Friday, December 23, 2011

Gnocchi in Creamy Carrot Sauce...

I made gnocchi with a yummy creamy carrot sauce... Pretty tasty!
Gnocchi in creamy carrot sauce.

I have a confession to make, I loved gnocchi.  You know, I even love the packaged gnocchi that you get at the deli.  It's so quick to make and it's often my fall back dinner dish because it's quick, tasty and filling.

The carrot stash in my vegetable crisper has been getting bigger and bigger and I've been trying to think what to cook that would use up a bunch of them.  I often make a gnocchi with a pumpkin sauce and I thought "Why not try it with carrots?"  This recipe is super simple and tasty.  You can also play around with the flavours and seasoning to your own taste too.

Gnocchi with Creamy Carrot Sauce.
  • 1 packet of potato gnocchi
  • about 6 medium carrots
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 large rashes of bacon chopped
  • A good handful of rocket for each dish
  • white wine
  • 1/2 cup of milk.
  • olive oil

  1. Peel and chop carrots into about 2cm sections, simmer in water until softened.
  2. Once cooked, drain carrots and add a little milk.  Using a stick blender, blend until smooth.  Continue to add the milk until it is at a thick sauce consistency.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside on a low heat to cook milk and also to keep warm.
  3. Cook gnocchi to the packet instructions.  (Usually while I wait for the water to boil, I start cooking the bacon, onion and garlic!)
  4. Cook bacon, onion and garlic in a frying pan with a small amount of olive oil until onion is soft.  De-glaze the pan with a splash of white wine.
  5. Add the carrot mixture to the bacon and onion mixture.  Drain gnocchi and add to sauce.  Toss gnocchi to coat in sauce.
  6. Serve with a good amount of grated parmesan cheese, top with fresh rocket.  Add a little sprinkle of olive oil to the rocket and season to taste with salt and pepper.
This dish is quite pretty, the combination of the orange from the carrots with the bright green of the rocket is lovely.  Enjoy your creamy carrot gnocchi, you may need a spoon to get the last of the sauce out of your bowl!

Friday, December 16, 2011

For the love of Maha, St.Kat's & the Delia!

A little gift to myself & @elgatogrande - Maha love!
Maha cookbook by Shane Delia

Maha restaurant in Melbourne is one of my favourites.  It's combination of Middle Eastern food and some traditional Maltese treats make it something pretty special.  The decor too is amazing and you feel like you've entered another world, stepping down into the richly decorated restaurant and bar.

Hanging out with the lovely Shane Delia at his awesome new restaurant in kew!
Miss Mardi with the lovely and talented Shane Delia at St.Katherine's.

When Shane Delia, owner and creator of Maha released his cookbook by the same name, I was super excited!  This was an opportunity to give some of his recipes a try at home.  I was glad to see some of my favourite dishes from Maha in the book, including the amazing Turkish delight filled donuts - yum!

Special dedication from Shane Delia- great chef and lovely guy!
A special dedication...

One of the things that I love about the book are the beautiful stories of how Shane came to cooking, his inspiration and some of the photos of his family and also him when he was younger!  I love this style of cookbook where it invites you into the chef's family and life and you come out the other end feeling like you know them personally.

At st. Katherine's restaurant launch
Partners in Crime, George Columbaris and Miss Shannon.

I rarely gush about restaurants and chefs but I have to say that the gang from Maha, St.Katherine's and the Press Club (all of them are in cahoots with each other!) they never fail to impress.  I am confident that I will be given some great dishes, I never leave hungry and there's always a dish that makes me go 'wow'.

The Maha book is pretty special, great stories, photos & recipes!
The photography in Maha cookbook.

Although I haven't had a chance to make anything from the book as yet, I think that I will be trying my hand at some of the recipes over the Christmas break!  It's a beautiful book, take a look if you get a chance!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Cure Cocktail...

The cure cocktail
The amazing healing powers of The Cure...

I posted this little cocktail recipe over at and thought I would share it with my Dine Wine and Martini readers too!  It's a super refreshing cocktail, however if you don't had any vodka or gin to it, it is also a great non-alcoholic drink to rehydrate you in the Summer.

