Thursday, May 20, 2010


The other day I had a cheerful chat with our local butcher up here on the mountain. That’s nothing new - I love butchers! They are a special, unique breed of humans.

When I took over the management of the resort on Hinchinbrook Island all the resort’s goods came from either Brisbane or Townsville. It didn’t require too many brains to realise that situation to be illogical and inconvenient. Being a keen supporter of local businesses, I approached the traders in the sleepy township of Cardwell across the waters from the island with the suggestion I purchase the resort’s livery from them. My idea was welcomed with open arms.

From the butcher to the hardware store, to the supermarket and all others in between, they were more than willing to oblige; happily promising to supply me with everything I needed, from paint brushes to kidney beans! To everyone’s mutual satisfaction, structures were quickly set into place. It was a two-way street (or waterway)! Cardwell benefited from the deal. In return, the townsfolk willingly spread the “good word” about the resort, so the resort reaped the rewards from “word of mouth” as many visitors followed the Yellow Brick Road from Cardwell across Missionary Bay to the island. It was a convenient and fruitful arrangement for all parties concerned.

The Cardwell butcher who gave exemplary service even at a moment’s notice was all heart. I’ve found that to be true of our butcher up here on the hill, too. A number of times I’ve asked for something special, or for them to attend to a special chore for me. Not once have they hesitated or let me down, ever willing to bend over backwards with continuous smiles on their faces. How do they do that? Butchers are so flexible! They could be competition gymnasts!

All it takes is a little commonsense….the more we shop locally, the more prices can be held at bay or lowered! That’s better than a kick in the kidneys - simple mathematics really! It’s tripe to think the grass is greener elsewhere!

I know a lot of folk don't like offal - they think its awful.....but the following recipes are for those who think offal is awfully nice....and that's the offal truth!

Tripe Italianne: Cut 1.5kg boiled tripe into thin strips. Put 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, 1 stick celery, chopped and 1-2 finely-chopped garlic cloves into pan; add 30g butter; fry well; add 2tbls extra virgin olive oil and tripe. When golden, add 500g chopped, peeled tomatoes, chopped basil and chopped spring onion; season. Reduce sauce over low heat; sprinkle with parmesan; serve with cannellini beans.

Crispy Sweetbreads: Soak 450g sweetbreads 2 hours in cold water; drain; place in saucepan; cover with fresh water; add 1tsp salt. Slowly bring to boil; drain. Remove membrane without tearing sweetbreads. Rinse pan; add sweetbreads, crumbled chicken stock cube and water to cover; simmer gently 15-20mins until tender. Drain; chill. Cut large sweetbreads in half at an angle, leaving smaller ones whole; coat in beaten egg; roll in fresh breadcrumbs. Melt butter in pan; fry sweetbreads gently until browned. Serve with bacon and lemon wedges.

Sweetbreads with Mushrooms: Soak 700g sweetbreads in cold water 4 hours; change water often. Place in a pan of water; slowly bring to boil; boil 2mins; drain; pat dry; remove membrane; cut crosswise into slices. Melt 2tbls butter in pan; add 1 chopped onion and 225g button mushrooms; cook until tender. Add 2tbls butter to pan; add sweetbreads; sauté 5mins. Add 100ml brandy; heat; ignite; cook gently 10mins. Combine 3/4c cream with 2 beaten egg yolks; add some hot pan juices to egg mixture; return to pan; add onions/mushrooms; heat gently; do not boil; season.

Middle Eastern Brains: Soak 4 sets lamb brains in water with 2tsp vinegar 1 hour; rinse; cut into large pieces; sauté 3 crushed garlic cloves in 1/4c olive oil; add 1 can drained tomatoes, 2tbls chopped parsley, 2tbls chopped coriander, 1tsp paprika, pinch cayenne, 1tsp cumin, pepper, salt and 1tbl lemon juice; cook gently 15mins; add brains; cook 10-15mins.

Kidneys in Port: Cut 6-8 sheep kidneys into 4; remove gristle; toss in seasoned flour. Fry gently in butter with a little chopped onion and a few sliced mushrooms; cook 5mins. Add 1/4c beef stock, 1/2c port; season to taste. Bring to boil; reduce; add a 1/3c cream; cook until thickened.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Balmy spring showers laying dust as they pass; the intoxicating scent of freshly cut grass on crisp, clear morns; succulent buds proudly adorning tall trees as patiently they await their debut at summer’s dawning; thistledown clouds caressing cobalt skies; shimmering cream sand thresholds to aquamarine oceans are some of my favourite things!

