Monday 14 December 2009

Alsisar Haveli- Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Hi all! Back in Sydney safely and can now finally get back to blogging so I can share some of my India trip highlights with you :)

Here are some pictures from Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. Jaipur is known as the pink city because of the many pink palaces and historical sites. Pink is also considered to be the colour of welcome and hospitality.

There are few places in the world where one can visit a city and stay in a palace instead of a regular hotel - Jaipur is one of those places, and staying at a heritage haveli made our time in Jaipur very special indeed. It has been special for another reason - see, the royal family in ownership of the haveli is in residence along beside us. But let me explain how this is possible... Before the British arrived in India, the country comprised many princely states, and within those there were princely regions/areas. So for example, where there is the King and Queen of all of Rajasthan, there is also the royal family of specific areas within the state. So anyway, this is how it was before the British arrived. And the royals' income would have come primarily from taxes. But when the British came the royals had to give up their royal powers, but were permitted to hold onto their titles. But to make a living (no more tax income!), many have opened up what would have been private palaces to the tourism trade.

So if you are visiting Jaipur, my recommendation is to skip the big 5 star establishments and head for a heritage hotel like this one - it will make for a very memorable stay.

Private courtyard

Dining hall & restaurant

Swimming pool
After dinner puppet show
Bye for now!
Ladybird x

Sunday 13 December 2009

Groceries in Gujarat, India

It's been a little while since my last post from Singapore and I am at last here in India! India - truly a land of contrasts, and a place where your senses are bound to be overloaded. It is a country that deeply affects its visitors. No matter what kind of person you are, India will leave a strong impression on you - you may love it, you may hate it. For me personally? I love it.

I have been looking forward to blogging about India for a long time but now that I am actually here it is proving to be a little difficult. Internet access is not always readily available, and sometimes photography of food is sometimes not just practical. However.. I will endeavour to share with you what I can.

So I'll start with where we landed - Ahemadabad in the state of Gujarat. Gujarat is in western India and is a vegetarian state of approximately 20 million people. Here we are fortunate enough to be able to stay with family which of course makes for a very homely stay in a place. One thing I love about Gujarat is that as a vegetarian state, one is spoilt for choice when it comes to food. The variety of traditional vegetarian foods available is mind blowing! I also saw so many fruits and vegetables that I had never seen let alone eaten before, so it was quite an adventure.

Most middle class Indian families in Gujarat and Rajastan purchase fruit and vegetables from mobile grocery vendors. These men wheel their carts (or lahri) through the streets calling out to advertise their wares. All you have to do is open your front door and you have a fruit and veg shop right in front of you. Beats going to a supermarket if you ask me! I just had to take a picture of this, and the vendor was only to happy to oblige.. happily posing with his wares :)

As for the quality - no doubt some of the best fruit and veg I have seen and tasted in a long time. The first thing that struck me was that they did not look perfect, and they were a lot smaller than I am used to seeing in Australia. However, this is because they are organically grown. The bananas were sooo tasty, and the tomatoes were good enough to eat whole, the carrots were almost red in colour.. I could go on and on, but alas my soon to expire internet connection prevents me from doing so!


Ladybird x

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Raj Restaurant, Singapore

Greetings from Singapore! Mr Ladybird and I touched down here late last night and spent today rushing around doing some last minute shopping before we fly out to India tonight. We also got ourselves a new camera - can't wait to try it out on the trip! At any rate, all that shopping makes for a very hungry traveller, so we stopped by Little India for some lunch.

We both ordered Chole Batura - a very traditional North Indian dish. The chole is the yummy chickpea curry, and the batura are these oversized hot, and crispy puris. They are enjoyed with raw onion, and we also had some cooling raita on the side. The raita was very good - the yoghurt was freshly made and was cooling on the palate.

So a very enjoyable lunch indeed. This airconditioned, vegetarian oasis was a much needed ecscape from the heat, hustle and bustle on the streets of Singapore today.

