Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Budget Friendly and Loaded Sweet Potato Wedges


This nourishing dish is a simple, inexpensive mid-week meal with Middle Eastern flavours, or it can have more of a Mexican influence depending on what you substitute or add. It's a recipe that is extremely versatile and only limited by your imagination. I placed the mince filling on a bed of lettuce both for extra nutrition and appearance, however corn chips as a base, yes, I am thinking Mexican nachos now, would really bring this dish to another level if you are cooking for children or extra adults. Who doesn't love  a corn chip? If you are adding corn chips, add some drained sweet corn to the mince or add it separately, and layer it up. Hidden vegetables are very achievable here and always important for our health, I love them. Please see my notes below.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Very Smart Strawberry Streusel Cake


A highlight of my sweets baking recently is this very smart Nigella Lawson Strawberry Streusel cake, marbled with beautiful strawberry puree,  a combination of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam.  Why is this recipe very smart? Because besides the very easy strawberry layer, one dough does double the work, it becomes the cake batter and the streusel. This isn't the kind of cake that I would tackle at the end of a long day at the office. This cake requires a calm mind with my favourite music playing in the background, a clear head,  and plenty of time at my disposal. Cooler weather also helps to keep the butter chilled. Whilst strawberries are in season, this cake will be on rotation in my kitchen and will be quite simple to make next time. I can't wait. This recipe was also featured in the New York Times.

Monday, September 11, 2023

In My Kitchen - September, 2023

 Last month, much of the activity In My Kitchen was a celebration of the fresh and plentiful bounty of fruits and vegetables available at the markets and in the supermarkets, and at quite reasonable prices. This will change as the weather warms up, as Summer sets in with a vengeance on our beautiful sunburnt country, and the inevitability of the dreaded bushfires of the season have an impact on certain parts of the country. Let's hope the bushfires are averted by careful management practices. The following is in a nutshell what I created in my kitchen. This post is part of the In My Kitchen Link Party series hosted by Sherry at Sherry's Pickings. 

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Prawn Curry - simply the best!

Curried prawns or curried shrimp, depending on where you live, is something of a comfort food classic in Tropical and Central Queensland, but it's a real treat that the whole family will love wherever you live. It can be the go-to for an easy mid-week meal to throw together when raw prawns are well priced like they are here right now. At $15 a kilo, it's a reasonably priced meal. Once the prawns are peeled and the preparation done, this meal can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. Or buy them already shelled, simple. It's Father's Day tomorrow, and unless the Dad or the Man in your house is allergic to prawns, he will feel very spoiled if this meal is cooked for him. A Prawn Curry really is a cinch to make for the whole family.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Cherry Jam Steamed Pudding

A steamed jammy pudding is the loveliest surprise dessert that you can cook for the special people in your lives. Every mouthful brings back nostalgic childhood memories for me, as my Mum often cooked steamed puddings with various toppings; jam, golden syrup and treacle, and probably mainly in Winter, however, change of seasons in either hemisphere is still the perfect time. Cherry Jam is the perfect topping, sweet and yet very slightly tart, but any thick homemade jam would also work.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Beef and Red Wine Stew - in the slow cooker - oh my!

Today I present to you one of the most delicious Beef Stews I've ever made, and I've made a lot of them. I've been working on a stew that has all the essential elements of the beef falling off the fork, perfectly balanced flavours, and with a rich, red wine and mushroom gravy. However, I wanted a stew that would also be perfect as a filling for Beef Pies, which we love.  The filling in a Beef Pie needs to have a tanginess to its flavour, and this is where the Worcestershire Sauce's umami properties make a big difference to this beef dish.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Chicken with Miso, Ginger, and Lime

Yotam Ottolenghi is well reputed for his Middle Eastern style meals, but this Japanese inspired meal with white miso, ginger and lime is delicious, sticky, tangy, savoury and full of flavour. It's another recipe which showcases Yotam's talent by combining delicious Japanese flavours to produce a showstopper of a dish which in my opinion is restaurant worthy. Children will also love this dish, what child or teenager doesn't love a tasty and tender chicken leg, and the flavours aren't too overpowering. The tantalising aroma wafting through your home when this dish is cooking will have everybody excited about what you have cooked, so be ready for the rush.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Very tasty Cauliflower Cheese Steaks


Baked cauliflower, dressed in shredded Red Leicester Cheese, more eye-catchingly orange than red, with tasty spices added, and for the finishing touch, a crunchy parmesan crumb strewn throughout. This dish can confidently go solo taking centre stage, for a delicious vegetarian meal, perfect for Meat Free Monday. When baked, cauliflower becomes such a sweet vegetable, and keeps its shape and firmness beautifully. We really enjoyed it just on its own, but feel free to eat it with a salad, or any other side dish of your choice. 

