Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Cheese cake...

Just your average New York cheese cake but I liked that the egg yolks were mixed in with the sugar, cream cheese and sour cream and then the egg whites were whipped up to soft peaks with some sugar and then folded into the whole mix before baking. It resulted in a much lighter cheese cake and great texture.

The recipe instructed I use a 28 inch pan but I only had 26 so it made for an extra high cake but it looked and tasted great.

Vida x

Vanilla Update...

www.gourmetago-go.blogspot , Chef Jules asked for an update so here it is... He makes his own and only uses Vodka. Paul had asked me if Vodka was ok and I had said I thought it to be the very best alcohol to use for this and Chef Jules tells me he makes his own all the time and only uses Vodka. So my advice was spot on (thank goodnes!!!).
As you can see it is even darker than the last photo and it's only really been a week. I had to hold this to the light to be able to take a photo where you could see through the glass.
I think you need to leave it for at least 6 or 8 weeks so by that time it should be really great.
Vida x

Estefao... Chilean Soup

This is another one of Luis' mums recipes.

It has a great mix of vegies and my kids eat it so it's a win/win situation.

I use carrots, green beans, pumpkin, fresh corn and potatoes.

Fry off some green caspicum pieces (these get thrown out or chop them finely and it will mix in the soup) with some garlic for a minute add your skirt steak cut up into cubes, add a teaspoon of cummin (ground) some vegeta (previous posts), a teaspoon of dried oregano and then start to add your vegies. I put the potatoes in first for a minute or so then add the carrot, pumpkin, beans and corn. I add boiling water until it just covers the whole mix. When it's almost done I taste for seasoning and I add a handful of long grain rice (stir it through). I put the lid on and turn the stove off. It make take ten or so minutes but the rice swells and absorbes the water and you get quite a thick soup. I top it with some sambal olek (marinated crushed chillies) and serve.

I have to rush through my Chilean recipes, as the gorgeous Argentine Paul ( is posting Argentinian recipes which are so similar to the Chilean that we are looking like we are in a conspiracy to rule the blogging world with our heritage recipes!!! And I want to be the first diva!!! (Only joking!!!) Anyway I only have one more recipe in me and he has his grandmothers entire book.... wish I had a granny.... wish I had asked my mother to write things down... never mind I will do it for my girls or have this blog published which I hear you can do. They make it into a bound book and I think it is an excellent idea....

Vida x

Monday, 29 October 2007


These are your American style pancakes, really let's face it, they are pikelets to us.

When they start to bubble and pop it is time to add the nuts and turn it over. This side does not need as long to cook through so this is the best side to add the nuts, nobody likes burnt nuts!!

Just slivered almonds for the nut part. Makes for nice crunch and adds a little something extra.

Of course fruit is served on the side and maple syrup poured over the top and ice cream is allowed. Something decadent for the weekend!!


1 cup self raising flour
1/4 caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
3/4 cup milk, approximately
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
15g butter, melted

Sift all dry ingredients, make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients, having lightly beaten the eggs, then added milk and vinegar and lastly stir in the butter.

Pour into a hot lightly oiled pan and cook as per above. If you are using an electric frypan heat it to 175 degrees or 6 1/2. Makes about 20.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Vanilla Update.......

The vanilla extract is now starting to take colour, I have added a few more beans in. I just split them and threw them in. It is starting to take on a vanilla smell and it is at the stage that the alcohol is not as pronounced as initially. I was so worried that all you would smell is the alcohol but the vanilla is starting to take over, I think this might work!!!

V x

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Limoncello and Dad....

This digestivo is easy to make at home. In Italy this drink is made with pure spirit or grappa and since my dear departed Dad gave me plenty of his home brew (honestly undrinkable in its raw state, in my opinion, many beg to differ) I will endeavour to make limoncello, which might suit me better. My dad was not Italian but he was named after one of it's most famous cities, Milan.

6 large lemons (picked from your backyard or someone else's that is free
from spray or wax)

1 litre unflavoured grappa
1 kg sugar
1 litre water


Peel fruit extremely thinly, removing only the coloured part of the rind (no pith). Use a vegie peeler. Put the strips of peel into a glass, ceramic or stainless steel container with the alcohol. Cover tightly to prevent evaporation. Leave for 1 week.

Strain, pressing well on the skins to release their oils, and reserve the rind and the alcohol. In a saucepan, mix the sugar and water. Tip in the rind and bring to the boil gently, stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar completely. Allow to cool. Strain and add the citrus-flavoured syrup to the alcohol. Transfer to clean glass bottles (pretty one PLEASE but strong enough not to crack in the freezer.) Seal and store in the freezer at all times.