Anyway, I had better sign off for now... Stay tuned for posts coming soon from India!

Take care for now,

Ladybird x

Saturday 5 December 2009

Flourless chocolate cake

Sometimes only a good flourless chocolate cake will do on a weekend, and this one is very simple and oh so decadent... Perfect served warm with raspberries and cream.

It was also a good way to use up some eggs and leftover almond meal!

250 dark cooking chocolate
150g butter
155g caster sugar
100g almond meal
5 eggs, separated
icing sugar (for dusting)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and butter and flour a 20cm round springform tin. I also like to cover the base with a circular cutout of of baking paper.
2. Stirring occasionally, melt the chocolate, butter and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
3. Remove form heat and stir to combine. Then stir in ground almonds, and mix in egg yolks one at a time.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff and peaky, then stir a couple of spoonfuls into chocolate mixture. Then fold remainder of eggwhites through with care.
5. Put mixture into prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.
The time, however, will depend on your oven, so make sure you do a skewer test in the centre of the cake to check that it is cooked through. If it doesn't come out 100% clean don't worry - at least you know it will be moist inside!
6. So that the cake does not collapse after baking, turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven with the door open for 5-10 minutes, then remove to cool.

I was delighted with how the cake turned out because last time I made it, it sank quite a bit in the middle - but not this time! I think leaving the cake in oven with the door open for a few minutes made a big difference :)

I don't think flourless chocolate cakes are supposed to look perfect, but it's nice not to have it go *flop* and look like a crater...

It was nice and moist on the inside too, without being dry or grainy as flourless chocolate cakes can be sometimes.

So all in all a successful evening's baking. Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Ladybird :)

Thursday 3 December 2009

Crunchy top banana muffins

I have a small food snobbery confession to make - I don't really like spotty, overripe bananas... Ever since I was young, I've never been able to eat bananas that look like this. I used to always ignore them in the fruit basket in the hope that someone else would take pity and consume the really ripe bananas so that I didn't have to.

That was before I discovered baking as a young girl! I mean, I still dislike spotty bananas, but they are also seen as an opportunity through a baker's eyes. Banana bread, banana cake, banana muffins - the list is endless :)

I made these muffins very early this morning and they were delicious. The crunch of the topping before you bite into the soft and moist muffin below - yum! I also really love that these muffins contain linseeds. Linseeds are very good for you, but are rarely used in baking recipes. My crunchy top muffins are a great breakfast on the run, or they'd make a nice morning/afternoon tea :)

So here's the recipe!

(For the muffin)
125g plain flour
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
50 ml milk
50 ml vegetable oil
2 large ripe bananas, roughly mashed
(For the topping)
1 tbsp linseeds
15 g cold butter cut up
40g demerara sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Start on the muffin topping by giving the linseeds a good bash in the mortar and pestle to break them up a bit. Continuing on the topping prep, combine the SR flour and butter in a small bowl and rub together with your fingers to produce fine breadcrumbs. Add the demerara sugar, cinnamon and linseeds, then stir in the water and lightly combine.

Now the muffins - sieve the plain flour, brown sugar and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the centre. In another bowl whisk together the egg, oil and milk with a fork. Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry muffin ingredients. Stir together. Stir in mashed bananas until just combined, don't mix too much.

Divide mixture among 6 muffin cases, sprinkle the muffin topping over each. Bake in oven for approximately 25-30 minutes - you may wish to do a skewer test in the middle of a muffin to check they're cooked before them removing from the oven.

Have a great day, everyone!

Ladybird x

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Christmas giveaway winner

So it's finally time to draw the winner of the Christmas Giveaway competition. Thank you to everyone who entered - there were some very thoughtful entries. The winner has been randomly selected.

Drumroll, ladies and gentlemen....

