GOMA - Brisbane

29 Feb 2012

I spent most of last week in my home town of Brisbane. On my final day I took the bus into town to see the Matisse: Drawing Life exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art 


This was my first visit to the GOMA.

This was the first art work I passed. I still have no idea why Brisbane is known as Brizvegas.


The gallery is housed in a light filled pavilion overlooking the Brisbane River. A year ago this walkway was flooded.


Did you spot some of the local wild life?

The last piece of artwork I passed.

I hope you enjoyed my little trip to the GOMA. See you all again next week,


moist plum cake

27 Feb 2012

It's plum season here so I thought it was about time to make a plum cake, but this time I decided to try a new recipe. I'd read lots of rave reviews for Nigel Slater's plum and walnut cake, so I thought I'd try it for myself. Firstly I had to buy some plums. Secondly I had to find another copy of the recipe online because the quantity of baking powder was missing from the Guardian's online version (1 1/2 teaspoons by the way). Thirdly, I had to increase the quantity of the cake batter to fit the only spring form tin I had which was 23 cm.

Now you know me well enough by now to know I did adapt the recipe slightly. Plums go so well with cinnamon it felt churlish not to add some to the mix, so I did.

Toasted walnuts taste better than the raw version, so I toasted the nuts before adding them to the mix.

Plums can be quite tart, so I sugared the plums before covering the batter.

When I turned the cake out nearly all the plums had sunk to the bottom (as warned) so I decided to serve the cake upside down because I thought it looked much prettier that way.

Here's my version of Nigel Slater's Plum and Walnut Cake

Moist Plum Cake (makes a 23 cm cake) printable recipe
200 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
200 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
100 grams plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
135 grams almond meal
65 grams toasted walnuts
10 - 12 small plums, ripe but still firm
1 - 2 tablespoons extra sugar


Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Lightly grease and flour a 23cm spring form cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Pit the plums and cut into quarters. Sprinkle plums with the extra 1 - 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside. 

Finely chop the toasted walnuts and reserve. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between additions. Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Fold into the butter mixture. Fold in the almond meal and the chopped walnuts.

Spoon the batter into the tin. Place the quartered plums in concentric circles, without overlapping, on top of the batter. (The plums will sink to the bottom of the tin whilst baking.) Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Soon after the cake came out of the oven we shared the first slice. The plums were tart and the cake mixture moist and fragrant. Definitely a winner and I can tell I'll be making it again in various guises.

See you all again on Wednesday.

Until then,


upside down blackberry cake

22 Feb 2012

I'd hate to give you the impression that everything I bake turns out perfectly, because that's not always the case. This upside down blackberry cake is a case in point.

The blackberry season is really short in Sydney so when I spied some fresh blackberries, I thought I'd try a Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall recipe I found online. I only bought one punnet of berries because they were quite expensive and I thought I had sufficient frozen berries at home to cover the bottom of the tin. Well I didn't.

No worries I thought. It will be alright. Well it wasn't.

The cake uncovered by berries stuck to the baking parchment and although I tried to camouflage the top with icing sugar it didn't make the cake look much better. The cake was absolutely delicious though and I would make it again but next time, to quote Nigella Lawson, I'd strew the berries over the top of the cake and abandon the whole upside down cake concept. I'm sure it would taste just as fine and look prettier to boot.

I promise to show you one of my baking success stories next time when I'll be back home in Sydney, meanwhile it's absolutely bucketing down here in Brisbane.

Bye to you all for now,


buttermilk chicken

20 Feb 2012

I'm always after something for my dinner that's quick to put together and delicious to eat. When I saw this recipe featured on Smitten Kitchen I went back to the original source, Nigella Lawson to check out her buttermilk chicken recipe.

buttermilk chicken

I don't make many Nigella recipes as they're usually dripping with fat but this one was easy to adapt. I simply left all the oil out of the recipe!

buttermilk chicken

Before I did the shopping Saturday morning, I checked the fridge and pantry and I had everything I needed apart from the chicken drumsticks. I put the marinade together one night and marinated the chicken for 2 days before I roasted the drumsticks with some of my favourite kipfler potatoes.

My oven is slow so the drumsticks took about an hour before they were ready. I served them with a simple side dish of steamed greens and the chicken legs were delicious. They're garlicky and peppery and I think the maple syrup just helps the skin to turn a lovely golden brown. I can see them appearing regularly on my table.

See you all again on Wednesday,


pronto - steak with anchovy butter

15 Feb 2012

When I was growing up My Dad was always in charge of cooking steak. I probably treat myself to a steak once a month so it has to be a good one. It's taken lots of trial and error but I think I have cooking a steak down to a fine art now, almost as good as my Dad's.

steak with anchovy butter

I saw this Neil Perry recipe for anchovy butter and decided it would go perfectly with my dinner of steak and faux chips made from kipfler potatoes, accompanied by a rocket salad.

steak with anchovy butter

I had to shoot this as quickly as possible because no-one likes to eat a cold steak and I was ravenous.

