Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Banana Bread

On Sunday, my brother and I simply decided the situation was untenable. We hopped into the car, drove to the local fruit shop, purchased a kilo of Lady Finger Bananas for $6 and scoffed the lot for lunch. It had been months since we had seen a banana so we relished our banana bender but luckily enough had the foresight to purchase some overripe Cavendish Bananas. So after some research I decided to trial this popular Banana Bread recipe from Taste.com.

Start by preheating the oven to 180°C, lining and lightly greasing a standard loaf tin. Then take a large mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup sifted plain flour, 1 3/4 cups sifted self raising flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Make a well in the center and 1/2 cup skim milk, two whisked eggs, 50g of cooled melted butter and combine.

Mash and add two medium bananas and a generous handful of walnuts to the mixture.

Your mixture should then look like this. Place this rather grotesque mixture, into your lined pan and bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow your Banana Bread to cool, before removing and enjoying it. Banana Bread is an amazing one bowl wonder that tastes even better the next day!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pourboy Espresso

My phone's screen clearly stated 5:20am. Surely it was wrong? Maybe it was using a Daylight Savings Feature? No it was definitely 5:20am, my alarm was set to 4:15am by mistake and I was late! Luckily Adrenaline kicked it and I managed to get ready in 10 minutes, drove like a hoon, parked and arrived in the central business district by 6:10am to set up for Daffodil Day. Huzzah! After volunteer at the Central Plaza 1 stand for a couple of hours, the team were starving so we decided to venture to Pourboy Espresso for a hot breakfast.

The Pourboy Espresso team are friendly and responsive and we were quickly show to a table. Perhaps sensing the urgency they asked if they could take a drink order and the majority of the table asked for a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is balanced, the milk is creamy and has the glossy appearance that only comes from a careful hand.

The table ordered a number of glorious dishes, but apart from being really tasty, the poached eggs were all perfect. Above is the Jamon Serrano, poached egg, slow roasted tomato on Pane.

The Croque Madame is a grilled sandwich that originated in France. Here is Pourboy Espresso's version with Gruyere, shaved bangalow ham, poached egg and djionaisse.

Here is my Mushroom Duxelle with buffalo ricotta served on Pane. Plenty of taste and the perfect breakfast to warm me up after a morning on standing outside.

Though we were comfortably full I couldn't leave without one of the house made chocolate brioche. Inside the beautiful seal, there were swirled of nut enriched chocolate. It was an extremely naughty morning tea and I enjoyed every morsel. Pourboy Espresso lived up to the hype and I enjoyed the experience so much that it made me wish I was back working in town.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Address: 26 Wharf Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000.
Open: Monday - Friday. 6am - 4pm.
Phone: (07) 3172 1141
Price: Breakfast: $3.50 - $14. Lunch: $8 - 15. Coffee: $3.50 - $4.50

PourBoy Espresso on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

I'm a harden biscotti addict so when I spotted this recipe on Taste.com.au I knew I had to try it, but I've made a few tweaks along the way which I thought I would share with you. First beat together two eggs, 1 cup of caster sugar and the finely grated rind from 1 lemon.

Then combine 1 2/3 cup of plain flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder until you have just formed a dough. Then mix through 1 cup of raw shelled pistachio and 1/2 a cup of chopped dried cranberries.

Divide the dough into two smooth even logs and rest on a greased lined baking tray. Place the tray into a preheated 160°C oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes before slicing them in 5mm pieces with a serrated knife. Reduce the oven to 120°C and place the slices in a single layer on 3 lined baking trays. Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp.

Cool on the tray and then store in an air tight container and hide from your family!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

I've been making this Beef Stroganoff recipe for some time and it is amazing as it is flexible (you can easily increase the beef to 800g and double the quantities of swiss brown mushrooms), freezes and reheats well. So begin the process, mix two tablespoons sweet paprika, 100g plain flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl and then coat 500g - 800g of sliced beef.

In a deep fry pan, brown the beef in batches and set aside. In the same pan, saute 200 - 400g swiss brown mushrooms, add three finely diced eschalots and cook until caramelised.

Add 1/2 cup of brandy, 2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 cup of beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in 1 cup creme fraiche and the beef.

Serve your delicious beef stroganoff on a bed of Parsley and Black Pepper Fettuccine or if you are lazy like me, steamed rice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tarte Fraise Mascarpone

It's a rare occasion when I make an impulse purchase. But the moment I spotted Laduree: Sucre the Recipes on the Black Pearl Epicure counter I knew I had to have it. There was something so attractive about its tactile mint green cover and gold edged pages so I enquired for more information. Well the book was sold quicker than the helpful staff member informing me that the book was 35% off. My cousin Jacqui was coming over for dinner so I decided to find a lighter style dessert to balance the robust main and I settled on the Tarte Fraise Mascarpone, which a fancy term for a strawberry tart with mascarpone cream.

