Tuesday, 7 July 2015

In My Kitchen July 2015

Do I even bother to say how damn fast June went by?  You know it did.  We had an action-packed month, full of fun and festivities.  I was very lucky and enjoyed a wonderful birthday month with gifts and outings.  Mr P. bought me a new camera, so no pressure there when I am taking photos for the blog:)  I have not actually read the manual yet, nor put the battery or whatever it is inside it.  I did pick it up the other night, and we both said yep we must check out how it works soon...

new, slightly scary camera 

This is going to look like a lot of stuff peoples, but remember it is over 2 months, and it included birthday gifts:)

this is by the mother of the famous Hugh! I didn't even know he had a mother:) 

lovely EVOO from Patrice's farm  

my fave but I always say that, don't I? 

another of my faves - yes it's not local but it is yummy 

I love a fishy napkin 

great little cheese knife  

definitely a huge fave of mine  

birthday gift from Princess Pia - I have used it already!

these are so addictive  

have yet to try this one!  note the book on the table - can't wait to get doodling:) 

Miss Phryne Fisher Mysteries cup and saucer - I love Phryne!

got this one with a birthday gift voucher from SIL

such cute measuring cups from my Melbourne Cuz 

I hesitate to tell you there were more gifts, and more still to come in the mail.  Mr P. keeps saying they are going to arrive next month.  We had a (freezing) movie night in our car-port, watching The Princess Bride.  It is not often we get a chance to rug up in sunny Brisbane, so even though we shivered, I think we all enjoyed putting on the layers and drinking hot chocolate.  Our friend the Marvellous Miss M. brought along her 8 year old son for his first viewing of this fab movie.  Oh, how we quote it!  We first saw it in Philadelphia when we lived there for a few months, and have always had very fond memories of seeing it with our dear Quaker friend.  I think it was a big success with the 8 year old, too.

Mr P. at the controls; notice beanies and blankets of freezing guests  

Come along and join in with the wonderful Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial who kindly looks after our monthly meanderings in everybody's kitchens.  I promise you will enjoy a wander through lots of amazing kitchens all around the globe.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

My Sunday Photo 5 July 2015

this is a group called Deep Blue and yes she IS standing on that bass!

Check these guys out on Youtube - they are fantastic!  We really enjoyed seeing them play and dance and sing and walk on stilts last night.  Please excuse the poor quality of the photo - it was dark and I was using my iphone:)


Friday, 3 July 2015

Delfina's Bistro - Review

Once upon a time, there was a cafe that served delicious desserts any time of the day and night...Well not anymore, there's a new kid in town called Delfina's Bistro in its place.  I checked out the menu online, and one recent weekday lunchtime, Mr P. and I hot-footed it to the Valley.  We were very lucky to get a parking space as it is at a premium in the Emporium centre.  We wandered down, and easily found a table (I think we were a bit later than regular worker bees).  I am a fan of industrial decor, so I really liked the edgy-looking ceiling and lamps, though perhaps it clashed a bit with the pretty turquoise wall.

edgy decor

I was a leetle bit disappointed when perusing the actual menu, as I had been looking forward to some oysters, and confit rabbit which was on the website menu.  It seems that this is a dinner menu only, sadly for my rabbit cravings. The lunchtime menu is quite sparse, with just 3 choices in entrees, mains and desserts.  Mr P. and I both chose the same entree - smoked ocean trout salad with witlof, fennel, lemon and avocado.  This was really fresh and tasty, with crunch from the vegetables and walnuts, and acidity from the lemon. I found it almost filling enough for lunch, and the waitress clearly thought so too, as she offered us the dessert menu after the entrees.  She only looked slightly horrified when we said we were having mains too:)

smoked ocean trout salad $18

Did I mention the complimentary bowl of olives at the start of the meal?  These were delicious; so shiny and pretty too. Mr P. now tells me he no longer eats olives as he has "gone off the taste".  Huh? what happened to the memo?  So I had to try to eat them all myself - a valiant effort I think.

aren't they pretty, and so shiny? 

I might have forgotten to mention the cocktail I started with.  Eek!, you are saying- cocktails and 2 courses at lunchtime!?!  What the?!  Alright, I admit it - it was my birthday!  So I threw caution to the winds, and just went for it.  I had a drink called Dark Rendezvous, with rum and Tia Maria and condensed milk and espresso.  Oh yes, I smacked my lips and contemplated a second.

