Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Cheese D'Artois - the Scottish way


cheesy and golden! 


I am a keen follower of the Shetland Times, which you too can follow on Facebook, if you want to be kept up to date with the goings-on of this island archipelago.  It must be the Scottish blood in me that just loves anything Scottish.  And I love the way they write about events (and crimes) here.  Recently, one of the contract workers had been found to be drunk (and swearing!), and was exiled from the islands.  Don't you just love that? Let's suggest it to Mr. Abbott as a punishment for wrongdoers.  Oops, I think he has already done that.

Anyway, I bought a Shetland cookbook earlier this year, from which I have made (and blogged) a couple of recipes.  I had also taken note of this recipe, French obviously with that name, but included in our Scottish author's book.  Well, how can you resist a Scottish version of a French dish? (A bit of a hybrid like Mary Queen of Scots who spent her childhood at the French court).

Our lovely neighbour and friend Princess Pia invited us over for a drink on the weekend, so I decided to MBT (make, bake and take) this across to soak up the booze:)  The Princess is one very hospitable lady, so when  newbies moved in next door, she invited them over for a drink one afternoon.  They left 10 hours later!  Yes you read that right. Ten hours! By that time, it was after midnight, so she collapsed into bed to recover.  I think the longest we have stayed for a quick drink with her was 5 hours.  See, she needs to get tough and chuck us all out at a respectable hour.

This is a great little snack to make when you may have been imbibing just a wee bit too much (or plan to).  All that cheese and carbs - just soooo good as a boozy sponge. Grab a snag and you have a complete meal.  I mean after all, your food bases are covered with the herbs in the mix!

ingredients:

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed
100g. vintage/tasty cheddar cheese (Shetland if you can get it)
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
55g. ham
3 tsp lightly dried parsley (use fresh if you wish)
1.5 tsp lightly dried chilli flakes
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C 
Place one sheet of pastry on a lightly greased baking tray 
Grate the cheese and dice the ham
Place the cheese, eggs (except for a tablespoon or 2), ham, parsley, chilli and pepper in a small mixing bowl and stir together well
Spread the mixture over the pastry sheet, leaving a centimetre's edge on all sides
Brush water around the edges (not too much!)
Fold the 2nd sheet of pastry in half lengthwise
Make equidistant slits along it, without cutting all the way to the edge (see below)
Carefully pick up the pastry sheet and unroll it gently over the base
Press it down around the edges
Brush with the left-over beaten egg
Bake at the top of the oven for 20 minutes or till golden and puffed
Serve straight out of the oven

Hints: 
Make sure the oven is preheated and that the shelf is at the top
Use other herbs if you like (the author suggests thyme or oregano)
Add different spices if desired
Grease the tray with butter rather than oil, so you get a crisp base

I think it is best to keep this pretty simple.  The original recipe has no chilli or ham; I just knew it would be tastier with it.  By using that much parsley, it was a bit like a vegetable rather than a herb, which I think gave it a nice flavour and colour.  



my wonky egg doodle 


















ingredients (I used Aussie cheese of course)  

pastry sheets ready to go  

spreading out the filling  

gently unrolling the top sheet of pastry over the base

pat it down around the edges

a delicious plateful of golden pastry 

These went down a treat at Princess Pia's drinks gathering.  Not one scrap was left. Success!  Highly recommended if you want to please your friends at your next party.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Elixir Coffee HQ Espresso Lounge - Review


my coffee doodle

We are really lucky to have a great cafe/roasting house just down the road from our house. Sometimes when the wind is right, you can smell the coffee beans roasting, wafting over the creek to our back deck.  For me, there is not much that smells more enticing. I am a bit of a self-confessed coffee maniac; some (hubby) would even go so far as to say, a coffee obsessive and all round fussy bugger.  So I am very happy to report that I think Elixir makes one of the best coffees in Brisbane, if not in all of Australia.  And heaven knows, I have tried a lot!  

