Thursday, 8 October 2015

Jamie's Italian Brisbane - Restaurant Review

Once upon a time there was a little arcade in ye olde Brisbane Town, called Rowes Arcade.  And there were boutique shops, and lots of foot traffic through it, and the people were happy.  Then Jamie the Giant Chef came along and shoved in a restaurant bearing his Giant name.  And the people were extra happy!  

Hubby and I toodled along to Jamie's Italian last week to finally get a look at the largest Jamie's in Australia.  And we were happy.  We enjoyed our well-priced, and tasty lunch with friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere.  It may have been a co-incidence, but the music was pounding as we came in; hubby mentioned to me that we could ask to have it turned down, and lo and behold, before we sat down, the music was at a reasonable level (and we hadn't even asked yet).  

I love this chandelier!  And you can buy Jamie napkins etc. rather than stealing them as used to happen when he first opened in London

Our waitress Mikki explained that she was training our waiter Jannes (fresh from Germany), who seemed like a nice young lad.  I think he found our English a bit hard to understand as we had to explain and point at a few things on the menu.  But they do say Aussies have thick accents:=)

lunchtime drinks Rossini $9.90 and house white $8.00   

Mikki told us the wine list was in the process of being changed so not everything was available.  She steered me in the direction of sparkling with strawberry puree, which was delicious.  Later I followed that up with a glass of House White, or Jamie's Bianco as it is known on the list.  Mr P. had his usual chinotto.


This was new to us both; we had never seen it in a can before, and with a foil lid!  I was a wee bit surprised that the waiter hadn't opened and poured it for Mr P.  Same with the bottle of sparkling water ($8) which we had to pour ourselves.  

Clearly, we had to try the famous polenta chips.  These were piping hot and utterly moreish.  We both scoffed them down with gusto.  I thought we should try a few different things, so while hubby chose a main, I ordered several things to share.

polenta chips $9

So delicious you can't stop at one.  I will definitely have to go back for more of these little beauties.  

pasta special linguine w/- pancetta, peas, and fetta  $25    

Mr P. really enjoyed this dish; he said the flavours were really superb and a great combination.  He loved the mouth feel of the pasta itself but he felt that it was just a tad undercooked, even if you were going for al dente.  I tried a piece of the pasta and had to agree that it could have done with a fraction more time in the pan (and I am a fan of al dente - I even like crunchy potatoes). 

ricotta bruschetta $12 

crab bruschetta $12

We started our lunch with these, which were fresh and delicious.  I was given a steak knife for mine, which I really needed.  (Oh, and my fork was all bent out of shape.  They gave me another and that was weirdly bent too.  Had an ironman been practising out the back?)  The bread was really hard to get through, which took the enjoyment off just a little for me.  Perhaps a slightly softer crust could be used? Mr P. said his was fine, as he just "chomped right through it".  He IS a huge bread fan it must be said.  I loved the flavours and freshness regardless.

prosciutto w/- melon and buffalo mozzarella  $12.95

This was refreshing and tasty, and just what I needed on a sunny Brisbane afternoon.  Such cheering colours too!  The only tiny note of disharmony was that the pesto was incredibly basil-y.  "Of course you idiot", you are going to say.  "What the heck do you think pesto is made of?"  Yep I get that but it really left a taste of basil in my mouth. 'Nuff said.    

mushroom arancini $13  

The arancini had a strong mushroom flavour which came from the porcini, which I loved.  The sage leaves were a bit soggy and could happily have been left off the plate, I felt.  The one sad note here was that these tasty balls were a wee bit overcooked; just a tad too long in the fryer:=)  I have noticed this as a recent phenomenon around the traps.  Please chefs - don't let your balls turn too brown!

After this, Mr P. and I walked up the hill to the train station, having feasted and stuffed our faces joyfully.  We both felt we had had a fun and tasty lunch.  And I can't wait to go back for more polenta chips.  

I love lights!  and these were fab.  

me, Mikki and Mr P.