The Cure Ingredients:
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 bottle of sparkling mineral water
  • a knob of fresh ginger
  • vodka
  • ice
You will also need:
  • a tall glass
  • drinking straw
  • muddler
How to!
  1. Slice up about 2 cm of fresh ginger into large slices and pop into your glass.
  2. Slice the cucumber down the length to get a long, yet thin slice of it - this is to garnish and for extra flavour.
  3. Slice some of the remainder cucumber into chunky cubes and add with the ginger into the glass.
  4. Using the muddler, gently mush/muddle the ginger and cucumber to break it up and also to release the ginger aromas and flavours!
  5. Add some ice to glass and fill with the sparkling mineral water.
  6. Add your long sliced cucumber, drinking straw and enjoy!
  7. You can add some vodka to this cocktail for a 'hair of the dog' or for a refreshing Summer cocktail too!

Test running new @fringe_club cocktail!
It would be quite easy to make this up in a pitcher to serve for guests as well.  Just modify the quantities to taste.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gingerbread Spiced Granola...

Gingerbread spice
Gingerbread spice mix courtesy of Two Swedes Cooking.

I am a huge fan of granola!  I just love it for breakfast and over the last year or so, I have experimented with a few different recipes and can easily adjust the ingredients now to make a pretty delicious concoction.

I guess that I am pretending that I am in a Winter Wonderland at the moment and I am embracing the delicious 'festive flavours' of spices and sweet potato and cranberries and all of that.  When I went to make my latest weekly batch of granola yesterday, I spied my Swedish Gingerbread Spice mix and thought "I wonder how a Gingerbread Spiced Granola would turn out?"  I can tell you now - delicious!!!

Breakfast time! Gingerbread Spiced Granola with yoghurt and pears.

Using one of my basic granola recipes, I exchanged the cinnamon for a good dose of this Gingerbread Spice Mix and cooked as I normally would.  This spice mix adds a complexity of flavour to the granola.  You will also feel pretty festive eating it as it smells just like gingerbread!  My spice mix is courtesy of Two Swedes Cooking and the lovely folk at Nord Living in Melbourne stock it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Carrot soup...

Carrot, coriander, coconut & green aple soup: made my me: delish!

When you end up with too many carrots, in this house you make soup! I added a recipe for this soup a while ago which you can find here but it is such a delicious favorite that I had to post a photo of the finished product in it's delicious orangeness!

I also recently bought a new blender, chopper thing and used the slicing function on it to quickly chop up all of the ingredients for the soup.  It's amazing how quick it made it all and I think the soup was prepared, cooked and served within 30 minutes.  Wowsers!  I don't think that there is anything wrong with chopping things in a food processor, especially if they are going to be blended at the end.  Maybe give it a go when you are a little time poor for this soup.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a Bunny Shot Glass?

Rabbit shot glass
Rabbit shot glass.

I'm a bit of a sucker for unusual and beautiful shot glasses.  When I was in Sydney recently I spied these totally adorable shot glasses which feature a cast pewter rabbit head!  They do stand up beautifully when they have vodka in them (they perch on their ears) but are also very handsome with their little heads up, on display on the bar.

So, who doesn't love a bunny shot glass?  I wonder how a drunk bunny would act!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Decorating with Scandinavian Trays...

Scandanavian designed trays
Everyday art tray by Maria Holmer Dahlgren.

Scandanavian designed trays
Stockholm tray.

Scandanavian designed trays
A little note on the back of the tray from the designer.

I got these two gorgeous trays that are made from Scandinavian birch and designed by the amazing Maria Holmer Dahlgren at Nord Living a few weeks ago.  I was attracted to the super bright colours and gorgeous design on a very functional item, a serving tray.
However, I loved them so much (they are just so pretty!) that I couldn't imagine using them and getting them all beaten up during parties but I also didn't want to hide them away in the cupboard either.

Solution?  I have hung them on the wall above our bar!  They look perfect there and are attached using some 3M devices, so they can easily come off, be used and them popped back onto the wall!  It's like having my own special Maria Holmer Dahlgren artworks on the wall!

