Monday, February 28, 2011

Caramelised Apple Teacakes

My cousin Jacqui has invited me to have dinner at her place as it's been a while since we caught up, so I decided make her and Joel some Caramelised Apple Teacakes from Australian Women's Weekly Bake. Here is two peeled and 1 cm sliced granny smith apples, 80g butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar.

I then creamed 125g butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2/3 cup caster sugar until it was light and fluffy. Then beat in two eggs, one at a time, before adding 1/2 cup plain flour, 1 1/4 cup self raising flour, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 cup of buttermilk and a grated granny smith apple.
With the power of the internet, here are some muffin pans I prepared earlier! I found I had enough mixture to make 15 cakes, so spoon your caramelised apples and sauce into the base before popping some cake mixture on the top. Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C, stand for 5 minutes before flipping onto a serving tray.

There is something wonderful about cooked apples and I think these will be divine tomorrow served warm with a little icecream. I love an easy going cake and these Caramelised Apple Teacakes are just so pretty.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Easy Vanilla Slice

It is the awesome Carmen's birthday and I thought I would surprise her by baking her something. But the challenge is that Carmen's brother is a super star chef who has worked in top restaurants, Quay and Urbane so I am weeing myself slightly. What could I make? Cake? Biscuits? Slices? I ended up thinking back to Australia Day where the lovely Renee made an awesome Easy Vanilla Slice. They were morish and I hoped that mine would be even half as neat as Renee's offering. The photo above is 1/2 cup custard power, 1/2 cup caster sugar, 1 cup of cream, 2 cups of milk and a 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract placed in a saucepan, stirred over medium heat to thicken.

I then layered one pack of Arnott's Lattice Biscuits in a tray with the glazed side down.

Once the custard is warm, spread the mixture over the biscuits.

Layer another pack of the Lattice Biscuits over the custard. If you have cut some of the biscuits in half like I have, ensure your top and bottoms line up, otherwise it will be difficult to cut. Chill for 30 minutes and prepare the icing. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of pure icing sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of passionfruit pulp but I honestly thing you could cut the icing ingredients by half.

Here is the finished result that I plan to take to work tomorrow. This Easy Vanilla Slice is great for barbecues, morning teas etc as they are so quick and easy to make, this might actually become a part of my regular food offering.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Boasting stunning views of the Story Bridge and Brisbane River and nestled at the back of the colloquially named "Hopoate Building," is Brad and Angelica Jolly's baby Alchemy Restaurant and Bar. Alchemy has a contemporary feel with warm chestnut wood tones, highlights in red and a charmingly dispersed polycarbonate pieces, which immediately sets you at ease. The staff are friendly and helpful but it didn't stop Stevenson commenting that our waiter bore a striking resemblance to the husky voiced radio announcer, Howell Granger from Black Books. This kept the gorgeous Kate and I amused all evening as he mimicked, "you look Fran-tastic."

Our adventure down the Alchemy culinary rabbit hole began with bread and an elegant quinelle of honeyed butter, while we mused over the menu. Choices, choices ... 'Rack of Lamb with Grilled Spring Onions, Braised Baby Gem and Salsa Verde,' 'Poached Ocean Trout with Green Olive Puree, Brioche Crumbes and Vanilla Veloute,' 'Five Spiced Duck Breast with Rhubarb Jelly, Roasted Root Vegetables and Madeira Jus.' I decided to take a bold step and select the latter. Duck isn't a bold culinary choice, I hear you scoff. Of course it isn't, I just have little faith in its preparation outside of a Chinese Barbecue Shop. I desperately wanted Alchemy to prove me wrong and they did! The duck was beautifully tender, lapping up the Madeira Jus, while the skin was well seasoned and gave a wonderful lift to the taste buds. It was a well put together dish but the only disappointment was the potatoes were under cooked. However my slight disappointment was quickly eased with dessert.

This gorgeous creature is a 'Soufflé of Caramelized Spiced Apple and Brown Butter and Raisin Ice Cream.' It came served in a small copper pot and was finished at the table with a quick intent of a spoon and a cascade of cream. I would be quite happy to have this Soufflé as my final meal on earth, so light with lovely nutty accents. So a night with great company, sensational food and gorgeous atmosphere creates a memorable Friday. Alchemy, you're amazing.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Address: 175 Eagle Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000.
Open: Monday - Friday. Lunch 12pm - 3pm. Dinner 6pm - 10pm. Saturday. Dinner 6pm until late.
Phone: (07) 3229 3175
Price: Entrees from $22. Mains: $38 - $47. Desserts: $8 - $17.

