Monday, October 3, 2011

Love for Love Apples

Even though I ran away to New York for the summer, I came home to a good yield of my home grown Heirloom tomatoes.  I have to admit, I didn't have so much luck with the larger Beefsteak and Moneymaker varieties, but the small cherry and plum tomatoes proved to be more successful, abundant and less prone to their skins splitting.  (If anyone knows what causes this, I would love to know).

I have planted out some Roma tomatoes which will hopefully give me a crop for early Summer so this is something to look forward to!

I just finished reading a lovely book, 'A Homemade Life' by Molly Wizenberg.  Anyone who likes food, or likes to eat should read this memoir.  I won't give the story away, I happened upon it through a recommendation in my list so purchased it blindly without knowing anything about the story and I must say, loved it.

What made me mention the book in this blog entry is because Molly includes a recipe for Tomato and Fennel soup.  I had never cooked a fennel bulb before in my life until a few nights ago when I decided to make this soup, so I approached it with a little trepidation.  My father is not a fan of fennel, in fact he is very vocal about how much he dislikes it!  Needless to say, he was in the back of my mind whilst making it.  The flavour is mild and not at all over powering of aniseed like I was expecting.  (Ha Dad!)  Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it and will certainly make it again.  The soup is good for a cool wintry night.  It is very hearty.  The tomato, onion and fennel are chunky, so be sure to have a hunk of good sourdough, or grilled cheese alongside for dunking (or a hunk to eat it with, I mean, what's better on a cold night?)

I was in a celebratory mood for no particular reason, (maybe a tomato high?  Who knows?) so made Insalata Caprese for a starter - Just because.  Even though I am a little lactose intolerant, what harm could a little fresh mozzarella do?  (Don't ask!)

Tomato Soup with Two Fennels - Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life

In this recipe, Molly uses 2 medium fennel bulbs, 4 cloves of garlic and 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds.  I tweaked it as I was a little scared of these amounts but if you would like to stay true to her recipe, go by those quantities, otherwise go with mine.

1 tbs olive oil
1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes)

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, warm oil.  Add onion and fennel and cook until the onion begins to soften.  Add garlic and cook, being careful that it doesn't burn for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.  Add thyme and fennel seeds and cook for around 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, and crush them with the back of a wooden spoon (or alternatively a potato masher).  Add a cans worth of water and bring the soup to the boil.  Bring down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for about 45 minutes.  If it seems a little thick, add more water.

You will know the soup is cooked when the fennel is nice and tender.  Season to taste. Adding a pinch of sugar will cut the acidity and add a nice sweetness.  Molly says to add a splash of red wine vinegar if the soup tastes a little bland, but I didn't find this necessary.

Remember this dish is more like a vegetarian stew, rather than a soup and makes enough to serve four. 

Insalata Caprese - by Me and a bazillion Italian Nonna's who I wish were mine :)

2 large, vine ripened tomatoes (at room temperature)
1 tub baby bocconcini cheese or 1 large ball of Buffalo Mozzarella
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar (this time I used white balsamic)
A small handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper

Slice tomatoes and cheese into thick rounds and arrange on your serving platter of choice.  Season liberally with salt and pepper (the tomatoes especially) and anoint with a good slug of good olive oil.  Add balsamic vinegar (I pour into a teaspoon and add it this way, so I have more control, otherwise it tends to just flow out of the bottle and everywhere you don't want it).  Scatter with basil leaves.  I like to let this salad sit for about 15 minutes before eating so that all the ingredients are at room temperature and soak up all the delicious oil and vinegar.  Serve with a nice crusty bread (or hunk as discussed previously)...

Do check out 'A Homemade Life'.  I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.  Come over for a cup of tea and a slice of cake and you can borrow it from me if you like :)

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feel the Love...

I adore Dorie Greenspan's French Apple Tea Cake.  I make it often and it never disappoints.  It is my all time favourite, 'hand on my heart' cake recipe and I wonder how I ever got along in life as a home baker before I found Dorie. 

Yesterday I decided to give it a couple of tweaks -  I know it is almost blasphemous to mess with perfection, but I like experimenting and believe that if you have a fair idea of what you are doing, you can always adapt a recipe/substitute like ingredients to a degree.  I mean, isn't imitation the finest form of flattery?

Results are thus - I just want to shout from the rooftops how wonderful my new cake is.  By swapping apples for ripe pears , decreasing the original amount of rum and adding a little fresh grated nutmeg, the cake is elevated from really good to extraordinary - well in my humble opinion anyway!

Pear and Nutmeg Tea Cake (Recipe tweaked and inspired by Dorie Greenspan's French Apple Tea Cake - and borrowed from David

Makes One 8 inch (20cm) cake

3/4 cup (110g) flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 ripe pears (don't use pears that are over ripe as they won't hold their shape in the cake)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
Heavily butter and line an 8 inch (20cm) spring form pan and place it on a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
Peel, core and dice the pears into 1 inch chunks.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until pale and thick (they should double in size) then beat in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Fold in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter.
Fold in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.
Gently fold in the pears until they well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan.  
Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no pears are stuck to it.

This cake is delicious with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream or a lazy dollop of creme fraiche. 

Until next time,

Buon appetit!

Kitty xx

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant is a vegetable which I have fallen for hard the past few years.  However I would treat it with much restraint, using it only for stock standard Eggplant recipes such as Baba Ghanoush.  This was until a friend introduced me to the delicacy that is deep fried, crumbed eggplant.  Done right, you get a wonderful crisp crumb, and a lovely creamy middle which is snacking bliss!