You can visit this great article on Maria Holmer Dahlgren here, but here is also a little snippet!

"Sometimes, it’s the everyday rituals such as meals together, coffee breaks, and breakfast in bed that are celebrated.  And why trays and kitchen towels? According to Maria, “These are perfect frames for everyday art that bring a little joy to life, without asking for much attention. My work is based on the same philosophy… there’s beautiful art all around us, if we just open our eyes to it."

You rock Maria Holmer Dahlgren and you totally bring joy to my everyday life!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm Loving Feast Magazine!

Feast magazine

I used to buy a lot of 'food' magazines but stopped a few years back, mostly as it seemed much easier to look up recipes on the internet.  However, I came across the new Feast magazine which has been created by the folk from SBS and I am in love with it!  I'm loving the format, the feel of the paper and it's super cute layout.

I'm also about discovering different recipes from other countries, which this magazine does so well.  These Turkish style baked eggs above look totally delicious.  I know that other magazines have tried this 'ethnic' way of thinking in their food magazines but it seems to come so naturally from SBS.  

In the first edition they also had a feature of creating recipes from famous international films.  For this edition it was the film Amalie, which also was being shown on SBS during the month too.  I really like this idea of food inspiring film and film inspiring cooking.

Feast magazine

Also, aren't their photographs just beautiful?!  I had to end this post with these gorgeous image of a Sikh man and his most awesome beard!  I loved Feast so much that I even got a 12 month subscription, can't wait for it to turn up in my mailbox and to try some of the recipes out!

(note, I haven't been paid for this promotion, these are my own thoughts on this magazine!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Miss Mardi's Home-style, strong Lemonade!

Homemade lemonade, spiked with belvedere vodka!

Like the saying goes:  "What do you do when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!".  That's pretty much what I did last weekend!  I had a tough week last week.  I went to visit my mum and her lemon tree was bursting with fruit.  I came home with several large bags of the yellow beauties.  The sun was shinning on Sunday and when my friend turned up on my door step with a bottle of Belvedere vodka, I knew it was time to make a big jug of Miss Mardi's home-style, strong lemonade!

What you will need:
  • plenty of lemons, I think I used about 8 to 10 per jug.
  • good quality plain mineral water
  • ice
  • large jug
  • a batch of my lemon simple syrup.
  • good quality, Polish vodka

Miss Mardi's Lemon Simple Syrup
Using a 2 parts water to 1 part sugar theory, I put 2/3 cup of caster sugar into a small saucepan with 2 x 2/3 cups of cold water. Put about 4 to 5 large pieces of lemon zest/rind (use a vegetable peeler to get these peelings off!) in the saucepan too.  Stir mixture over heat until the sugar dissolves and then bring to a boil until the mixture is slightly syrupy and thick.  You want this to still be an easy pouring consistency, lighter than maple syrup.  This can take about 7 to 10 minutes depending on your mixture.

Remove the lemon rind and discard, pour mixture into a small glass container and allow to cool.

How to make Miss Mardi's Home-style, strong Lemonade!
  1. In a large jug, add a good dose of ice cubes (fill about 1/4 of your jug)
  2. Add a few shots of vodka
  3. Add the juice of about 8 to 10 lemons, this is to taste, you can add more or less if you like and it depends on the size of your jug.
  4. Add a good dose of the lemon simple syrup.
  5. fill remainder of jug with plain mineral water.
  6. garnish with freshly cut circles of lemon and give a good stir!
Now, remember all of this is to taste!  You can add more of the simple syrup for a sweeter lemonade, more lemons and naturally more vodka.  I find when I pour out the individual drinks into small glasses to add a dash more vodka per glass just for good measure!

Enjoy! Miss Mardi xxx

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vintage Cocktail Stuff...

Cocktail stuff

During a trip to regional Victoria a couple of weeks ago, I managed to find these vintage cocktail tray and coasters from a second hand store.

I adore vintage cocktail paraphernalia and am often buying old cocktail books and glasses as the look and also the size of them has changed significantly during the years.