237 Edward St., Brisbane
Ph: 07 3144 3000

Jamie's Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Lemon Creams w/- Cherry Compote

Remember Surfing the Menu - that tv show with Ben O'Donoghue and Curtis Stone? Happily for we/us (?) locals, Ben now lives in Brisbane so we can eat his food anytime, but before that, he lived and chef'ed in London.  And in his holidays, he came out to Australia and made tv shows.  It always made me laugh watching them pretend to be old buddies, when you could tell they drove each other crazy.  And watching Curtis pretend he gave a rat's patootie about surfing.  (Oh, and where the heck did he get that jaw?).

They did make some nice dishes though, and one of theirs to be found in Delicious magazine is lemon creams.  It is quite a rich dish, but I guess if you are surfing it off, the calories don't matter:=).  Ben and Curtis just say "what the hell!".  

We didn't go surfing, but we did have a busy night, having friends over for dinner, and seeing our niece off in a limousine no less to her birthday bash.  And our friendly neighbour Princess Pia came over for a quick drink before dinner too.  Thank goodness, dinner was already made!  This dessert needs to be made the day before, so get started early if you are having friends to dinner.

gorgeous limo!


900mls thickened cream
zest and juice of 2 large or 3 small lemons
170g. caster sugar 

for the cherries: 
zest of 1/2 orange
200mls red wine
1/2 stick of cinnamon
1 clove
2-3 tsp caster sugar
1/2 doz. grinds of the vanilla bean mill or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g. frozen cherries (no need to thaw)


Lemon creams:

Heat the cream to scalding point (lots of little bubbles around the edges, some steam coming off the top of the cream)
Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes
Throw in the zest, juice and sugar and stir well
Cool it down a bit, then pour into 6 ramekins (or moulds if you want to turn them out later - I didn't!)
Cover them with clingfilm, or just shove a baking tray over them
Leave to set in the fridge overnight

Cherry compote:

Zest, wine, cinnamon, clove, sugar and vanilla go into a smallish saucepan
Bring to a simmer
Pour in the cherries and bring to the boil
(add more sugar if you find it needs it)
Simmer for 5 minutes (I had mine at quite a hearty simmer)
Turn it off and let it cool down
Bung in the fridge

(I made the creams the day before, and the compote in the afternoon of the dinner so it had plenty of time to chill)

Spoon on a few cherries and some syrup to each ramekin
Go to bed after dinner with a huge smile on your face and a big belly:)

ingredients for the lemon creams  

pouring the sugar into the heated cream   

stirring in the zest, juice and sugar   

ingredients for the cherry compote  

wine, zest etc go into a smallish saucepan   

tip the cherries into the simmering syrup     

let it cool, then into the fridge to chill  

cherry compote spooned over the lemon cream 

my lemony doodle  

my slice of lemon doodle

Sunday, 4 October 2015

My Sunday Photo 4 October 2015

sunset after a huge storm last weekend     

Mr P. and I were up the coast last weekend, and drove back through a massive storm.  This is the sunset after we got home.  It was intensely beautiful (no filters), and lasted for ages.  We were lucky that we didn't get the hail that other suburbs got!  Driving home was a bit of a nightmare.  Very hard to see in the pelting rain, and lots of cars heading back to town so very slow traffic.  Ah well, summer is coming our way, and lots of tropical storms (and occasional cyclones) ahead.



Thursday, 1 October 2015

In My Kitchen October 2015

I usually love September, but this one was a bit here and there. Apparently it was all because of the stars.  There was a lunar eclipse, Mercury in retrograde (when isn't it?), a Supermoon and some other celestial stuff:=)  I think that's all over now, so I can relax at last.  Oh, except for the hail storm(s) we had over the last few days.  And my dental appointment next week.      

There was some good stuff too!  We went down to northern NSW a couple of times to catch up with friends; we also went to the annual Sculpture festival on Currumbin beach.  We dropped into one of my fave art galleries - Tweed River Art Gallery.  The surroundings are exquisite (was there ever more beautiful scenery?) and the exhibitions are always interesting.  Not to forget there is a great little cafe there too.      