Dark Rendezvous $18

On with the mains.  I chose prawn tagliatelle with rocket, lemon, chilli, garlic and olive oil.  This was a great choice, especially as I am not fond of pasta usually.  But this was so fresh, and tasted as though it had come from a nonna's kitchen.  I did a great job of eating nearly all of it.

prawn tagliatelle $19

Mr P. loves a bit of rice in his day so he chose the chicken and corn risotto with asparagus and peas. He said some of the chicken was slightly undercooked, and the dish needed more seasoning.  But all in all, it was better than average - 3.5/5 on the Mr P. meter, quoth he.

chicken and corn risotto $17 

Well, I may have decided to be good and only have one cocktail, but I succumbed to the lure of a glass of Victorian rose with my pasta.  It was deliciously drinkable!

Rowanston pinot rose $10

We finally called a halt to the birthday pig-out, and declining dessert, (I know, such restraint) we paid the very reasonable bill and toddled off home for a nap.  Just kidding! -  in fact Mr P. went back to his drawing board so to speak, and I jumped on my laptop to scratch away at the history project I am working on.  Not a bad birthday lunch.

(FYI - Delfina's also has a private dining room, and holds special events.  Their banner declares them to be a fine dining Mod Aus restaurant with a European twist; plus hats into the ring as a tapas bar too.)

Click to add a blog post for Delfina's Bistro on Zomato

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Miraculous Canadian Sugar Pie

I cannot believe it is Canada Day again.  It seems like a couple of months ago I was hunting around for a recipe to put up on the blog, and zap! a whole year has flown by.  Canada Day is 1 July, celebrating the Constitution Act of 1867 which melded 3 colonies into one country - Canada.  And before you ask, I am not Canadian, but I have always felt some kind of link to that country.  I think it is because I love Anne of Green Gables, and other books by L. M. Montgomery.  One of my faves of hers is Kilmeny of the Orchard, a romantic tale about a mute girl, saving her fella from being murdered by a crazy rival with an axe - yep you will have to read it yourself.

Green Gables Farmhouse on Prince Edward Island (author Chensiyuan on Wikimedia)    

Prince Edward Island is on my bucket list of places to visit so I will have to save up my pennies!  So anyway, I found this recipe for Miraculous Pie, which is apparently a well-known Canadian pie, made very simply with only a few ingredients.  The method is similar to Impossible Pie, where you blend up half a dozen ingredients in the blender and bake it; and it forms its own crust, just like this one.  What could be easier?  


2 cups of brown sugar 
1/4 cup butter, softened (for we Metric users, make it 60g.)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain flour
1+1/2 cups milk - i.e. 375 mls


Beat the brown sugar and butter together in a medium bowl till well mixed - at least 5 mins.
Beat in the eggs one by one - this is when the batter will start to look smooth and creamy
Throw in the vanilla and salt and mix in briefly
Add the flour a third at a time
Pour in the milk in 2 lots - I added half after the first lot of flour and half after the last lot of flour
Mix in very well
Pour the batter into a greased 23cm pie dish
Bake for 35 mins at 180C
Take the pie out and cover the rim with aluminium foil so it doesn't burn
Put it back in the oven for about 15 mins till the middle is set and you have a crusty layer on top
Let it cool to room temp. then refrigerate for at least an hour
Serve with whipped cream if desired - I don't think it needs it really:) 

Okay, here are my warnings/provisos to the original recipe:

I used an electric hand beater as I don't have a big mixer; the butter and sugar mix didn't look smooth and creamy till I added the eggs
My batter looked curdled when I added the milk - no probs, it still works
It took longer than the total 50 mins. mentioned in the recipe - about an hour, maybe an hour and 5
I didn't use alfoil on the rim; it didn't seem to need it and I didn't mind if the crust got a bit brown.
Next time I will try making it in a processor, where you just chuck all the ingredients in at once and blitz till smooth, like Impossible Pie.


adding the softened butter   

after 5 minutes of beating  

first egg in  

2nd egg in-you can see how creamy the batter has become after no. 1 egg:)  

both eggs in - very creamy now  

adding vanilla and salt 

in goes the flour bit by bit    

flour mixed in with half of the milk  

ready for the oven (looking slightly curdled but no worries, it ends up fine!

out of the oven after 35 mins.-add alfoil to rim if needed 

baked and now to cool right down

Mr P. couldn't wait so I had to cut him a slice!

