Monday, 20 October 2014

Good Food & Wine Show Brisbane

Thanks to Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef fame, I had 2 tickets for the GF&W show this past weekend in my hot little hand.   Mr Pickings had a backpack on for any purchases, so in we went.  (I was amazed at the number of people with trolleys which they obviously intended to fill with goodies.)  I was very restrained and only bought a few things so hubby was not weighed down too much.  We enjoyed seeing "celebrity chefs" do their thing on stage, and it was fun wandering around checking out all the new stuff that a dedicated foodie can buy and eat.  The most challenging item I saw was alpaca meat- I thought about it and I just could not bring myself to eat one of these cute beasties - whether it was in a meatball or a pate. So alpaca remains on my untried list (which is pretty small as I will usually try anything.)

me (sorry about the fuzz) at the farm stall buying pungent aioli

wow what a tower! and yes the dreaded alpaca meat stand

Zumbo himself/gorgeous cake/ and my fave cheese stand which I couldn't get near sadly

Bella from MKR making pasta

gorgeous Greek Goddess and Greek delights

I think a fun time was had by all!  There was heaps we didn't get around to seeing due to crowds and exhaustion, and not knowing you had to pre-book even the free shows, but it was a fun morning and the tastings were great.

Friday, 17 October 2014

West African Peanut Soup

Once upon a time there was a man who ran Queensland, and who was a peanut farmer.  He knocked down many iconic and historic buildings in the dead of night, leaving big gaps to be filled by high-rise monstrosities- hmm mmm, well enough of that before I get into trouble.  Anyway, one sunny blue-sky day, Mr Pickings (before he became Mr Pickings) and I headed up and out - i.e. a bit west and a bit north- and came across the peanut farmer's property.   There were lots of peanut plants in his fields and sad to say, Mr Pickings and I were a wee bit felonious.  So some peanuts happened to leap into the back of our well-ventilated car (so well-ventilated you could see the road rush by under our feet), and came home with us to be made into a peanutty dish.  I don't cook with peanuts often - make that nearly never, but this soup is full of peanutty goodness in the form of peanut butter (or paste for all you dyed-in-the-wool Queenslanders).  I was not born and bred here so I have an excuse to forswear that nomenclature.  Yep I mean I can say peanut butter instead of peanut paste!  This soup is really creamy and nutty and so tasty that Mr Pickings just can't stop at one bowl.  Or do I mean me?  So this morning I have been happily making this soup and driving the neighbours crazy with the delicious smells wafting their way through my kitchen windows.  I will now forever have the aroma of this soup interwoven in my brain and memorybank of smells with the wonderful linseed-like tang of Tradies' Bog, while the handyman fills holes in our back deck handrails.


2 medium onions (red, white, brown-whatever you choose)
3 Aussie tbs (ie 20mls spoon) of peanut oil and/or olive oil
1 medium red capsicum
1 medium green capsicum
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of chilli paste or to taste - I used hot chilli paste and it ended up being about 4 tsps!  (We like it hot chez Pickings)
salt and pepper to taste
1 x 400g can of diced tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes chopped
1 L chicken stock
3/4 cup peanut butter
150g cooked and chopped chicken
lime wedges
roasted and chopped peanuts for garnish
chilli flakes if desired


Take a large saucepan and pour in the oil
Chop the onions and throw them into the heated oil
Leave them cooking away with a lid on the pan till they become soft and glistening- keep an eye on them so they don't burn, and stir regularly
Add the chopped capsicums and keep cooking on a low heat till they are gloriously soft and shiny
Garlic, chilli paste, salt and pepper go in next
Cook till garlic is soft
When it is all thick and reduced and golden and smelling deeevine, add the tomatoes and chicken stock
Now bring it to the boil and whisk in the peanut butter- it will be looking thick and smell so fragrant
Add the chopped chicken
Check for seasoning- add more salt and pepper if need be
Throw in some chilli flakes if you want to beef up the heat
Garnish with peanuts
Serve with crusty bread and lime wedges

frying off the onions till golden and fragrant

adding capsicum then tomatoes

whisk in peanut butter and add chicken

serve with lime wedges and garnish with chilli and peanuts

(stock image - Author Texnik)