There you are now ready for summer!!

Looks like dear old Dad was ready in those shorts!! I don't think
these are lemons in the photo but we could pretend!

Vida x

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

What is that.... ???

Alcohol actually, with a few additives... like vanilla beans. Apparently I can make vanilla extract this way. A bottle of alcohol, in this instance it's my dear departed Dad's home brew, 40 proof at least. I have added my old, used vanilla beans and a small bottle of vanilla extract that I purchased at the supermarket. I am not to shake this bottle around from time to time and leave it in a cool, dark place for a month or so. Whenever I have anymore used beans I will add them, I think I was supposed to start with at least six beans but I did not count.
I will keep you posted on this one... V x

Monday, 22 October 2007

Pork and potatoes for dinner....

The potatoes could not be simpler, indeed this whole dinner will take you no time at all to make and it is quite tasty.

Peel and cut potatoes and add a couple of tablespoons of oil or butter, but if you are wating to keep the fat out of the dish then add a little water. I have used baking paper and oil but if you are using water it's probably best to put it straight into the baking pan. I have added Vegeta, that is the stock powder I told you about in previous posts. This will salt and flavour your potatoes.

The pork too is simple. Add some salt and pepper, a couple of tablespoons full of both oil and balsamic or wine vinegar and a teaspoonful of ground cummin. Mix this all around til your pork is well coated and lay it on a bed of quartered shallots. The shallots will caramelise with the vinegar and oil and give off a really delicious taste.

Both the potatoes and the pork can easily go into the oven at the same time and cook at 190-200 c for 30-40 minutes, depending on how well and crispy you like your potatoes and indeed your pork. I did turn the pork once but it really is not necessary. You can baste the pork with the juices underneath too, just to keep the pork moist.

That is simply it... V x

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Valli this info is for you, a little more on Pashmak

Rose Valli, we are VERY lucky in Australia to have an extreme amount of diversity. We live in a MELTING POT here with so many nations being representing. Just in Melbourne where I live, you can find a mini Greece by going to Lonsdale Street in the heart of the city, or try Lygon Street in Carlton, as a little Italy, if you travel up Sydney Road in Brunswick, you will find all manner of Turkish and Middle Eastern shops and restaurants, over to Springvale Road, Springvale and you will find Asia is in it's own right being represented. As new waves of immigrants descended on our shores they find a pocket where they gather and make their own and that is what these place I mentioned represent. Their own little paradise where they could feel ,shop and eat like home. We are blessed to be able to share and learn from our fellow immigrants. When my poor mother arrived in Australia in 1971 she found no such luxuries to remind her of her beloved Europe. She learned to cope and go back to making everything she could by hand such as filo pastry and cooked milk and sugar until she had condensed milk etc. but of course of the course of time she was able to buy all these things in the local supermarket. Dad too did his bit, with fishing, hunting for rabbits and getting live chickens and cleaning all this in our little flat in Carlton so my mother felt at home. The vision of live eels and the one that got away, slithering through they hallway still frightens me, of course the headless chook in the hall is another story and another post!!

There is a whole world of foods that I have yet to discover with each new nation that arrives and I look forward to the education.

So Valli, you see you have NOT been living under a rock, because you have not heard of Iranian Fairy Floss, no, you just haven't been living in AUSTRALIA, so come on down!!!!

Pashmak is the name for Iranian Fairy Floss or Persian Fairy Floss. In an ancient city called Yazd in Iran they have made this floss for centuries. It is said to be pulled sugar and sesame oil and is made by hand. It can be bought through over the net and you will see all the flavours they carry.

The flavours that I have seen are Pistachio (green), Saffron (yellow), Rose (pink), Vanilla (cream) and chocolate (brown) and their flavour is delicate. The Turkish one I bought had a Halva taste which makes sense as Halva too is made from sesame. Where they flavour them with alternatives, they use oils, such as Rose or Pistachio etc. As far as describing it (for Valli) and comparing it to ordinary fairy floss, I think I would say, ordinary fairy floss is best described dread locks whilst Pashmak is silken hair.

They are best used on dry desserts and obviously they will melt on contact with liquids quite quickly. They also need to be kept airtight. Once you open the packets you best be ready to use them up as they will turn limp and hard. The Turkish one had quite a bit in the box, the others are singularly packed by flavour and in a small bag, say a handful.

