Monday 26 November 2018

Hellenika at The Calile - Review

Hellenika has opened its doors recently in the Calile Hotel, serving up authentic Greek cuisine.  This is the Brisbane sister to Hellenika on the Gold Coast.  My food blogger buddy Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella was up in Brissie last week, so we met up for dinner here at the Calile.  I have not been to Greece for many years, so I really can't tell you if the food is currently authentic or not, but I do know it was delicious!

You can either walk up an intimidating amount of stairs to the pool level where Hellenika sits, or take the lift in the lobby.  If you're in high heels, I suggest the lift:-)  You will see a very inviting area with a pool, and cabanas where you can sit and drink, or order from the poolside menu, which has snacks and wraps for your delectation.

looking out from our table over trendy James Street 

Lorraine being an intrepid eater and reviewer led the push to try innovative dishes, rather than the usual Greek suspects.  She asked the advice of our waiter, who was hesitant to suggest dishes, but she managed to strong-arm (just kidding) another waiter-fellow who was happy to point out popular, interesting dishes on the menu.

We started off with cocktails: I had a gimlet, which is gin, elderflower, lemon and prosecco, while she had an ari onassis - similar to mine but with mastiha - a liqueur flavoured with mastic, a resin exclusively from trees on the island of Chios.  They were refreshing on a warm evening, though I think Lorraine had chosen the better one.  I was hoping for a bit more oomph in mine.

gimlet $20

ari onassis $19 


We were given a shot glass with a fish and something? soup - I didn't catch the other flavour.  For some reason, I expected it to be cold, but it was a warm and tasty little start to the meal.  I couldn't taste the fish particularly, but it got the tastebuds going in anticipation.

fetta and capsicum dip $16

This was rich and a bit oily, and came studded with chunks of fetta.  I can't say it rocked my world, but we both happily slathered the dip on the crusty bread, and chowed down.

yep you guessed it - crusty bread for the dip 

saganaki $14

This is grilled cheese with lemon; a salty, chewy treat.  It's made with kefalograviera, a sheep's milk cheese, dusted in flour and fried.  I'm not much of a cheese eater, but this was well-flavoured and tasty.  And always made better with a squeeze of lemon.

Murray River cod $100 - 500g. 

another view of the cod

Oh my, the baked Murray cod with caramelised onion was absolutely superb: tender and moist, sitting in a creamy (capsicum?) sauce, with soft, sweet onions overlaying it.  It was a mild, not overly fishy fish dish, and really moreish.  We both loved the texture and flavours of this one.  A real winner, and highly recommended by me!  And Lorraine too, I'm sure.  The flesh seemed to be boneless, apart from a few in the head.  And you can just see the eye peeking out from under the onions.  I would happily eat this every week.  Though I don't think my budget would like that:-)   

baby gem lettuce with cheese $18

This leafy green side (called Marouli) comes with kefalotiri cheese.  Neither of us made much of a dent in this one; I think because we'd already eaten well, and dressed leaves (even with a tangy olive oil) just weren't that interesting by that point in the night.  After all, we had to leave room for dessert, didn't we?

orzo with spanner crab $32

We also tried the kritharaki, orzo pasta with Fraser Coast spanner crab.  There wasn't a hugely crabby flavour here, though you can see it dotted amongst the orzo.  I enjoyed the texture of the orzo, and found this a pleasant if not spectacular dish.

halva ice cream $6 per scoop

I really loved this dessert of vanilla ice cream with a generous coat of halva on top.  It was cool and nutty (or should I say seedy?), smooth and delicious down my throat.  A winner for me!  Our waiter definitely steered us right with this one.

bougatsa $14 (sorry, crap photo)

The waiter told us the bougatsa was another popular dessert, and it being a fave of Lorraine's, we ordered this too.  Phyllo wrapped around a custard filling, with a warm lemon syrup - you can't go wrong with this.  Crunchy outside, smooth inside, icing sugar and sugared lemon strips on top.  We were full, we were happy, we decided to call it a night, sans coffee as I have enough trouble sleeping:-)

hotel corridor

And just because I think it looked interesting, here you have a gratuitous view of one of the hotel corridors.  I left Lorraine to her elegant and spacious hotel room, while I wandered off home, replete with delicious flavours and textures.  Oh yes, and I really fancy a drink by the pool next time.