Congratulations to Kat of A Cupcake or Two! You have won the 200 Christmas Recipes cookbook! Kat, your cookbook will be in the post as soon as I get your postal address. You'll have it well in advance of Christmas so that you can start planning some tasty dishes and treats for your family and friends :)

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Roast beetroot & walnut salad

A couple of years ago I received a very panicked phone call from Mr Ladybird who was overseas at the time. He wanted to know whether or not he should go to the doctor because he was very alarmed to see that, well... his "fluids" were very unusually coloured. He thought he might be very sick. After initial concern, I paused and asked, "What did you eat for lunch?" The answer - "Beetroot". My reply: (sigh) "I think you're going to be fine, sweetheart..."

Afer this emotionally scarring experience, Mr Ladybird still loves beetroot and has been asking me to make a beetroot salad for a long time... so today he got his wish! This salad made for a delicious and colourful dinner this evening :)

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
80 ml (1/3 cup) walnut oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp dijon mustard
12 french shallots
12 garlic cloves
6 medium betroot, topped and cleaned well
1 tbsp vegetable oil
70g baby betroot leaves (or rocket in its absence)
50g (1/2 cup) whole walnuts, dry toasted

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
2. In small bowl whisk together red wine vinegar, walnut oil, crushed garlic, dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Place beetroot, whole shallots and whole garlic cloves (i.e. skins on) and veg. oil in oven proof dish.
4. After around half an hour, remove the shallots and garlic cloves - they should be soft and the skins should be starting to peel away (if not, leave in a little longer).
5. Continue cooking betroot in oven until tender when pierced with a skewer - probably about an hour since the dish first went in.
6. Allow the beetroot to cool slightly. Meanwhile, slip the shallots and garlic from their skin.
7. Peel skin off beetroot (or leave it on if you are feeling particularly health conscious), then cut into wedges.
8. Toss together vegetables with dressing and allow to cool to room temperature.
9. In a large bowl, gently combine vegetables and dressing with walnuts and rocket.
10. Arrange on large platter, and enjoy!

The cooked beetroot will stain your chopping board, so it's a good idea to cut them on a plate which you can then put in the dishwasher ;)

Interesting beetroot facts
  • Did you know that the ancient Romans considered beetroots an aphrodisiac? In fact, I read tonight that it is rich in the mineral boron which is important in the production of human sex hormones - so the Romans were probably onto something there...
  • Also, beetroot contains betaine, a substance that relaxes the mind and is used to treat depression. It also contains trytophan (also found in chocolate!) which contributes to a sense of well being... hurrah!

Monday 30 November 2009

Mangoes & Cream Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!!! Oh yes we do, especially if it involves mangoes... I am loving the mangoes available right now. They are so decadent and summery, and I've wanted to make my own ice cream for ages, so yesterday I finally got the chance :)
I bought a Sunbeam 'Snowy' on Saturday and decided to christen it yesterday using a recipe I saw on Not Quite Nigella's blog a while ago. After 25 minutes of churning the mixture had thickened but was too runny to be softserve, so I scooped it out into a container and popped it in the freezer overnight. I took it out this evening and it was well frozen, so I put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow it to soften a little.
Snowy in action
I served it up using the ice cream scoop that came with the Snowy (very handy!) in martini glasses for a little 'posh factor' - another thing I've been wanting to do for ages! Thanks for the recipe, NQN (a.k.a Lorraine)! To check out the recipe, click here.
The scent was delectable and the texture was creamy but a lot denser than commercial ice-cream. The other great thing about this ice cream is that it is egg free - perfect for when my hubby's family are visiting.
Am definitely looking forward to making more ice cream in the summer months! :)
By the way, an interesting fact for you that might help when making frozen desserts like ice cream...
Did you know that cold temperatures numb the tastebuds? That's why frozen ice cream or yoghurt tastes sweeter when it's melted. So when you're making ice-cream and you want to make sure the level is sweetness is right for you before you churn and freeze it, just remember - having it on the sweeter side is fine because when you eat it frozen it won't taste as sweet.