I think that is all I have to say.... V x x x x

Friday, 19 October 2007

My First Restaurant Review and It's Not for YOU, it's for your dog!!!

Actually this is not a review at all because I did not even eat there. They were just setting up this morning and I took a few photos so that is why it is empty. Don't blame the lack of customers on the quality of the food, it was just too early that is all. This is a cafe for DOGS, yes you heard me right! It's called My Dog Cafe and it is in Port Melbourne, on Station Pier.They also cater for the owners, though I did not check out the menu so I am not able to tell you what was on offer. It looks really flash so I dare say the food should be good.
There are chairs for owners and poofs for pooches...
There is central feature, a must for all cafes, overhead heaters... all the comforts for you and your pampered pooch...
Anyone would think we were in Paris and carried our pooches in our designer bags...
The view is really not bad at all, and just think if it's too warm for your doggie, s/he can always jump in for a quick swim, perhaps you could bring along a floating lounge and a cocktail that has been shaken, not stirred....... Vida x

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse

Confusion reins... let me explain... I am so aware of how wonderfully foodie bloggers present their food and I am so lacking in the department of beautification!! So I was making choc mousse and got out a glass for serving, then another then another then another and on and on it went and I just could not decide WHICH would look best. I decided to do what I do when I am out shopping, not the "if in doubt do without" but the "take them all and decided which to return later" motto that I live buy and I used all the glasses, except I did not return any!! These are my little soldiers lined up in the fridge ready to do battle with hungry tummies after school and my midnight snack attacks!!

At some stage here I will post all ingredients and instructions. This is the part where I add the melted chocolate to the egg yolks and swirl in the cream. Isn't it pretty enough to eat or even wear!! I have been known to do both similtaneously. There will be no pictures of Vida wearing/eating chocolate mousse, no one deserves that kind of punishment, least of all ME!!!
Red is my favourite colour. Apparently it symbolizes strength, not too sure about that one. This chocolate mousse leaves me weak at the knees!! Anyway, I still trying to beautify these little beauties. I will not sure you the other 40 photos I took that just did not make the cut. I tell you I admire photographers, this stuff aint easy.

This stuff is truly drinkable prior to it's setting time in the fridge. No, I have not been known to drink it, not often anyway....

Chocolate Mousse

(I always double this recipe but you don't have to)

I 200gm block of Nestle Double Blend (This is milk choc I never use dark)
2 eggs seperated
1 cup cream (just ordinary whipping cream)
2 teaspoons caster sugar (probably not necessary at all)

Melt chocolate (broken into pieces) in the microwave. I usually zap it for 1 minute, try stirring and if it isn't all melted, I give it 1 minute more. Chocolate is very deceptive in the microwave as it holds it's shape until you stir it, making you believe it has not changed texture at all when it has.

Once it's melted I add the egg yolks, it may seize a little on you but try alternating the cream with the yolks to get things moving along.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and add your sugar slowly (if using). This is then slowly and gently incorporated into the chocolate mix. I do a third of the whites first and mix it in well then I add the rest and am far slower and gentler. I am then ready to pour this into my huge bowl and top it with fairy floss when I am ready to serve it, or I do individual ones and maybe grate some chocolate on the top for decoration. I have been known to add a couple of teaspoons full of ground coffee into the mix and a few whole beans in the glasses upon serving for a different twist. Also looks really cute if you serve it in coffee cups (expresso) with a little dollop of cream on top and some cocoa sprinkled ontop so it looks like a cappacino.

Try it, is is yummy and I am sure you will present it better than I did but honestly it tastes so good you will forget what it looked like, it will be gone so quick...

Monday, 15 October 2007

Pismaniye.... Turkish Fairy Floss...

Truffle this one is for you!!

This is the turkish fairy floss, similar in some ways to the Irian fairy floss...
Usually I get the three colours you see on the pack but to my surprise this pack only has the creamish colour... unlike the Iranian fairy floss these don't appear to have a flavour, if they do it is so mild I have not noticed. It is not as stringy or long as they Iranian so for presentation probably not quite as good...

I buy this from Oasis Middle Eastern Bakery in 9/993 North Road, Murrumbeena, you will find all sorts of imported goodies here. They made lovely filled breads and "pizzas" and sweets. You can have a coffee there too. The nuts and spices are unreal and their prices are spectacular. They also make their own dips by the truck load. The floss is less then $10 (I think about 8-9 dollars) and probably twice the size of the Iranian fairy floss I buy at Essential Ingredient and pay almost $14 or more... The colours of the Iranian fairy floss are prettier and more varied and there is a slight flavour too, but for what I mostly use it, I need qantity. I top a big bowl of chocolate mousse with almost the entire pack of the Turkish floss. It seems to have a real wow factor with all my friends and family. Speaking of which I must post my chocolate mousse that I adapted from an old recipe I have been using for over 20 years. But that is another day.... Vida x

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Me and my kitchen...

