Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Perfect home made pesto

As promised earlier this week, here is our favourite home made pesto recipe.

A bunch or two of fresh basil
2-3 cloves of garlic
Fresh parmesan cheese
Few drops of fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
A few glugs of olive oil

Place all ingredients except for olive in a whizzer of your choice, mine is my magimix and whizz until smooth. You can use a mortar and pestle too. Once everything is smooth add olive oil and hand mix until you have a smooth oily paste.

For variation add a red chilli to spice up your creation.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Weekend Awards

Really pleased today. Just been nominated for a Bronze Award for my Weekend Notes - Brisbane article for a review of a local Turkish restaurant we went to last week. Been writing articles for the past month. The more I write the more I'm starting to love writing. It's a great learning curve and being nominated for an award justs adds the motivation to keep doing it.
Check out my latest article here:

I highly recomend checking out the Weekend Notes site and see if they have a section for your city. Get writing!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Top Of The Pesto Pops

Picture of the three pestos in our comparison
The Three Candidates
Ruqayya and I both love Italian food and I bet you do to. Tasty, hearty, warm, big bold flavours.

Some of the tastiest dishes can often be the simplest to prepare. I'm talking about basil, cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, but who has the time to make a decent sauce from scratch?

I know we always have a jar of shop-bought pesto in the refrigerator for those emergency meals when all you can muster is a bowl of hot spaghetti and a dollop of luscious green pesto.

We've found the quality of these shop bought pestos to vary quite a lot, so I thought I'd let you know our findings while living down under. Read on for the results.

3rd Place - Leggos Traditional Basil Pesto

This pesto was gloopy. Somewhere between basil flavoured baby food and wallpaper paste. This pesto finds it's way on to most supermarkets and convenience stores here in Australia. Not sure why though. Too much salt, and not enough quality ingredients put this pesto in last place.

Verdict: 2 out of 5 basil leaves.

2nd Place - Coles Own Brand Basil Pesto

A contender here from one of the largest supermarket brands in Australia. This is a more authentic pesto than the Leggo's offering. The sauce is full of basil flavour however the ingredients do mention 'basil flavour' on the list. What's wrong with real basil? 
Another detractor is the amount of oil in the pot, the consistency is quite loose, but at least it has real olive oil in it.

Verdict: 3 out of 5 basil leaves. 

1st Place - Sacla Classic Pesto

Ok, now Sacla are probably the biggest producers of pesto I know of. I have bought their products in the UK and also seen them in other countries around Europe. I wouldn't normally advocate patronising such a huge brand, but as far as the ready made pestos go - these guys have it cornered and for good reason. The pesto was rich and tasty, full of fresh basil and cheese flavours. Not too thick, not too runny, mixed well with the hot pasta.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 basil leaves.

In the next post we will give you a recipe for a fresh home-made pesto. With a few fresh ingredients you can make something worthy of an Italian table without much fuss. Be sure to catch our next post.

Which pesto is the best where you live? Send a message or photo to show our other readers.

What Is Watermelon Salad?

Watermelon Salad
Today Ruqayya came up with a salad idea inspired from Jellyfish Restaurant in Brisbane.

Ingredients per serving:

1 Slice - fresh watermelon, diced
1 Handful - chopped olives
1 - chopped chilli (mild)
1 Sprinkle - Feta cheese

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and let the flavours do their thing. Serve with a pasta or pizza dish, or in place of your usual salad.

I have to admit that I was seriously sceptical about this dish at first, but I was willing to give it a go and I was pleasantly surprised. Sweet, salty, hot, refreshing. The watermelon adding a similar note as a cucumber would I guess, only sweeter.

Great for a summer party

Next time I'm going to request a few anchovies in the mix and see if works.

Let us know how you feel about watermelon in your salad. Have you already tried it?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Are Le Creuset Pans Indestructible?

I've always been a fan of the French based cooking pot company. My father has a Le Creuset pot dating back to before I was born. My parents received it as a wedding gift and it is still going strong today after nearly 30 years of continuous use. If that's not a top class testament to the durability of these cast iron companions then I don't know what is. Two years ago my father decided to get me one as a gift for my birthday and I can honestly say it has been one of the best gifts I have ever received.

The Cookware With The Aesthetic Enamel

I love the bold Volcanic orange design, the smooth aesthetic feel of the enamel and the sheer weight in your hands, and that's before it's even filled with a stew or casserole. But how did it all begin for Le Creuset and how are they such a household name today?

