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.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Homesick For Hugh

Hungry Hugh I just finished watching River Cottage Autumn Episode 3 on They have a great 'watch again' service on-line where they show all the popular shows for that week. If you are in Australia and unfamiliar with Hugh Fearnley and co, click the link. If you live elsewhere check out one of the fabulous River Cottage books like The River Cottage Year, or DVDs like The River Cottage Collection. The series is full of great seasonal recipe ideas and how to get involved with growing or foraging your own ingredients.

Being in Australia they have quite a few British shows on the tv, which is great to catch up on, but it does make me terribly homesick.

This week Hugh was on the hunt to prepare a big dinner with a twist. Catering for 14 guests, all of the courses were created from mainly foraged ingredients including squirrel ragu, oysters in camphor leaves, and a crab-apple jelly dessert.

I love watching him roam around the countryside and coast of Great Britain but I do wish I were there roaming with him too.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Splash Out On Steak In Brisbane

Stone Restaurant and bar, Brisbane, Australia

So it's a Saturday night in Brisbane and Ruqayya and I both have the evening off together for the first time in a long time. But it's raining..
Not just spitting, drizzle or any of those nice rains we're used to from the UK, I mean serious Australian rain. And it's trying to dampen our spirits in the most literal way possible.
The rain aside we had a great day together and wanted to overcome the rain and follow through with our original plans for the evening and go out for a meal together in a nice restaurant.
You will hear us write about the pros of vegetarianism and the importance of frugality, but once in a while, when it's cold and wet and when you're trying to lift the morale of the whole team - only a steak dinner will suffice.

Raising The Steaks

Not just a crappy chain restaurant where they incinerate the cow and douse it in cheap, sweet sickly sauces. A nice place with properly raised beast and a careful attention to detail when it comes to preparing the dishes. This is exactly what we found in Stone Restaurant. Located under the Mantra hotel on Brisbane's South Bank, the first impressions were that of a hotel lobby, fairly clinical and clean, not as cosy as we had hoped for. As we were led to our table however we soon forgot about the rest of the hotel surroundings and we had our own corner spot with flickering faux-candle light and an attentive and friendly waitress. Her lack of experience not bothering us one bit and the menu simple and easy to navigate.

Stone is at the higher end of what we usually pay for eating out, but we felt that the weather outside and the food inside warranted spending that little bit extra to make the day extra special.

Rib Eye For Detail

The menu at Stone is split into tapas style starters or entrées, a few main dishes and then the steaks. The steaks included two sides and a sauce in the price, which we found it to be good value compared to other restaurants of a similar ilk in the city. The menu describes how the beef was fed and how long it has been aged before preparation for your plate.
To start we shared the bread and a tapas plate with a glass of sparkling wine each. We then both had a steak accompanied by a bottle of red.

Starters: Olive and rosemary cob with dips $13.00, Salt and Pepper Calamari $8.00
Mains: Eye Fillet (200g) with Paris Mash, Cherry Tomato, Basil and Feta with Red Wine Sauce $36.00,
Rib Eye (250g) with Paris Mash, Grilled Mushrooms and Pepper Sauce $33.00
Wine: Glass of Thomas Mitchell Pinot Noir Chardonnay (2) $8.00, Bottle of Thomas Mitchell Cabernet Merlot $29.00

Total: $135.00, or $67.50 a head.

Best Steak Ever?

I felt like this was one of the best steak dinners of my life, a pretty big proposal not one made lightly. We both felt thoroughly satisfied with our magnificent meals. And it was well worth spending a bit more than usual to come away happy and fulfilled and not caring whether it was pouring down or not.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Blue Gold - World Water Wars

Off topic today, this isn't a post about food but something I feel equally strong and passionate about. This post is about the most important resource on the planet and how you can help save and protect it for future generations - Water.

I just watched a film called Blue Gold and if you haven't already seen it, please try and view it as soon as possible. If you can't get hold of a copy click the link to watch on YouTube, it's about 90 minutes. Or get the DVD: Blue Gold: World Water Wars.

Basically this is a very moving film about the situation that our generation finds itself in with regard to water on the planet.

It documents how the worlds water resources are being bought up by huge corporations just to sell it back in the form of bottled water and how this snatching of resources could lead to conflict and war in the future.