Ladybird x

Sunday 29 November 2009

White Chocolate and Macadamia Shortbread

I've been browsing biscuit recipes recently to find some easy and delicious treats that I package up nicely can give to friends for Christmas. I liked the look of this recipe because shortbread is a Christmas favourite, and the macadamias and white chocolate give a nice twist.

They were easy to make, and I'm quite happy with the result. The biscuit is not very sweet, but once you put the chocolate on it's just right. Might give them another go during the week :) The only thing I'd do differently next time would be to flatten them a bit more before baking.

To see the recipe, click here.

Speaking of Christmas, don't forget to enter the Christmas giveaway! Only 3 days to go! All you have to do is leave a comment on the giveaway post.

Ladybird x

Caprese Salad

What a beautiful summer salad.. I just love the colours and flavours that this classic Italian salad has to offer :) The 3 key ingredients are: tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. This recipe calls for Fiora di latte, which is fresh mozzarella made from cow's milk. However, I searched high and low for this cheese for two days and couldn't find it anywhere. So I used buffalo mozzarella instead, and it was sooo delicious! We enjoyed it with some crusty bread - great for soaking up scrummy salad juices :)

I decided to make this after watching Better Homes & Gardens (BHG) the other night. To watch the video segment, click here. I followed the recipe in the BHG magazine (Christmas 2009 issue). For those who are keen, here's the full recipe:


Ladybird x

Thursday 26 November 2009

Channa Dal

I made this quick and easy dal with the pressure cooker this evening. Chana dal is my favourite dal of all. It's so comforting to eat.. although, I have to admit it probably wasn't the best choice of dinner given it's so warm in Sydney at the moment!

As I've mentioned in a previous dal post, there are sooo many dals (legumes) to choose from. But what is chana dal? Chana dal is produced by removing the outer layer of black chickpeas and then splitting the kernel. Of course, don't do this yourself :) You'll be able to buy chana dal in any indian food shop. Nutrition wise, chana dal is really good for you. It has a low glycemic index and is high in fibre, protein and zinc - hurrah!

Beloved pressure cooker

Cooked dal-slightly soft but holding its form

The dal after the fried garlic and spices have been added

The finishing touch - fresh coriander & lemon

You can find the recipe here. I found this recipe months ago and have been using it almost every week since then! However.. I don't use ghee in my dals, I used 1 tbsp canola oil instead. I also like a good squeeze of lemon to give it a nice lift :)

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Chocolate Biscotti

As promised as part of the Christmas Giveaway post, I have tried out a recipe from the 200 Christmas Recipes cookbook. I have never tried baking biscotti before, and this recipe seemed easy enough. I was also attracted by the almonds, chocolate and orange zest - a pretty delicious combination from previous experiences!

50g slightly salted butter
50g caster sugar
175g SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
finely grated rind of 1 orange, plus 1 tbsp orange juice
50g polenta
1 egg, lightly beaten
100g unblanched almonds, roughly chopped
75g milk chocolate chips
150g plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50g white chocolate broken into pieces


Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the flour, baking powder, coriander, orange rind and juice, polenta and egg and mix to form a firm dough. Knead in the almonds. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently work in the choc chips. Divide the mixture in half and shape each piece into a log about 23 cm (9 inches) long.

Place on a greased baking sheet, spaced well apart, and flatten slightly. Bake in preheated oven (160 degrees celcius) for 30 minutes or until risen and just firm. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. Transfer to a board and, using a serrated knife, cut into 1cm thick slices.

Arrange on baking sheet, cut sides down, and bake for 15 minutes until crip. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Melt the plain dark and white chocolate in 2 separate heatproof bowls over pans of simmering water. Line a tray or clean baking sheet with nonstick baking paper. Dip about one third of each biscuit in the plain chocolate, letting the excess fall back into the bowl. Pace each biscuit on the baking paper.

Drizzle thin lines of metled white chocolate over the plain dark chocolate. Leave in a cool place to set for about 1 hour.