You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner here every day of the week.  Or just a drink and snacks by the pool.  Or go ahead and eat popular Greek dishes like moussaka, or spanakopita or baked lamb or ... well, you get the picture.  You can even get married here, if you feel the need.  Our waiter told us the restaurant is booked out for Fridays/Saturdays till March 2019!  So get cracking, and maybe try another night.  It was full even on a Monday night when we dined, so remember to reserve a table.  

(I was Lorraine's guest, who was a guest of Hellenika's.  So thanks to her and to Hellenika.  All opinions remain my own however!)

The Calile Hotel
Pool Deck, Level 1
48 James St., Fortitude Valley 4006
Ph: 07 3252 2060

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

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Cheese Boureg

Boureg/burek/bourek/borek - so many different ways to spell this.  Any way you spell it, it tastes delicious.  Said to be of Anatolian/Assyrian origins, you can find this recipe in many countries of the world.  Clearly it is an ancient, well-loved and oft-made dish.  Basically it is a pastry filled and baked with meat or cheese or whatever you fancy.  Here I have chosen to use a cheese filling encased in a phyllo pastry - no, I didn't make my own pastry you funny people:-)  

I have already blogged about the boureg/pie I made using the recipe from Nawal Nasrallah's book Delights from the Garden of Eden.  For this dish, I have taken her recipe for a cheese filling and the method from Margaret Fulton's book Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery.  I emailed Nawal about the cheese filling just to make sure I had it right, and she confirmed that I did indeed have the proportions and kinds of cheese correct.  (The recipe doesn't give the full details so I wanted to be sure.)  And since I can't readily buy the Kurdish cheese necessary, we make do:-)

delicious, salty and flaky

Recipe adapted by Sherry's Pickings:


125g. of hard fetta, grated - I used Greek-style

125g. of hard mozzarella, grated - not the soft stuff in balls

125g. Pecorino Romano or similar - I used Grano Padano

1½ egg whites (60g.), lightly beaten

1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste

1 big bunch of parsley, chopped  

3 tbs fresh dill, finely chopped 

50g. walnuts, chopped

60g. butter, melted

6-8 sheets of phyllo pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge

1-2 tbs sesame seeds for the top (optional)


Place all the ingredients for the filling into a mixing bowl, and mix together well

Melt the butter and lightly grease a lamington tray (30 x 20 x 3cm.) or similar-sized baking tray 

Take 3-4 sheets of the phyllo, and layer them in the tray, buttering each one in between

Then place the filling evenly over the phyllo

And layer another 3-4 sheets over the filling, buttering each one

Press it neatly around the edges and butter generously over the top

Sprinkle on the sesame seeds if using

Bake at 180C/350F for about 20-25 minutes, till wondrously golden and crunchy

Serve with salad or veg. while warm from the oven, or slice up and hand around at parties


I made one and a half times the quantity of filling that Nawal gives, as I wanted a larger amount of filling, as per the method given by Margaret Fulton - oh, and I added some walnuts

Luckily I had some frozen egg whites, so I measured out 60g. worth - the average egg white being 40g.  Use a whole egg if you can't be bothered separating (and keeping) the yolk

The baking tin is approx 12 x 8 inches, for any US readers; you guys really need to go metric:-)

gather your ingredients

mix the filling ingredients together 

place the filling evenly over the buttered layers of phyllo 

whack on the other layers and butter generously

bake @ 180C for about 20-25 mins.

cheesy artwork by sherry's pickings

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures

Our mate Mel runs a cooking school, which has recently moved from our local village to a new spot in trendy Teneriffe.  She was asked to run a class for a local tv show last week, so she gathered together some keen foodies like myself to be a part of the 'tv' class.  Mel's classes are always fun and crazy, so I jumped to say yes.  I snuck in a friend too, who had a fabulous time of it, and got herself in some great photos:=)    

wow!  happy days!  Mel holding up her brand-new book

Yep, Mel really is twice my height:=)  Just kidding.  I think we were up to mischief there.  I mean, look at all that flour over my apron.  Well, we were making pasta and focaccia after all.  

heart-shaped focaccia

The dough became a heart-shaped bread, with rosemary (from Mel's garden) and black salt for crunch. Olive oil is splashed over the top, giving it flavour and shine.  This was so delicious, served with truffle-whipped butter.  Are you drooling, my friends?

grating, grating, grating... that parmesan

Mel giving that dough a good seeing-to

There was much grating of cheese and rolling of dough.  I got so excited when kneading the dough, I managed to tip over a glass of water and give the bench a good shaking.  Well, it's fab for getting rid of your tensions, isn't it?:-)  Kneading I mean... 

deelish my friends

How fabulously edible does this look?  Hand-made ravioli, red capsicum sauce, focaccia with truffle whipped butter and some gorgeous prosciutto.