Alchemy Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last Will and Testament

If I die I want my Mother and Brother to know I love them, to make sure they look after Baci and to throw out the pack of 'Choc Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts' in the pantry.

I'd completely forgotten that my brother brought a pack of 'Choc Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts' until he asked if I've tried one last night. So I decided that I would take one to work, forgo my coffee and lightly toast it before enjoying a warm pastry with milk. Well that was the plan and now as I feel queasy and thus deeply regret this decision. Choc Chip Cookie Dough certainly sounds nice and I was expecting a mild biscuit base with nice pieces of tart dark chocolate puncturing the dough so as you chew it announces to your taste buds, "I'm here, hello!" Sadly 'Choc Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts' lack this and instead your nose is assaulted with the overwhelming stench of artificial substances. It's frankly awful and I'm tempted to throw its cursed twin in the bin where it will probably remain in plastic perfection in landfill. Forget batteries, plastic bags, old mobile phones, the latest threat to the environment is 'Choc Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts.' I really need to go and purge it from my system ... definitely not edible.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti

Since my traditional biscotti adventure was so successful I decided to try my hand at Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti. Chocolate, hazelnuts, cinnamon and orange rind are some of my favourite flavours so what could go wrong?

Biscotti dough is one of my least favourite doughs to work. It is sticky and unyielding.

So what went wrong? Nothing really. They look biscotti but I felt they didn't satisfy the cravings of a chocolate lover. I'm thinking I might need to add butter and melted chocolate to the dough and integrate some chocolate pieces next time round.

Wagamama: Chermside

I've spend the last few days refining the jump position, swimming laps and doing hours of cardio, so I decided to ask my brother if he would like to have lunch at Wagamama. Wagamama first opened in London in 1992 and now has taken their Asian inspired menu to more than than 90 restaurants across the world. Though I'm more of a soba noodle fan (I just adore the chewy texture), I felt the ramen offering was more appealing so I decided to order the Chicken Ramen (pictured above) which consisted of ramen noodles served in a chicken broth, grilled chicken breast, seasonal greens and garnished with menma and spring onions. It was light, flavoursome and perfectly filling.

My brother decided to order the Wagamama Ramen: ramen noodles in a vegetable soup, topped with seasonal greens, wakame, slice chicken, grilled white fish, prawns, fried tofu, marinated and grilled mushrooms and kamaboko-aka. This assortment was then garnished with menma and spring onions. It looked fantastic but I didn't want to undo all my exercise ... well that is until tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and Saturday ... but back to the story. Wagamama Chermside features 150 seats (indoor and alfresco) and is kid friendly. In fact kids under 12 years old eat free. I wonder if I could pass as a 12 year old .... hmmm.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Address: Shop 339, Westfield Chermside, Cnr Gympie and Hamilton Road, Brisbane, QLD 4032
Open: 7 days a week. 11:30pm - 9pm.
Phone: (07) 3350 3034
Price: Entrees from $3.20. Mains: $10.10 - $21.00.

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

Eating with Emperors

For Chinese New Year I was gifted with a lovely voucher book voucher from Richard (Yena's twin) and with the announcement of Borders being placed in receivership, I decided to get a move on and make a few purchases. One of the books I purchased was 'Eating with Emperors' by Jake Smith. As you can see it is beautifully presented and features both illustrations, photographs, menus, recipes and insider accounts to take your into the world of the nobility.

I found the process of preparing a whole wild boar's head for Queen Victoria's table fascinating. Can you imagine having the luxury of using two to three black truffles? Truffles can cost up $3,500 a kilo and with each truffle weighing on average between 30 - 60 grams that could easily equate to $210 a piece! The other thing that amused me was the numerous mentions of aspic. As a child I found tins of cat food with the label 'Pilchards in Aspic' hilarious (use your imagination). Aspic is jelly made from meat stock and its inclusion in royal cuisine is credited to french chef Antonin Carême. It is notoriously difficult to make and I'm happy to continue to avoid it least I lapse into a fit of giggling. I'm still chewing my way through this book but it's a delight and a must read for the historical foodie!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Panama Jack's

"Oh sorry about that," said Amanda cheerfully, as we wandered through the halls of the Bracken Ridge, past the topless barmaids Tarven to have dinner at Panama Jack's. I have to admit I hadn't even notice the topless ladies and it wasn't until we left that my eyes confirmed there were indeed ample blonde ladies serving patrons. But that's a tangent ... we're talking about Panama Jack's. Panama Jack's an expansive no fuss, gaming parlour style restaurant nested behind the Bracken Ridge Traven's Rum Jungle and features indoor and alfresco dining areas. The menu features wide range of enormous meals, so ensure you come with an empty stomach.