There are heaps of really keen chefs, organic gardeners and hippies down in that region so you come across great produce and great food. And award-winning restaurants where you often see celebrities dining (if you're interested in that sort of thing).  So I usually come home with a few goodies.  This time was no exception.

fabulous salts from Byron Bay

fantastic flavour boosts

We have been buying these lovely salts from Tridosha for years on our very regular trips over the border.  We got these at the Sample Food Festival in Bangalow.  I almost bought a beautiful tiffin (hear that fiona@tiffinbitesized?) filled with salty goodies, but I restrained myself.  I didn't restrain myself from buying the salts, and a cookbook, and local chocolate and coffee and and and....

we just couldn't choose!

the best cordial ever:)  

another cookbook  

chilli jam bought at a roadside stall in the northern NSW hinterland  

very near to my kitchen is my collection of fossils 

This is my latest acquisition for my collection.  My sis is currently working in a place that sells fossils amongst other things so she gave me an employee discount on this gorgeous, shiny relic.  

here we have a beautiful bowl made by our dear friend Brooke 

I know this looks a bit suss but it is just dried fingerlime powder; it gives a great zing to all sorts of dishes     

yep a bit hard to see; ramekins also made by Miss Brooke for my kitchen    

and a bowl made for our niece

The niece is a huge Heston fan so on this bowl we have a Heston quote and a depiction of his spectacles on the bottom.  Oh, and she is a huge dachshund fan (and owner) so there had to be dachshunds!  The other bowl was for the nephew; it was their mutual birthdays (being twins) so we arranged to have Miss Brooke make them some personalised bowls.  Mr P. had the ramekins made for me so I have matching lovelies in which to put Nigella's chocolate pots.  

Join in with Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial in the monthly roundup of global kitchens.  You won't be sorry!  All manner of international foods and delicious items will come into your ken.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Quaint Corn (And Chicken) Square

Just as we cherish Margaret Fulton in Australia,  and the Brits cherish Mary Berry, New Zealand has their own culinary icon in Alison Holst.  I bought a couple of her books years ago, and it was only when we travelled to NZ that I realised she was bigger than Ben-Hur!  Sadly, she is now struggling with dementia, and cooks no more, but her son Simon carries on the tradition.  (Rather like Margaret Fulton's daughter and granddaughters do).  

Mr P. and I were vegetarians for many years and her book Meals Without Meat was a winner.  Even when we started to eat meat again, her Meals Without Red Meat was tops too:=)  Just simple, homey meals for the family, but also some interesting tid-bits like home-made ginger beer, and yoghurt, and soy milk.  I must give that a go one day soon.  

I have often made 'busy person's pie' from an old recipe book that was compiled by colleagues at work.  This recipe is somewhat similar, in that you throw together all the ingredients and bake in the oven.  Alison suggests throwing in a tin of tomatoes, but not being a huge tomato fan, I decided to add some roast chicken, semi-dried tomatoes, and a heap of parsley.  Serve it with salad. You can feed 4-6 people with this.


4 large eggs
410g. can creamed corn
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups tasty cheese, grated
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2-1 tsp salt  (I like salt!)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
40g. semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
150g. baked or poached chicken, chopped
2-3 tbs parsley, finely chopped
black pepper (I used about 10 grinds)


Eggs, corn and sour cream go into a large mixing bowl
Give it a stir with a fork till well combined, but don't go crazy
Sprinkle over the cheese, the flour and the salt 
Now chuck in the spring onions, the tomatoes, the chicken, the parsley and the pepper
Stir gently till just mixed
Pour into a lightly greased baking dish about 20cm x 20cm
Bake at 180C for about half an hour till golden and just a teeny tiny bit wobbly in the middle