I started by making the Sweet Almond Pastry the day before. I whipped 120g cold butter (chopped into small cubes) with a stand mixer before adding the following ingredients one by one: 1/2 cup of icing sugar, 1/4 cup ground almonds, 1 pinch of sea salt, a few drops of vanilla extract, 1 egg, 1 cup plain flour and 2/3 cup corn flour. I then cling wrapped the dough and rested it overnight. The next day I rolled out the dough to 2mm, pressed it gently into a 24cm tart pan, cling wrapped again and rested it in the fridge for another hour. When the tart was ready, I preheated the oven to 170°C, pricked the pastry with a fork, lined the case with baking paper and pie weights before baking for 20 minutes or until lightly coloured. Allow it to cool completely before lining the time with melted white chocolate (I got lazy and brushed the case with egg while and baked it again).

While the tart case is in the oven you can start on the mascarpone cream. Cut up 2 gold strength gelatin sheets and soak them in a bowl of cold water. Then take a saucepan and add 60ml double cream, 125g caster sugar and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, incorporate the drained gelatin and allow the mixture to cool completely.

Using a wooden spoon mix 500g mascarpone until smooth and slowly incorporate the cream mixture. Pop the glossy cream in the fridge until it begins to firm.

I then filled the tart case with the mascarpone cream, sliced two punnets of strawberries and arranged them in a floral formation. Though this tart needs plenty of resting time, it is extremely easy and results are well worth it. Serve with vanilla icecream.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Down To A Tea

After talking rubbish well into the small hours, it was extremely generous of Tim, Rachel and Evonne to awaken from their slumber to wander the Fernvale Markets. We arrived late so we were unable to secure to any Polish Chickens, but we did pick up some farm fresh strawberries before ambling through the mental fog to hunt down a coffee. We pulled up to an establishment named 'Down To A Tea' with dark polished wooden floors, gorgeous high ceilings and a landscape of antiques and gifts for visitors to explore and purchase. But priorities called and this meant coffee. Heck, I would have even taken a handful of beans at that stage!

Though we were the only table, the wait for coffees was longer than expected and I was handed a cappuccino rather than my skinny mocha. The staff are really friendly and accommodating so when I pointed out the error, they immediately offered to make me another. I don't believe in wasting food so accepted my drink and it pains me to inform you all the coffee was bitter and the milk lacking the body and fullness that comes from correct technique.

The Pastry of the Week was Spinach and Fetta. The pastry was feather light, all the ingredients in the salad were fresh and the dressing was zesty. This was a delightful light meal and I would have been happy to settle back and enjoy this meal on another trip. It's been more than six months since the Queensland Floods, but retailers in this area could do still do with your support. So if you are in the area, drop by and visit 'Down To A Tea.'

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Address: 10 Simpson Road, Fernvale, QLD 4306.
Open: Monday, Thursday - Sunday: 9am - 4pm.
Phone: (07) 5427 0830
Price: Lunch: $13. Dessert: $8 - $10.50. High Tea: $32.

Down To A Tea Teahouse on Urbanspoon


A couple of weeks ago, Tim, Rachel and I popped into a car and drove down the Warrego Highway to Evonne's Farm for a bonfire weekend. There is something marvellous about the experience of chasing cows, Polish Chickens and their green eggs, stumbling onto a medieval festival in Esk and well sitting by roaring fire and making S'mores.

S'mores are an American treat that involves sandwiching a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate a layer of chocolate between two Graham Crackers. We all wondered what a Graham Cracker was and after some research, learned the equivalent is a digestive biscuit, which suited us we didn't really want to go through the fuss and bother of melting chocolate and smoothing it over a biscuit with our rudimentary outdoor tools.

So after some trial and error, my essential list of S'more pantry items include one packet of McVitie's Original Digestive, one packet of McVitie's Dark Chocolate Digestive and one bag of Pascall Mega Mallows. It's as simple as roasting the marshmallow over a small fire or coals, then sandwich it between two biscuits (one each of the aforementioned) and taking a dainty bite. Your biggest challenge will containing the molten ooze, keeping a roaring fire and entertaining your friends with horror stories. The most terrifying story of the night was the nurture and subsequent release of Justin Bieber. Horrible horrible stuff.

