Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Chicken And Mushroom Stir-Fry

Well hello Nigel!  I have been perusing Nigel Slater's book The Kitchen Diaries again for some dinner inspo.  (See, I know the trendy words.)  We like chicken, we like mushrooms, we like a quick meal so this was just the thing.  After making it, I decided I would do more tweaking to the recipe next time.  You may laugh but I found this a very masculine dish.  Quite savoury and spicy, and simple.  Ooh -  do I mean just like a man? :=)

I took a few shortcuts - well, it was Sunday night - 'cos I didn't want to miss seeing the Masterchef boys do their thing.  Don't you love the way they have their favourites? Clearly George likes the teary young girls so he can have a bit of a weep with them.  He gets very emotional when one of them has to leave, doesn't he?  While Gary and Matt look on a bit helplessly.  Anyway let's get stuck into Nigel's stir-fry.

Slightly adapted from Nigel's recipe:

Serves 2:


1-2 tbs olive oil or peanut oil - whatever you fancy

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 tbs fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped

3 spring onions, thinly sliced

3 red chillies, finely chopped

2 stalks of lemon grass finely sliced, or 2 dessertspoons of lemon grass paste 

480g. diced chicken breast - or just use tenderloins

225g. mushrooms, thinly sliced or chopped

2 tbs lime juice

2 tbs Thai fish sauce, or if you forget to buy some (who me?), use 2 mashed-up-with-a-fork anchovies

1 tsp palm sugar or raw sugar 

a few Thai basil or mint leaves

1-2 x 85g. packets of Mi Goreng Noodles (or similar noodles) - minus the salty little sachets of flavouring


Heat the oil in a work or large frying pan

Throw in the garlic, ginger, spring onions, chillies and lemon grass

Stir it around for a few minutes

Tip the mix out onto a plate and put aside

Now chuck in the chook (chicken) with more oil if needed

Stir it and let it turn golden while you stir every so often

In go the mushrooms - and stir

Grab your aromatics and tip back into the pan

Mix the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a cup

And pour into the pan

Toss in the herbs

Now add the plain noodles that you have boiled for a few minutes (as per the packet)

Stir it all around and eat with glee!

ingredients gathered  

get Mr P. to stir the aromatics   

and then he stirs the chicken   

and then he stirs the mushrooms in  

chuck the aromatics back in     

stir the juice, sugar and fish sauce together  

toss the noodles around   

and slurp away 

Nigel didn't actually say what cut of chicken to use, so I chose breast but you could try diced thigh meat.  I wasn't keen on the mint I threw in at the end, but that could be because I only had regular mint not the Thai kind.  And a bit oddly, Nigel doesn't mention what to eat the dish with, so we grabbed some noodles, which went down really well. You could use whatever noodles you like - rice, egg, rice vermicelli, ramen, instant - take your pick, folks.

my wok-y doodle


Sunday, 22 May 2016

My Sunday Photo 22 May 2016

sunset through a bushfire haze

Hubby and I took a drive out into the countryside yesterday.  It was a beautiful Autumn day here with blue skies, just a few clouds and brilliant sunshine.  All pretty normal for a south-east Queensland day.  On the way home, coming down the mountain, we noticed masses of smoke.  There was a bushfire of some sort - it may have just been back burning which is done at this time of year.  And what a glorious sunset it became!


Thursday, 19 May 2016

A - Z Guidebook - L for Lansdale, Pennsylvania

Remember that film Witness with Harrison Ford?  He was trying to solve a murder that was witnessed by an Amish boy, and subsequently he himself had to hide out in Amish country.  We actually spent a fair bit of time there, sometimes getting stuck behind the Amish carts being dragged uphill by horse power (literally). Often we would be in fear for our lives as huge trucks would be stuck behind them too, trying to get up hills, braking on the rise and on black ice.  Hearts in our mouths I tell you!  

Why am I telling you this?  Cos I had planned to put up a photo of Amish carts in Lancaster County PA; see that's where the L came in for this month's travel linky:=). But I came across this photo that I couldn't resist of me freezing my buns off at the Thanksgiving Parade in Lansdale PA where we were staying with friends of friends.