My notes:
  • My biscotti crumbled a bit when I was slicing it.. perhaps I did not cook it quite long enough - may have taken it out before 30 mins was up.
  • Couldn't be bothered too much with the dark choc dipping & drizzling of the white chocolate, so I just drizzled dark chocolate instead and it worked well :) The original recipe varies on this.

Don't forget to go enter for a chance to win this cookbook. Click here to jump to the giveaway post.

Christmas Giveaway!

Christmas is approaching... and I love giving gifts! So to celebrate Christmas I am giving away this great little Christmas cookbook for one lucky reader :)

This is such a great book with 200 wonderful recipes and beautiful photographs for each. It contains plenty of traditional christmas fare recipes, including some delicious savoury sides. There are also countless sweet favourites, as well as recipes for edible gifts! What could be better than an edible gift for a loved one ??

I will endeavour to make some of the recipes from the book between now and the draw so you can see what I mean when I say this is a great little book to have...

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. Australian residents only please. This competition closes at 10pm Sydney time on Wednesday, December 2nd.

Good luck!

Ladybird x

Mr Ladybird's 30th Birthday Party!

So as many of you will know, Mr Ladybird turned 30 last week. We hosted a party on Saturday to celebrate with our family and friends. It was so much fun, the hubby had such a great time - thank you to overyone who came along... it was so nice seeing you all!

For Mr Ladybird's birthday, I decided to get him a Liverpool cake - he is such a diehard Liverpool fan so I thought it would be great to have a liverpool themed cake! The magnificent cake was created by Sharon of Sharon Wee Creations. Her attention to detail is so impressive. It was a lovely moist vanilla cake, with a layer of white chocolate ganache in between. I cannot sing Sharon's praises highly enough - she is one talented li'l lady! To read about the cake from her perspective, click here.

Due to popular demand, here are the names of some of our other 'suppliers' for the night!

Our balloons and party supplies, including disposbale champagne glasses were from Sydney Party Shop at 485 Forest Rd, Bexley NSW. We used a DIY helium balloon kit - it was good value and easy to use. PLUS- karaoke on helium is a lot of fun ;)

The Jukebox & Karaoke machine was from Jukebox Hire. It was so much fun and really helped make the night a success - guests had a lot of fun choosing songs and giving karaoke a go :)

The cheese & spinach and the pea puffs were from The Original Maltese Cafe at 310 Crown St, Surry Hills. These delicious flaky pastries will melt in your mouth, and they are FAR superior to the cheese and spinach pastries you get in the supermarket, not to mention the fact that they are such good value!

Umm no I didn't make the dips, sorry :( I would have loved to have made them myself, but I simply had no time! The dips were from Yalla Dips on Anzac Parade, Maroubra. This is where the factory is located, but you can still but the dips there. You can them at DJs, as well as quite a few supermarkets and delis. My favourite was the Hummus.. so tasty with warm turkish bread!

Ladybird x

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Zucchini Pasta

After work on a Monday, I can never be too bothered spending much time cooking dinner... so a quick, easy and tasty pasta always does the trick for me. This pasta is very simple and I do love dishes that use only a few ingredients and still pack a punch! Now I'll admit that this isn't the best thought out dinner because it doesn't contain that much vegetable, nor does it contain protein... But hey, it's nice now and then.

This recipe takes no more than 15 minutes and will serve 2 not too hungry people.

For this you'll need:
1 large zucchini
2-3 cloves of garlic
handful flat leaf parsley
Pasta (I prefer linguini for this recipe but ran out so used spaghetti instead)
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

1. Put your salted pasta water onto the boil. In the meantime, coarsley grate the zucchini into a bowl.

2. Crush the garlic and throw it into the bowl with the zucchini. If you're feeling lazy like me you can finely grate the garlic cloves so that they as fine as they'd be minced.

