Monday, 16 October 2017

At Sixes And Sevens - Public House Review

I managed to drag Mr P. away the other day to have lunch with a friend.  And believe me, that is not an easy task, as hubby is a workaholic to the max.  I had in mind this place - At Sixes and Sevens which is in increasingly trendy Fortitude Valley.  Once known for its prostitutes and the Coke factory, the Valley now harbours expensive boutiques, fancy restaurants and some cosy bars.

the side view of this historical building

This is a gorgeous 1878 cottage, now made into a bar and kitchen with a courtyard and several comfy spaces to relax in.  I felt at home straightaway upon entering.  The bartender greeted us, told us to take any table and said that as it was early and not yet busy, we could just give a holler and he would come take our order, even though it is usually counter service only.

espresso martini $18

Yep a perfect way to start an early lunch.  I had this one!  Very delicious though surprisingly not that alcoholic in effect.  I felt just fine after drinking it.  Perhaps there was more espresso than the vodka, kahlua and cognac.

ginger beer $3.50

Well folks, you can guess what Mr P. had, can't you?  He loves his ginger beer.  Our mate Mr L. stuck to plain water.  (He watches his diet due to health issues.)

local Tiger chilli prawns $18.50 

I'm a big fan of prawns but this was not my fave dish.  There were 5 sweet and spicy prawns, but sadly I could mostly taste fish sauce, with a bit of zippy chilli heat.  The prawns themselves were large and firm but tender.  But even as we left, I still had the fishy taste in my mouth.  Let's just say that I would have preferred way less fish sauce, and less sweetness.  I wondered about the cos lettuce too.  It seemed out of place with an Asian style dish.       

fish tacos $14

I love a fish taco made on a soft tortilla.  I liked these, but I didn't love them. It was a bit difficult to actually find the fish amongst the coleslaw.  I had had fish tacos at another eating place recently which contained large pieces of battered fish - very delicious; these I am sorry to say paled in comparison.  They weren't bad, just not as tasty as I had expected.  Look, I liked the coleslaw and I love me some jalapeños, but I would have loved to see a bit more fish.  Oh, and I had to add a bit of salt, which is something I just never normally do. 

haloumi burger $20

and here's the view without Mr P.'s finger 

Mr P. loves halloumi, so this was an obvious choice for him.  He said the actual burger bun was not too sweet (a common problem these days); the filling was generous; he loved the grilled zucchini and the contrast of the creamy avocado sauce.  There were lots of fries which were...yes, fries.  I snuck a few for taste-testing purposes naturally. 

chicken schnitzel $26.50

Mr L. chose chicken (breast) schnitzel.  This was a very generous serving of panko crumbed chicken, accompanied by a bit of salad.  He declined the fries which normally come with this dish.  He enjoyed his lunch, which he said was spicy, with tender meat, and the batter not too thick.  He certainly scoffed it down very happily.  

fish and chips $20+?

I did the food blogger thing and asked the 2 lovely ladies next to me if I could take a photo of their lunches.  They graciously said yes.  I think this was one of the specials of the day; maybe $20+?  

Asian BBQ pork salad $20 

The other lovely lady had the pork salad.  She said it was a bit hard to find the pork!  So that's all I know about this one.

Mr L. being of somewhat conservative taste was disgruntled due to the fact that the cottage had been modernised, but I found it charming.  And I am just so happy that one of the very few old buildings in Brisbane still remains standing, and useful.  

Pickings' Verdict: a thumbs up, though the food could be tweaked a bit.  Then again, it is bar food, as the menu tells you, and tasty enough to soak up the drinks. 

inside the bar area

The kitchen is open from 11am to 10pm every day, and the Public House is open till midnight.  

67 James St., Fortitude Valley 
Ph: 07 3358 6067

At Sixes and Sevens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Home Made Baking Powder

You know how there are some things you just never, ever would think of making yourself?  Like Coca-Cola?:=)  Though I did find a recipe for it once that called for 30 lbs of sugar!  Well, I was flipping thru a recent cookbook purchase and came across this recipe for home-made baking powder.  I was amazed and intrigued.  Who would ever have thought to do this?  But back in granny's day, they did. 

