This blog post has been a long time coming. I made these treats for our Melbourne Cup party, and then again for the Victorian Election party. Super easy to make, and really quite yummy... This recipe was originally found because I had a plethora of chives growing the the garden, but now, I like it just because.


1 sheet of shortcrust pastry
125g low fat ricotta cheese

50g grated cheddar cheese

1 tbs finely chopped chives

1 egg

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Preheat oven to 210 degrees.

2. Grease a 24 pan mini muffin tin

3. In a bowl, mix the cheeses, chives and egg, so that you have a paste like consistency.

4. Cut the pastry into squares. I usually do 25 squares from one sheet of pastry.

5. Roughly press each square into the muffin pan.

6. Spoon a little bit of the cheese and egg mixture into the pastry pan and top with half a tomato. Press the tomato slightly in, so it sits neatly.

7. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden.
So firstly I should begin with an apology (again) so not having updated in yonkers. Much has happened since the last post, including a fabulous trip to Peru where I was able to tick off a couple of items on the bucket list, namely the Inca Trail and a visit to the Amazon. More related to this blog however, has been the fact that all the stuff I was growing in my garden is now being harvested, meaning I can now cook with real, garden fresh produce! First cab off the ranks was the beetroot! We literally have beetroot coming out of our ears, and I wanted to make something exciting but not daunting with it! I have developed a certain affinity for couscous recently, so I thought who not put the two together, and this is the result...


1 large beetroot, peeled and cut into largish cubes
1 cup couscous
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste

1. Lightly toss the beetroot in some olive oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven to roast. Mine took about 15 mins in a moderate oven.

2. Bring the cup of water to the boil and pour it over the couscous. Add the butter to this, give it a super quick stir and cover the mixture for about 5 mins. At the end of the 5 mins, the water should be fully absorbed, and using a fork, fluff up the couscous.

3. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and caramelize the onions over a low heat. This can take up to 10 mins. Be patient.

4. Take the onions off the heat, add the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and beetroot and mix well.

5. Add the onion mixture to the couscous and mix well. Add the chives and salt to taste.
For a month or so, I've started my own little garden. It all began with a desire to have my own herbs growing on the patio, so that if I should need them whilst cooking, I could just pop out and grab some.. I started with coriander, which is one of my favourite herbs, and also very prevalent in Bengali cooking..

I started with nothing..

Which then became something...

(If you look really closely, you can see something...)

And now I have lots!

I'm also growing chives, beetroot, carrots and peas, so let's see how they turn out!

Apologies people. I haven't updated in yonkers. However there has been a lot going on. Not necessarily in the kitchen, but in the garden and on the restaurant front. Confused? Don't worry, I shall explain in subsequent posts, however for now, a few photos from our adventures last night, at Mamasita's...

Mamasita's doesn't take bookings, and is known for being packed and tricky to get a table at. We got there just after 6, and already there was a long queue. When we got the head of the line, we were told there was a 2 hr wait for a table. We decided to opt for the 2 hour wait, and spent the next few hours at Kri Kri on Little Bourke St, which is a greek restaurant that has vegetarian mezze. it wasn't bad, however the service was a bit poor.

Anyway, once we got a phone call from Mamasita to say our table was ready, we were out of Kri Kri so fast, that it wasn't funny...

And so our Mexican night began...

This was the Mexican manderine soft drink... there was also guava and lime variants, and a tamarind flavour that everyone was curious about but no one was game enough to try...

Quesadillas de Huitlacoche. Basically a tortilla sandwich with mexican truffles, mushrooms, and other yummy things.Tostaditas de Maiz. Mini taco thingies with corn and beans and this awesome chilli hit. Basically the Mexican version of pani puri. We told you it was all Indian.

Chilli Relleno. Stuffed peppers. Super yummo.Tamales de Flor de Calabaza. This dish was a touch average. A bit dry, had to add the salsa (which was really great btw) to spice it up.Ensalada de Quinoa. I hadn't had quinoa before, but this salad was bloody good. Looks like I'm a quinoa fan now.After significant umming and ahing over whether we would get dessert, me and Lavina bit the bullet and went ahead. I have no idea of the Mexican name of this dish, but it was a black pudding with quinoa (yes more quinoa) and fresh figs. I HATE figs, but this dessert was awesome... Mals, Bazz and Shazz bad a pineapple platter with mint and lime... also yummo...

The end of a very satisfying evening. Six great friends, 2 great restaurants, 1 great night :-)

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

I adore Indian food, which is probably a good thing since we have it just about every night! But in particular I love Indian street food, or chaat as it is known in India. Unfortunately I don't get this as often, and in any case, it can never taste as good as it does on the side of the road in India, made by a guy with dirty hands and non purified tamarind water! Nevertheless, I never cease to try and replicate that taste sensation at home. While it's never the same, this pav bhaji recipe comes close...

Pav bhaji is basically a curried vegetable roll. The filling, or bhaji, is made fom all sorts of vegetables and flavoured with beautiful, pungent spices that absorb into the mixture. The pav, or Indian equivalent of a bread roll, is a small white bread roll, but usually quite sweet, similar in taste to a Maccas burger bun, which is coated in butter or ghee and lightly toasted. Combined, the two make a party in your mouth happen...