I would just like to raise awareness and ask you to think about your water consumption as you go about your day today.

Please find more information about the film and how we can stop the trend of privatising our natural resources here. There is also a book available Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water.

We can easily save 25% of our water consumption with a few easy steps.

  • Use low flow shower heads and taps
  • Turn the tap off while brushing teeth and shaving
  • If your local climate can't keep your lawn green - don't have a lawn
These are the final points to come out of the film and here's one of my own:

Refill water bottles from the tap. Carry your own water bottle with you wherever you go. Don't give these huge companies any more of your money.

Do you feel passionately about saving our natural resources? What is your best tip for saving water? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Yakety Yak - Fat Yak Pale Ale

Upon opening my wallet, I blew the cobwebs and moths away, prised open the leathery artefact and placed my money on the counter. As of this weekend I invested my hard earned cash and become the proud owner of a 6-pack of Matilda Bay Brewing Company's finest crafted ale - Fat Yak. The Australian based brewing company are responsible for making the beer that I have seen in almost every pub while living here in Brisbane.

Refreshing Brew

The beer is in the style of a pale ale and definitely has a promising aroma of hops when you flip that first cap.
The taste is crisp and refreshing, with citrus and floral notes on the nose and palette. The original hop aroma delivers on taste too. The brewing notes describing the addition of hops twice during the boiling process and a dry hopping process while fermenting. The bottle describes 'a truckload' and this load comes through in the beer.

Hanging In The Balance

The result is a beautifully balanced drop. It is sweet, for a beer, but not so sweet that it ruins the ale. A brilliant balance between sweet and bitter really bringing out the full flavour of the New Zealand sourced hops.

A little steep at nearly $18 from the local bottle shop, but totally worthy of the price tag.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5. Purchase whenever the chance presents itself. A new favourite.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Is This The Best Restaurant In China Town?

Super Bowl Chinese Restaurant, Brisbane, Australia

Located in Fotitude Valley's China Town, Wickham Street, Super Bowl Chinese is an unassuming little place.
Pretty drab from the outside, apart from the bright neons lighting up the evening street, and pretty drab on the inside.

Jimmy Noodle

We were greeted on the door by Jimmy Noodle, the restaurant owner, and it felt more like we'd stepped in to his living room than his Chinese restaurant. It was all smiles and friendly faces, the atmosphere relaxed. There is no music and the walls are hung with posters of Chinese food and writing. There is a family-run feel to the place, with trophies and medals displayed above the cash register like a living room mantle-piece.

The venue has an alcohol licence and they also allow BYO for a $3.50 corkage charge per head.
The menu is slicker than some of the cheaper restaurants in the Valley with a black leather cover that is trying to indicate a finer food affair. Although on opening you are presented with a rather brash array of pictures and the thought that someone has gone a little bit mad with the desktop publishing.
The selection is varied enough to cater to everyone's taste. We were dining as part of a group of 14 people and it was decided that we would all partake in the Option B banquet ($35 per person - minimum of 4 people to order). There were two banquet options on the menu, with Option B slightly more expensive than A.
Super bowls
I have eaten at a few other establishments in Fortitude Valley on the lower end of the price scale and it is easy to spot when they use packet sauces in luminous pink shade and bought-in frozen items like spring rolls and won-tons. But there was none of that nonsense at Super Bowl.

Starters: we all had a portion of San Choy Bow - lettuce leaf with pork mince 
Chicken and prawn soup - thick and tasty, not overly salty

Mains: Mixed sea food, Pork ribs with pineapple, Roast chicken with crispy skin and seaweed, Seasonal vegetables, Fried rice.

Orange segments were brought out to finish.

Total: $77.00 for two people.

One For The List

The food was fresh, not overly salty, the sauces were not thick and gloopy, but tasty and rich. I have never been to China but the dishes seemed authentic and properly prepared.

This might not be the best restaurant in the Valley, but we found great value, friendly and attentive staff, decent portion sizes and delicious fresh food.