Is This Indestructible Ironware?

First produced way back in 1925, at its forgery in France, the cast iron porcelain enamelled pot was born. Le Creuset still produce the cast iron pots from Fresnoy Le Grand and many of the manufacturing techniques remain the same today as they did back in the 20th Century to create their handmade cookware. It is this attention to detail and respect for its history that sets the company out from the rest.
Head over to for further reading on the remarkable history of the French cooking pot company.

One of the worst parts Ruqayya and I find about travelling is missing our Le Creuset 20cm Round Casserole. Back in London that thing got a licking most nights, literally I must add. Why settle for anything else in your kitchen?

You can pick one up from here:
Le Creuset Signature Enameled

or here if you are in Australia:

Happy cooking. Do you have an ancient Le Creuset that just keeps on giving? We'd love to hear about it

Saturday, 26 May 2012

How to save money the Italian Way

Today is a tip to create an awesome meal and save cash money all at the same time. It comes in two parts, so read on for step one.

The first part of this idea starts in the supermarket or butcher. You need to have your bargain hat on and keep your eyes peeled. More often than not you will see beef mince or less popular cuts of meat on offer on the store shelves. Don't walk past an opportunity. Grasp this meaty lump of luck with both hands and take your frugal booty to the check out.

Meat madness?

Now you might think, Joe, it's just me - one person, what am I going to do with 2kg of beef? Or perhaps you're thinking that even on special, that's a lot of dough to be coughing up for the weeks shopping bill. Well yes, if there's only one of you in the house, or you don't normally budget for such a vast amount of meat then it might feel strange, but trust me, follow the next step and you won't regret it.

Amaze at the Bolognese

Step two of this delicious money saving plan is as follows.

When you get home find the biggest pan you can lay your hands on. Grab onions, garlic and some dry or fresh herbs. You're going to be making the mother of all Bolognese sauces. Follow the recipe below for a winning meat sauce. You can scale up the amounts to cater for as much meat as you have.


  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed, or chopped 
  • 1 large handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • A few of sprigs of rosemary and thyme
  • 2 tins/packs of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 good squeeze of tomato paste 
  • 1 glass of red wine 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Heat some olive oil in a large, heavy based pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the minced beef and continue cooking until lightly browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and herbs.
  4. Pour in the red wine and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover and cook over a low heat for approx 1 hour. Check occasionally to make sure it doesn't dry out, add a little water or vino if necessary.

Dishing up

Once you have made your amazing meat sauce, it's time to get planning again. Find as many containers as you can that you can put portions of your Bolognese sauce in to. An old Chinese take-away carton is ideal, ice cream or yoghurt tubs work well too.

Divide the sauce between the containers and put them in the deep freeze. You now have an easy to prepare dinner for whenever you need them. The frozen batches of Bolognese can be brought out and microwaved or heated on top of a stove within minutes. And the best part is you're not relying on ready meals from the supermarket aisles, it's your own proper home cooked food.

Hollow spaghetti


Keep an eye out for other offers on the shelves too. Pasta of all different shapes and sizes is usually a good bet for having a special deal on as long as you don't mind which brand you choose, as are tinned tomatoes or pasata or sieved tomatoes- so keep your options open when shopping.

Another great idea is to use Bolognese sauce to bake a huge lasagne and freeze that in to portions instead. You'll be surprised how proud you feel pulling your own creations out of the deep freeze rather than the shop bought equivalents.

Do you have any tips for saving money without compromising on flavour. Mange-Two would love to hear about them.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Griller In The Midst

Just went for lunch at Grill'd burger restaurant at Wintergarden in Brisbane's CBD.

The Good

Grill'd is a chain of restaurants, their mission: to make burgers good. And they did a pretty good job.

Here was my choice:


Grilled grass fed lean beef, Dijon mustard, dill pickle, tasty cheese, salad & relish.

The burger was tasty and juicy, with good quality ingredients. The bun was a wholemeal blend which was toasted slightly and delicious. The pickle option was a great call, but they also had other great sounding combinations, like The Big Queenslander - with egg and beetroot, and the Hot Mama. Not a huge portion, but with fries as well, I came away satisfied.

Definitely worth another visit if I feel the burger urge.