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

Friday 28 August 2009

Creamy Mushroom Fettucine

Sometimes it's good to see what you have in the fridge and just to make a meal out of it. Today was was of those days. After a long week at work, there was no way I was stopping at the supermarket on the way home! With onion, garlic, mushrooms, parsley and a dash of cream, I came up with this pasta and topped it with some parmesan cheese.

Quick, easy and delicious :)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday 26 August 2009

Punjabi Daal

Daal and rice is a real Indian comfort food - and it's very good for you too! In Hindi, daal means lentil- so daal can be the raw lentils, or the cooked dish. In both the raw and cooked state, there is huge variety. A lot of people think that all lentils taste the same, but they don't! It really depends on the lentil and what you cook them with, and each region of India has their own take on daal recipes.

You can do the whole soaking and boiling thing, but I just use a pressure cooker. Oh, how I love my pressure cooker friend :)

This evening I made this daal. I made this recipe up myself so I don't really know what to call it - Punjabi Daal because it's thick..(?) Anyway, here's how I made it...

1 cup yellow split peas

1 -2 tbsp canola oil

1 chopped onion
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 cinammon stick

2 cloves
1 bayleaf
wedge of lemon
approx. 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

To make this daal first sorted and rinse the daal (lentils). Then cooked the daal, 3 cups of water and a good teaspoon of salt in a pressure cooker over low-medium heat for 1 whistle (about 10 minutes). Leave the pressure cooker to sit - the pressure will gradually release by itself in about 15-20 minutes.

NB - Never open a pressure cooker without releasing the pressure either by waiting or lifting the whistle. It can be extremely dangerous. Trust me, I learnt that the hard way about 6 years ago- daal ended up pasted to the white ceiling :(

Then fry the onion in half the oil. While it is browning add the turmeric and chilli powder. Set aside.

Next you have to fry the whole spices. I use a special Indian ladle to do so, but you could do it in a small frypan too. Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for a minute, then add the cinammon stick, cloves and bay leaf. Please be careful when frying - stand back as it may spit, especially as the cloves plump up and go 'pop'. Fry for about a minute.

Carefully tip the fried spices and fried onions into the cooked daal and bring the pot to the boil and simmer for a about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add a good squeeze of lemon and mix in chopped coriander.

Serve with basmati rice, and a side of vegetables. Yum yum :)


Maya da Dhaba, Surry Hills

Maya da Dhaba in Surry Hills is my favourite Indian Restaurant in Sydney. Mr Ladybird and I frequent the restaurant at least once a fortnight, and we really have a good time when we visit. So we headed there once again last night.

The service is good, and the head waiter Gary knows us by name and always makes sure that we are well looked after. He knows where we perfer to sit; what we like to drink; and, he can usually predict what dishes we will order!

Some of my favourite dishes are the Vegetable Navrattan Korma, the Panir Ka Salan. It's not on the menu, but sometimes Gary has the chef make me Cheese and spinach naan - one of my favourites! But last night our order was a little different. We ordered the Paneer ka Salan, which is strips of paneer sauted with capsicum, onion , spices and finished with fresh tomatoes and coriander. Our second dish was Punjabi Baingan which is baby eggplant pan fried with tomatoes, chillies, onions and spices. To go with that we ordered Roti, a Kashmiri Naan and of course Rice. The food, needless to say, was excellent. The only diappointment for me was the Kashmiri Naan which is traditionally a sweeter naan, filled with dried fruit and coconut. But it was way too sweet, and the crunch of the sugar sprinkled inside was a bit unpleasant, so I gave up on it. That teaches me for being too adventurous! (should have listened to Mr Ladybird's caution on that one...)

Despite that, the food at Maya is very good, and authentically north Indian, and I love that you never have to say mild, medium or hot when you order - you pretty much get it just as it would be made back in India. Incidentally, this makes Maya da Dabha a great place for us to bring guests for dinner when we have family/friends from India staying with us - we can be sure that our guests will not be disappointed.

On it only scores a rating of 6.9 which really surprises me. Maybe it is too authentic for some (?). At any rate, I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an authentic Indian meal in Sydney.



Sunday 23 August 2009

Cupcake Decorating Class

A couple of months ago I started looking for somewhere to learn more about cupcake decorating, and with that I set about my cyberspace hunt for cupake decorating classes in Sydney.... and then I came across a blog called Wee Love Baking. I was immediately impressed by Sharon's talent and skill in cake decoarting, especially with cupcakes. Then I started reading some of her earlier posts and saw that she held private cupcake decorating classes!

The search was over, and so I contacted Sharon to ask her about my friend and I doing a class with her. She said yes, and Jacqui and I arranged to have a private class with her. We were delighted, and started counting down the days till our class :)

So yesterday that day finally arrived, and Jacqui and I headed for Sharon's place in the city, ready to start the class at 11am. We started by talking about the theme for our cupcakes, and we thought that a Spring theme would be nice. Little animals, pastel colours, flowers, etc.