This is incredibly simple.  Only 3 ingredients, and a bit of sifting.  I am halving the recipe, 'cos I'm just not sure how this will turn out.  And really who needs that much baking powder?  Grannies must have been baking all day every day, back in the day:=)  Alison gives no temperature or timing for the drying-out part, so I have made a stab at it.  As we don't live in the damp environs of Victorian Derbyshire, I think this will be sufficient.

funnily enough, I came upon this ad. for baking powder the other day


110g. (4 oz.) of cream of tartar

55g. (2 oz.) of bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tbs rice flour


Sift the 3 ingredients into a small mixing bowl

Give it a good stir

Spread it out on a baking tray

Place in the oven to dry at 100C for 6 minutes - the powdery mix should feel warm to the touch

Take it out of the oven; give it another stir and leave to cool down on the tray

Grab 2 mixing bowls and sift the mixture twice

Give it another good stir before spooning into very clean and sterilised small jars

ingredients gathered

sift the 3 ingredients together 

tip into the baking tray to dry out in the oven

give it a good stir and allow to cool

a cornucopia of baking powder 

Now I just have to try it in some baking, and see if it actually works.

Recipe is from Alison Uttley's book Old Farmhouse Recipes; a collection of recipes and stories based on her childhood growing up on a Derbyshire farm.  Her mum made everything from scratch, using their own farm produce, eggs, meat etc.  Alison Uttley lovingly took the recipes from her mum's handwritten recipe book, and turned them into this charming collection.  A real family treasure.

you can guess what this is:=)

Friday, 6 October 2017

Gunpowder Potatoes

Is this dish new to you too, folks?  How had I never heard of this before?  I finished a novel a couple of weeks ago, and the author thanked her editor, saying she would make her these potatoes.  So I hit ye old Google, and found a few variations.  I have mixed and matched to suit our tastes, and you can do the same.  Phew, the list of spices and flavours is huge, but it's actually very quick and simple to make.  

crush those little red devils:=)

I may have mentioned the story of my dad's curry before.  He forgot about it on the stove, and the curry was burnt; I mean seriously blackened to within an inch of its life.  Did this mean we poor children got out of eating it for dinner?  Uh uh, no indeedy.  We had to chow down on this lovely charcoaled dinner.  My lucky younger sister being a vego. got out of it tho:=)  So keep an eye on this one folks.  The spices can burn easily.

Serves 4 as a side dish:


600g. (or about 1.3lb) of small or baby potatoes, unpeeled

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/8 - 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

40g. butter

a slurp of olive oil

1 small red chilli (optional)

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin powder

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1/4 tsp sea or smoked salt flakes

1 medium tomato, chopped into small chunks

1/2-1 tsp raw sugar or palm sugar

a small handful (2 tbs) of coriander stalks, finely chopped

juice of half a lime

a big pinch of salt flakes

5 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped

a palmful of coriander leaves, roughly torn or chopped


Boil the potatoes till tender - mine took about 15 mins.

Drain well and set aside to cool and dry off

Dry roast the whole seeds and chilli flakes in a small, cast iron skillet, tossing all the while till you can smell the toasty aroma - be careful not to burn - this will only take a few minutes

When cooled down, throw this mix into a mortar and pestle or a flavour shaker and give it a good bash/shake - you don't want a fine powder; just everything nicely broken up

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add a slurp of olive oil

When sizzling, throw in the potatoes and cook for 5 mins. on a medium-low heat

Crush (gently) with a fork or masher and turn them over

Give them another few minutes till they start getting a golden crust

Push the potatoes to the side of the pan; add the roasted seeds to the middle - you may need a dash more oil or butter

Keep an eye on it while you stir, as it burns easily

Now add the chopped chilli, the dried spices and salt 

Add the tomato, sugar and coriander stalks; and do the stirring thang for a couple of mins.

 In goes the lime juice and a pinch of salt

Scatter over the spring onions and coriander leaves 

Serve with yoghurt 


I used Red Royale baby potatoes but use your fave.  I chopped a few biggies in half so they cooked at the same time

What is a slurp of oil, you may well ask?  2-3 tsp should do the trick

all the tasty ingredients gathered

dry roast the seeds and chilli flakes in a small, cast iron skillet

shake the seeds (this is my Jamie Oliver flavour shaker) 

crush the potatoes-gently

stir in the roasted whole spices 

squeeze in the lime juice 

chop up the spring onions and coriander leaves

and ... eat!

This is a fiery and spicy dish, so the yoghurt goes down a treat with it.  Serve with chicken, or a hunk of spicy baked salmon.

my Red Royale baby potato doodle

Sunday, 1 October 2017

In My Kitchen - October 2017

I won't say it, I won't say it, I won't say it!...Oh no, I said it.  I can hear Xmas sleigh bells in the back of my head folks.  We were at a shopping centre on the weekend, and there was some Christmas stuff in a shop window.  Blaaagh, too soon, too soon.  Anyways, let's get on with IMK this month.  Not a lot happening kitchen-wise for me.  But here we go:

local olive oil bought in Toowoomba 

We went to a newly-opened Bulk Store in Toowoomba last weekend called The Source.  You wander around and scoop up the goodies into brown paper bags from bulk containers.  We bought chocolate:)  Ha ha!  And this local olive oil.  Dunno where exactly 'local' is, as the label is devoid of info.

