

The waiter seemed to query my order of 3 oysters; not sure why.  I told him that hubby doesn't eat them, (true fact)  just to assuage his disquiet.  He came by later to ask which sort of oyster I wanted.  As it was so darn hard to hear him, I went along with his suggestion for the Clair de Lune (?) ones.  I love oysters, and these were fresh and briny and plump.  The spicy condiment went very well with them.  

Brussels sprouts $18

Mr P. chose the sprouts for his entrée, though it was more of a side dish really.  Hard to tell when the menu isn't entirely clear as to what is what.  (Sorry folks, sounds like I am whingeing again.)  These were very crispy.  I do like a crispy veg., but these were erring perhaps just a little too much.  Otherwise, they were very tasty with a soft egg and fried onion on top.

see the sous-chef/underling straining his cabbage?:) 

I think this fellow was a wee bit unhappy straining his cabbage.  But I had a lot of fun watching him.  It got quite heated after a while, when he started to toss it into plastic bags bare-handed, with the strength of ten men:=)

duck breast $42   (sorry, slightly off-putting photo of the sauce)

The duck was superb; tender and mouthwatering.  And the walnut tarator was really a wonder; full of flavour and went so well with the duck.  The crunchy walnuts and the sublime fig were delightful with the soft meat.  But I could happily have lived without the greenery.  Okay, I am about to whinge again so jump ahead if it offends you - 2 small strips of breast?  Really?  Truth to tell, I was still hungry after this.  And the waiter had suggested sharing.  Sharing?  I felt there was a bit of cynicism here; charging a substantial amount for such a tiny amount of food.  I understand the huge costs that restaurants face, but!   

pastrami brisket with fennel $38 

Mr P. on the other hand, chose a nice chunk of brisket.  This was reminiscent of beef cheek; nicely shredded, tender meat with a creamy fennel accompaniment.  I enjoyed my wee taste of this dish, and hubby was happy with it too.  He was satisfied with the quantity, and loved the taste and texture.

chocolate marquise $17

Chocolate marquise with caramelised white chocolate and pecans was our last dish of the day.  This was so delicious.  A crunchy little crumble and a few colourful leaves decorated the plate.  I kindly gave Mr P. a few bites.  This was a mousse-y, light but rich chocolate delight.


forgot this!

We had finished lunch, and got up to pay when the waiter came rushing by to tell us he had a surprise for us.  Et voilà - this cute plate with 3 sweet little macarons.  A thoughtful gesture for Mr P.'s big day.

All up, we had a pleasant lunch with some fantastic dishes.  Love the open kitchen; enjoyed watching the chefs do their thing.  But -  there is a but: neither myself nor hubby can quite define what we found troublesome here.  There just seemed to be a general lack of warmth and joie de vivre.  Service was fine, timing was fine, and the meal was superb for the most part, but ...  The words perfunctory and mechanical come to mind.  I will leave it to you, dear fellow diners to find out for yourselves.

63 Skyring Tce., Newstead 
Ph: 07 3831 8344

E'cco Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday 15 April 2018

Chicken Pot Pie - Or Hotdish Or Casserole?

I know what a pot pie is, but I'm not very sure about hotdish.  I'm pretty sure it's like a casserole, made with whatever you have hanging around in the freezer and/or pantry.  It's a Midwest USA dish, where I guess fresh produce isn't always available in the depths of winter?  Or maybe they just like the convenience of it.  This recipe was inspired by one for Chicken Pot Tot Hotdish in Molly Yeh's book Molly on the Range

Lovely IMK'er friend Mae from Mae's Food Blog sent me a link which tells us all about hotdish.  Check out the comments on my previous post (for potato friands) for the link.  The article even cites Molly Yeh as the expert on hotdish.  The funny thing is she is a transplant from Chicago and New York - Molly Yeh I mean.  And what a woman: a musician, cook, blogger, author, you name it.  And Mae is pretty damn fine too:=).    

ready for its potato topping

Recipe adapted by Sherry's Pickings:

Serves 6:


800g. chicken breast, diced

3 tbs butter

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, diced into bite-sized pieces

1 large stick of celery, finely chopped

a pinch of salt

5 level tbs plain flour - (I used an American spoon here btw)

3 cups (750 mLs) milk - I used normal and soy milk

1 cup (250 mLs) chicken stock OR use 1 cup of the chicken poaching water with 2 tsp of chicken stock powder