Of course, one of my favourite parts of the class was learning how to make ladybirds... All the materials (incl. actual cupcakes) were provided as part of the course fee. We decorated a set of 12 cupcakes each, and we were so happy with how they turned out!

I learnt so much about working with fondant - it is not as difficult as I imagined it might be, and it was really fun! On top of being just lovely, Sharon is a great teacher with lots of useful tips, and seeing some of her work was truly inspiring. I can't wait to go and get some materials for myself so that I can start getting creative at home.

Sharon is a full-time marketer by day, and cake decorating extraordinaire by every other waking moment! She recently started her own business doing custom designed cakes, cupcakes and cookies. To check out Sharon Wee Creations, go to:


Ladbird xxx

Ps - Thank you to Sharon for sending these pics through!

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Masala Dabba (Spice Box)

Almost every Indian household has a spice box or, in Hindi, a masala dabba. It is a good way to store your spices, and keep them away from light and moisture.

A friend mentioned to me that she would like one, so I had Mr Ladybird pick up a small one from MGM Spices on Cleveland St, Surry Hills. It's a small version, and I think it's just adorable. The perfect size, especially if you're not using it every day. I haven't taken a picture of the one we got for her, but here is what it would like once filled:

The average masala dabba is made of stainless steel and has 7 individual compartments where you can store your favourite spices. The spice box also has a snug-fitting lid is sometimes see through, but I prefer complete stainless steel (keeps out the light).

So, what do you put in each compartment? It varies from household to household, but this is what I keep in my masala dabba: turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander power, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, ajwain seeds and fenugreek seeds.

So if you are interested in Indian cooking, throw away those spices you bought in the 1990s that now resemble and taste like sawdust! Why not invest in an authentic masala dabba and start getting creative!

Some spice tips:
  • Don't buy spices from the supermarket - you are sure to get ripped off, and there's no telling how long the spices have been on the shelf in that clear plastic packaging. Instead, go to an Indian spice shop.
  • For spices such as cinammon, green cardamom, bay leaves, saffron, keep them in separate containers in the fridge (or else in a cool, dark place). Doing this will keep their flavours longer and ensure the flavours don't mingle together.
  • Buy your spices in small quantities as they go stale and lose their flavour over time. Keep unopened spices/legumes in a sealed container in the fridge until you're ready to use them.
  • Be kind and patient with yourself :) The first few times you use spices you might be disappointed with the result. But persist and experiment with them, and you will slowly develop 'a hand' for it.


Ladybird x

Bourke Street Bakery

The Bourke Street Bakery is said to be one of the best bakeries in Sydney, and lucky for me it's in my part of Sydney! Despite the name, it is located on Gardeners Road in Mascot/Alexandria. Although I often go past it on my way to work, I try not to stop there on weekdays... their wares are too good to resist. The bakery sells a small selection of sweet and savoury tarts, breads (including great sourdough) and of course there's the croissants - they are to die for! They have the most wonderful coffee too :)

It's a small place, but there is some sit down space for customers. So if you're looking for a place for a morning coffee and croissant next weekend, I'd highly recommend the Bourke Street Bakery.

Take care for now everyone,
Ladybird :)

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

I felt like something like this for dinner tonight. I wasn't too well yesterday and dined on toast for dinner, so I had to make something decent tonight!
The recipe is surprisingly easy, and low fat too! So here's the recipe.

Enjoy with a glass of red wine for good measure ;)


Ladybird x

Monday 17 August 2009

RSPCA Cupcake Day

RSPCA Cupcake Day has been a resounding success in my office. Jacqui and I hosted a cupcake morning tea and we sold 84 cupcakes in 15 minutes! yay! All of our proceeds will go to the RSPCA.

Jacqui made beautiful vanilla cupcakes topped with chocolate ganache and very creative fondant animal cut-outs - very cute! There were ducks, cats and dogs.

I made 4 varieties of cupcakes:
Lovely lemon
Vanilla with rosewater glace icing
Vanilla with vanilla buttercream and a shortbread dogbone
Gluten free chocolate w strawberries and cream

Then it seemed that all that sugar couldn't go to waste, so the girls went crazy with the RSPCA balloons...

It's great to be able to combine my love of cupcakes with a charitable cause. What a great way to start the week :)


Ladybird x

PS - My photos do leave a bit to be desired today, don't they?! I hereby resolve to take better photos for my blog!