And isn't it funny that a peanut is not a nut at all but a legume, and grows underground?  (Oops! I forgot to mention that you can find variations of this recipe on the good old interweb, but I actually have this recipe from a tatty old Gourmet Traveller magazine.)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Preserved Oranges

I am a bit of a TV chef groupie I think.  I watch heaps of their shows, and buy way too many of their books. But I do pick up some interesting ideas for recipes, and some valuable tips here and there.  I was watching Shane Delia the other night and he mentioned that he likes to use preserved oranges in his cooking rather than preserved lemons.  This sounded really delicious to me, so I had it in the back of my mind to put some up soon.  I make preserved lemons each winter, which go so well with couscous and with fish, and in salads. I think these oranges will go really well in similar dishes, and I can hardly wait for the 4 weeks to go by till I can use them!


4 medium or 3 large oranges (around 800g.)
200g. salt
250 ml fresh lemon juice
250ml fresh orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
a few cloves or a star anise


Wash and dry the oranges
Cut them in half and cut each half into thirds so you end up with 6 wedges per orange
Throw them into a plastic bag and freeze overnight
Next day put them in the fridge for 4 hours till partly thawed (this helps break down the fibres I am assuming)
Place the wedges into a big bowl, throw all the salt over them and stir till well-covered
Grab a 1 litre sterilised jar and stuff those wedges into the jar!
Pour over the 2 juices, and push in the cinnamon and cloves
Shake till well-combined
Put in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks before using  (this is Queensland so it goes into the fridge to mature!)

freezing wedges overnight, then gathering the other ingredients 

salting those lovely juicy orange pieces

stuffing them into the jar with lemon and orange juices, and spices

can hardly wait to try them in 4 weeks!

Oops, yes there are 2 jars here.  My big jar was obviously less than one litre so I hurriedly had to wash another small jar and stuff them into that too.  Mysteriously I had too much juice(s) left over; I just couldn't stuff one more teaspoon of juice into either jar, so I had to drink it!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

My Sunday Photo/Silent Sunday 12 Oct 2014


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Egg cream- take 2

Ok readers, I decided I had to improve on that first attempt of egg cream which seemed to need some tweaking. I had left some for Mr Pickings to try later in the day and after drinking it, he said plaintively-"it wasn't what I expected".  So here is what I did the second time.
I grabbed my blender and put in half a cup of coconut milk and 4tbs of chocolate syrup.  I whizzed this up for about 30 seconds till it was frothy.
I then added a few drops of natural coconut essence to boost the flavour, and gently poured in some soda water.  It was now frothy and creamy without being heavy!  And made one delicious serving.  Yep I think I finally understand the egg cream thing.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Bounty-style egg cream drink

I was going over some old emails the other day and came across an old post by Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella, where she mentioned drinking an egg cream.  I thought this sounded a bit bizarre so clearly I needed to try it out for myself.   I checked up some recipes online and went ahead and made a Bounty-style drink- i.e. chocolate and coconut flavours.  So here it is; my version of a New York egg cream which has neither egg nor cream (those crazy New Yorkers!).


4 tbs of chocolate syrup
1/2 cup almond milk or mylk (apparently that is the trendy spelling for non-dairy milk)
4 tbs coconut milk
soda water to fill up your glass


Grab a tall glass and pour the syrup into the bottom
Add the milk and coconut milk
Stir gently till combined
Pour the soda water in slowly so it doesn't go all over your kitchen bench

You will end up with a drink that has a slightly foamy top and is very refreshing.  One of the recipes I read suggested you blend the milk and syrup first in a blender then add the soda water, which sounds like a good idea.  The amounts above are enough for 2 people to share.  I think next time I will use only coconut milk so that the coconut flavour is more pronounced.  Obviously you could try different syrups and different milks; how about salted caramel syrup?  Mmmm I have a big bottle of that in my pantry.

Oops! Didn't mean to leave the price-tag on

foamy and delish!

(stock image)