Almond and Rosewater Shortbread

We have a lot of morning teas around my workplace and sometimes I simply don't have the time or inclination to whip up some elaborate. These Almond and Rosewater Shortbread are just solution as they are a breeze to make, all the ingredients are in my pantry and they look great. Start by preheating your oven to 160°C and lightly greasing two baking trays. Take 180g of soften butter, 3/4 cup shifted icing sugar mixture and beat until pale and creamy.

Then add 100g almond meal, 3/4 cup plain flour, 1/4 cup white rice flour, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and stir until well combined.
Use your hands to gently roll the mixture into 8cm long and shape into crescents. Pop them into the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through and just starting to colour. After removing them from the oven, brush them with rosewater and allow them to cool on the tray.

Dust them with a generous coating of icing sugar, top and bottom and enjoy. They keep well in airtight container our of direct sunlight for up to five days.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rocket, Pear and Parmesan Salad

I was recently dropped by Miss Sarah's new abode and she cooked a lovely Rissoto and Rocket, Pear and Parmesan Salad. I liked the salad so much that I recreated it for lunch. Simply wash two large handful of rocket, peel and thinly slice a packham pear and dress with lemon and olive oil (I used Mandala Grove Gourmet Blend as it contains a mix of olive, avocado and lemon oil) and shave some parmesan cheese to garnish. Yummo!

The Ugly Pterodactyl Stage

A couple of weeks ago I brought home a box of six fluffy chicks. Well five weeks down the track and we are well into the Ugly Pterodactyl Stage. Scientists discourage the usage of the word 'Pterodactyl' as it refers to the genus Pterodactylus and instead advocate the usage of the term 'Pterosaur.' Pterosaur sounds rather plain so I will ignore scientific advice as decades of Marketing folk have.

Though this is a truly ugly developmental stage for chickens, it does reveal the gender. Souffle and Gertie have begun mock displays of dominance and this confirms they are unfortunately roosters. Roosters start to crow at 3am in the morning and hourly thereafter; they are also seasonally aggressive and thus few people will put up with a feisty rooster, unless they intend to breed from the bird. I have a month to find the lads a new home, so if anyone knows someone who would want to house an easy to handle rooster, drop me a line.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Willow and Spoon

It wasn't so long ago when I was bemoaning the lack of interesting cafes on Brisbane's Northside but I'm please to say that Willow and Spoon is another of these establishments working to fill the void. Despite Willow and Spoon being located on busy Samford Road, there is ample parking on side streets and you'll barely notice the traffic with the eclectic mixture of furniture and fresh plants.

Willow and Spoon continued to impress with its gorgeous menu. Presented on a wooden clipboard, Renee and I thought long and hard. Would we select 'Parlez Vous Franois?' A creme brulee french toast, raspberry and vanilla bean ice cream. 'Chloe's Wild?' Mushroom, garlic, spinach, tomato, haloumi and corn bread. 'The Swiss Miss?' Beef cheek, cauliflower gratin, tallegio cheese, foreign crumbs and poached egg. I really wanted to know more about these foreign crumbs ... but important business first, coffee! Willow and Spoon uses Blue Sky Coffee Beans and comes served in brightly coloured cups, with a unique collectible teaspoon and grated chocolate. I was impressed with the effort, but was I impressed with the coffee? It was serviceable but the milk lacked fullness and body. Renee wondered if it was cheap milk, I wondered if the steam wand was positioned too high, but we're giving the establishment the benefit of the doubt as we were later informed by the friendly and helpful staff that the coffee machine had broken down.

Renee ordered 'The Willow' consisting of bacon, eggs, tomato, braised red lentils and semolina toast. Though Renee was happy with her meal, though we both decided we were a little short on toast. I just love a poached egg between two slices of toast, so on one piece of toast simply won't do for me. But luckily, you can order toast as a side and my word it arrived fast. It was like magic!

I decided to order 'The Stateside' which consisted of shredded pork, pumpkin puree, home-style beans and a fried egg. Though I like a savoury breakfast, I prefer more retrained flavours in he morning so I have substituted a poached egg. Though the home-style beans were full of flavour it was tempered by the pumpkin puree. I really enjoyed this dish and I know I'll be back to enjoy this lovely local.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Address: 28 Samford Road, Alderley, QLD 4051.
Open: Tuesday - Friday: 7am - 3pm, Saturday: 8am - 2pm, Sunday: 8am - 12pm.
Phone: (07) 3855 9580.
Price: Breakfast: $15 - $18. Lunch: $14 - $17.