Cocktail stuff

This cute tray and coasters is metal and plastic and I would say that it is late 1950s, early 1960s.  The tray includes recipes for some classic cocktails such as a Tom Collins and a Manhattan.

I adore the graphics and humour of these pieces and they compliment the series of 1950s hand painted shot glasses that we bought in New York during our last trip.

Cocktail stuff

I wonder where the current cocktail paraphernalia fashion is at?  To me, it either seems to be quite over the top with large ballooning wine glasses or a bit kitschy with black martini glasses or grotesque prints on them.  I guess I dream of a time when martini glasses were smaller (so you could drink it without it getting warm!) and there was a cocktail hour every night in every household.  Ah, reminiscing of the old days...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blog Love: The Daily Bison...

daily bison
The daily Bison blog!

As you are all aware, I LOVE Bison ceramics!!!  I have trouble going into the little shop in Melbourne and leaving with nothing.  It is a true addiction.  I was super excited to have received an email the other week from the lovely Brian Tunk who is behind Bison, letting me know that he has started this blog!

The Daily Bison has fantastic posts about all sorts of inspiration things, inspirational to what makes Bison, Bison. Brian states:

"This Blog is a combination of my personal taste along with profiles on objects or people I find inspirational. I aim to share new designs and colours with you as we move forward from our namesake Bison collection. Additionally we'll try to celebrate the simple beauty of everyday objects and whimsical design."

Please visit not only is it inspirational but is also very educational too!

Oh and while I'm at it, I thought I'd share some new Bison that has come into my collection too!

Bison soap/butter/oil dish... love the Bison!

The new Mango colour, so vibrant!  

We heart you Bison! xxx

Friday, July 1, 2011

Le Creuset or Le Chasseur...

Advert I saw in magazine... I have the same blue pots and cutting board!
I saw this in a recent Wallpaper Magazine!  I have the same blue pot though Miss Nina doesn't sit in it!

I have two Le Creuset blue pots that I love to cook with. There is something about the enamel finish that seems to make the best soups and risottos around. It is pretty expensive to buy but there are loads of 'versions' of these kinds of pots which brings me to the Le Creuset or Le Chasseur battle!

Upon looking at their name, you would think that they are the same thing! And to me, they probably are very very similar. However I have looked at some of the 'cheaper' versions that you can find for $40 and you definitely can tell the difference! The lids don't seal so well and the finishes are a bit clumsy and thick.

No matter what you can afford, there is something special about cooking in these beautiful pots that will give something extra to those meals!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Raspberry Sorbet... not a Beret...

I absolutely adore ice-cream and sorbet.  I can eat it anytime of the year and I think that there is nothing better than a refreshing sorbet to finish off a meal.  When we got our amazing Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I was pretty excited at the thought of getting the ice-cream maker attachment.  To our fortune, Macy's in San Francisco were having a sale on most attachments so we bought up big, including the ice-cream maker!  Yes, we did manage to bring our Kitchen Aid loot back to Australia without too many hassles! 

*note - if you purchase an ice-cream attachment from the USA, you will need to order in Australia a different part for the drive, it costs about $45.  You will not be able to use the attachment without this!

(Clip of the start of the mixing process in the Kitchen Aid ice-cream attachment, excuse my mess on the side, I really should of used a jug to pour the mixture in!)

(Clip of the sorbet near end of it's mixing, notice how it is getting thicker?!)

We used the recipe from the Kitchen Aid booklet included with the attachment and it is very easy.  Basically it is raspberries, sugar and water.  There is some preperation and you will need to push the raspberries through a fine sieve to remove all the seeds but other than that, this is such a quick recipe with an awesome outcome!

Raspberry sorbet - home made!
Home made Raspberry Sorbet.

We served the luscious sorbet at our National Sparkling Red day dinner party and it certainly was one of the hits of the night!  The amount that was made, served 5 guests comfortably and there was enough left over to enjoy it as a Raspberry Sorbet Vodka Shot also!
Raspberry sorbet vodka shots!
Raspberry Sorbet Vodka Shots!

