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!

You may also find this delicious!

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