Courtney (the talent) and me looking a bit cheeky 

Courtney is the lovely lady being filmed for the show.  The rest of us just tagged along for the ride, so to speak.  She was so very charming and friendly, it made the whole session a real pleasure.

Mel and my mate M

Look at those equally beaming smiles.  Or are they up to some mischief? :-)  That's Mel's book by the way, in her hot little hands.

Mel showing Courtney the clever way to chop an onion 

yes cheese and wine too

See the cheeses, folks?  And yes there was delicious wine.  I believe VZ has a liquor licence now, so who knows what further delights that will bring? 

well, you can see what this is:-)

Mel was born in Zimbabwe, but her family fled to South Africa when she was a child.  She has run her cooking school in Durban, and now in sunny Brisbane.  So she has a wealth of skills and knowledge and passion to share with those in her classes.  Hop aboard, fellow foodies!  Come visit Mel and chef Jan, and enjoy learning about, and sharing food with like-minded people.

Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures
92 Commercial Rd.,Teneriffe 4005
Ph: 0434 220 796

Wednesday 7 November 2018


Mmm, I pondered what to call these? Strawberry Blondes?  StrawBrownies? No matter, my friends:=)  They are pretty and pink and in aid of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and that's the important thing.  This recipe is based on a dark chocolate brownie version, from Belinda Jeffery's book Mix & Bake.  My interpretation is made with white chocolate and freeze-dried strawberry powder.  Wow, that stuff is amazing.  The smell, the colour!  So vibrant, so much in-your-face strawberryness.

pretty in pink, and tasty too

None of us wants to do mounds of washing-up, so this is fabulous 'cos it all gets mixed together in one saucepan.  What could be better than that? (thanks Belinda).  That's my kind of recipe.  I made these for a Bakeoff in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.  So of course, it had to be pink!  And they were delicious too, so even better.  

Recipe adapted by Sherry's Pickings:


For the strawblondies:

250g. (8oz.) butter

180g. (6oz.) white chocolate

250g. (8oz.) of caster sugar 

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

150g. (1 cup) plain flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

2-3 tsp freeze-dried strawberry powder

1 tsp cochineal (pink colouring)

100g. (3.5oz.) of white chocolate chunks/drops

For the topping:

200g. (7oz.) white chocolate, chopped into chunks

65 mLs (1/4 cup) cream

2 tsp strawberry powder

a few drops of pink colouring

organic rose petals and strawberry crispearls for decoration


Set your oven to 180C to pre-heat

Grab a 23cm. square cake tin (or a lamington tin) and line with alfoil, pushing it carefully into the corners.  Butter it, and line the base with baking paper

Melt the butter and white chocolate in a medium saucepan over a very low heat, stirring now and then - keep an eye on it, folks

Take it off the heat, give it a good stir and let it cool for about 8 minutes

Whisk the sugar and vanilla into the cooled butter and chocolate mix for about 20 seconds

Eggs go in one at a time, whisking well after each one

Sift the flour and baking powder straight into the pan, and stir well

Stir in the strawberry powder and the cochineal - gently, 'cos you don't want to upset the mixture and bring out its tough side

Tip in the chocolate chunks and fold them in

Pour the batter into the baking tin and give it a wee shake to level out the top

Bake for about 40 minutes till a skewer thrust in the middle comes out nicely moist but not wet

Cool for a few minutes in the tin, then pick up the blondies by the alfoil and put onto a wire rack to cool completely

Give it a couple of hours, then make the topping

Place the white chocolate chunks, cream, strawberry powder and pink colouring into a microwave-proof bowl

Zap in the microwave for about 60 seconds; it may still look like it's in chunks but it should be mostly melted so give it a happy little stir