This involved a tiny melon ball size of raspberry sorbet into a shot glass with some Belvedere vodka poured over.  The sorbet acts as the ice in the shot... totally delicious!

I think that our little Kitchen Aid ice-cream maker will be getting quite the work out all year round!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Espresso Martini...

Espresso martini

I’ve always been very skeptical of flavoured martinis.  I’m a purist, I like it with vodka, dry and a bit dirty.  I like to taste the flavour of the vodka.  I may of changed my mind however when recently I tried an espresso martini at a small café in the city.  It was a bit hefty on the wallet (I think it cost $21!!) but it had many elements that I loved. 

It had Wyborowa vodka, which is an excellent, slightly creamy, barley based vodka from Poland as it’s base.  Also as it came from a café that is pretty well known for it’s coffee, it had an excellent strong espresso flavour to it as well.  After throwing back this brown martini, I decided that I should attempt to make one at home.  I mean, I make a great martini!  How hard could it be?

Miss Mardi’s espresso martini recipe:
  • 3 oz Belvedere vodka
  • 1 ½ oz of Kahlua
  • 2 oz of freshly made espresso coffee (chilled)
  • Dash of simple syrup

How to:
  1. Chill martini glass (use a slightly larger one than your old skool martini glass!)
  2. Into a cocktail shaker, add about 5 large ice cubes.
  3. Put vodka, Kahlua, simple syrup and espresso into shaker over ice.
  4. Shake vigorously.
  5. Pour into martini glass, garnish with a coffee bean.

Espresso martini

Variation of this recipe:

Miss Mardi’s Mochatini recipe:
  • 3 oz Belvedere vodka
  • 1 ½ oz of Kahlua
  • 1 ½  oz of freshly made espresso coffee (chilled)
  • Dash of simple syrup
  • ½ oz of cocoa 

* I used an organic Cacao powder which is a bitter and very dark chocolate powder.  I mixed a heaped tablespoon with some hot water to get my ½ oz of cocoa.  You could use any kind of hot chocolate mix, however the cacao powder isn’t sweet, allowing the other elements of the cocktail to come through.

How to:
  1. Chill martini glass (use a slightly larger one than your old skool martini glass!)
  2. Into a cocktail shaker, add about 5 large ice cubes.
  3. Put vodka, Kahlua, simple syrup, cocoa and espresso into shaker over ice.
  4. Shake vigorously.
  5. Pour into martini glass, garnish with a large shaving of dark chocolate.

These were the first flavoured based martinis that I’ve really made at home.  Espresso Martini aficionado, Mr. Lamb Chop couldn’t believe this was the first time I had ever made them!  Mr. Lamb Chop likes!

These are great with a dessert at the end of the evening, however, just watch out for the coffee!  You may be up all night making more than one martini!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Chester White... really! It's not only a pig!

Chester white
A take home pizza menu featuring the cutest pig bums!

After checking out some exhibition launches last night, my arty posse decided to stop in at Chester White for a beverage and snack.  I had been meaning to check this place out since it had changed from the restaurant Canvas to Chester White.  It is also very close to work too.

After reading a review of the restaurant online, I had discovered that the name Chester White is a reference to a pig breed!  Hence the very cute piggy bottoms on their promotional material.

I'm not the kind of person who religiously photographs everything they have eaten as I'm more about enjoying my experience than documenting it.  (This is also another reason why I'm so slack at vacation photos!)  In saying that, I do have some rules of trying out a new restaurant/bar.

Rule number 1:  order a martini, describe how I want it and drink. 
You all know how fussy I am about my martinis and I can say that the crew at Chester White didn't bat an eyelid when I described in full how I wanted my martini.  It came back well balanced and delicious.  It was a little bit more than I usually would pay (at $20 it's at the higher end for a martini) but I had no complaints at how good it was.

Rule number 2:  if a place makes pizza, order a plain old margherita.
This is one of my husbands rules too!  I think that you can judge how well a pizza is made by going back to the basics and really tasting the quality of ingredients and the process.  Our pizza was crispy, simple and pretty darn delicious.  I was very excited to see that they also do pizzas take away!  Yippee!