We have been buying our coffee beans from there for a few years now, but weirdly we had never gone down there for a bite to eat. Mr P. recently took his staff there for a birthday lunch; he told me it was great, and suggested we try it again together.  So last week, off we trotted for a late lunch.  Elixir started in one small part of this building, and has now taken over the whole shebang, plus the footpath and another shop over the road!  Great to see a local success story.  



mocha frappe $6

white chocolate milkshake $5.50

ginger beer $4

My frappe had a real hit of coffee and lots of lovely chocolate flavouring too.  This was a winner!  Mr P. loves his white chocolate and his ginger beer, and both of these were delicious.  Love that the soda is organic.  They also have juices, smoothies, and of course coffee, including special brews like cold drip, syphon, pour over and aeropress. Don't even ask me what all these are, 'cos I don't know - yet!  I mean I know in general; I just haven't tried them all yet.


open chicken sandwich $14.90

penne bianco with smoked salmon $16.90 


I loved the open sandwich.  The chicken was tender and juicy, the lemon infused ricotta was soft and tangy, and the vegetables were fresh and enlivened with the balsamic glaze.  Mr P. loves pasta, and he wolfed down his penne bianco.  He said it had both cold smoked and hot smoked salmon so had a lovely contrast of textures and tastes. The penne was well-cooked, and the sauce creamy but not too much. (thus spake Mr P.)   


carrot and walnut cake $6.20  

fig and walnut scroll $4.50


The scroll was sweet with crisp pastry, and crunchy with the nuts; on the other hand the cake was not the best carrot cake I have had in my life.  I like them spicy, and moist, with lots of cream cheese icing; sadly this was not quite like that.  It wasn't bad, just not as I like it.


corn fritters $14.90 - incl. bacon, avocado, ricotta and aioli  

halloumi stack $16.90 - incl. mushrooms, bacon, tomato and pesto  

No, Mr P. and I did not have 2 lunches:)  These were the dishes of choice at the birthday lunch a couple of weeks ago.  Out of 5 people, they only chose 2 dishes.  I told Mr P. that was very poor form. How dare they have the same meals?   Didn't he know I needed more photos for this post?:)  He said everyone loved both these choices.  In fact, he would have chosen the halloumi again this time, but like the darling he is, he picked another dish so I could have something extra to write about!

They also have an all-day breakfast menu, with items like eggs benny and breakfast burritos.  There are a few surprises like banoffee pancakes and an acai bowl.  There are sides including potato rosti, baked beans, and chorizo.  A couple of salads are on the menu, and there is a choice of breads and gluten free items. Don't forget the various types of coffee beans that they roast in-house.  All delicious I assure you! (They cater small events and meetings also.) 

The verdict? :  well worth a visit to the north (best) side of town:))







A few arty shots of the cafe interior.  I love the industrial feel of this place, with the fab ceiling lights, and the blackboards.  


10 Hayward St.,
Stafford
Ph: 3356 5652


Click to add a blog post for Elixir Coffee HQ Espresso Lounge on Zomato 


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Smoked Salmon Cakes - A Fishy Tale


golden salmon cakes with pickled cucumbers and yoghurt dressing  


Remember your childhood days?  When your mum made fish cakes with lots of mashed potato 'cos it was cheap and filling, and the fish was the cheapest sort out of a can?  Well, our mum did have 6 mouths to feed, and not much money, so think kindly of her.  These days I like to make mine a wee bit more special, so I add some smoked salmon and leave out the tatties altogether:)  (I nearly said "taters" there; I can hear Samwise Gamgee's voice in my head telling Gollum that you can boil 'em, mash 'em or put 'em in a stew.)  You don't need to worry about any of that in this recipe:=)  Of course if I were Eliza Acton or Mrs Beeton I would suggest "first catch your fish", but you don't have to worry about that either, unless you really want to, precioussss.

When we were kids, we lived in the country, just near the Puffing Billy railway track.  It is a beautiful old steam train, lovingly maintained and supported by train enthusiasts.  And there is a wonderful old trestle bridge (which I have mentioned in a previous post), which overlooks Monbulk Creek.  It is into this creek that we would fall every summer. And where we fished for yabbies (crayfish) with bits of string and safety pins.  I am not sure we ever caught any, and I doubt that anyone in the family would have eaten them anyway.  Dad was a meat and 3 veg kind of guy, though we did eat flake (gummy shark) fairly regularly.  So I have almost no fishing experience, and therefore must buy my fish for this dish in a can!              


ingredients:

1 x 415g. can of red salmon, well drained
50g. smoked salmon
2 eggs, separated
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbs chopped dill (I used 3 tsp dill paste as no fresh was available)
1 tbs lightly dried parsley
1 tsp paprika
4 spring onions, finely sliced
grated rind and juice of a lemon or lime
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup breadcrumbs  (I used ciabatta and blitzed it in the processor)
3/4 to 1 cup cornflake crumbs  (use breadcrumbs if you prefer)
2-3 tbs olive oil