Friday, August 11, 2023

Chinese Chocolate Chews


Do you ever need to bake something quickly on the weekend when you hear that friends are coming over later, and you have a lot going on? Or you just feel like something chocolatey and easy to bake, that sounds like me.  This is an iced chocolate biscuit slice to solve that problem. So quick, easy and delicious as well, and who doesn't love a chocolate slice with lots of chocolate icing. If you have nuts on hand, crush a few and sprinkle them across the top while still warm, or sprinkle coconut over the top. If you are cutting down on sugar, I think that a sugar substitute would also work well in this recipe. This recipe is from one of my Mum's original recipe books which I was reading through just the other day, and I spotted this one. I don't think a recipe like this one ever dates.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Sultana and Apple Scones with Lemon Curd #ISW2023


International Scone Week 2023 is a celebration of scone making, and a shout out to all those cooks who have enjoyed baking a great scone over the years. The perfect scone is a joyeus thing.  Let's have a sconversation about scone making, over a cup of tea and a delicious scone with lemon curd, or jam and thickened cream if that's what you prefer. The perfect scone should have puffy height, a soft, tender crumb, and shouldn't flake like a biscuit. This Sultana and Apple scone ticked all of those boxes.

Friday, August 4, 2023

In My Kitchen, August 2023

 In our part of the world, the Tropical Queensland Winter is such a great time to cook, eat and be merry,  to garden, read great books, listen to music, play the piano, and attend concerts etc. There are lots of favourite pursuits competing for my time, however cooking in my kitchen is my happy place when the weather is nice and cool. Our garden thinks it's Spring already, as the temperatures by Winter standards have been quite warm. I'm still slightly under the influence of my recent French experience, so I'm still sharing with you a few treasures and memories from the two months I was over there with my son and his family.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Tropical Ginger, Coconut and Lemon Slice

Allow me to present a nostalgic and vintage style slice for you on a Sunday. At this time of year in our Southern Hemisphere Winter, which I am loving, ginger is my favourite spice, and I use it whenever I can in savoury and sweet cooking. Ginger has an irresistable combination  of hot, clean and cool flavours. Although to be honest, Middle Eastern Baharat comes a close second to Ginger for me, and I use it in my iced Ginger Cake or my Ginger Syrup Cake (same recipe). I try to always substitute Baharat for the mixed spice. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Dining in and around Montpellier in southern France - some of my favourite places

France is a culinary hotbed for delicious food and I was fortunate to sample some of it in and around Montpellier with my son, Matthew, somewhat of a local now, and to dine in some restaurants that tourists aren't familiar with.  

La Tomate is a very typical French restaurant, serving real French food. Matthew had been invited there previously by some French friends and was very keen to take me there as well. We finally managed to eat there on the last evening of my stay which was a lovely French experience to finish with. Fish soup is a specialty on the menu here, but we didn't really feel like soup in Summer. Steak tartare, the very raw meat patty is available too of course, and it takes courage to order that but is delicious if made in the traditional way. I'm also pretty sure that frog legs and snails were on the menu as you would expect, however if you have your heart set on eating snails or frog legs, it would be a good idea to check the menu to ensure they are being offered. I've eaten them before when we visited Paris, so didn't feel the need to try them this time. We were really happy with the delicious food we ordered, and the almost homely but elegant way in which it was presented.

I ordered Confit de Canard, delicious duck on a bed of vegetable pasta, with grilled eggplant and greens in the pot.

Poached Sole above and below, in a Beurre Blanc sauce (I think) with vegetables, and radishes for a  garnish around the plate. It was also served with eggplant and some rice and vegetables in the pot. Matthew said the fish was delicious and quite a light meal, which was a good thing as we had already been out to lunch that day! Well it was my last day in France. This meal was delicious in its simplicity. 

There weren't any children's meals on the menu, as could be expected, so we ordered Hugo a French  burger. It was huge, and he ate what he could, so naturally Matthew finished the rest of it. It also came with delicious potato wedges and some eggplant. It could have served two people.

A few photos before dessert.

Dessert definitely had the wow factor for me. This classic Crème Brulée is the best I have ever eaten.

Matthew ordered an ice cream parfait which he enjoyed.

My amazing grandson was smitten with his profiteroles and ice cream. He very kindly offered us a taste, and they were really special.

Matthew at the entrance to La Tomate looking quite pensive at the end of a wonderful night.

When we were leaving, the surrounding streets were full of restaurants and lots of diners.

There was this street on the way back to our car without any restaurants or vehicles in it.


Braise is located in suburban Montpellier at:
Quartier des Beaux Arts
42 Avenue Saint-Lazare, 34000 Montpellier
t. 04 99 62 64 25

Braise isn't in the tourist district of Montpellier, it's near a cemetery, a florist and a school, and most of its clientele are business and corporate people, and so the standard is very high. However, with access to a hire car, the restaurant is very accessible. Matthew and I only intended a visit to the boulangerie next door, but when we arrived, he suggested we should have lunch at Braise instead. The Boulanger Pâtissier Glacier next door is called Palais Saint Lazarre. A few photos of that a bit later though. It was my last day in Montpellier, and we were already booked to dine out that evening at La Tomate, but despite that he said to me that as it was my last day, we should make the most of it, so we did. Magnifique.