Willow and Spoon on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 8, 2011

Strawberry Fields

There are few luxuries when you are a poor university student but if I had to open the store on a dark Winter's morning, I would always pop down to the Eagle Street Markets and pick up a big punnet of fresh strawberries. That would be my breakfast, lunch and occasionally dinner for the day and I was happy.

But the only thing that beats eating fresh strawberries is actually going out to a farm and picking them yourself. So on the way home from Maleny, we made the snap decision to stop off at Batavia Berries (9 Kings Road, Glasshouse Mountains) and pick up a couple of kilos. The cost is $10 a kilo which is cheaper than current market price and you know every berry is perfect. There is also a beautiful sense of satisfaction you get from picking your own as you breathe in the cool air and enjoying the sound of dry leaves and red dirt under foot.

The Queensland strawberry season is currently at its peak and runs until October, so now is the time to explore one of the two hundred strawberry farms across the state. If you can't get to Batavia Berries, then this handy directory offers some alternative locations.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grub Street

Grub Street is the local Gaythorne foodie haunt and despite the playful name, it is not located on Grub Street but on Samford Road. Owner and Chef, Travis 'Stix' Grigg is passionate about using seasonal and ethical produce (they use RSPCA approved free range eggs and pork) and offers a creative menu. In fact the current breakfast menu features dishes such as Orange and vanilla risotto with roasted apple and rhubarb, Beetroot cured salom with horseradish creme fraiche and chopped egg on sourdough toast and Asian pulled pork omelette with chilli jam, herb salad and black vinegar dressing. So I packed up some of my nearest and dearest friends and set off on a quest to Grub Street.

We arrived early and after scoping out the dining room (it seats 20) and the back deck, we decided to sit at a large table on the side. Pictured above is Amy's Mushroom duxelle with truffled pecorino scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs seem easy to accomplish but I've had them served rubbery and watery more times that I care for. Bleh. But behold the wonderfully light and silky scrambled eggs.

Though I was sorely tempted the French toast with caramelised pear and wattle seed ice cream, I'm a savoury person in the morning and selected the Haloumi and Zuchinni fritters with poached eggs, spinach, za'atar and smoky eggplant. Though it sounds like a heavy meal, the smaller portion size and soft poached eggs made it amazing and extremely moreish.

But if you aren't tempted by the menu, then be sure to ask about the specials. This is Grub Street's Strawberry pancakes with blood orange icecream and chocolate. Is and Amy reported that the icecream was amazing. So while I'm quite happy to wax lyrical and sing the praises of Grub Street's offering ... I will say I left angry as we were bundled out the door within the hour. I understand the establishment has limited room (20 guests in the dining room and three tables outdoors), but to be asked within the hour to wrap up twice in an hour is poor front of house management. Weekend breakfast is more than just the food, it is also the experience of being able to spend time with friends. Grub Street could have resolved the issue in three ways:

  • Set expectations at the start by starting a weekend time limit.

  • Purchase more outdoor seating.

  • Ask politely if guests would be happy to move to a smaller table.

Though I'm still incredibly disenchanted by this, Grub Street is still worth a visit. Just be prepared to eat and quickly depart.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Address: 1/440 Samford Road, Gaythorne, QLD 4031.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday. 7am - 2pm.
Phone: (07) 3855 9580.
Price: Breakfast: $6 - $18. Lunch: $10 - $18.

Grub Street on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday Baci!

My gorgeous baby girl turns five today and I can't believe how quickly the years have passed. It only feels like yesterday when I picked up this determined little fuzz ball from the Gold Coast. There has never been a dull moment since she arrived, so to celebrate I thought I would share with you some of my favourite images.

Baci is amazingly independent creature with a stubborn trip. I can recall as a 12 week old pup, I reprimanded her for climbing the stairs which would reduce most dogs to a quiver. But this tiny fuzz ball emitted a growl and continued. I had to install a sheet of laminated chipboard, until she decided climbing the stairs was painful and futile. Being my faithful kitchen companion, Baci is often underfoot and still back chats when I trip over her and rouse her from her sleep or a forging adventure!

Here is a photo of Baci at three months old, during the "ugly" puppy stage. All legs! You can see from the photos that Baci sports a Marilyn Monroe freckle on the side of her face.

This is one of my favourite photos Baci and she is six month old in this photograph. I shot this photo early in the morning, before taking her to the vet to be desexed. Needless to say she probably thought I was the worst Mother in the world, no breakfast and a vet trip!

This photo was taken by Ryan when Baci was two and a half years old. I think it captures her exuberance and spirit. Happiest of birthdays to my beautiful girl!