Tropics and desktops

I haven’t posted anything for ages. Sorry about that. It’s because we’ve just spent 2 week gallivanting down the north Queensland coast, and straight after that some bugger gave me a job.

Sunset on Hamilton Island

Sunset on Hamilton Island


Strawberry daiquiris

Life motto: always carry a bottle of rum on holiday and life will be good

Just because I haven’t been posting doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. I spent 2 weeks eating seafood and drinking rum so have come back with a renewed enthusiasm and I have embraced winter cooking for the last few weeks of the season’s pathetic, miserable life. (I’ve only worked 4 days and been drenched 3 times.)

Unfortunately I’ve got no photos of my latest culinary escapades because now whenever I’m in the house it’s dark. And I know you lot go for visual gratification so I can’t show you:

  • Roast chicken with blue cheese dressed green veg
  • Taragon chicken and mushroom barley risotto
  • Pan-fried salmon with cauli puree and cavolo nero with feta and almonds
  • Lentil and Quorn moussaka
  • Roast pork with crackling, celeriac puree, chilli’ed broccoli with feta

Instead you’ll just have to have some holiday photos and some recommendations for places to eat in tropical north QLD.


Proof we’re in Oz!


Eastern spinebill

Eastern spinebill

The Best (Eating) Bits

  • Salt House, Cairns – a view of the marina and a super-fresh seafood platter for one
  • Perrotta’s at the Gallery, Cairns – tropical fruit salad and gf toast for a lazy Sunday breakfast
  • The Ocea Bar, Mission Beach – great fresh seafood (we had grilled barra and chips, seafood platter) & gf lemon tart which made me ridiculously happy. The staff were clearly working hard but it all seemed a bit shambolic – bear with them though, it’s worth it.
  • Bibesia at Castaways, Mission Beach – so good we ate there twice in one day: gf squid, scallops, salmon with truffled risotto. The cocktails were also divine, eg coral sea storm: Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, mint, coconut water, lime, ginger syrup and candied ginger
  • Piccolo’s at Mission Beach- sometimes you just need a pizza and these guys do a great gf version. (As does the Bridge Cafe at Mount Uncle Distillery – they make the base from green banana flour and it’s GREAT! This is also where we picked up our rum 🙂
  • The Clipper at Coral Sea Resort, Airlie Beach – after being nearly literally washed out of our accommodation at Eungella, we escaped to the beach and took dinner at the hotel – a very  sorely needed relaxing evening
  • Coca Chu, Hamilton Island – absolutely delicious food, but I wish we had ordered one course at a time. My favourites were lime-cured kingfish with lemongrass, green mango, mint & shiso leaf and aromatic curry of chicken w potato & cucumber chilli relish; not to mention the spiced pineapple mojito with black pepper and cinnamon
  • Bommie Deck Bar and Restaurant, Hamilton Island: just the perfect way to end a holiday. We watched the moon rise over the marina with cocktails in hand and then were doted upon in the restaurant, eating quail, kingfish, piccata of reef fish, black angus rump cap, with wines matched by the sommelier, followed by several gifts from the kitchen including these petit fours. All gluten free, of course!

bommie: gifts from the kitchen



And some random scenery from Hamilton Island and Mission Beach


Catseye Beach from Passage Peak


Our last sunrise in paradise


Mission Beach in the morning


Dunk Island in the distance


The reef view from, you guessed it, the Reef View Hotel


Cauliflower and scallop pasta with hazelnut pangrattato

I’m gettin’ all Masterchef on yo asses!

Ok, I’ll stop.

For Melbourne summer’s absolutely last, promise this time, really last hurrah, Mr Eleanor and I went down to Cape Woolamai on Philip Island.

Cape Woolamai beach

On the way back we picked up some seafood. A kilo of the stuff. All for meeeeeeee! Woop!

Pasta photos are tough going, especially when it’s dark. I assure you this is tastier than it looks.

cauli scallop pasta

Pasta in a creamed cauliflower sauce with roasted florets, scallops and crispy hazelnut, lemon zest and garlic pangrattato

But you don’t have to take my word for it, try it for yourself – here’s the recipe

Chicken and mango curry

This is such an easy curry you’ll never need to order out again – no paste to make, no list of ingredients as long as your arm, and no longer than 30 minutes from start to finish

DSC05953 (2)

Curry leaves might be a bit of a pain in the proverbial to get hold of, but worth it – I have to confess that I only started using this spice when we moved into our current house and found we had a curry tree in the garden. They have a really unique fragrance, almost petrol-like! Bear with! I assure you it’s fabulous.

This is also great with fish and seafood.

Sichuan calamari with pineapple, red pepper and sweetcorn salsa

calamari with pineapple salsa


It doesn’t get any simpler than that – barbecued calamari dusted with sichuan pepper or nanami togarashi, at your whim (both in my case); served with a salsa of red pepper, pineapple, sweetcorn, onion, coriander, chilli and lime juice.

Bliss! And calamari gets a sustainability tick of approval – it’s all good!

Korean ceviche

Korean food is so hot right now not least because of the rise of gochujang, the Korean fermented chilli paste.

This recipe is a Korean take on the Latin American classic ceviche, where raw fish is marinated in citrus juice. Don’t be tempted to leave the fish in lime juice for more than an hour as the proteins in the fish will begin to break down and it will ruin the texture, essentially by becoming  cooked by the citric acid. Is it of course essential to use the freshest possible fish so make sure you talk to your fishmonger!

Korean ceviche

korean ceviche

Mackerel, as a schooling fish lower down the food chain, would work well for this recipe but unfortunately I did not have that luxury and went with sustainable Tasmanian salmon.


Choosing a sustainable fish is a bit of a minefield, but there are some guides out there to help you navigate it safely and choose sensible replacements.

For Aussies: Sustainable table: Fish guide
For Brits: MSC Good Fish Guide

That it’s not difficult enough to make the right  choices when it comes to eating fish, I have found this really disappointing development in Australia:

Australian consumers to be kept in the dark on seafood origins

I, for one, would like to at least have this knowledge available so that I can make informed choices about what I put in my body, and how I impact the planet.

NB – Use tamari to make this recipe gluten free. The chilli paste should be gluten free, but always check the ingredients