Ingredients (makes about 16 small rolls):

3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into a simialr size to the potato

1 tbs oil

1/2 cup capsicum, finely chopped

Finely chopped chilli (optional, if you like it hot)

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup corn kernels

1 tsp minced ginger

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 heaped tbs pav bhaji masala (this can be bought at any Indian grocery store)

1 tsp butter

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

Salt to taste

Lemon juice and finely sliced onions to serve

1. Boil the potatoes and carrots, and then mash them.

2. Heat the oil in a kadai. Once it is hot, add the capsicum and chilli and saute. After a minute, add the ginger and continue sauteing.

3. Add the tomatoes and mix well. Allow to cook until the tomatoes have become soft.

4. Add the chilli powder, turmeric and pav bhaji masala and mix well.

5. Add the peas and corn to this mixture.

6. Lastly, add the mashed vegetables, butter and salt. All the mixture to cook well, so the flavours can combine properly together. The mixture should be a thick, paste like consistency. If it is too dry, add some water; if it is too runny, allow it to cook on a high heat so that it dries off. Keep tasting the mixture to make sure it is the right balance of tangy (tomatoes) and spicy (pav bhaji masala). Once done, remove from the heat.

7. Take the bread rolls, cut them in half and smear the inside and outside with butter or margaring and put them in an oven to toast lightly. This can also be done on a non stick frying pan or tawa on the stove.

8. Once the bread is done, fill it with the pav bhaji mix and a squeeze of lemon juice. If you like, raw onions can also be added.

Note: I didn't have the correct bread rolls, so I just used wholemeal rolls we had in the fridge. Works just as well!

I am not a fan of bananas and so, whenever we buy them, they will invariably get overripe, go black and start to smell. These feral bananas however, make the most amazing muffins...

Ingredients (makes 12):

2 and 1/2 cups self raising flour

3/4 cup raw sugar

Handful of chopped walnuts (I have no idea of the exact measurement, but let's just say 1/2 cup)
2 cups milk
3 overripe bananas

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Line a muffin tin with patty pans. You could grease them, but I hate washing muffin tins, so I always use patty pans.

3. Combine the flour, sugar and nuts in a bowl.

4. In a blender, whizz up the milk, banana and vanilla essence.

5. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well. The batter will be a very heavy, thick consistency.

6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tray and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
I love South Indian food, and I love rice. Makes sense really, given all the different sorts of rice the South Indians make. Lemon rice, tamarind rice, curd rice, the list is endless. One of my favourites though is tomato rice. It’s quick, easy and tastes amazing. It usually takes me only about 15 minutes to put together using left over rice from the night before, and the result is some amazing comfort food.

Ingredients (serves 1 – coz I eat a lot!):

250g tomatoes, diced (I usually use a punnet of cherry tomatoes, which have been halved)

1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried chillies
6 or 7 curry leaves
1 whole black cardamom (bara elachi)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 cup of rice, cooked
1 tbs oil

1. Heat the oil in a kadai.

2. Once oil is heated, temper it with the mustard seeds, dried chilli, curry leaves and cardamom pod for about 30 secs.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well until the mixture has become mushy.

4. Add the garam masala, chilli powder and salt and mix thoroughly.

5. Add the cooked rice and remove from the heat. Mix the rice and tomato mixture well so that all the rice is coated.

6. Serve hot with yogurt.

I am a bit of an obsessive groupie. Back in the 90’s I was a massive cricket groupie, stalking all the visiting cricket teams at the hotels and net practices… these days I stalk chefs, and with the internet at my disposal, the job is so much easier! One of my favourite chefs to stalk is Kurma Dasa. I first discovered him when I was in primary school, on SBS TV where he hosted his own cooking show. Then I got super excited to find out he was actually from the Melbourne Hare Krishna temple and I even got to meet him!! Now the obsessive groupie in me has once again come to the forefront and in about a month and a half, Bazza and I are going to be doing a cooking course with him! You have no idea how excited I am!!!

Anyway, as a frequent visitor of his blog, I regularly peruse through his recipes, and try out various things he makes. He hasn’t let me down so far, and this strawberry cream shortcake was no exception :-)

Ingredients (serves 6 – 8):

The cake:

1 1/4 cups self-raising flour

A pinch of salt

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons caster sugar

13 cup ground walnuts (I ground mine in a coffee grinder)

About 13 cup buttermilk

The cream topping:

300ml double cream

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk powder

The remaining topping ingredients:

4 tablespoons strawberry jam

250g ripe, strawberries cut in half

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C.

2. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar and ground nuts.

3. Pour in three-quarters of the buttermilk and gather the mixture into a soft manageable dough. If too dry, add some more buttermilk. Knead the dough until it is smooth.

4. Line a 20cm pie dish with baking paper and press the dough in, ensuring that the sides of the dish are also well covered.

5. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool. Carefully remove the cake from the dish and peel away the baking paper.

6. Combine the cream, sugar, vanilla and powdered milk in a mixing bowl and whip it until the cream stands in soft peaks.

7. Spread the strawberry jam over the inside surface of the cake, then spread the cream over it, and finally top with the strawberries. Put in the fridge to chill for a few hours and then serve.