Use other proteins if you wish - fish or ham or just have it as a vego dish
Don't overbake it as it will keep cooking as it cools
Use whatever herbs you like
I used a mix of salts as I have many different kinds; here I used chilli salt and olive salt
It may take longer than 1/2 an hour to bake; my oven is slow so it took nearly 40 minutes

(An interesting aside - Alison has a can of corn being 440g.; I knew tins these days were shrinking!)


forking that eggy, corny, creamy mixture 

sprinkling over the cheese and flour  

give it all a good stir 

pouring the mix into the square pan (excuse the photo - I nearly dropped the bowl!) 

ready for the oven at 180C for 1/2 an hour   

and eat!

truly he's a chicken, not a duck:=) 

feeling a bit corny                 

Sunday, 27 September 2015

My Sunday Photo 27 September 2015

a beautiful sunflower blooming in a back lane at Brunswick Heads NSW

I love this big, beautiful sunflower.  Mr P. and I were walking down a lane between our motel and the main street of Brunswick Heads which sits next to the gorgeous Brunswick River which heads to the sea.  In fact, the ocean waves crash just across the river, and past the scrub.  It is a lovely peaceful little town (for the moment, till the trendies move in).  We came across this stunning flower (never mind the stray boot in the foreground).  We love to head down to the Northern Rivers region of NSW as often as we can, to visit friends and take in the gorgeous countryside.


Friday, 25 September 2015

Viennese Potato Soup - With A Twist of Mushrooms

I love potatoes!  But who doesn't?  The other day while puddling around in my cookbook collection, I found this little beauty.  Mr P. says it is mine; I say it is his.  It is a mystery as to how it appeared on our shelves.  (And I fear there are others lurking in the depths).

a mystery volume on the shelves :=)      

The Princess was a princess before she married the Prince.  She was born Princess Windischgraetz, so she could already hold her own in the Royalty stakes.  And clearly she was a lover of potatoes. She tells us that the Brits were eating over 100kg. of spuds per head each year (and that was back in the '80s!).  Amazingly, you can still buy this book which was first published in 1981.  See, potatoes are the cat's pyjamas; everyone loves them.

Here is my version of the Princess's potato soup; ramped up with extra mushrooms and bacon.  Oh, and even a few more tatties.  I had planned to make mushroom paprika soup (from an old photocopied page; not sure where it came from), but then I saw this book and the die was cast.  Who could resist recipes like Prague potato soup, potato wine or even better - pommes de terre (potatoes) au lard? Happily, that means bacon in English, not pig fat! 


1 tbs olive oil 
2 tbs butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
140g. rindless bacon, chopped (4 or 5 slices)
1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
4-5 medium potatoes, diced  (I only had wee ones so I used 9)
500g. mushrooms, sliced 
A few caraway seeds (optional)
2 tbs plain flour
Zest of half a lemon
A handful of parsley, chopped
1.25 L of stock (chicken or beef is fine)
1 tsp salt
Black pepper (I used about a dozen grinds of the mill)
200 mls. sour cream


Heat the oil and 1 tbs of butter in a large saucepan
Add the onion, and stir till just turning golden
Tip in the bacon and stir some more
In goes the paprika
Then the potatoes and mushrooms
Throw in the caraway seeds if using
Give it a good stir
Add the other 1 tbs of butter and stir in
Sprinkle over the flour and stir it well in
Add half the lemon zest and parsley
Pour in the stock and - you guessed it! -  stir it together
Add salt and pepper
Turn it down low and simmer gently for about 25 minutes
When the potatoes are tender, add the sour cream and heat gently - do not boil the cream as it will curdle (will still taste great!)
Throw in the other half of the lemon zest and parsley
Season with more salt and pepper if desired

a mountain of sliced mushies 

a benchful of ingredients 

a bowlful of bacon   

tip in the mushies  

give it a good stir 

simmer for about 25 minutes till potatoes are tender 

a dollop of sour cream

me in my cooking gear!  (I have lots of aprons)  

my mushie doodle:=)