Zap it for a few more seconds if needed 

Let it cool for a minute, then spread lavishly all over the blondies

Scatter the crispearls and rose petals liberally over the top

Cut into squares however big or small you like

oh yes, it is pink indeedy  


I didn't have a 23cm. square tin so I used a rectangular lamington pan which is 30 x 20 x 3cm. - worked a treat

Use strawberry essence if you don't have/can't get the freeze-dried powder.  Try 1-2 tsp, or more if you fancy; and maybe up the pink colouring

this is what it came in

Looks like a chemist's pill bottle to me:=)  Open it and you will be knocked over by the staggeringly pink, sweet strawberry aroma and colour, folks.  It's like a magic powder.  And intensely sweet.  And did I say pink, pink, pink?

stir the butter and white choc together in the pan 

yep you caught me out here - I put the strawberry powder in before the flour

ever so pretty in pink - pre flour 

it's pink - honest it is:=) 

yep, I coloured my cream pink firstly  

zap the icing in the microwave

throw on the decorations while the icing is still moist 

cut into shapes

yep another photo - just because I want to 

strawberry artwork by sherry's pickings

Thursday 1 November 2018

In My Kitchen - November 2018

November you say?  No, not possible.  But yes, Christmas stuff has been up in the stores for weeks, along with Halloween things.  Mind-boggling really.  Now don't get mad at me if I tell you this.  The other day, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman dressed in a beige burqa.  That was a surprise - I'd never seen a burqa other than in black.  For a nano second, all I saw were these big black eye holes, and my brain said 'Trick or treat!'  But hey that's just my crazy old Halloween-inflamed brain.  Anyway, moving on ...

October has sped past, and I bet you're all feeling that the year is flying by like greased lightning.  But I absolutely refuse to panic about Christmas this year.  Hubby and I have decided to do a Grinch, and just let it slide on by without us.  Hopefully it won't be like that movie with the Krank's, where they decide they have to do Christmas right at the very last minute, with panic ensuing.  Nuh uh, not these little black ducks.

In My Kitchen:

local chutney from the tiny village of Clunes 

Clunes is a tiny village in the Northern Rivers hinterland.  It has the most fabulous corner store, which sells pretty much everything including booze.  I picked up this beaut local chutney a while ago - good on everything.

unique chocs from Byron Bay

Salted roast pistachio is such an unusual taste.  I really enjoyed this interesting flavour.  But sadly, I can't remember what the pink ones were.  Delicious anyway.

local olive oil

Have I put this up on a previous IMK?  No matter.  I bought it last year and thought it was ok; this year I loved it.  Just a good crop, I suppose.  A wonderfully aromatic and grassy oil.  I love trying new oils, so my pantry usually has half a dozen different bottles.    

yep another cookbook

I really enjoy the sense of community and history that you find in local cookbooks.  This is one put together by the Emmanuel Anglican College in Ballina.  Recipes came from the families of the school, along with their stories.  You may see a dish or two on the blog soon.

another Clarice Cliff piece

I bought this small platter in the Janice Rose pattern at an eclectic little shop in Brunswick Heads last month.  I have a few pieces now, even though my cupboards are bursting.  No more, Sherry:=)

decoration for my strawberry blondies

These looked so pretty on top of the strawberry blondies that I made last week.  It had to be pink, as it was in aid of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.  Blog post coming up soon.

yuzu kosho

As you can see, this is a mix of yuzu and green chillies, yuzu being a Japanese citrus fruit as I'm sure you know:=)  Great in stir-fries.  I've got a bit of a Japanese thing going on at the moment.  I just love trying out new items, even when I don't know what they are.  Which is all the time really, as I can't read the script.

October was busy and I know November will be busier.  Keep your heads above water, my friends, and let it all flow around you.  Or just grab a bottle of gin and let rip.

Here come the options for adding your IMK posts.  In order for me to add your posts (i.e. if you prefer that I do it), I must have your email address.  Inlinkz now demands one!  I used to be able to leave it blank, but no more.  I am happy to do this for you, but just let me know and leave your email address too.

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

I would loooove to see your posts my friends, so please add yours by 5pm on 13th November at the latest.


    An InLinkz Link-up


Sherrys Pickings