2 tsp grain mustard

black pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp dried herb(s) of your choice

2-3 tsp parsley paste or 2 tbs fresh, chopped parsley

1 cup (150g.) frozen peas, thawed in boiling water

either lots of frozen Potato Gems/Tater Tots to cover the dish perfectly OR use my potato friands that I posted previously - you know which one I prefer


Place the diced chicken in a medium saucepan and pour boiling water over.  Bring back to the boil and let it simmer gently for a couple of minutes till it turns opaque

Strain through a colander (but KEEP the water if you want to use that as your cup of stock), and put the chicken aside

Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat, and tip in the chopped veg. - onion, carrot, celery

Add the salt and cook away on a low heat for about 10 mins., stirring now and then till the veg. is getting tender

Sprinkle the flour evenly over the veg. and stir in

Cook out the flour for a few minutes

Now add half the milk and stir till it starts to thicken

Then add the other half of the milk and keep stirring

In goes the stock - and keep stirring 

Add the mustard, pepper and herbs

Stir in the peas and chicken

Check the seasoning

Pour the smooth and creamy chicken mixture into a large oval or rectangular baking dish, deep enough to hold the potatoes too

Cover it with the friands (or Gems/Tots)

Bake for about 25 mins. at 200C/400F till golden and bubbling


Either buy chicken breasts, and poach them, then dice OR buy diced breasts like I did.  Yep cheeky but so easy and quick:=)

My enamel roasting dish is a 30 cm. (12 in) one - FYI

gather some ingredients 

(I did use grain mustard not mustard powder, shown here.)

fry your beautifully chopped veg. in butter

Get hubby to chop the carrots, like I did:=)  Mr P. is sooo useful. 

stir in the flour

see, getting thicker

smooth and creamy

here I am slicing my friands in half, lengthwise  

and covering the pot pie with them

and now to eat

my red potato and green pea doodle

Sunday 8 April 2018

Potato Friands

I know it sounds a bit whacky, 'cos they are sweet little treats normally.  But these are my savoury vegetable version.  It all started with a recipe that I found in Molly Yeh's book Molly on the Range, for tater tot hotdish.  Here in Oz we call them potato gems, but you know what I mean - grated potato turned into bite-sized morsels which are fried (usually) or baked.  Apparently hotdish (huh?) is a traditional main course in the Upper Mid-West of the US, which is often covered with a tater tot (potato gem) blanket.  I guess it's like shepherd's pie or a pot pie, where we would smother it in mashed potato or a layer of puff pastry :=) 

I didn't like the idea of covering a casserole in oily, over-salted frozen gems so I made my own version instead.  I have a thing about frying, so they were always going to be baked.  (If frying is ever necessary, that is Mr P.'s job.)  Thinking of a cute shape to bake them in, I came across my friand tin - et voilà.  Here we have savoury, delicious mouthfuls that can be served as a side or as a topping for your favourite casserole/hotdish.  (Keep an eye out for my next post, where I use these as a topping on a chicken pot pie/casserole/hotdish.)

tasty little treats

Recipe by Sherry's Pickings:


600g. (1.32 lb) red potatoes

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 level tbs plain flour

1 tsp sea salt

black pepper to taste

1 tsp mustard powder

2 tsp lightly dried parsley or 1-2 tbs fresh, chopped parsley

1.5 tbs (30g.) butter, melted


Coarsely grate the raw, unpeeled potatoes - I used a food processor, but you could use a box grater if you want to build up some upper arm muscles

Tip them into a microwave safe bowl, cover and zap on high for 3 minutes - they will still be a bit crunchy

Place them into a large mixing bowl

Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the butter

Grab a 12-hole friand tin and butter the holes generously, all up the sides too - sticking to the bottom is not an option:=)

Now this is where you decide if you want chunky friands as a side dish or thin, elegant ones that will go on top of a pot pie, for example

So either bake 12 chunky friands at 220C on a high shelf for about 15 mins. or till golden, OR divvy up the mixture and bake 24 slender, elegant ones for about 10 mins.  Obviously you would need to take the first lot out, then re-butter the holes and bake the second lot.  Or you may have 2 friand tins, lucky you!  I baked 'em chunky.