blue bilby by Blu Art Xinja 

Not sure if I've shown you this before.  It hangs on my kitchen wall.  Made by a local art warrior known as Blu Art Xinja.  He puts up (illegal) artworks all over Brisbane, and in Melbourne and New Zealand.  Long may he or she prosper!  I'm guessing he's a he, but you don't get to see the face.


lovely silver spoon 

I bought this in the Bulk Store too.  A gorgeous silver-plated spoon which has been engraved with Eat drink and be merry.  "A great Xmas present" the nice store lady said...

single forest maple syrup

Single forest maple syrup?  Who knew there was such a thing?  Not this little black duck.  I adore maple syrup, especially on bacon.  And it's organic too; win, win.

ever so pretty rosy little jug

I found this little beauty in a Vintage shop in Brunswick Heads on our recent trip to Northern Rivers.  It is a Clarice Cliff design, called Janice Rose.  Very different from her Art Deco pieces.

another cutie from our potter mate Miss B

We had dinner with Miss B. when down in Northern Rivers, at the incredibly trendy restaurant Harvest in Newrybar.  The wee village used to be just a general store and a post office- c'est tout, but now has a bakery, deli, restaurant and a very expensive artisan co-op.  Bloody Chris Hemsworth!  All his fault for moving there from Hollywood.

yep that's him Chris Hemsworth  taken by me in Sept 2014 

He lives down near Byron Bay, which is a mixture of ye old-time hippies/greenies and very rich actors etc.  So now you gotta pay more for stuff down there:=)

self-portrait by Abigail Stratton (excuse the shadows please)

On the wall near my kitchen is this wonderful graphite drawing by a young girl down in Uki, New South Wales.  We were wandering thru this quaint little village, in fact on our way to an artist's studio when we came upon an art show in the Buttery Bazaar.  It was the last afternoon of the show, and I was lucky enough to find and fall in love with this girl.  They only took cash so we had to hunt up a store that would give us some real money:=)  The ladies were very excited for the young girl.    

my prize-winning entry for the Neff Cooking Comp.

I managed to win myself a prize and have my recipe printed in the Neff e-book.  The link is here if you'd like a squizz. 

Laurel Bank Park in Toowoomba

And just to finish off, here is a photo of the beautiful gardens that we saw on the weekend when we were in Toowoomba for the annual Carnival of Flowers.  Just glorious.

Well, that's about it for me.  I really hope you can join in this month!  I really appreciate and enjoy seeing everybody's global delights.  Cheers till November.  (one step closer to Xmas!)


    An InLinkz Link-up

Sherrys Pickings

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Baked Cauliflower & Pepper Berry Soup - The Nordic/Aussie Way

When did cauliflower become a bank robber-only food item?  (I'm hunting up my balaclava as we speak.)  Yep, when the hipsters started slicing and roasting it so it became a "steak", or turning it into cauliflower rice.  Perhaps I was an odd child, but I always loved cauli and cabbage and brussels sprouts - yep the whole brassica family suits me just fine. But as a non-brassica-loving friend once said: "I don't care if they're the Addams Family; I hate 'em all!"  Ah, poor deluded gal...

I bought a couple of Nordic cookbooks recently, which both have a recipe for cauliflower soup.  One calls for steaming the cauli in a steam oven if you have one, then pushing it thru a sieve, and then blending it for 10 minutes, every so often turning the motor off to cool down!  Phew! Yep, you're right; I'm not making that one.  I've adapted a recipe from Simon Bajada's book The New Nordic. He's an Aussie chef/food photographer who moved to Sweden with his Swedish wife a few years ago. 

soup, glorious soup


6 Tasmanian mountain pepper berries or 5 juniper berries

1 tbs sea salt flakes (plus a pinch of smoked salt if you have it)

2 tbs (40 mLs) vegetable oil; he says rapeseed, I say olive 

800g. of cauliflower (near enough), trimmed of leaves and stems

3 cloves of garlic in their skins

800 mLs chicken stock

2 tbs toasted almond meal (optional)

100g. crème fraiche or sour cream (optional)

half a dozen grinds of white pepper

a sprinkle of smoked salt (optional)

to serve:  chopped hard-boiled eggs/snipped chives/diced bacon (optional)


Grind the berries and salt in a mortar and pestle

Add the oil to the mortar and mix together

Throw the cauliflower which you have broken up into florets or large chunks (doesn't matter which as long as they are about the same size) into a large bowl, tip in the oil mix and toss well

Place the cauli on a lined baking tray along with the 3 garlic cloves still in their skins 