Method:


Place both salmons, the egg yolks, mayo, mustard, dill, paprika, spring onions, lemon zest and juice, pepper and breadcrumbs into a food processor
Blitz briefly till you have a coarse mixture
Scoop it out with a large spoon and shape into 6 (or 7) large or 12 small patties
Beat the egg whites with a fork
Coat the patties with the egg whites then the cornflake crumbs
Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to relax and chill out
Heat the oil over a medium heat
Give the patties a minute on each side till golden
Place them on a lined baking tray and into a 180C oven for 5 mins.



throw everything bar the egg whites and cornflake crumbs into the processor

salmon cakes crumbed and about to go in the fridge for a wee rest before frying and baking 


Serve these with pickled cucumber, yoghurt dressing and small potatoes.  (see, I couldn't resist those tatties after all).

Pickled cucumber:

Peel one small cucumber
Slice into 1 cm thick rounds
Place in a non-reactive bowl (glass or plastic)
Add 2 tbs white vinegar and 2 tbs lime or lemon juice
Throw in some salt and pepper to taste 
Set aside for about 20 minutes till it softens


cucumbers before going into the fridge to pickle  


Yoghurt dressing:

1 cup plain, thick yoghurt
2 tbs lime or lemon juice
1/2 to 1 tsp raspberry vinegar
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
herbs of your choice - dill, parsley, mint etc.  I used 2 tsp lightly dried parsley, 1 tsp dill paste and 1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste (I used lime salt)
Mix together and chill for 10 minutes



mixing the yoghurt dressing   


Potatoes:

as many as you fancy per person!
Peel them (or not) as you please
Steam or boil till half way cooked
Toss in olive oil and seasoning (and herbs if you like)
Bake in a 190C oven for about 15 minutes or until tender
Throw on a few dabs of butter at the end:)



cute little tatties in butter and herbs 


an egg? No, a potato!:) 


frying the cakes till golden 

ready to eat!

Well folks this was delicious, may I say?  The cucumbers were a big win as Mr P. told me just before I made them that he didn't like this particular type of cucumber.   What the?!  For the third time in recent history, he has floored me with his secret and previously unspoken dislikes.  Who is this man I married?  Anyway, he ate them and he liked them!

Winter is not a good time for fresh herbs so I ended up using dried herbs and paste. The flavours were still fresh and zingy, so it wasn't a bad thing at all.  The salmon cake recipe has been adapted from a tinned fish ad I found in an old Delicious magazine. The accompaniments were my own invention.  This meal serves 3 people, or 2 with leftovers.  I foresee a fish cake sandwich in my near future:=)


Sunday, 23 August 2015

My Sunday Photo 23 August 2015

the World Press Photo exhibition at Brisbane Powerhouse  

Last week we went to a show at the Powerhouse.  They were also holding the World Press Photo exhibition full of amazing, heart-rending and thought-provoking photos.  A few were of dead people; I am never sure about this as I feel it can be rather disrespectful.  It is also of course incredibly moving, and mentally stimulating.  Well worth a visit.


OneDad3Girls


Thursday, 20 August 2015

A - Z Guidebook - Callington Mill, Oatlands, Tasmania

Here we are again with another month flying by!  And now it is time for the A-Z Guidebook travel post again.  I swear I don't know how July disappeared so fast.   Maybe I was in a zombie coma?  I have been on anti-biotics for nearly 2 weeks due to a jawful of pus (sorry about that).  They no longer warn you off alcohol whilst on them, but they do tell you to keep out of the sun.  What's that about? Afraid of the zombie apocalypse perhaps?  Oops, that's vampyres I'm thinking of, isn't it?  (I couldn't resist the gothic spelling).  

Here is my photo of Callington Mill, a gloriously beautiful and more importantly, working mill in Tasmania.  Mr P. and I have several friends living in Hobart, and we go there as often as we can.  My fave story (which Mr P. hates me telling) is a time that we travelled around Tassie in October, as Mr P. was giving a talk. There was a sudden cold snap, and as we drove, I could see lots of sad little white bundles lying in the fields.  The farmers had not had warning of the frost, so the poor lambs had been left out overnight, and had frozen to death.  