I had the best experience at Braise, it wasn't just about eating a meal, enjoying it with good company and leaving. We arrived before the real lunchtime rush, we were seated inside close to the kitchen, and could see the two young chefs cooking. I couldn't help myself and went to the kitchen counter and chatted to the head chef after the entrée and the main meal because they were exquisite meals, and I wanted to personally thank them, and also hopefully gain a few tips about the preparation. They were very generous with their time and their information. 

The entrance to Braise. There is seating inside and outside.

A substantial wine cellar to choose from. We just ordered by the glass as it was lunchtime!

My entrée was raw fish, not sure which variety, possibly sole, served in a delicious French Béchamel sauce, and garnished with small purees of glossy green deliciousness. I asked the chef how they made the green garnish, and he very kindly told me that he uses grape leaves and olive oil, blended to the right consistency and strained. I'm sure there is more to it than that though. It was delicious. To be honest I didn't know I was ordering raw fish, but it was amazing. My order was changed to this one when the chef realised my original order was loaded with nuts which I can't eat. I missed that this was raw fish when the dish was being explained to me by the waiter, but I'm so pleased I had it.

We both ordered the Filet de Boeuf (Beef) for the main, which was tender and delicious, but an additional highlight for me were the whole braised leeks and carrots, cooked to perfection. Just near where we parked across the road from Braise, we saw a very successful market garden in a large paddock. The chef told me all of their seasonal vegetables came from there. From paddock to plate is alive and well at Braise.

The layered Apricot dessert was just outstanding. I saw the apricots served with the tart marinating in a jar on the counter in the kitchen. The chef used thyme and some kind of alcohol in the marinade, and the apricot was exquisite. I really enjoy an apricot dessert.  

There are lots of other delicatessen items for sale as well in the restaurant.

Palais Saint Lazare Boulangerie and Pâtisserie, a few photos. 

Located at 42 avenue Saint Lazarre 34000 Montpellier, phone 04 67 72  00 12, next door to Braise. They also have a good website.
We still purchased a baguette here after lunch to take home.



Enjoying the taste of an authentic Mediterranean seafood lunch with Matthew and Hugo in Sète.

If you would like to read more about Sète, a charming fishing village on the Mediterranean, within driving distance of Montpellier, and all that if offers, you can find what I wrote about it in a previous post here.

St Martin-de-Londres

We had a wonderful day when we drove with the children to St Martin-de-Londres, which is very close to the famous wine and hiking region of Pic Saint Loup. We ate lunch at a small restaurant in the village called Sous le Platane.

A glass of this wine was delicious with our lunch.

A delicious Salad Niçoise, it was very fresh and salty.

Fish and chips for the children, it was really good as well.

Steak, fries and salad, it was very well cooked.

Dessert was such a pleasant surprise. Matthew knew what it was, so we ordered Café Gourmand.

Café Gourmand Dessert, a sample of 4 desserts with coffee.

Café Gourmand

Café Gourmand as a dessert is the French Mini-dessert trend. It is a ménage à trois (threesome) or quatre (four), of mini-desserts and is a wonderful way to sample a selection of the chefs best offerings with a coffee as well. It is a wonderfully light way of approaching a dessert to share. Mini chocolate puddings with chocolate sauce and cream, macarons, miniature tarts, or a mini millefeuille or French pastry are all popular to serve on the plate of a Café Gourmand.  According to an article in Bon Appétit, on December12, 2012, this trend was sweeping America. I wonder if it did. Such a lovely way to eat dessert at the end of a three course meal or plat du jour.

Saint-de-Martin-de-Londres is steeped in history from the 12th century, and deserves a post of it's own.

The village square

Pic Saint Loup in the distance.

A beautiful little flower shop just over the road.

Le Coté Jardin


41 Rue de l'Aiguelongue

34000 Montpellier

Tel:  04 67 41 20 46

This photo courtesy of the restaurants website

And to finish, we ate lunch one day with Hugo, at a small restaurant just down the hill from where Matthew lives in Aiguelongue, that I always walked past to catch the blue tram. I just had to show you this stunning breaded fish dish, surrounded by a delicious sauce and more of those little green garnish drops. These must be the trademark of the French chef at the moment. Because we ordered an entrée, we didn't order dessert even though it was available for the Plat du Jour, or the daily special. I don't have a photo of the entrée unfortunately, but it reminded me of a Middle Eastern pastry, and was delicious and quite filling. The trees in the middle of the restaurant were a real talking point. 

Once again a burger and French fries was available for the children. An American style burger with a French béchamel sauce, interesting..

Bon appétit and thankyou for visiting.