I'm in Brisbane for the next week for a bit of family time, so whilst I'm home I might just get Dad to cook me a steak....

Any suggestions for a shop to shoot whilst I'm in town?


(update) Dad did cook me a steak when I was home in Brisbane; my sister made the anchovy butter and I whipped up some more faux potato chips and a garden salad for dinner.

happy valentine's day brownies

13 Feb 2012

In my family, Valentine's Day was a special day because it was my Grandmother's birthday. Grandma was a feisty lady with a love for couture but I don't think she would have had much time for heart shaped nonsense. I on the other hand, decided to get into the swing of all things Valentine and bought some new heart shaped cookie cutters.

valentine's day brownies

I made chocolate brownies which I then cut into heart shapes, inspired by this blog post I found on frolic.

The best thing about cutting out the heart shaped brownies was I got to eat the trimmings and there's nothing like squidgy chocolate brownies for breakfast after a cycle class at the gym.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all,


shopshoot - love loans + linen

8 Feb 2012

I can't remember how I discovered love loans + linen but I've had my eye on some of the goodies in their online shop for some time now. When the time came to do my first shopshoot for 2012, it was the first place I thought of. 

love loans + linen is located in Palm Beach way up on the northern beaches of Sydney. Unfortunately it wasn't much of a beachy day, the day I visited. The store is housed in the old Palm Beach post office and there are still a few hints as to it's former life.

The shop is filled with all kinds of lovely things, arranged by colour way.

A wall of black and white goodies.

Loads of natural earthy tones and how sweet are those mice?

Lovely embossed tin Palm Beach postcode signs

A display of antique apothecary and mason jars.

That red topped milk bottle has my name on it. I loved this display in red and can't believe I came home empty handed. What was I thinking???

I fell in love with this caterpillar toy.

I spied loads of Samantha Robinson ceramics, which reminded me that I need to invest in some more green hued homewares.

I'm already planning my next trip to love loans + linen but next time I'll be shopping!

Bye for now,


spiced zucchini and walnut cake

6 Feb 2012

Each month the Delicious magazine arrives at work and I look through it for recipes to try. I saw this recipe for a spiced zucchini and pecan cake and as I was about to go to Dungog for the weekend I knew it would be the perfect thing to make.

I visited the girls and gathered a few eggs to use in the cake.

I'd just bought a large bag of walnuts so I decided to use those instead of pecans.

The recipe made a huge quantity of lime sour cream icing so I didn't use all of it, but it tasted very yummy.

Here is the original recipe though I did slightly adapt it to my taste. I used a 24 cm springform pan because that's all I own. Apart from swapping walnuts for the pecans, I also reduced the oil content and left out the sultanas. There wasn't any nutmeg in the cupboard in Dungog so that was omitted but no-one seemed to notice it's absence...

2 cups (300g) plain flour
3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

300g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

3 eggs
1 cup (250ml) sunflower oil
2 cups (300g) grated zucchini
100g sultanas

1 cup (140g) pecans toasted, chopped 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 22 cm springform cake tin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, vanilla, oil and eggs together. Fold the egg mixture, zucchini, sultanas and 1 cup pecans into the flour mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1-1¼ hours until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove cake from the pan when cooled. I placed the cake in the fridge before icing.

Sour cream and lime icing
1½ cups (225g) pure icing sugar, sifted
1½ cups (360g) sour cream at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
½ cup (70g) pecans toasted, chopped

For the icing beat the icing sugar, zest and sour cream together until smooth. Remove cake from the fridge and decorate with the icing and the reserved pecans.

The light was just gorgeous that day, so I couldn't help but take a few more photos than usual.

I'll be back again on Wednesday with a shopshoot, so until then,


beetroot, spinach, walnut and feta salad

1 Feb 2012

I am a creature of habit and I eat the same thing for lunch just about every day. On Australia Day I decided to change things up and made this salad for my lunch. 

beetroot, spinach, walnut and feta salad

I came home from the gym, toasted the walnuts, made the dressing and put the salad together.

beetroot, spinach, walnut and feta salad

I didn't have any goat cheese so I used some feta that was lurking in my fridge. 

I'd roasted the beetroots earlier in the week so the salad was a snap to put together and very tasty to boot.

Originally I'd planned to serve the salad with steak for my dinner but in the end just had the salad for lunch with some bread. Next time I'll use balsamic vinegar when I make the dressing. I still have 2 large beetroots in my crisper drawer so expect another beetroot creation in the near future.

I know it's been a while but I'll be back again next week with my first shopshoot for the year. Have you missed them?

See you all next week,

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