Bake at 200C for 20 mins., give it a toss and place back in the oven for 10 mins still at 200C

Now turn the oven down to 180C and bake for another 10 mins = 40 mins all up cooking time

If using the almond meal, turn the oven down to 170C and toast the meal for 5-6 mins

Grab your tongs and put the roasted cauli into a large saucepan

Add the garlic that you squish out between your fingers straight into the pan

Heat the stock till gently simmering and add half to the pan

Blitz with a stick blender/wand - carefully 'cos it may splash 

Now pour in the rest of the stock, add the almond meal and a big knob of butter (about 1 tbs)

Whiz it all up, and add some pepper

Serve with hard boiled eggs, sour cream, chives, bacon if using and more pepper if liked


I bought 1 large whole cauliflower, which was just over a kilo (2.2 lbs). Once trimmed, there was a teeny bit over 800 grams of florets

The recipe calls for 50 grams of brown butter to be added just before serving.  Yes, you could do this; plenty of recipes on the Net, but I chose to add some smoked salt, toasted almond meal and 1 tbs of butter instead

Take note folks: this is a very thick soup, so you may want to add more stock or water or a bit of milk to thin it down

ingredients gleaming in the sun

about to bake the cauli and garlic @ 200C  

golden and toasty

into the saucepan for blitzing with the stock

get blending the cauli with the stock

toast the almond meal

garnish with boiled egg, chives and sour cream (yep that's my foot)

Well, this was interesting and different.  As Mr P. said, it just wouldn't have had much flavour without the garlic.  I'm glad I strayed from the recipe. I am still shuddering when I think about the other recipe book which used steamed and sieved cauli, without any herbs or spices or flavourings except salt and pepper.  Eek!   

my cauli doodle  

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Travels Around Queensland - Hervey Bay And Environs

As regular readers will know, Mr P. and I headed north a while ago to help celebrate his uncle's 80th.  We tend to head south for breaks as we both like the cold, so this was a bit unusual for us.  I have put up a few photos of our trip on other posts, but I thought I would add a quick travelogue to show off what we found.

Ceratodus (Lungfish) by John Distler Olsen

This is a fabulous sculpture down by the river in Bundaberg, near the motel we stayed at.  The Latin name is Ceratodus. Apparently, they have been around for 380 million years, and Queensland has one of only 6 remaining species in the world.

sugar cane train

This was taken from our car, as we drove by.  There were seemingly endless wagons going by, filled with newly-harvested sugar cane.  The harvest period is from May to November, and you will see the trains go by up to 15 times a day.

sugar mill at Bundaberg - kinda spooky at night  

Looks like they keep the Milliquin mill going 24/7 during harvesting season. A bit of a steampunk atmosphere there, don't you think?  And that's steam coming out of the chimneys, not smoke.  It creates surplus electricity which goes back into the grid.

just a few things to watch out for when swimming in QLD waters

Phew, at least it wasn't stinger season when we were there:=)  And no sharks on this sign, unlike the one down in the Northern Rivers area when we were there on the weekend.

Sea Crab sculpture by Chris Trotter 

This was on the reverse side of an artwork also by Chris Trotter called White's Seahorse.  There is a similar piece close to our house in Brisbane, so we were interested to see this one in Tannum Sands.

octopus bike rack outside Hervey Bay Regional Gallery

Art by Stainless steel artist Chris Calcutt, who did several other artworks around the Hervey Bay area.  I even bought a very small whale sculpture of his at the Gallery shop.  Such clever stuff.

sea turtle

I didn't get the artist's name - oops!  I love the colours of this beautiful public artwork outside the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery.

of course cake!

doughnut and cannoli

And of course there had to be cakes.  Mr P. had 2 as you can see. My Black Forest cake was a bit dried out sadly.  Hubby scoffed his down so I don't know what they were like.  These were from Santini's in Torquay, which also runs a pizza place next door.

look at all those electric jugs!

I had to show this one again.  These are full-sized, old-fashioned electric jugs just like mum used to have:=)  They are on every step and on the little balcony.  This small, art deco house sits all by itself on the Esplanade.  Wonder how long before the developers whack a hotel or units on the block?

looking out over the Bay from Urangan Pier 

Such a shame we were too early for the whales that come right into the bay each winter.  Next year for sure.

not too early for the pelicans tho

another piece by Chris Calcutt

A mackerel as you can see.  There are a few fish scattered around the lawns, sculpted in stainless steel.

my fave!

I had to end with this one!  An absolutely stunning artwork by Chris Calcutt (I think) and others, standing at the front of the Gallery.  It had just been polished for the first time since being installed in 2012, so it was shining and gleaming in the winter sun.

We had a lovely couple of days here; and hope to return next winter when the whales are swimming by.