Definitely one to add to the favourites list.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

6 Healthy Fast Food Options

Ok, I'm not advocating the eating of fast food or do I think that it's a good money saving option, but sometimes the situation arises that one of these food franchises or outlets is the only thing available. Sports venues, transit stations, shopping malls, for example, in my experience seem to offer seriously poor choices for diet for some reason. Maybe there's no demand for proper healthy cooked food, or maybe it comes down to revenue for the owner. Either way, if you're stuck in a situation where the only option to avoid hunger is to give one of these places your hard earned cash, then try and follow some of my ideas below;

  1. Sandwich (Subway or similar) - go for tuna or veggie options, hold the cheese and go easy on the sauces, try and get as much salad or veg as you can in there.
  2. Kebab - if it's got to be a kebab go for a grilled chicken shish on pita with salad and chilli sauce, leave the cheese and mayonnaise for someone else.
  3. Falafel - I know these are fried, but I love them. Go for pita, salad, chilli sauce and tahini, don't add any extra fats with mayonnaise.
  4. Pizza - Make it a veggie on thin crust, no meat, no extra cheese, you'll be surprised how tasty it can be.
  5. Hummus - This is a simple but effective one. You can easily source hummus, salad and pita bread from a supermarket these days to make a quick and healthy snack.
  6. Jacket Potato - A classic for a winters day, with beans or coleslaw, but don't double up on fillings, no extra mayonnaise, no extra cheese, no butter. It will still taste great.

What To Avoid

Avoid anything fried or deep fried, cheese or cream sauces, extra cheeses, mayonaise, white bread, fatty meats such as doner kebabs, salamis, pepperonis etc. All these extras have hidden fat and calories in them.
Avoid  sweet sauces like 'sweet chilli' and chinese style sauces, they are just empty calories in the form of refined sugar.

Lose The Spuds

I've mentioned that potatoes can be a great fast food option when you choose something like a jacket or baked potato. However, once you get in to the world of fries and chips it's a different situation.
Most fast food chips or french fries will be deep fried in oil, and made from processed or mashed potatoes meaning that the amount of oil soaked up is even greater compared to a regular home made chip or roast potato. There is no safe ground with fast food fries. Best to just leave these all alone.

Get Fruity

Natures fast food
If you are faced with a 'meal' or 'deal' or any other bargaining tool that shops like to use, think if you really need it. Do you need to 'Go-large'? Could you choose a bottle of water instead of the soft drink or soda? Is a packet of crisps or chips or an extra cookie really necessary?
You have the right to order the food you want to eat. You don't have to feel obliged to order that combo meal. Don't be ashamed or bow to peer pressure if you want to avoid unhealthy foods. See it as an inner victory for choosing not to eat whatever everyone else is having.

Could you avoid temptaiton altogether by carrying a piece of fruit wherever you go? I keep an apple or a banana and a bottle of tap water in my bag with me. If I feel a hunger pang coming on I reach for a swig of water and some fruit. It's usually enough to tide me over until I can get something at home. Try it out for yourself, I garantee you'll feel healthier and better about yourself.

The Top 5 Ways To Save Money Shopping

How often do you do your grocery shopping? Every day? Every week? Every month?

Whatever your supermarket habits are, it pays to do a little preparation before you head off to the shops to stock up. Here are our top 5 suggestions to help you save at every step.
Bulk buying rice

1.       Bulk buying

Buying in bulk always makes sense, whether you are catering for yourself or cooking for your own little army. Look out for large items that can be stored for a long time. We recently picked up a 5kg bag of rice from a delicatessen. We always use rice and if kept correctly will keep for months.
Look out for the ‘price per kg’ or ‘price per litre’ labels on supermarket shelves, they’re sometimes in quite small print but they’re there. This will help you choose the best value items that you need.

2.       Special offers

This is probably an obvious one but do you take your time in the aisles and pause before you automatically reach out for your usual brand? Take a look around the shelves; are there similar items on offer or new items on promotion? If they are a close match to what you normally buy then why not try them? You can go back to the old favourites whenever you like.

3.       Own brands

I find that supermarkets are getting better and better at providing low cost items under their own branding. Many everyday products will have an ‘own brand’ version, they're cheaper and sometimes have less sugar or salt in them because of this. You might notice a difference in taste straight away, but after a while you get used to the new versions. It could be healthier and save you money as well.

4.       Seasonal produce

When buying fresh produce make sure that you always buy in season. Look out for the ‘price per kg’ or equivalent when looking at the labels. Often goods are shipped or flown thousands of miles to get to our shops. This is not only bad for the environment, it costs money, which is then passed on to the consumer, and the goods are grown and harvested in such a way that you end up with a poor, often flavourless product. Buy in season to always pay the least and still get all the taste.

