Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Baked Spicy Rice & Chicken

Who doesn't love a good risotto?  Well, maybe not your average cooking show contestant; it seems to be the downfall of many of them:=).  I like mine soft and creamy (the rice, not the contestants), and a little bit wet. But - the but is they take a fair bit of time and energy, watching and stirring and watching and stirring...Well, you get the picture.  So here we have a rice dish that is easy, and once in the oven, takes no time or energy from you. 

Obviously, you could never call it a risotto, 'cos it's not one.  But it's really tasty, it has everything in one dish, and you can go off and do your own thang for a while, as it bakes ever so gently in the oven. Ring in the changes as you desire: use bacon instead of chicken, or add raw salmon chunks at the start of baking.  Try your own fave spices, or vegetables.  This is a dish you can happily customise.

delicious and ever so pretty dish 

Serves 4-6:

Original Recipe by Sherry's Pickings


2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 small, red chillies, finely chopped (optional)

12 strands of saffron

1 large zucchini (about 300g.), chopped roughly into chunks

300g. cooked, shredded chicken

1 tbs currants

2 tbs barberries or a mix of cranberries and currants

1 tbs flaked almonds

1 tbs pine nuts

1 tbs pistachios

4 cardamom pods, cracked

1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick

2-3 dashes of ground Allspice

big! pinch of smoked or plain sea salt flakes

about 10 grinds of black pepper

1 cup Arborio rice (or any short grain rice)

4 cups (1 Litre) of chicken or veg. stock - homemade or a good quality supermarket one

2 tbs (handfuls) of chopped parsley, chives etc - your choice

a big pinch of extra saffron - about 10 strands 

knob of butter about 10-15g.

To Serve:

2 tbs barberries extra

1 tbs currants extra

2-3 handfuls of nuts e.g. flaked almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios

piece of preserved orange or lemon about 6cm. long, finely chopped, or 1 tbs zest if you don't have the other on hand

extra herbs for serving: chop up your fave herbs to strew over at the end.  I used parsley and chives


Place the oil and onion in a large skillet/frypan on a medium-low heat

Stir for a few minutes then add the garlic, chillies and saffron

Stir for another few minutes then throw in the zucchini chunks

Cook for about 5 minutes till the veg. starts to look tender

Now stir in the chicken, currants, barberries and nuts

Add all the spices - cardamom, cinnamon, Allspice, salt and pepper

Don't forget the rice!  Pour that into the skillet

Add the other herbs, saffron and knob of butter

Combine all the ingredients gently, and tip into a large baking dish with a lid

Place the baking dish onto the middle rack of your oven

Pour in the boiling stock and combine everything gently

Whack on the lid and bake at 185C for about 30 mins.  It may take only 25 mins or perhaps 35; depends on your oven so check after 25 mins.

Strew over the extra fruits, nuts and herbs for serving


Feel free to replace the zucchini with cauliflower or veg. of your choice - or add it as well as the zucchini

You can buy a roasted chook and shred it like I did, or buy about 300g. of breast which you can poach or bake before cooling and chopping into small pieces

The smoked salt and the preserved orange are not essential but add such a depth of flavour, you will want to try them

My own palmful equals 1 tablespoon just FYI :=) 

sunny ingredients gathered

fry up the veg.

stir in the chicken and herbs 

in goes the stock; now bake at 185C for about 30 mins. 

baked and smelling delish 

so pretty, so tasty, so spicy

my Iranian saffron doodle

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Two Streets Over - Café Review

I love to see our old corner shops retained, rather than knocked down or turned into some modern monstrosity.  We are lucky in the inner suburbs of Brisbane to have lots of cute, old shops still strutting their stuff.  Mr P. the architect type loved the way they have restored this recently opened, local coffee shop.  So did I!  

cute courtyard perfect for some coffee time 

Mr P. had some time free for lunch so we headed down to grab a bite to eat.  Now don't let this scare you off but there is a highway just near the café.  Surprisingly it didn't worry us at all.  There is ample street parking, and it was quieter than we expected.  It can be a bit tricky to get to, but we took some back roads.  You can also come in off the main road heading out of town, and turn left into Swan Street.

looking up at the overpass

This is the view from the front of the café.  Quite an interesting sight as it is not a vantage point you would normally have.  Not too noisy either.    

yep they make toasties:=)