We did also order a potato and rosemary pizza which was nice but didn't quite hit the spot like the margherita and some salmon cakes, which were ok but I'd probably not order them again.

All in all, great service at Chester White, a pretty darn good cocktail list and some yummy food!  Looking forward to checking out their weekday $19 express lunches and their Wednesday evening BYO a bottle from your cellar!  Certainly one way of ensuring you get a wine you love!

Thanks Chester White folk!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cocktail Napkins...

Lounge lizard
Lounge Lizard cocktail napkin, bought at Crate & Barrel in San Francisco.

I'm not sure what the history is of the 'cocktail napkin' but I can say that I have become quite addicted to them in recent years.  There is something very appealing about their 'smaller' size and you can have some very cute and playful graphics on them seeing they are just going under a cocktail glass!

I heart cocktail napkins! #marimekko
Marimekko Cocktail Napkin, purchased at Marimekko NYC.

I guess I like using them as I never really have 'coasters' at home.  The thought of constantly wiping sticky coasters drives me crazy.  At least with a paper napkin as a coaster, you can throw it out at the end of the night, meaning that you can buy new cute ones to use.  I sometimes theme my cocktail napkins too, depending on the evening.  Something that is a bit cheeky and funny is used for friends over a few drinks.  Something more elegant is used during a dinner party - you get the drift!

Marimekko cocktail napkin
Marimekko cocktail napkin, purchased in Melbourne.

I think I started to love the idea of cocktail napkins after my initial trips to the USA.  I saw that bartenders didn't seem to hand out the thick cardboard coasters that we are used to in pubs here in Australia, but rather a simple paper napkin to mop up the condensation from a drink.  If you had to leave your drink for a minute or two but didn't want the bus boy to take it, you would drape the cocktail napkin on top as a sign of "don't take my drink!"  It seems quite civilized really.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Oh for the love of vodka...

If you've been reading along at home, then you know how much I love my vodka.  It is such a versatile spirit and if you drink the good stuff, you will start to notice the subtle complexities of the spirit and that it isn't just a clear and tasteless drink!

I have different vodkas that I drink regularly and cocktails that I make and it really depends on the seasons and the mood that I'm in as to what I drink.  I thought that I would share some that I have been enjoying during the cooler months.

Hello martini time... Home made that is!
Vodka Gibson made with Belvedere vodka by Miss Mardi!

I've always been a slightly dirty Belvedere vodka martini girl, however in the cooler weather I often switch to a Vodka Gibson, which is a little bit like a martini but is garnished with pearl cocktail onions.  I think that it is the onions that make it more of a wintery cocktail and it definitely goes with more hearty casseroles and heavy meals.

I always think that a Vodka Gibson should be shaken, not stirred.  This way it creates a creamy effect for the little onions to hide in.  Most bars in the USA will make it this way when you order a Gibson, however in Australia I believe that they are made in more of a martini style.  I guess it is personal preference really however you can't really bruise a vodka like you can a gin.

Making risotto - drinking honey vodka in vintage Scandinavian glasses
Krupnik in a lovely Scandinavian vintage shot glasses.

Another Winter Vodka must have is the honey vodka.  Most eastern European countries make some form of this but naturally I drink the Polish versions.  To me, there are three main honey vodkas of varying quality (and cost!).  The first is Medos, which is easily accessible at bottle shops such as Dan Murphys.  I rarely buy this one, especially not to drink straight up, however it is a good and cheap alternative to mix into cocktails such as a Polish Martini.  What I don't like about it is that it doesn't have the depth and complexities of taste in comparison to other honey vodkas.  It is also a little sweet too.

Krupnik is the next one up and is what I believe to be the 'middle of the range' honey vodka.  It is reasonably easy to access and is a good quality vodka at a good price.  We usually have this one on our bar and often drink it straight up in lovely little vintage shot glasses during the cooler months as a way of warding off colds and flus.  It is also a great remedy for a sore throat too.  What makes this one different to the Medos is it has a thicker consistency and hints of herbs in the taste.  It also isn't too sweet, making it easier to sip through and the texture definitely coats the throat.