5.       Plan with a shopping list

Going shopping without a list is always a mistake for me. It helps to jog my memory for the things I might forget, but it also helps me stick to the plan and not go off picking up impulse buys from the snack and sweet aisles.
Make a list before you head to the shops to help stay on budget and stick to your diet plan.

The killer

So that was our top 5 practical tips for when you’re in the shops, but here is an extra piece of advice that will get you through the grocery run without going off plan. It has served us well over the years and we always follow it.

Never go shopping on an empty stomach

There it is. Simple and straightforward but it can be the death of any well meaning shopping trip. Your stomach is rumbling, you can’t think about anything else, the last thing you want to do is go back home and cook. When you get home you have either already fallen and are trying to hide the chocolate wrappers or you empty your shopping bags in the kitchen only to find microwave meals and packets of chips. Don't worry, we've been there too.

Stop to take a breath before you enter that brightly lit grocery store, pause and think, am I hungry now? Maybe eat a piece of fruit, take a drink of water or eat a proper meal in advance. Make it a habit to carry a piece of fruit and a bottle of water with you wherever you go.
Follow only this last gold nugget and your diet and budget plans will always stay on track.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Happy Birthday Buddha

If you have read the About page of Mange-Two you will know that this year Ruqayya and I are travelling through Australia and currently reside in Brisbane.
Yesterday was a special event in the Brisbane calendar - Buddha's birthday. This was a Buddhist festival held on South Bank with thousands of people celebrating over three days. The climax of the festival was a spectacular firework display over the Brisbane river.
Neither of us are Buddhists but that didn't stop us delving in to the entertainment and food on offer.
Buddha shrine at the festival

How to mock meat

The main attraction for me were the stalls selling Asian food, all of which was vegetarian, despite having signs offering "chicken", "duck" and other meaty sounding morsels. We later learned from our friend Cameron that these were in fact mock meats. Mock meats can be made from all manner of ingredients such as wheat gluten, rice, beans or tofu and are designed to be a meat substitute in some vegan and vegetarian cuisines.

The diverse food stalls and markets had us sampling fried noodles, rice dishes, spring rolls, an array of tempuras, fried tofu, curry puffs, sweet and sour dishes, hot and spicy plates and a few other naughty but nice meat free sensations.

During the day the vendors were selling at around $5 for plain fried noodles and around $9 for a rice and curry dish. All good food and reasonably priced.
However, once the firework display was over and the crowds had started to dwindle all of the market stalls were trying frantically to get rid of all of their produce at ridiculous rates.
There were shouts of "Everything one dollar!", "Buy one, get one free" and bits and pieces of fried delights or mock meats on sticks being thrown in to the bargain to tempt the peckish bystanders.

I am a definitely a meat eater, but have seriously reduced my consumption in recent years. More of my friends and colleagues are veggie and vegan and the health facts of a meat free diet are all around us. This event really opened my eyes to a world I hadn't really explored before.

Can you justify why you eat meat? Is it because you love the taste? Is that taste worth more than another animals life?

I always say that I'd rather have a great veggie meal than an average or unethically farmed meat meal but I'm starting to really question my reasons for tucking in to animals and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

How Breakfast Can Save Your Life

Breakfast; the most important meal of the day, or so the old saying goes. But it's true, eating a healthy breakfast could help you keep off those extra pounds that you thought you were shedding by not tucking in before rush hour.

Research from Harvard Medical School has shown that people who ate breakfast every day were a third less likely to become obese compared to those who skipped early meal times.
In addition, they were half as likely to have blood-sugar problems, which increase the risk of developing diabetes or having high cholesterol, which is a risk factor associated with heart disease.

Whole grain cereals have been linked to reducing blood sugar problems and could reduce the risk of diabetes.

So stop side-stepping the cereal bowl and chow down before you leave the house.

Here are some top breakfast cereal ideas to get you up before the milkman.

1. Muesli with Plain Yogurt . A Swiss classic, many types of muesli can be found in the cereal aisle. There's one to suit all tastes. We go for the supermarket own-brand 'Date and Apricot' which has enough dried fruit to give it quite a sweet flavour. Top the muesli with a few spoons of natural yoghurt. Fresh berries and honey gives an ordinary bowlful a luxury touch.