This is my kitchen window, this is what I see when I look out whilst I cook. We are on the fifth floor and it's Parisesque in that all I see are rooftops... I do feel blessed... I also miss the greenery most people look at whilst in their kitchens. I do miss seeing trees and gardens when I look out. I really only see the tops of the trees but gladly (it was a HUGE fear for me) I can still hear the birds in the morning!!

This portrait used to hang in our loungeroom back in the old country. I am two years old and I don't think I like having my photo taken. I am flanked by my older sibblings. Our clothes and my "dainty" ribbon are painted on as is the background, can't you tell???? I guess it was the latest and greatest of the photography world back then. The picture was left with my grandmother when we journied to Australia in 1971 and when I married and went back in 1986 for my honeymoon, my dear grandmother bestowed it upon me. She did however refused to part with the other picture in her safekeeping, a portrait of my parents in their prime. Memories are to be treasured... Vida x x x

P.S. though I hope everyone who sees my blog enjoys it, it is primarily a journey for myself and a reminder for my daughters. It may be an insight into their mother that they otherwise would not have had. I want to give them that... V x

Friday, 12 October 2007

Chilean Chicken Casserole with Chilean Style Rice...

This is the finished product, it really is very tasty and I hope you try it.

6 chicken drumsticks
1 onion chopped finely
2 carrots peeled and sliced
2 cups of frozen or fresh peas
1/2 teaspoon of cummin powder
1/2 tub tomato paste
3/4 white wine


Brown and seal the chicken pieces in a little oil. Add the onion and fry a further 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the carrot and cummin. Next add your wine and cook out the alcohol for a couple more minutes. Add the peas and a cup of water. Cook for 20 minutes then finally add the salt and tomato paste.

This is served with rice as follows:

Vegeta is a powdered stock that my mother has used for almost 40 years. I use it to add to anything savoury I am wanted to add flavour to. Try it, it is really handy to have in your pantry.

This is the final stage of the casserole prior to stirring in the tomatoe paste and the last five mintues of cooking. This dish's flavours develop overnight so if you have some left or want to make extra it is even better the next day.

These are the ingredients for your rice except for the water.

Half a green capsicum, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 teacups of rice (long grain)
3 1/2 teacups of boiling water


Fry the capsicum pieces in a little oil, when the aroma is released (only 1 minute or so) add the crushed garlic and almost instantly (the garlic will burn quite quickly) add you rice. Fry this until you see the rice starting to look transparent (1 minute), next add around a wooden spoon full of salt, this seems a lot but rice really needs it. Add the boiling water, taking care as it will bubble quite violently with the hot rice. Put a lid on and turn your stove top to it's lowest setting (gas or electric). In 10 to 15 minutes all the water will be absorbed and the rice will be quite fluffy when you rake it with a fork to check. I usually just grab and few grains and taste it for softness. The rice is not mushy, it holds it shape perfectly and should be soft. If it is slightly firm in the centre, just turn off the stove and leave the lid on for a minute or two to continue absorbing any liquid or steam. You should not have any water swimming around the bottom of the pot, it should all be absorbed by the end of the cooking. If you over cook it, the rice will start to brown at the bottom and burn.

This is how Luis mother cooked this dish and the rice for more than 30 years. I cook it for my family and it is quite popular. It is an easy, quick and tasty dish to cook and eat, so I say again, I hope you try it.


Jamie's at my home...

With christmas just around the corner, I got my present early and since I never look a gift horse in the mouth, I don't care why but I have to tell you all that Angus and Robertson has Jamie's latest book for half price. I paid $32.50 for this beautiful book and I am happy, happy, happy - it combines all my loves in life, cooking, shopping and bargains!!!!!!!! Cannot get any better than that for me, I have to say.

If you will excuse me, I have a date with Jamie at home.... Vida

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Nice Matters Award - who me???