But no, we didn't opt for the gourmet toasties.  Mr P. loves a fritter so he chose the corn and zucchini fritter with black bean salsa. Excuse my rant, but all too often a so-called fritter is a flour-heavy pancake with a kernel of corn or veg. thrown in.  Very happily, these were not like that.  Perhaps a tiny bit heavier than you would hope for, but these were full of corn and zucchini.  The salsa was "interesting", though he would have liked more oomph.  You know, spicy and tangy and maybe a bit of chilli heat. 

corn and zuke fritters $16

"Not quite as good as Bill's at Bondi", he tells me but pretty damn fine.

potato rosti, mushrooms and poached eggs $16 

I enjoyed this dish.  I am a big fan of mushies, and there was a generous serve here. The rosti was golden and crunchy outside (both of them), and soft inside.  I would have liked my eggs a bit softer and more runny, but they were still tasty.  A generous and filling lunch for me.  And yes it was nice to have a bit of green stuff on the plate, to cut the richness of the dish.

ginger beer for Mr P. $4

Mr P. liked his Capi ginger beer.  Lots of gingery tang apparently. The Council bus came by just as I took the photo.  There's another option for you in how to get here :=) 

cappuccino for me $4 

My coffee was fine, though I often find cafés make it too weak for me.  Get a double shot, you twit, I hear you say.  I hear you, folks. 

bring your pooch too!

This place is pooch-friendly; see the dog bowl and hitching post above.  Enjoy all-day breakfasts, cool drinks, tea, coffee and sweets.  They care about your gluten and dairy intolerances (unlike me ha ha!).  And open up early - 6 am weekdays, 6:30 am on weekends for your coffee and brekkie demands.  

3 Swan St., Gordon Park 4031
Ph: 0429 612 541
Open every day till 1pm

Two Streets Over Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

A - Z Guidebook: Wawona Hotel, Yosemite California

why am I looking so grumpy? :=)  Perhaps the lack of dinner the previous night 

This is the Wawona Hotel at the edge of Yosemite National Park. Now known as Big Trees Lodge.  It was getting late, it was getting dark, it was getting cold, and we had nowhere to stay!  Thank the Small Gods, we finally stumbled across Wawona.  Shared bathrooms down the open hallway.  No food with us except a packet of jelly beans.  And (as some readers may remember) the restaurant only allowed you in if you had evening dress!!  Yes, what the?!

Anyway, we were thankful not to be left out in the snow with the grizzly bears eating our toes.  Part of the reason we had nowhere to stay was that the Info Centre had phones where you could ring and book a room for the night.  Sadly, some tourists are not that good at making decisions on the spot.  Each person was therefore taking hours (or was it days?) trying to find a suitable place to rest their heads.  By the time we got to the phones, there was nothing left.   So we drove and drove (it's 30 miles from Yosemite Valley) and hit Wawona.  Phew!  Life saved.

Join in with Tiffin Fiona from Bite Sized Food Adventures for the monthly travel photo round-up.  Currently on the letter W, as you can see.

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Monday, 10 April 2017

Dried Cranberry, Oats And White Choc Biscuits

I love the word cookies, don't you?  It just sounds so good and so crunchy in your mouth.  And so very descriptive.  But I refrain my dears, 'cos I won't give in to those damn Yankees:=)  Biscuits it is. And these are brilliant little morsels, great with a cuppa or a glass of bubbly. 

I discovered this recipe on the back of a Craisins packet.  It sounded so simple and (I hoped) delicious that I thought I'd give it a try.  I've had a bit of a bad run with recipes from cookbooks lately, so I am on a hunt for ones that work.  And this does.  It was easy to make, and tastes great, happily.  So here we go.  

layer upon layer of delish biscuits 


166g. (2/3 cup) butter, softened

133g. (2/3 cup) brown sugar or coconut blossom sugar or your fave

2 large eggs

113g. (1+1/4 cups) oats

156g. (1+1/4 cups) of plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

100g. (1 cup) dried cranberries

116g. (2/3 cup) white chocolate chips


Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl; preferably with electric beaters unless you are trying to build up your puny muscles

Add the eggs and beat well - yep, chuck them in together

Mix the oats, flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl

Combine the dry mixture with the buttery mixture, in 3 goes - i.e. add some, stir it in etc till the floury stuff is all mixed in

Now gently stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips

Then use a teaspoon to add rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased trays (no need for baking paper either)

Bake at 190C for 10-12 minutes or till golden

Cool on the trays, then place on racks to finish cooling - or just forget them like I did and whack them into a storage container when cold