3. Put the pasta on and pour yourself a glass of wine :)

4. Heat a good slosh of olive oil in a pan and throw in your zucchini and garlic. Season generously and stir, then cover and continue to cook over medium heat.

5. In the meantime, roughly chop the parsley and add it to the pan.

6. Drain cooked pasta and add straight into pan and toss through zucchini mixture. Check seasoning.

7. Serve and top with finely grated parmesan. Enjoy :)

The main thing to watch for with this dish is that your zucchini does not overcook - it shouldn't be on the heat for more than 5 mins I'd say, otherwise you'll lose that lovely fresh green colour of the vegetable :)

Don't worry too much about super draining the pasta - some of that pasta water will be more than welcome in the pan and keep the pasta moist.

PS - sorry for the blurry pic - couldn't find the camera in time so grabbed the iPhone!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Pizza e Birra, Surry Hills

Last night we hosted Mr Ladyrbird's 30th birthday party in the function room on the top floor of our apartment block. We had a really great night with our friends and family :) The champagne was flowing, we had loads of scrummy vegetarian fingerfood, and of course, the obligatory birthday cake! I will be posting an entry about Mr Ladybird's birthday cake once I get some good pics, so stay tuned...

But anyway, after a very late night I woke up about 11am and started the cleanup feeling quite well rested and energetic.. until 3pm when DOH hit.. What's DOH?... Delayed Onset Hangover. The cure? Serious coffee and serious pizza.

So we headed for a pizza place in Surry Hills that we had noticed last weekend whilst visiting Yullis. I really liked the vibe at Pizza e Birra, and the staff were sooo lovely. First thing we guzzled down some cold water (how hot was it today?!) and then we nursed the BEST skim lattes we've had in a while... Seriously- worth a visit just for the coffee!

Then came the pizza. Now- I always think that if you're trying out a new pizza place you should try a Margherita pizza - it's a true litmus test :) The margherita at Pizza e Birra was excellent - the pizza base was thin, very tasty and had a nice crunch to it on the edge. The tomato base was juuust right with just the right amount of garlic.

Our second pizza was the Funghi, topped with leeks and mushrooms and just the right amount of gorgonzola (can be v. overpowering). Again, the pizza base was good. I had never had this combination till today and I loved it.

I would have to say that Pizza e Birra's pizza is as good as the pizzas at Hugo's in Kings Cross. The price is about the same. But to be honest the parking near Hugo's is a total nightmare, nor do I feel particulary safe in the Cross and there is always the niggling worry over whether or not your car is being broken into during your meal!. Comparatively, no such problems in Surry Hills, so Pizza e Birra gets my vote on all accounts :)

Pizza e Birra
500 Crown St, Surry Hills (nothing on the website but perhaps menu coming soon?)

Pizza E Birra on Urbanspoon

Good Chef, Bad Chef

This is my new favourite food show on TV!

It stars the charming Gary from Masterchef (bad chef) and Janella Purcell (good chef). I had never heard of Janella before watching this show, but I have quickly become a BIG fan. I love her approach to cooking - she is big on flavour, but also big on nutrition and even approaches food as medicine. She does loads of vegetarian dishes, and as she cooks she shares lots of nutritional information about food which is great ! For example, did you know that certain seaweeds contain 100 times more calcium than cow's milk?! I hear she is releasing a cookbook next year, I can't wait to get my hands on it :)

Gary as well all know takes a bit of a different approach to his food... definitely more on the indulgent side. As you may recall from Masterchef, his "a little bit of butter" probably means a a tad more than a bit! haha :)

But the two really complement each other... The way they interact and joke with each other in the show is funny and keeps it light-hearted. All in all Good Chef Bad Chef is a show that has something for everyone.
Foxtel - Lifestyle Channel

Friday 20 November 2009

Cafe Sydney, Circular Quay

Never have I regretted a choice of restaurant more.