The lovely Hannah (, has nominated me for the Nice Matters Award and I am please to forward it onto seven other bloggers that I think are worthy of this award. The award is for being a good blogger friend, encouraging fellow bloggers and making the blogging world a better place. (Forgive me Hannah, if I did not get that right, I was trying to remember it all because I don't know how to copy it across). What can I say, I am a novice!! Pigeon Pair who started me on the whole blogging road. Without Christie I would not be. Hungry Hampster who regularly visits and posts nice comments and has a great blog. Angelika who posts desserts like my dear mother made. Visiting is like going home. The lovely Tara who is generous enough to take time out of your extraordinarilly busy world to write to little old me. She posts the most glorious photos of Paris and lives the dream I dream. The wonderful Dorie who had almost six hundred comments to her competition but took time out to write to me and thank me for my comments. The sweet Ilva, who takes the most beautiful photos and makes time for everyone. Tuscany, my second dream of dreams. These guys post delicious foods and puts their own twist on food and life. How wonderful diversity is! And they're Melbourne boys, what more can I say.

Thanks again Hannah for the honour and happy blogging to everyone. To all those I did not mention, you know I love you regardless!!

Vida x x x

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Salad Simple!

Spinach leaves, pinenuts that were toasted, haloumi cheese that I fried til golden,
Some leftover baked pumpkin from last nights roast...
Dress it all with balsamic vinegar and some olive oil, a little salt and freshly ground pepper...
Toss it all and enjoy, some chicken would have been great but none of that was leftover...


This is the place that I stayed at whilst in the south. It's called La Combe de Tayac and is in a little valley called Les Eyzies. It is about 5 hours drive south of Paris.

This is my I might be the talk of dinner parties for years to come look... you see I love dessert so much that all those that did not in our group, decided I should have theirs. So with a choice of 4 over lunch, I had FOUR desserts and the rest went begging...

These are friends of the Chef taught our course and I was lucky enough to be invited to lunch in the fabulous Paris apartment. They even sang me happy birthday in French and had glorious cake for me...

This is my kitchen in our old home in Malvern East, the girls made a welcome home banner for my return. I had been gone for 5 weeks and they appreciated me being back even though their father had done a tremendous job in caring for them... If there is any interest I will post more photos of my French Fantasy....

Monday, 8 October 2007


This is the view I have from my balconey. We are on the fifth floor and though you cannot see it past the sunset, the sea is beneath that beautiful sun setting... Bring on summer I say....

Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar

This is taken from Real Chocolate cook book. Chantal Coady of in London wrote this book.

She says "I have found this little invention totally invaluable. As well as its obvious uses, say in salad dressings and deglazing pans to make gravies and sauces, you will see it delivers the chocolate element in lots of my savoury recipes. It does, though, also lend itself to dishes other than savoury - just try it over fresh strawberries. For a more piquant version to use with red meat and cheese dishes, like Welsh rabbit, add 100ml Worcestershire sauce.

Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar

1oog white caster sugar
100 ml vinegar (I used equal parts cider and cooking balsamic)
30g grated real dark chocolate (at least 70%)

Gently heat the sugar and vinegar in a small deep pan until all the sugar has dissolved, then allow to bubble gently for 5 minutes.

Take off the heat, whisk in the chocolate well and leave to cool. When cool, stir again quickly. Pour into a small clean jam jar to store until needed.

(I warm it in the microwave for a few seconds, with the lid off, until I have a liquid consistency).

I have made fresh pasta and filled it with cooked potatoe and fried brown onion (until it's really browned and caramelised) like a ravioli and drizzled this sauce over it, some grated parmesan and toasted pinenuts and my vego friends have LOVED this recipe. Also last weeks pizza recipe as I showed you.

Enjoy, Vida

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Pizza Friday....

I decided to make pizza (from scratch) on Friday for dinner. I made the usual pizza base, flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast. The sauce, fry and onion, a clove of crushed garlic and add a can of tomatoes and reduce down to a thick sauce.
This is my secret little addition, so secret I had to blur the picture (NOT). This is just my bad picture taking skills, that's all.
I topped the pizza with cooked eggplant (aubergine) and goats cheese, buffalo mozarella, normal mozarella, pine nuts and some grated permasen cheese, it was supposed to have olives and capers but I forgot.
I forgot because I was busy arguing with Alana about her not wanting any of the above on her pizza but in the end she relented and loved it...
Here you can see my secret sauce swirled on at the end of the cooking and in readiness for serving. My sauce is just a balsamic vinegar reduction (boil sugar and vinegar until syrupy) and my secret is that I swirl dark chocolate (70%) in at the end... it is sweet, sour, almost bitter with the dark chocolate and really tasty. I have been known to put this on meat, pizza, filled pasta and stawberries and pavlova... but these are all future blogs... so for now I hope you like my Pizza Friday...