Orders are taken at the counter and meals are delivered to your table. Amanda ordered the Garlic and Cheese Pizza Bread with Aioli as a starter and it was lovely. Light, cheesy and the aioli provided a nice creamy lift.

But I think the stand out meal for me was the Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks. The shanks had a great colour and were melt in your mouth soft, served with creamy potato mash, vegetables and a rich jus. To me comfort food with good company is the ultimate way to spend your evening.

Amanda decided to order the fish special which was a Macadamia crusted Barramundi fillet served with vegetables and a green curry sauce. We were a little lost the macadamia crust went but Amanda informs me she enjoyed her meal. If you're keen to come down to Panama Jack's for dinner I would recommend booking as the restaurant filled up quickly. Bracken Ridge Rewards members are given 20% off Wednesday and Thursday is steak night with a chargrilled rump steak, cooked to your liking for $16.50.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Address: 154 Barrrett Street, Bracken Ridge, Brisbane, QLD 4017
Open: 7 days a week. Lunch from 11:30am and dinner from 5:30pm.
Phone: (07) 3269 7011
Price: Entrees from $5;90. Mains: $19.90 - $33.

Panama Jack's on Urbanspoon

Rocket and Roast Pumpkin Salad

Chinese New Year is the one day a year I struggle to observe half a day of vegetarianism. Once the clock strikes 12 noon, I eagerly resume the taking of souls. I've actually made this salad for lunch a couple of times, so it speaks volumes about how delicious it is. The pumpkin can be roasted in advance and I would recommend adding the dressing at the last minute as it tends to wilt the rocket. The recipe is from but I prefer using Jap Pumpkin (rustically cut the pumpkin in one inch pieces and roast for an hour at 180°C) and baby rocket.

Chicken and Cheese Dog Treats

You would think this is the face that launched a thousand pet treats but you're wrong. I'm off to visit Dean, Skye and their new baby, a Golden Labrador puppy named Penny and made her a bag of Chicken and Cheese Dog Treats. These treats are modelled off this recipe and I've fine tuned them with the help of Baci. So easy to make and most of the ingredients are already in your pantry.


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powered chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of plain flour


Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease four cookie trays. In a large bowl add the rolled oats, butter and the cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes.

Then add the polenta, sugar, powered chicken stock, milk, cheese and egg and mix well. After the mixture is combined add the flour in one cup at a time. Knead lightly until it forms a soft dough.

Roll the dough to a 5mm thickness on a floured surface and cut with your favourite cookie cutter shapes. Space the shapes evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow them to cool before storing them in an airtight container. At this point, you might want to give a few to your faithful friend as they probably at your feet drooling over the cheesy aroma.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Chalk Hotel

Once regarded as a "dive" the renovated Chalk Hotel has come of age with two restaurants, eight bars and seven function areas which makes the Chalk an intriguing venue. It is easily accessible by public transport and for the teetotallers amongst us there is even free parking space.

Trading up to 22 hours a day this eclectic beast offers everything from the early morning breakfast, fine dining, live music and encourages individuals to host functions in one of its numerous space. On Saturdays the venue is transformed into a Farmers Markets and these open from 6am.

Chicken Schnitzel with salad, fries and mushroom sauce.

The venue loves to boast about its paddock to plate approach to food and I was genuinely interested in seeing what its steak offering was like. I rarely say no to a good steak and feel it sets the benchmark for any pub. Thus I ordered, a rare 250g Eye Fillet with Vegetables and Beer Battered Fries and my goodness was it ample! The fries were beautifully light and the steak was well seasoned and melted in my mouth. The only thing that detracted from the meal was the mushroom sauce which reminded me strongly of Gravox but it was still an enjoyable meal. The Chalk isn't my favourite venue but if you're after a pub lunch, a drink and in the area, the Chalk isn't a bad spot.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Address: 736 Stanley Street, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, QLD 4102
Open: Monday - Friday. 7:30am - Late.
Phone: (07) 3896 6565
Price: Starters and light meals: from $3.50. Mains: from $16.00.

Chalk Hotel on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's a deal: Wagamama

Wagamama sent me a voucher which entitles the bearer a complimentary main meal when you purchase another main meal between 15 February - 7 March 2011 at all their Australian stores. Print it off and have a cheap lunch with a friend, just bear in mind it isn't valid on Fridays.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sono Japanese Restaurant: Portside

Larger than its Brisbane City Sister, Sono Japanese Restaurant: Portside seats 200 people and features contemporary styling with river views. If you are keen to try Teppanyaki or dinner in the seated dining area I would recommend booking ahead as the restaurant is full even on a Sunday evening. Thus Miss Amy and I ended up at the Sushi bar with the lonely business men.