This is a really easy and delicious pie.  It has a beautiful brown sugar taste, tending a bit towards toffee on the edges. You could even throw a few chopped pecans into the batter, but it doesn't need it. It is fine just how it is - a lovely celebratory pie for Canada Day.

File:Maple syrup houses.jpg
Nova Scotian sugarhouses for harvesting maple syrup
(just to keep us in the Canadian mood) 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Friday, 26 June 2015

Polish Pearl Barley Soup - aka Krupnik!

Pearl barley soup brings back happy memories for me of cold, wintry Sunday nights in our childhood home, a big pot of soup bubbling away on the stove, full of carrots and celery and shreds of beef. Mum had to feed 4 hungry children on not much money so this thick, chunky soup went a long way with some bread or scones.  I smiled when I saw this recipe in 'Sugared Oranges' by Beata Zatorska for a Polish version of mum's soup.  It is actually pretty much the same as mum's except for the dill and parsley, and the substitution of chicken for beef, or should that be beef for chicken?  I am never sure which way that should go.

Anyway, be grateful I am not sharing Russian barley soup with you - Rassolnik, made with pickled cucumbers, barley and kidneys!   That is a step too far for me.  Nah, I would give it a go if someone cooked it for me.  I believe in eating whatever someone is kind enough to make for you, even if not your fave dish.  My sis-in-law's sis-in-law made us spaghetti with tomato sauce one night for dinner and as regular readers may know, for me this does not compute!  Eek to packet pasta and eek to (tasteless) tomato sauce!  But yes I ate as much as I could stomach, and then went home to have some dinner:)

Righto, enough whingeing.  On to the soup.  Oh, and mum's did not have dried porcini mushroom flavouring it either. Dad was a meat and 3 veg man so nothing 'foreign' for him.  If you have time, rinse and soak the barley for a few hours before making the soup.  I left it late so only soaked it for 2 hours, though 6-8 hours is better, says Beata.


1 red onion, diced
2 large carrots, chopped - I like my carrots chunky
1-2 stalks of celery, sliced up
1 parsnip, diced - I used an extra half carrot and skipped the parsnip
3 chicken thigh cutlets (with bones in)
4 dried porcini mushrooms
200g. pearl barley (soaked for a few hours in cold water)
2 tsp chicken stock powder
2.7 litres of water (my soup pan wouldn't hold the 3 litres called for in the recipe!)
1 tbs lightly dried parsley
1 tbs dill paste (from a tube)
1 large potato, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces
salt and pepper to taste


Place the peeled and chopped onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and chicken cutlets into a large saucepan
Add in the porcini, barley, stock powder and water and half of the parsley and dill
Bring to the boil and simmer away for an hour till tender and beautiful
Throw in the diced potato and add salt and pepper to taste (I found it needed quite a lot)
Stir in the other half of the parsley and dill
Simmer for another 15 minutes
Pull the chicken meat off the bones, discard the bones and plop the meat back into the soup
Serve with crusty bread, in large bowls

Why not fresh herbs you may well ask?  Because seeing how it is winter, the fresh herbs looked very sad and sorry and not worth the money.  If you do find decent quality herbs, by all means use them and double the quantities given here. There was no need to saute the veggies first as I would normally have done (the recipe does not suggest this, and truly I found the soup delicious without doing it).  Normally I would soak the dried porcini first, but the recipe said to just chuck 'em in, so I did!  It also had only 2 chicken wings as part of the soup, which are removed at the end of cooking, but I felt there would be more flavour, and nicer to have a bit of flesh in the soup so I added the cutlets.


chopped veggies in the pan    

barley soaked and drained; potato ready for dicing  

adding chicken thigh cutlets  

ready for boiling!

diced potato about to be plopped in  

ready to eat 

even better the next day for lunch!  

Did I mention how much I enjoyed the book this came from?  The author is a doctor in Sydney, but travels often back to Poland, her home-country.  This book, and her earlier one Rose Petal Jam are both full of delightful photos taken by her husband Simon; stories about her childhood, and the delicious foods her grandmother made for the family.  Her writing is a little over the top for me, a tad too sentimental, but I understand that her heart is still in Poland in many ways.  It is a beautiful book with many lovely photos, and you can happily find yourself "lost in Poland." And the recipes are interesting too!

File:Jagniatkow 01.jpg
church in Karkonosze Mountains Poland (image public domain) 

Beata spent her childhood summers at her grandmother's cottage in these mountains.