Thanksgiving Parade in Lansdale PA     

Yep that little red pixie in the foreground is me.  I had so many clothes on I could barely move.  I was actually crying with cold!  I think it was about minus 10, and we were sitting in deck chairs on the footpath to watch it.  The little girls were in tiny fairy costumes with tights and tutus.  OMG!!  Such fortitude, though they seemed to think nothing of it.  I have never been so cold in my life, even in the snow in Central Park in December.  (No, my nose wasn't that red - it's the scanner). 

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Macabella/Nutella Coffee Mousse

Well, here's a surprise - another recipe from the Donna Hay magazine I bought last week.  I want to get my money's worth out of this unusual (for me) purchase so I kept flicking through and found this.  I have noticed Donna simply puts all the ingredients into her recipe names, so no fancy terms or cutesy titles; this one she describes as chocolate hazelnut coffee mousse.  Aw come on, you know you are going to use Nutella, unless you make your own.

Except I didn't use it.  Rather I went for Macabella Crunch which is a chocolate and macadamia nut spread - with crunchy bits of nut in it.  I thought it was Australian, but turns out it is made in Belgium. (Though Buderim Ginger owns the brand.) This is a dead easy mousse and incredibly delicious.  Great for the arteries too:=) 

Serves 4-6


250g. tub of mascarpone

1 cup (330g.) of Macabella or Nutella spread 

1/4 cup (15g.) instant coffee granules

375 mls of pure (pouring) cream

2 tbs cacao nibs


Spoon the mascarpone and the nut spread of your choice into a medium mixing bowl

Stir well to combine

Grab another medium bowl, add the coffee granules and pour in the cream

Now beat the coffee and cream together till you get soft peaks

Add the 2 mixtures together and beat for 30 seconds till you get stiff peaks

Spoon into 4 x 1½ cup ramekins or small bowls

Top each bowl with a sprinkle of cacao nibs

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving


Use less coffee if you are not a huge coffee lover - this was strong

Use 6 smaller cups unless you are a piggie!  It is rich, and I think having a quarter of this mousse is a bit extravagant in one sitting

For some odd reason I only bought a 300 mls carton of cream so I made up the difference with sour cream and yoghurt - still good!

I decided to add the cacao nibs; I think it needs a bit of texture - as those Masterchef boys would say


stir the mascarpone and nut spread together  

whizz the cream and coffee together till soft peaks form     


beat the 2 mixes together for 30 seconds  


you caught me out! but I had to try it      

my nut spread doodle

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Paddington Deli And Epicerie - Review

What do you do when hubby has no clients or employees in for the day?  Go off for lunch that's what.  So go we did.  We headed off to the western suburbs, which funnily enough are a bit hard to get to from the northern suburbs that we live in.  Brisbane is made up of lots of hills and ridges, so you have to take a circuitous route to get around to some areas.  But never fear, we got there in plenty of time for lunch.

the view from our outdoor table-they have high chairs and a dog bowl and a lollipop bush  

Paddington has been a trendy suburb for many years, and the main road through it has lots of boutiques and cafes.  We decided on Paddington Deli, as it is part of a complex that contains a very old (former) cinema now an antiques centre.  I couldn't miss a chance to check it out again.

Brut Monmousseau bubbles from the Loire Valley $10    

You have your choice of various wines and beers from Australia, France, New Zealand and so on, with prices being average for a local cafe.  Our charming Italian waiter told me I had made a good choice, but just between you and me I think they always tell you that!

the inevitable strawb. milkshake for Mr P.- $6   

You can get all the usual suspects here - frappes, coffee, tea, soft drinks, and even coconut water if you feel the need to replenish your electrolytes.

yep Eggs Benny with smoked salmon $18      

I know, I know, I am a creature of habit.  But this is lunch eggs Benny so that clearly means it is different :=)  The asparagus was lightly blanched - I know, it looks raw - and rather crunchy.  Not to everyone's taste I think, but okay by me.  Better than being limp anyway.  Hollandaise is house made so that's a winner.  My eggs were overdone sadly - I like them runny, and my sourdough bread was too crusty.  I really hate fighting with my food.  I just couldn't cut through them so I ended up leaving most of the crusty bits.  Not a bad dish over all, it just needs tweaking to be perfect.  

house made beef cheeseburger $18   

Mr P. was happy that his beef burger had relish on it, and that it came with an extra amount too.  He has been vociferous lately about dry, relish-free zones on his burgers. I was surprised by a comment from an English blogger that they are relish-free there too. What has come over the global burger arena?  Bring back the relish!