I took my husband to Cafe Sydney to celebrate his 30th birthday. I booked weeks in advance to ensure we secured a great table outside to enjoy the view. Upon booking, and confirmation, I spoke to Cafe Sydney staff about the fact that my husband and I are both vegetarian. On their menu they have 2 veg entress and 1 veg main. This concerned me a little, but the staff at Cafe Sydney assured me that the meal would certainly be outstanding, and that they could also show us their vegan menu upon our arrival. The vegan menu, it turns out, was completely uninspiring. We took one look at pushed it aside.

We arrived at 8pm and were seated - the view is certainly breathtaking. We had a cocktail each and order a goat's cheese and spinach naan and caramelised onion naan to nibble on with our drinks. The drinks and bread arrived within 5 minutes - this is when we started to feel rushed. The naans were tasty, both the cheese and spinach naan contained zero spinach.. I dismissed it and sat back to enjoy my cocktail with my hubby, when all of a sudden the empty plate was snatched away and our main course was put in front of us.

My husband had the one and only veg main which was a spinach gnocchi with persian fetta and some other trimmings - it looked great on the menu, but as my husband said "was the worst gnocchi I've had in my life". I had two entrees as my main - the betroot and goat's cheese tart, plus the stuffed zuchinni flowers. My entrees were good, but the gnocchi was so lacklustre - it upset me that my husband should have to eat something out of pure hunger rather than enjoyment on his 30th birthday. With the portions so small and the gnocchi so bland, we ordered a side of fries. Yes, fries at Cafe Sydney... The fries arrived within seconds, and unfortunately, they were probably the food highlight for my husband last night.

The waitress came and asked us would we like wine with our mains.. but we had only just started our cocktails so I remarked that we would have loved some only we had only recently recieved our cocktails and were not expecting our mains so quickly. She just walked away.

As soon as we put our knives and forks together, our table was cleared and the ever efficient waitress asked us would we like dessert - fed up with feeling rushed, hungry and ripped off, we politely declined and asked for the bill. We ate, we paid, we left, all within about 30 minutes. We then decided to have some gelato at Circular Quay to try and salvage the evening (and to fill our growling tummies)! But we felt so sore and ripped off after our dining experience at cafe Sydney that the evening was utterly ruined.

Clearly Cafe Sydney does not give a s*** and are there to make serious money. I commend Cafe Sydney on their ueber-efficiency - get 'em in and get'em out. Incredibly expensive, very rushed, and ruined my husband's 30th birthday night out.

I apologise for the negative tone of my post, dear readers, however I just had to write this. I will dissuade every contact I have from dining at Cafe Sydney - vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Ladybird x

Cafe Sydney on Urbanspoon

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Yullis Bar, Surry Hills

Last Sunday morning Mr Ladybird and I headed out for brekky at Cafe Zoe in Surry Hills - alas it was closed :( "Not meant to be", we remarked. So we decided to explore Surry Hills to find somewhere else to satisfy our growling tummies.

Then we came across a cafenamed Yullis. We read the menu at the door and remarked that everything on the menu was vegetarian - joy!

The decor immediately struck me as a bit haphazard and hippy - something that often annoys me about a lot of vegetarian eateries. Why does a vegetarian eatery need to look like a hippy hangout? I am not a pot smoking, tye-dye wearing, dreadlock bearing kind of girl (not that there's anything wrong with that...) I just dislike the stereotype. Anyway, enough ranting...

We were served by a lovely waitress who brought us two very welcome and tasty lattes, shortly followed by our brunches. I had scrambled eggs with thinly sliced pan-fried haloumi, grilled eggplant, caramelised onions and tomato relish on a toasted sesame seed bagel. Mr Ladybird had the big breakfast with free range eggs, potato rosti, sautéed baby spinach, oven roasted tomato, baked chickpeas and grilled mushrooms with Turkish toast.

Our dishes were both delicious.. and were not over-laden with sauces, oils and salt - tasty and clean, yet complex and well-devised. I can confidently say that the food more than made up for the slightly lacking decor and lighting ;)

Overall, a very pleasant discovery on a lovely spring morning... will definitely be back to try the lunch / dinner menus!