FYI - I weighed out one tbs of flour = 12 grams, so 3 tbs = 36 g.  So 3-4 US tablespoons would be fine, as they are smaller than Aussie ones.

ingredients gathered

ready for stirring

pack the mixture firmly into each of the holes 

ready for eating after 15 mins. @ 220C

feeling hungry?

my potato doodle

Sunday 1 April 2018

In My KItchen - April 2018

Do I even bother to say it?  Yes I will.  How the heck did it get to be April already?  And Easter, and soon to be hubby's big birthday...  What do you get the bloke who says he wants nothing for his birthday?  And no party, and no shenanigans.  Mm, we shall see.  At least if I do arrange something, I know he will be oblivious to it.  

I remember a number of years ago, I organised a surprise dinner for him with about a dozen friends at an Indian restaurant.  I had to pretend to ring up and book the restaurant while he was in the room, as though it were a sudden decision.  He didn't have a clue.  AND, we were away that weekend camping, and I had to hurry him along to get back in time, as we were a couple of hours away from home.  I guess there are some benefits to being married to a very literal-minded fellow:=)

my old-time phone doodle

And now onto In My Kitchen this month.  This is just a gentle reminder folks - please let me know if you've done an IMK post.  I often find myself dawdling happily through your lovely blogs, only to see you have done a post, but forgotten to tell me or add the link.  (Sorry Shari, not having a go at you).  The link now goes till 3 pm on the 11th of each month, as I want to give overseas bloggers till their 10th day.  Oh, and I am fine with adding your link myself; please just let me know.   

In my kitchen:

more goodies from Tasmania

On our recent Tassie trip, we visited an antiques shop where I got the bone-handled cake knife.  And I bought this lovely wooden spoon at Salamanca market.  They have such gorgeous woods down there; this is a beautiful sassafras wood stirrer/spatula.

cute little EVOO bottle

I do love Italian olive oil, though I usually only buy Australian - you know, the whole local and regional thing.  But this little bottle was irresistible!  And the jars come in terracotta and yellow too.  I confessed to Mr P. that I might have to buy them all.

lovely charcoal grey cup

On our trip to Ballina last week, we visited our potter mate Miss B. from Red Door Studio, and I came home with this little grey beauty.  Isn't she a clever little sausage?  

love this gourmet salt

This is a tasty mix of salt and pepper and herbs, all made down in Byron Bay, where the hippies reign supreme.  Well, they did till the Hollywood set moved in again.  So now we have Hollywood hippies!?

oh boy, another cookbook

I'd heard of this blogger and seen her book in the online stores, but had never really checked her out, till the other day.  She is an interesting mix of Jewish and Chinese; married to a Mid-West beet farmer, and now lives out in the (U.S.) sticks.  She even has to make her own takeaways (poor wee thing), as they are not near shops.  I've made the doughnuts so far (in my previous post), and look forward to trying out a few of her other recipes.

yep, self-explanatory:) 

Who could pass up a taste of these delicious looking berries?  Healthy, see?  Fruit!  As you can see on the label, they're handmade in Tasmania.  They didn't even get to come home with us, 'cos we ate them that very day.  And who is that spooky man in the background?  Honestly, I hadn't seen him before in the photo, and there was nobody there.  Ghosts?!

and another tea-towel

This gorgeous tea-towel is from New Zealand, a gift from a friend.  Aren't the colours wonderful?  I do love a useful present.

some Japanese goodies

Our mate Princess Pia has just come back from a quick cherry blossom tour of Japan, and brought back these cute little numbers.  I think there's a bit of strawberry in there somewhere, and who knows what else?

our gorgeous new, 4-door fridge!!

At last, we have a new fridge.  Some readers may have seen on social media that our old fridge died a sudden and very smelly death.  The smell was horrendous!  And we had to throw out nearly everything.  All the produce that I had just bought; anything porous, and just anything that smelled.  Paper labels literally fell of the jars and bottles!  And they assured us that the gas wasn't harmful to us, only to the atmosphere.  Geez, really reassuring.

Once again, I have more stuff to show, but I won't delight you with that till next month.  Looking forward to seeing you all here.  And hope you had/are having a great Easter break.

Here are the options again re. adding your post:

1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found on the sidebar of this page, under Add your IMK link
2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to the linky list below
3. Email me:, with your link or any queries about the link process


    An InLinkz Link-up

Sherrys Pickings