Money saving tip: Make your muesli go further by mixing in a bag of plain rolled oats, they are the main ingredient of most mueslis, even the expensive top brands.

2. Go one step further and make your own muesli. Mix your favourite combination of rolled oats, dried fruit and nuts. Buying these items in bulk means you can save money and make make a tasty, healthy breakfast.

Try this Jamie Oliver recipe for a home-made toasted muesli.

Everyone has the same amount of time in the day, so make the effort and fill up before you leave the house. It might just save your life.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Best Pancake Recipe Ever

Here's an easy pancake recipe that my Dad passed on to me a couple of years ago. I was living away from home for the first time and wanted to celebrate Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day/ Mardis Gras - You know what I mean).

It's a fail safe method as long as you can count up to one. All you need is a cup, or a coffee mug, a glass or just about any other vessel you can use to measure with.

Ingredients: 1 cup of Milk, 1 cup of Flour, 1 egg

That's it. I know. Easy right?

Method: Mix the flour and milk in a large enough bowl (I usually sieve the flour to avoid too many lumps), add the egg and whisk like crazy.

You can use a hand whisk or a fancy machine, either way it's fun and most times messy.
Leave the whisked mixture to stand for a while if you can handle waiting. Leaving the mixture to stand gives a silky smooth texture - you won't be sorry.

Once you've had enough waiting and hunger has got the better of you, get started with the main event.

Check the mixture consistency, if it looks or feels too thick add a little more milk. If it's too thin, add a bit more flour. A thick mixture will give you American style fluffy pancakes, whereas a thinner mixture will produce more of a French style crepe. You can't go wrong with either style so don't worry if you're unsure.

Heat a flat frying pan with a small amount of oil.  When the oil is just about to smoke, use the cup to pour a portion of the mixture into the frying pan (I can usually get around 6 - 8 pancakes from the mix).
Swirl the mixture round the pan to get a rough round shape and use a spatula to flip the pancake once the mixture has nearly all cooked through.

Drizzle your favourite topping and enjoy. We go for a simple Golden Syrup + lemon juice combo and I'm always surprised at how tasty it is, taking me back to memories of when I was 5 years old in the kitchen licking syrup and juice from my soggy fingers. A timeless classic.

Don't be afraid to mess up the first couple if pancakes, it takes a little bit of practice to get you 'pancake-eye' in and they all taste good, even the ugly ones. 

This recipe works best with two or more people and is ideal at any time of the year, or week, or day. So what are you waiting for? Get cracking.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Why Is BYO The Best?

West End Garden, Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant, Brisbane, Australia

One of the perceived downsides to living frugally is that you have to sacrifice fun or never get to treat yourself. But life is for living, so reward your frugal lifestyle by taking your partner out to do something you both enjoy.

For Ruqayya and I this usually means going to a new restaurant and sharing a bottle of wine over a good meal. We both love to cook, but who likes washing dishes?
We found a neat little Vietnamese restaurant near our flat in Brisbane in West End called West End Garden. They have an alcohol license but they also allow a ‘bring your own’ wine policy with $1.50 per person corkage.

With a BYO restaurant it’s a win-win situation

We went to the local wine store before heading to West End Garden. This meant we could share a decent bottle of vino and save on the usual restaurant prices.

We were seated in the tranquil covered patio area and surrounded by bamboo, fairy lights and water features. The food at West End Garden was all expertly presented with intricate garnishes and everything we ordered tasted fantastic. We shared a starter and a soup, and then two main dishes.

Starters – Coconut Prawns (3) $6.90, Spicy Beef Soup $8.90
Main – Mongolian King Prawn $20.90, Vietnamese Grilled Chicken $15.90, Coconut Rice (2) $5.00
Wine – Mount Riley 2011 Sauvignon Blanc $15.90, plus corkage (2) $3.00

Total: $76.50, which is $38.25 a head for a huge feast with wine included.

We both left feeling stuffed after our meal and were impressed with most of the wait staff.

So celebrate. Go out to a local BYO restaurant and take a good bottle of wine. You’ll feel like you’re living like kings for a fraction of a princely sum.