If you do a search on baking measurements, you will find people who say a cup of brown sugar is 200 grams, and others who say it is 155 grams!  So as I was using mostly coconut blossom sugar which is not all that sweet, I used a bit more than one said, and a bit less than another said.  Or you can stick with cup measurements, but I find them very imprecise

I did think of adding spices, etc. but Mr P. said to try the recipe as is - so I did.  And I think he was right; they are great as they are

ingredients gathered

creamed butter and sugar; eggs ready to be beaten in 

dry stuff combined

mix it all together 

ready for baking @190C for 10-12 mins.

golden and ready for eating 

This is such a quick and easy recipe.  You can whip it up for guests in a flash.  I might even add more choc chips next time.  So the verdict is: a great little recipe.  Good to see that you can actually find workable recipes in printed form.  Boo to all those cookbooks and mags. who don't do it right.

my coconut palm doodle       
Why a coconut palm I can hear you asking?  'Cos I used coconut blossom sugar, sillies.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

In My Kitchen April 2017

Well, hubby and I are just back from our week away in Sydney and Canberra.  We have eaten all the good stuff, and been total culture vultures at several Art Galleries and Museums.  Oh, and caught up with family and friends, including Liz from Bizzy Lizzy blog!  Hi Liz:=)  And Michele from Fine Eating - hi Michele.

So I have a few things to show you in my kitchen:

a box of purple garlic

I read on Celia's blog recently (Fig Jam & Lime Cordial) that she had bought local Australian garlic, which she freezes for her annual supply.  I have done this for some years too; usually from Patrice Newell's Elmswood Farm.  I divvy it up into cloves with skin on, and shove into plastic bags and into the freezer.  It lasts for a year!   I was a bit worried I may not have enough so I decided to order another 500g. from Westmead Park Natural Farm.  

divvied up and ready for freezing

These gorgeous purple cloves are now sitting in my freezer for the coming months.  After having to buy some Mexican garlic last year in desperation (which was rotten and instantly thrown in the bin), I do not want to run out again.

fresh apples from the farm

Every autumn, a Stanthorpe farmer drives down to the big smoke and goes around the 'burbs hawking his fresh fruit.  I feel compelled to buy a box; gotta keep the locals thriving.  These are lovely and crisp.  I have given heaps away to friends but still have lots left in my fridge for eating, juicing and tea cake making.

baking choc oat biscuits on a rainy day 

A few days before the cyclone up north, we had a really rainy day in Brisbane.  Perfect for biscuit making.  These are easy and delicious.  And speaking of the cyclone, how odd it was to be away from home this past week, and to feel very removed from it all.   Just to let you know, there is now a fund set up by the Lismore City Council to help those in need after the floods (so you know it's legit. unlike some of the fraudulent ones that have popped up).

yes another wooden spoon - made from old callistemon wood 

I can hear Tiffin Fiona chuckling all the way from Texas!  Yes I had to buy another spoon.  Mr P. and I trotted along to the Old Bus Depot Markets in Canberra, and found a charming fella who makes implements from reclaimed wood.  How could I resist such frugality and resourcefulness?

John Olsen squid plate

We went along to the Art Gallery in Sydney (in the pouring rain mind you), and visited the John Olsen exhibition.  Regular readers may remember I bought a book recently which has recipes and artwork by Mr. Olsen (who loves to cook apparently).  It was a very interesting showing of his work over the last 5 or 6 decades of his career.  I admit I don't like a fair bit of it, (I don't understand it I guess) but there was heaps to admire and enjoy.  And he is still going strong at 89!

Well, that's about it for this month, other than to let you know I am taking over the mantle of In My Kitchen as of May.  So please hop along then to visit and contribute to the global peek into fascinating kitchens.  But for this month, check out Liz's blog for her last hosting posting of IMK :=)


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Medley Café & Restaurant - Review

My also-retired workmate Mr. L came by the other day to scoop me off to lunch by the river. He had discovered this wonderful little place, with lovely gardens and some public artworks along the river walk.  You can sit and sip something refreshing, and contemplate the universe while watching the City Cats and ferries glide by. What could be nicer on a crazily hot autumn day?  

interior (love that painting)

glass of Jansz $12 

I chose a refreshing glass of Tasmanian champers, while my old mate had a pot of green tea.  He is very conscious of his health and has far more willpower than I do :=) 

pot of tea $4

See my hands and phone reflected in the tea pot?  Hilarious.

salmon w/- mashed sweet potato $26 

This was a really flavoursome dish.  I loved the sweet potato mash, all smooth and yes sweet; the grilled asparagus was just tender enough and crunchy enough to be perfect; and the salmon was a delight.  There was crispy skin, and a beautifully tender middle, with a pat of herb butter on the side to add to the beautiful flavour combo.  So glad I picked this one!