The beef pattie was flavoursome when I tried a bit; the salad dressing "great" according to Mr P. - just the right amount of balsamic.  He was unsure of the cauliflower in his salad though.  I know cauli is trendy but...

I would like to regale you with tales of other dishes tried, but Mr P. had to get back to work.  And I had to have a peek into the Antiques Centre; so many lovely and expensive things there.

The Deli is now open for Friday and Saturday night dinners too, so we must get along to check it out.  And don't forget that it is a deli also, so you can buy provisions like cheese, olives and oils while you are there.

looking into the brick-lined cafe   

the lovely character-filled interior  

153-155 Latrobe Tce., Paddington 4064
Ph: 07 3367 8819

Paddington Deli & Epicerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Chicken And Sauerkraut Bake

I actually bought a magazine the other day, something I rarely do. And even rarer, it was Donna Hay.  Somehow she and I have never gelled.  So it was a moment of madness, but happily I found at least one recipe that called to me.  It reminded me of a recipe I had made up some time ago which had chicken, sauerkraut, pineapple, cream and potatoes.  I know, sounds a bit mad but I just grabbed all the leftovers in my fridge and put them together.  So I was a bit stunned when I came upon this similar recipe in the mag.  And let me tell you, it is pretty damn good.  I can see it becoming a regular in the Pickings' family recipes.

looks a bit odd but very delish   

Serves 4


1 tbs olive oil

1 kg. chicken pieces on the bone - Marylands if you can get them

salt and pepper

1 brown onion, finely sliced

300g. baby potatoes, halved

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

2 small sprigs of bay leaves - I used 12 leaves as I had them in the freezer already off the stalks

3 cups (540g.) sauerkraut

1 cup chicken stock

sour cream to serve


Put your oven on at 200C to heat up

Heat the oil in a large frypan - ovenproof if you have one

Sprinkle the seasoning on the chicken pieces

Fry them for about 10 minutes, turning once half way through

Remove the chicken pieces and set aside, or place them into a roasting dish with a lid if you don't have an ovenproof frypan

Add a dash more oil to your pan and throw in the onion, potato, caraway seeds and bay leaves and keep stirring for 6 minutes

Now add the sauerkraut and stock and stir in

At this point, you either return the chicken to the pan or tip your onion and potato mix into the roasting dish, along with the chicken

Now cover the pan or dish with a lid and whack into the oven

Give it 30 minutes, then take off the lid and cook for 20 more or till golden and cooked through

Add salt and pepper if you feel the need

Serve it up with sour cream - we had it with peas; you could have it with whatever veg you fancy including mashed potato if you feel the need for more carbs - and who doesn't on a cold night?


stir that chicken   

add the veggies to the pan   

get Mr P. to stir them   

spoon in the sauerkraut    

stir the veggie mix into the chicken pieces in the pan   

take the lid off after 30 minutes 

and eat after another 20 minutes lidless    

Now I remember why I bought that mag!  It had a free baked doughnut tray attached. And who can go past a great freebie like that?


Donna says to use Marylands but as there is a dearth of butchers these days, it seems impossible to find this cut.  So I grabbed half a kilo of thighs with bones, and half a kilo without bones. (Mr P. doesn't like bones, foolish man!)  This worked really well, giving enough solid flavour and juicy bits for me.

Use whatever herbs you fancy.  It did go very well with caraway and bay leaves, but I reckon you could take your pick.  I actually had some bay leaves in the freezer so I was very happy to find a use for them as I almost never have them around the place.

I have been using Spanish/red onions for so long I had forgotten how absolutely fabulous brown onions are in soups and stews. Definitely use one in this!

my sauerkraut doodle 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

My Sunday Photo 8 May 2016

puppy sitting the beauteous Scout the red staffy/ie 

This is Scout, the gorgeous red Staffy/ie.  We have done a wee bit of puppy sitting for friends, and have fallen in love with her 'cos she is as cute as a button.  And look at that tongue!  Soooo cute. She grabbed a baby toad one night while she was staying with us. Oh my, the terror in our hearts.  One of our own dogs grabbed a toad years ago and we had to rush her to the vets, so thank goodness this was a baby toad and no poison was emitted.  Phew!!