Honey vodka
Krupnik in a vintage 1950s shot glass, hand painted and bought in NYC.

The final honey vodka is what I believe to be top of the range and is near impossible to source in Australia.  You used to be able to buy it a few years ago but it doesn't appear to be distributed into Australia from Poland anymore.  The English name for it is Wild Bee and out of all three of them, seems to have the most complex flavour of herbs and honey.  Unfortunately, other than going to Poland, it is impossible to buy!

Honey Vodka is an ancient Polish beverage. Honey and spices shape its taste and aroma, made according to an authentic old recipe from southeast Poland, with carefully selected varieties of honey. The vodka base allows the honey to come through, with a good herby bite. (courtesy of the website)

Hopefully you have been inspired to try either the Gibson or a lovely shot of Honey Vodka (naturally both the Polish versions of the vodka!) sometime soon.  Let me know what you think!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pickle the Cabbage...

Pickled cabbage... Delicious!

It must be the hint of Eastern European in me that makes me adore any kind of pickled vegetable and in particular cabbage!  Whenever we visit the Press Club restaurant in Melbourne, I love their pickled fennel and other goodies and usually my husband has to fight for a look in for some pickled goodness!

Quite some time ago, he did give me a copy of the Press Club book.  Although I've looked through it many times and drooled over items, I've never really made anything out of it.  This weekend I got inspired and tried the Press Club recipe for Pickled Cabbage!
Pickled cabbage... Delicious!

It's quite simple, half a cabbage lightly steamed for about 7 minutes.  Cool and add to this thinly sliced zucchini and celery.  In a jug mix together 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 3/4 cup of white vinegar.  Pour this over the cabbage mix and allow to 'pickle' overnight.  That's it!!! 

I can tell you now that it went very quickly in our household and we will be trialling other vegetables soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everyone needs a bit of Marimekko in the kitchen...

Marimekko mitts
My Marimekko mittens will make cooking fun!

I've been needing some new oven mitts in the kitchen for a while!  My old ones were torn, ugly and really, really dirty and stained.  Don't worry, they had been washed many times but they just have had their day.
After picking up a super cute Marimekko oven mitt for my friend David while away, I thought I would order myself some in the classic Unikko style and don't they look cute!  What I am loving about them is how padded they are in the hand part, where you pick up hot dishes!  My old ones didn't have this extra padding.

Even wearing a marimekko apron! #denmarkhousedinner
A Marimekko apron over a Marimekko dress.

Also, while looking online for Marimekko kitchen goodness, I spied this super cute apron!  (I am wearing it over a Marimekko dress here - total nerd!)  My husband thinks that it is almost too cute to use as an apron and that I should just wear it out as an accessory.  Hmmm... I wonder if this is going to be a new fashion?!

I ordered my Marimekko goodness via Always Mod.  It came within about a week and was very well packaged!  Check them out!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What? A savoury bread and butter pudding? Get outta here!

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Bread and Butter Pudding usually.  I think it's because I can think of way yummier and more decadent desserts than some bready custard.  However I am a complete convert on the idea of a SAVOURY Bread and Butter Pudding!  This take on the recipe was inspired by one that I recently saw on the Martha Stewart Show.  I can't really remember who made it but there's used brioche as the bread base, decadent huh?

Anyway, we had a light sourdough baguette hanging around from the weekend so I thought I'd give it a go!  Please excuse my measurements for this dish as it was really about what we had and looking to see if there was enough liquid to bread.  If you make it, then you may need to alter the amounts too!

Bread and other goodies, awaiting to be baked!