Rainy days; moonlit nights; a forest eclipsed by an eerie, misty veil; an iridescent rainbow with its fanciful promise of a pot of gold at its elusive end; the contagious mirth of jocular kookaburras; the unique warbling of a magpie; the cheeky mimicry of butcher-birds!

And then there’s Gregory, my favourite nephew who invests time to telephone me regularly, even if to persistently torment me with tales of his prowess at prawn abduction, mud crab-napping and fish filchering! He’s fully aware they’re my favourite edibles! Just as well I’ve got a sense of humour!

The aroma of onions frying - that’ll draw crowds from afar! When living in Noosa, I was advised by a wise old sage to always fry onions in my shop around lunch time - it wasn’t a fashion boutique, by the way! Being one to heed advice from wise old sages, I was mindful of my mentor’s sagacious counsel! Frantic Pinocchio-nosed crowds laid siege upon my shop wildly demonstrating, demanding food! “Give ‘em cake!” Marie-Antoinette declared! The people hankered for more than cake, Marie-A! Ummm…they did salaciously devour my carrot-pineapple cakes, though!

My favourite things? I have many favourite things, most of which are simplistic and cost little. My two cats, books, particularly my Oxford dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus, television (I'm not too proud to admit it) and computer head my list!

Here are a few of my favourite meals.

Beer-Battered Fish ‘n Chips: Preheat oven 200°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Cut 2 large, unpeeled potatoes into wedges. Place wedges on tray. Drizzle with olive oil; season - (sprinkle with paprika, if desired....or other spices/herbs of choice). Cook in oven, turning occasionally, for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Place 1-1/2c S.R flour in a bowl. Add 1 egg; stir to combine. Gradually whisk in 375g chilled lager until batter is smooth; season. Cover; place in the fridge for 30mins. Add vegetable oil to a large saucepan to reach a depth of 8cm. Heat to 190°C over high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 10 seconds). Dust 4 fish fillets with flour; - dip 2 pieces of fish, 1 at a time, into batter to coat; drain off excess. Deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Transfer to plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining fish and batter, reheating oil between batches. Serve with potato wedges.

Lemon-Garlic Squid: Grab 450g cleaned squid, reserve tentacles; cut body section into ½-inch rings; wash under cold running water; pat dry. Place squid in a shallow dish; add reserved tentacles. Squeeze over juice of 1 lemon; toss; stand about 5mins; drain squid in colander; shake to remove excess liquid. Heat 75ml olive oil in a large frying pan/wok; add 3-4 finely chopped garlic cloves and grated lemon zest; cook very slowly as it comes up to heat. When it is really hot, add squid; sauté in the hot oil, keeping it on the move so it just slightly takes on colour at the edges – it will only take about 1-2 minutes to cook; season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and 2tbls chopped Italian parsley; serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Veal/Chicken/Pork Schnitzel: Lightly beat 3 eggs. To 1c quality breadcrumbs, add 1/2c parmesan and 1tbls finely chopped sage; set aside. Coat 8 schnitzels with flour; dip into egg, then breadcrumbs. Heat 2tbls olive oil and 1tbl butter over mod-heat in frying pan; add 4 schnitzels; cook 1-2mins each side; remove; keep warm; add more oil and butter; cook remaining schnitzels; serve with lemon wedges or Paprika-Sour Cream Sauce: Dice 4 bacon rashers; fry until crisp; add 2tbls chopped onion; brown; season with salt, pepper and 1tbl paprika; stir in 1c sour cream and 2tbls tomato paste; cook wide, flat noodles; serve sauce over noodles with schnitzels.

P.S. Acrylic painting done by me.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Fortunately, that clown Bert Newton's faulty commentary has been wiped of this viewing of k d Lang's brilliant performance at Sunday night's Logie Awards....she is superb and I'm not too proud to admit that every time I watch her perform Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", she brings tears to my eyes and leaves me in awe of her performance and amazing talent. Cohen has said that Lang's version is his favourite of all versions of his song...and I can understand why. As Tony Bennett stated...."she is a singer's singer".

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and do.

I couldn't believe my eyes/ears when Newton twice incorrectly said that Lang "performed the song at the Montreal 2010 Olympics"! Why he wasn't corrected, beats me. This man is way, way past his use-by date, and I really don't understand why we have to be continuously tormented by his face on our television screens!