Check out Yullis site at

Yulli's on Urbanspoon

Sunday 8 November 2009

Vegetarian Cheeseburgers

It has been way too long since my last post - my sincere apologies!

Now that I have a little more spare time on my hands, I thought it was about time to post a new recipe. Tonight I made vegetarian cheeseburgers - one of our weekend favourites at the moment.

Here's what you'll need for these:

400g can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed, roughly mashed with a fork- not too mushy!)
1 small brown onion (finely chopped)
100g grated low fat cheddar cheese
100g breadcrumbs
1 egg
plain flour, for dusting
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Burger buns
White onion
, sliced
Tomato, sliced
Iceberg lettuce
Tomato sauce

1. Combine all of the above (with clean hands is easiest)... it should form a chucky paste. Divide mixture into 4 or 5 balls and roll in a little flour. Flatten and shape into burger style patties.

2. Heat oil in frying pan on medium heat and fry gently for 8-10 minutes, turning once.

3. Assemble burgers, and enjoy!

  • You can add any other trimmings that take your fancy - cheese slices, mustard, aoli, beetroot... you name it!
  • If you are luck enough to have a food processer, use it to blitz your onions and kidney beans respectively. It's so quick and you won't get onion eyes :)

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Welcome, Mr Meyer!

People who know me would tell you that I have a strange habit of naming inanimate objects. My bicycle is named 'Sylvia', our car is called 'Karo'.. the trend extends to plants too. For instance, the jasmine growing on my balcony is nicknamed 'Jazzy'. So it seemed only natural that I christen the latest addition to my balcony garden - my very own dwarf meyer lemon tree. Introducing, Mr Meyer...

I purchased Mr Meyer from Gardens 'r' Us in Kingsford last week. Having unsuccessfully attempted to grow citrus on my balcony in the past, I was a bit worried about trying again, but I had heard great things about the dwarf meyer lemon, particularly the 'lots a lemons' variety I found at Gardens 'r' Us. My balcony is north facing and gets a good amount of sun, but it also gets quite windy at times. I interrogated a horticulturalist before buying the tree, and he assured me that this variety is very hardy indeed! So I decided to give growing citrus another shot :)

I planted him in a terracotta pot with a high quality organic potting mix for fruit and vegetables and he is in a sunny position. Of course, I have been talking to him everyday as well giving him lots of words of encouragement!

I have been hearing a lot about meyer lemons since I got one of my own.. maybe I am just taking more notice now! For instance, Sydney food blogger Not Quite Nigella has just done a post relating to meyer lemons. What a wonderful looking pie :)

Hopefully it will not be long before he is producing lovely juicy lemons for me to use in the kitchen... lemon cupcakes, lemon meringue, homemade lemonade... the list is endless!

If you are successfully growing a dwarf meyer lemon tree I'd love to hear from you! Do you have any tips or tricks? Any dos or don'ts? For example, I've heard you shouldn't feed citrus trees while they're in flower.. is that true?


Ladybird x

Saturday 29 August 2009

Open Omlette with Spinach, Goat's Fetta & Cherry Tomatoes

Open omlettes are one of my favourite quick and easy dinners. Mr Ladybird loves them too, even for breakfast.

For one of these you'll need:
2 eggs
handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
few cherry tomatoes, quartered
Goat's fetta (but you can use any sort of cheese really)

  1. Heat the oven grill.
  2. In a bowl, season and whisk the eggs. Heat a dash of olive oil in a small, not-stick pan and pour in the egg mixture.
  3. With the heat still on, throw in the baby spinach, chunks of fetta and arrange the tomatoes.
  4. When the omlette starts to firm up, take it off the heat and put it under the grill until it turns golden brown.
  5. Slide onto the plate, and enjoy!


Ladybird x
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