So pretty much the recipe goes like this....
  1. Cut your baguette into thickish slices, place onto a baking tray, spray with olive oil and bake on a low temperature (about 150 Celsius) until crispy.  It's like making croutons really.  You can do this the day before and pop them into an air tight container.  Naturally stale bread works best.
  2. Chop roughly, 2 large leeks and sweat in olive oil and a knob of butter with about 3 garlic cloves, really the garlic is to taste!  Place cooked leeks into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the bread to the leeks and lightly mix.  I added a hand of baby spinach at this point for some extra 'green'.
  4. In a jug, mix about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream, 1 cup of milk and 3 large eggs.  Season with salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg.  Beat until all combined.
  5. In a large, shallow baking dish that has been greased, place about half of the bread and leek mixture making sure that the bottom is covered.  Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese of your choice, I used tasty cheese but you could use any lovely melty cheese.
  6. Top with remainder bread/leek mixture and top with another handful of cheese.
  7. Pour the eggy, milk and cream mixture all over the bread dish.
  8. Allow to sit for about 20 to 25 minutes for the bread to absorb the milk mixture.  You may need to take a look at it occasionally to push the bread down into the mixture with a spatula.  If after 25 minutes, it still looks dry, mix up a bit more mixture and pour over.
  9. Top with a bit more grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes at about 180 to 200 degrees.

All cooked and totally delicious!!! #cooking #dinner
Finished product!!

I served this with a lovely fresh, tossed salad and it was delicious!!!  I can't tell you how amazing the aromas were that came from the leek, garlic and bread mixture.  I think using a 'better quality' baguette definitely made this dish.  You wouldn't quite get the same effect using a sandwhich loaf.  Also, you could try it with different cheeses and extra veggies or meat for something quite spectacular!  It really hit the spot on a cold evening and there was a lot of 'oohhhinnng and aaaahhhinggg'.

Enjoy! Miss Mardi xxx

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Cupcakes in Boston...

Cupcakes in Boston!!!!

Like most of my trips away, if I have the chance to eat cupcakes, well hell yeah I do!  While staying in Boston, our guests were having a dinner for a close friend of theirs and it was their birthday.  What better way to celebrate your birthday than with cupcakes?!  I'm right aren't I.

Boston cupcakes

I know of a few different cupcake places in Boston but we happened to stumble upon Sweet in Cambridge after shopping at Marimekko.  It was hilarious as we were wandering around and I said to my husband, "Hey, I think that is a cupcake store across the road".  I couldn't even see any cupcakes but the shops tend to have a certain aesthetic.

Boston cupcakes

We got a case of various flavours (that's 12 cupcakes!) including 2 Red Velvet ones.  I am usually disappointed with most Red Velvet cupcakes as the amazing Jess from Sugadeaux cupcakes in Melbourne makes one of the best in the whole entire world - well in my opinion!  I was pleased to hear from her via twitter that she approved of the Sweet Red Velvet cupcake - it was pretty good!

Cupcake menu

Other than the Red Velvet cupcake, I think my next favourite was the Organic Karat, which was topped with a delicious cream cheese icing and a beautiful edible gold leaf petal.  Very simple in appearance and very stylish.

Demolished cupcake

And to prove how awesome these cupcakes were, here is a shot of the demolition of the Red Velvet cupcake at the birthday dinner!  Even when it is all mushed, it still looks good!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

North Beach Bloody Marys...

Bloody Mary time

Ah, the joys of a well made Bloody Mary... the spiceyness, the tang of the lemon, the kick of the vodka.... My pal Jess and I are always talking about the perfect Bloody Mary and I have to say that Bloody Marys in the USA are generally better than ones in Australia, unless they have been made at my house!  After a morning of shopping, Mark and I had a Bloody Mary craving so we decided to hit North Beach to eat some Italian food and have some afternoon Bloody Marys!

Mark and bloody Mary

Jess described these Bloody Mary's best, "not stingy on the olives and a chunky straw - win!"  They also had a good amount of spice and were served in a big glass - also they were $8!  Bargain!


Although North Beach can get a little bit touristy, you hear loads of people speaking Italian and the food is definitely some of the better Italian food you will get in San Francisco.  We love Calzone's and have gone there several times.  I love the quirky red shelves inside with pasta and olive oil displays.  I remember the first time we went there I had Bloody Marys and garlic bread.  Simple but delicious!

Their simple dishes are awesome!  The lasagna, the bolognase sauce and their wood fired pizzas with proscuitto make you feel like you're having some delicious home cooked meal.  Calzone's we love you!

You may also find this delicious!

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