Greek salad $12

Like I said, Mr. L was being very circumspect that day.  He chose an entrée-sized salad, which was fairly substantial and good value for $12.00.  It had the usual suspects: fetta, olives, cucumber and onion dressed with extra virgin olive oil.  No complaints there.  I would have loved to indulge in a dessert, or a cake from the display cabinet, but alas I was too full of delicious fish.  And you know Mr. L is too health-minded for such things :=)

The Pickings Verdict: a fine place to have lunch and watch the watery world go by.  Lunch was delicious, and we enjoyed a relaxing time out.

They are licensed, and do breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Take the kiddies as there is a kids' menu also.  It's worth taking a little time afterwards, and going for a stroll along the river path.  Check out the yachts moored nearby, the artworks, and beautiful, historical Yungaba, the old migrant hostel which is going to become luxury apartments.  Oh, and you can take a gander at Story Bridge which hangs in the sky.

an old ship's propeller near the restaurant - now an artwork

all sorts of boats are moored near Medley

Ph: 07 3162 4492
62 Wharf St.,
Kangaroo Point Q. 4169

Medley Cafe & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Spicy Chicken Patties

As much as I love Annabel (Langbein that is, the Kiwi cook), I am not fully convinced about her recipes.  I have made a few of them in the past, and I seem to have some niggling doubts.  A chocolate cake that made too much batter for one pan, but not enough for two.  A quick blender mayo that just didn't turn out; maybe it was the Queensland humidity?

But I wanted to give her another go, so here I am trying her chicken patties recipe.  We will discover if it works out!  She always seems so friendly and warm on her shows. And how envious I am of her gorgeous cottage at Lake Wanaka, with her wonderful garden full of fresh produce.  Annabel, where's that dinner invitation?:=)  This recipe is from her book Simple Pleasures The Free Range Cook.  

Interestingly, the NZ tablespoon is the same as the US or UK one - i.e. 15 mLs rather than the Aussie one of 20 mLs.  I am often to be found searching out equivalent measurements for recipes as we have different measurements in Australia to just about any other country.  Are we contrary, or just deeply individual and quirky?    


1 kg. chicken mince

1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

3 spring onions, finely sliced

zest of 3 limes or lemons

90 mLs of sweet chilli sauce - i.e. 6 Kiwi tbs or 4.5 Aussie tbs

2 egg whites or one whole egg

1/2 cup of coconut cream

salt and black pepper to taste - I used 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1 level tsp smoked salt flakes, and about 15 grinds of pepper

1-2 tbs oil for frying - I used olive but you can use any oil you prefer


Place all the ingredients, except the oil for frying, into a large mixing bowl

Mix together (hands are best), and shape into 10-12 patties

Put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up

Heat up the oil in a frying pan or on the BBQ

Brown the patties on each side for a few minutes, squishing them down as you go, till the patties are about 1 cm. thick

Now you can keep cooking in the pan till they are done - i.e. firm to the touch in the middle (you don't want raw chicken).  This should take about 3 more minutes on each side

Or place them on a lined baking tray and throw them in the oven at 185C for 8 minutes

There will be excess liquid once they are baked, so tip it off and put the patties on a wire rack over a tray to catch the drips

Eat them in a burger or with savoury rice or however you please


This is a very sloppy mixture; I donned my surgeon's gloves to form the patties

Annabel says this will make 8-10 patties; I didn't want huge ones so decided on a medium size

No fresh coriander was to be found so I used the lightly dried variety (I still used 1/4 cup 'cos we like the flavour)


ready to mix

patties made and heading to the fridge for 30 mins. 

fry for a few mins. on each side

golden outsides

about to go into the oven after frying till golden  

draining off the excess liquid after baking

golden and delicious

Well, I have to say Annabel has come up trumps here.  These patties were very tasty and flavoursome; crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  Mr P. smothered his in sweet chilli sauce and yoghurt and declared them fabulous.  Phew!  I was worried there as I thought they might be too bland and watery.  Annabel doesn't mention putting them on a wire rack to drain, but I think it is essential.  We all know how wet chicken mince can be.  Give these a go, folks!

my limey doodle