I was pointing these out to hubby, saying what sad little heaps they were.  His response? - "they're just resting" was straight out of Monty Python. And he wasn't even being funny!  It's all part of his Pollyanna persona, which it took me years to take at face value, as it is just him.  I keep telling him when they press the big red button for the nuclear holocaust, he will be saying, "it's fine, no probs, don't worry about your skin falling off", etc.



the glorious Mill still turning out flour today, which you can buy online  

surrounded by lavender flowers    


Join in at tiffinbitesized.com.au, so you too can share the places you have visited and loved (and photographed).  This month we are sharing places starting with C :).  

(Sorry Tiffin, I just couldn't resist an extra photo.  It was impossible to choose).



 TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

American Cheese Scones - and the Tasmanian CWA


my cheesy doodle!


Last time we were in Tasmania, I found this fabulous book The 21st Birthday Cookery Book by the women of the Country Women's Association of Tasmania.  The book was first published in 1957, so as you can imagine, there are some fascinating old recipes in here.  It is ring-bound for easy handling; you can turn the whole book inside out if you feel so inclined!  So very sensible of the ladies:)  

I try to collect regional cookbooks wherever I go, as the old-fashioned culinary arts are in danger of dying out (even with the advent of celebrity chefs and Masterchefs). Another favourite of mine is also from Tasmania - The Lighthouse Cookbook; another great read from the ladies of Tasmania.  Nothing better than baking, on a cold wintry day in Tassie!

Last week I made our friend Pam's grandmum's scones; this week I wanted to try this recipe for American Cheese Scones.  Miss PP grew up in the USA (her Aussie mum married an American serviceman during the Second World War and went to live there), so she has a delightfully soft American accent, and a very charming manner.   So I thought of her when I saw this recipe, which though mostly made in the traditional way, has a few quirks of its own!  


ingredients:

240g. self-raising flour (Mrs. CWA lady says 1/2 lb.)
pinch of sea salt
1 large tbs butter
1/2 cup (125 mls) milk
1 egg
1/2 cup (115g.) butter
1 cup (110g.) grated tasty cheddar-type cheese
1/2-1 tsp mustard (I used my home-made grain mustard)
pinch of cayenne pepper - make it a big one if you like a bit of heat

Method:

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl
Rub in the butter with your fingertips till it looks like breadcrumbs
Whisk the egg lightly into the milk
Pour it into the flour mixture
Mix to a soft dough with a knife or spatula 
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead slightly
Pat it out with your hands till about 1 cm thick - you should end up with an oval/rectangular shape about 20 cm x 30 cm
Cut into rounds - use a cookie cutter or drinking glass
Place on a lined baking tray
Melt the butter in a small saucepan
Throw in the cheese, mustard and cayenne
Stir over a low heat till the cheese starts to melt
Take it off the heat and stir madly till it all comes together in a cheesy, buttery gloop
Spoon over the top of each scone - about 1.5 tbs per scone (I had some left over as I didn't want my scones to drown)
Bake at 220C for about 15 minutes till golden

I have taken a few liberties with the recipe as given.  Mrs. L. Barnes of Longford, the putative author, has neglected to tell us what kind of flour to use so I have decided to use self-raising as per most scone recipes.  This book uses imperial measurements, where a cup is 285 mls, rather than the modern Australian one of 250 mls. I have chosen to stick to modern measurements!  She also forgot to mention what happens to the milk and egg, so I made an executive decision as to when and how to add them. And finally, I doubled the mustard and cayenne.  They were unexpectedly delicious! Mr P. immediately had about 6 for his lunch.  I think I may have eaten a few myself just quietly.


ingredients

whisking milk and egg together 

adding it to the flour and butter mixture   

mixing to a soft dough with a knife    

patting it out to about 1 cm thickness    

cutting out shapes with a cookie cutter

cut out and ready for a cheesy topping  

melting the butter and cheese together 

spooning over the cheesy mix  

realising I had to line the tray before baking:)    

beautiful and golden


Mr P.'s washing up - he insisted I put in this photo:)  It does look cute in the sun   



A few words of warning here: the dough was incredibly soft so I had to sprinkle on more flour when kneading.  There was excess cheesy mix; you could either make a bit less or use on toast perhaps as a spread.  Make sure you line the tray!  I realised that the cheese would melt on and become rock-hard after baking, so I quickly transferred them to a lined tray.  Phew!  But they were delicious I have to say, much to my surprise and that of Mr P., as I had been grizzling all morning about how I thought they would end up like little bullets.  Nope!  They were light and moreish.  Definitely worth a try.