I started off this Japanese cuisine adventure with Miso soup. I love the robust flavour of miso, punctured with rings of finely diced, sheets of wakame and cubes of tofu. Wakame is an edible seaweed and native to the coasts of China, Korea and Japan. It has recently appeared off the coasts of New Zealand and the United States of America and efforts are underway to eradicate the plant as it holds the dubious honour of placing in the top 100 most invasive species in the world. I would merely suggest eating more of it as it's delicious.

Miss Amy ordered the gorgeous Zenzaru soba. It's a cold buckwheat noodle that comes with dipping sauce and a serving of tempura pawns and vegetables. As you can see it looks amazing.

When then went to share a large sashimi combination platter and it came magnificently presented in a wooden boat. There was a selection of beautifully fresh tuna, salmon, kingfish, scallops to delight the ardent seafood lover. Sono is worth making time for and its strength is in the atmosphere and fresh produce.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Address: 39 Hercules Street, Hamilton, Brisbane, QLD 4007.
Open: Lunch from 12:00pm Tuesday - Sunday. Dinner from 6:00pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Phone: (07) 3268 6655.
Price: Sushi from $6. Entrees from $9. Mains: $19 - $55. Desserts from $8.

Sono Japanese Restaurant Portside on Urbanspoon


Last year I had the good fortunate to attend a demonstration by Adriano at Black Pearl Epicure. Being a huge food nerd I asked Adriano if he would sign my booklet. He kindly obliged.

Adriano Zumbo's show Zumbo premiered on SBS on Tuesday and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Zumbo was a fantastic look into Adriano's operation and captured all the passion and mad genius you would expect from the super star chef. In fact I'm still intrigued by the pig's blood and chocolate macaroon, so eager for a second helping of visual pleasure. Get on board now, if you haven't!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lamb Osso Bucco

For New Year's Eve I made an amazing three hour slow cooked Osso Bucco from Matt Moran's cook book 'When I get home.' It had wonderful flavours but I had my doubts if I would cook something as elaborate for my work lunches, but as I was flicking through a Garry Rhodes cook book my little brother had borrowed from the library this recipe for lamb Osso Bucco caught my eye. The cooking time was half of the Matt Moran version so I thought I would give it a go.

The recipe called for lamb leg but I decided to purchase lamb chump chops as they were on special. Lamb chump chops sound rather unappealing but is the equivalent of the rump in steak. It isn't as tender some of the other cuts but full of flavour. I seasoned the chops and lightly dusted them in flour before browning them in a saucepan.

I then browned the onion, celery and added roma tomatoes. The recipe asked for the tomatos to be deseeded but I usually ignore this request. Once the vegetables were soften, I then added the wine, orange juice, orange zest, bay leaf and consomme. I then brough the items to a boil before braising the Osso Bucco in the oven for 1 and a half hours.

The finished product is amazingly tender and a lot less fuss than my first attempt at Osso Bucco.

Miss Baci thinks stolen tennis balls are just as tasty ... but perhaps a little more fun.

Pea and Ham Soup

The Pea and Ham Soup I'm cooking comes from the Australia Women's Weekly cookbook - Cook.

Pea and Ham Soup is such a wonderfully simple thing, 2 cups of dried peas, 1 chopped medium brown onion, 2 stalks of chopped celery, 2 bay leaves, 1.5kg of ham bone, 2.5 litres of water and a teaspoon of cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for two hours.

Remove the ham bone to cool, remove the ham from the bone and chop into bite sized pieces. Return the ham to soup and serve. In my case I portioned the soup into containers, ready for the freezer.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

A bare freezer signals the need to make a big batch of work lunches and it's been a while since I made a delicious Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni. My recipe comes from David Herbet's The Really Useful Cookbook. The first step is to make a simple sauce from 800g of tinned chopped tomatoes, two cloves of garlic and a couple of springs of thyme and to reduce the mixture for 20 minutes.

While the sauce is reducing, I chopped 150g of spinach, two tablespoons of fresh basil and a clove of garlic. I then mixed the fresh ingredients with 500g of ricotta, salt, pepper and 1/4 of nutmeg. Prepare a baking dish and spread half of the sauce on the base.

After the mixture is combined, take a handful and spread it on half a lasagna sheet and roll the sheet into a tube. Lay the tube on top of the sauce with the cut side down. Continue this process until you have filled the tray.

Spread the remaining sauce on the top of the cannelloni and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan. Pop the cannelloni into the 200°c oven for 20 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the cheese is golden.

When the pasta is warm, cut the tray down the center and either serve or wait for it cool and the pop into the freezer. I've made this dish a number of times for work and it freezes and reheats extremely well.