My darling Rosebud

It was a beautiful Sunday in Sydney yesterday and so Mr Ladybird and I decided to go out and enjoy our wonderful city. The morning seemed to start off ok until poor Mr Ladybird slammed his finger in the front door while leaving the house :( Good thing we were headed somewhere nice! We went to Rosebud on Darling St, Rozelle. We had been there before a few weeks ago and enjoyed it so much, so we just had to go back. (Plus - did you know that Rosebud was featured on Masterchef?!!)

Shortly after we were seated, a friendly waitress took our coffee order, and our lattes arrived on minutes later.. they were very very good.

The food and service is exeptional, no matter how busy it is there... I had the French toast pan fried raisin brioche w sour cherries, mascarpone, toasted almonds & maple syrup. It was delicious and not too sweet, and the crunch of the toasted almonds is heavenly. Although... one of my french toast pieces was a bit runny and soggy inside (uncooked egginess is not my thing).

Mr Ladybird had the Vegetarian breakfast and loved every morsel of it. It included crunchy herb polenta, field mushroom,truss tomatoes, dukkah spiced potato, spinach & marinated basil feta, plus poached eggs. The little dukkah potato was a nice touch - always nice to see something different in a vegetarian breakfast.

Overall a very enjoyable breakfast at Rosebud.. will definitely be returning before long.
To check out Rosebud's homepage, click here.


ladybird x

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Little Betsy Baker

My parcel from Little Betsy Baker arrived today! I'm very happy with the items I received, and the parcel arrived so quickly after ordering! So what have I got? A cute cupcake apron, new spatula, mini dogbone cookie cutter and cupcake toppers. The ladybird toppers are adorable - have been looking for nice ones that don't cost the earth for a while, so I will have to save them for a very special occasion. I am now fully equipped to bake my heart out for RSPCA Cupcake Day.

To check out the Little Betsy Baker website, click here.
Ladybird x

Monday 10 August 2009

Bake for a good cause!

Next Monday, August 17th is Cupcake Day for the RSPCA. Why not host a morning/afternoon tea to raise some money for all creatures, great and small. All you have to do is whip up some cupcakes and serve them with a smile :) For more information/registration go to:

Ladybird x

Sunday 9 August 2009

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with Balsamic Strawberries

One year ago today my husband and I officially moved to Sydney. It's been a great year for us - a new city, new home, new jobs, new friends and new experiences.

To celebrate I decided to make something new. I've never made a cheesecake before and I found this recipe and it looked so good I just had to try it, especially since strawberries are in season.

Tastes extra good watching a movie like Little Miss Sunshine too! ;)

To view the recipe, click here.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

These thick pancakes are delicious, and a real weekend treat. They are one of my favourite ways to use blueberries. Blueberries are a superfood! They are full of nutrients and antioxidants. Of course they're pancakes, let's not kid ourselves... but they're so good! The following recipe serves 2 to 3 people.

To make these bad boys, here's what you'll need:

125 g SR Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
1 Egg
150 ml Milk
125g Blueberries

Vegetable Oil
Maple syrup

I usedCreative Gourmet frozen blueberries which I took out of the freezer just before I started making the pancakes. I get a bit nervous using frozen berries sometimes but these were great - sweet but not too sweet (no added sugar).

Step 1. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients. Gradually whisk in the milk then the egg, making sure you keep it smooth. (I transferred the batter into a jug for easy pouring in Step 2)

Step 2. Heat a little oil in a large frypan and pour large spoonsfuls of batter into the pan (any size you like), making sure that the pancakes are well spaced apart as they will spread a little. Drop a few blueberries in each, and cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles start to appear.

Tip: When cooking this style of pancake it's really important to keep the heat on low to medium so that the rising agents in the batter have some time to take effect. If you cook them on high heat, they'll be cooked on the outside but sloppy on the inside - yuck!

Step 3. Turn the pancakes over and cook until golden.

Step 4. Transfer onto a plate, sieve some icing sugar over the top and drizzle with maple syrup. Buon appetit!


Last time I made these I folded the blueberries into the batter just before cooking. They were tasty, but the pancakes were not so attractive - very blue/purple. A personal choice I think...

Also, I've seen these served with greek yoghurt in cafes.

Friday 7 August 2009

Sydney Sunset

I love Sydney, it is such a beautiful city. If you are a Sydney-sider, you probably would have noticed the spectacular sunset this evening. The sky was a palete of stunning pinks, purples, oranges and yellows. What a great way to close a busy week.

SMH has just posted some pics onine, check it out here!


Welcome to the Diary of a Ladybird. This is my first ever blog so I'm kind of just making it up as I ago along... Hopefully it won't take me too long to figure out what I'm doing! I think blogs are a great way of sharing things with people, and not being one for Facebook, I decided to start something of my own.

Why ladybirds? Well I've always had a bit of a thing for them, they're so cute!

Anyway, thanks for checking out my blog. Stay tuned for more posts.. am hoping to get something up over the weekend.

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