To make this joyous snack into a delicious meal, I combine layers of crumbed shallow fried eggplant with lots of mozzarella cheese, my home made sugo, bake it for half and hour and voila! - Eggplant Parmigiana. 

It is so simple I hardly need to give you a recipe, but I will just so you can add it to your repertoire.

Parmigiana di Melanzane (Recipe by Rosa Matto from the book 'Italian Food Safari')

3 large eggplants
plain flour
4 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups dry breadcrumbs (I add this step to the recipe as I like to crumb my eggplant.  If you are avoiding too much wheat, you can omit the crumb).
Olive Oil

80ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
750ml Passatta (or 2 tins Italian tomatoes)
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch basil leaves

250g bocconcini or fresh mozzarella, sliced
100g Parmesan, grated

Slice the eggplant no thicker than 1cm.  Sprinkle the slices with salt.  Stack in a colander and weigh down with a heavy object.  Leave for 1 hour.  This step is really important as you want to get as much moisture out of the eggplant.  The salt will help draw out the moisture, along with any bitterness that the eggplant may have. 

Pat the slices dry and lightly coat in seasoned flour.  Dip into the beaten egg and then into your breadcrumbs.  (If you are not using breadcrumbs, leave out this step and just dip in the egg).  Shake off the excess and fry in hot oil until golden brown on each side.  Drain well on paper towel.

To make the sugo, heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft.  Add tomato and bring to the boil.  Cook until slightly reduced.  Season to taste and add half of the basil.

Preheat oven to 180c.  Smear the bottom of a baking dish with sugo and add a layer of eggplant.  Dot with slices of bocconcini, a sprinkle of Parmesan and a few basil leaves.  Keep layering until you have used up all the eggplant.  Finish with a layer of sugo, and top with more cheese.

Bake for around 30 minutes, until the top is golden.  When cooked, allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

This dish is delicious with zucchini sauteed in olive oil and thinly sliced garlic, or steamed vegetables or if you are being really good, a nice green salad.  It is a great vegetarian alternative to meat lasagna.  I have served this to die-hard carnivores and no one has ever asked 'Where's the beef?'

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tomato Update (For those who have been following their progress)

My Tomato plants are sprouting and fruiting and right now are taller than me!  I am having trouble reaching the stakes to tie them off as they are getting out of my reach! (Must be all the singing of 'Tintarella di Luna' and 'Mambo Italiano' that they get from me daily).

I have 7 different varieties of Heirloom growing, having added a few extra varieties (Tigerella, Green and Amish) to my collection, which are all doing rather well.  My Siberian tomato plant unfortunately perished.  (It was a very sad day).  I am not sure what went wrong, but it yielded 2 small fruits which I am going to try and seed save for next season.

The plants I have growing look so green and lush and impressive.  I have to hold myself back from the vegetable seedling section of the hardware store as I was becoming rather obsessive over the tomato varieties.  I am out of patio space and pots! 

Along with my tomato grove, I have also added Lebanese eggplant, Strawberries and Rhubarb to complete my little backyard Market Garden.  Where possible I have selected Heirloom varieties, for their taste and the pure feeling of nostalgia they give me.

To see my beautiful plants looking so happy and strong has me really excited about cooking.  I mean, who wouldn't want to cook with their own home grown produce?

Apple and Rhubarb pie anyone?  (Stay tuned...) 

I am also very pleased to report that I am growing my veggies without pesticides (my fish is enjoying the grasshopper diet) and I am fertilizing with an organic fertilizer.  I can't wait to tell you how good they taste!

As you can see I am patiently waiting for the fruits of my love and labour to ripen.

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Monday, April 11, 2011

Luck be a Lemon

Lemon curd.  It is one of lifes pleasures.  Well, it's one of my pleasures.  I can quite happily sit in front of the television with a spoon, and old movie and a jar of lemon curd.  There has been many a jar of lemon curd that I have consumed on its own, without the slightest whiff of bread, tart shell or pavlova.

I love the sweetness and tartness.  I love the smooth, creamy texture.  I love how my eyes sometimes cross with the overwhelming lemon hit that makes my jaw spasm and my saliva glands go crazy. 

Today, I decided to make my own lemon curd.  I don't know why I have never tried making it before because it is really easy.  I think I have been too wary of the custard principle - over cook and you get scrambled eggs; undercook, you get that unpleasant 'eggy' taste.  I had no need to fear.  Lemon curd is simple.  It takes only an hour (if that) to make and this recipe gives you two nice little jars.  (Plus a little to snack on for 'Quality Control').

Lemon Curd (Recipe from

2 large whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
165g white sugar
80g unsalted butter
Zest and juice from 2 lemons (I used small lemons)

In a saucepan, over low heat, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth.  Add butter, zest and lemon juice and whisk continually until the curd thickens.  (This takes about 15 minutes). 

Don't be tempted to play around with the heat, just keep it low and slow and most of all, be patient.  Be sure to keep whisking or else the mixture will catch at the bottom of the pan and will end up lumpy.  When thick, pour into sterilized jars and seal. 
Makes about 500g

A word about jars

When looking for jars, I buy mine from thrift shops.  I try to get ones that have lids with the button that 'pops' when the seal is broken.  That way when you are preserving and re-seal the jars, you know you have a proper seal when the jars cool and the button indents.  (I always get excited when this happens!)

I also like to make my jars pretty, because preserving is such a lost art, it is nice to give them a little love.

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Be Very, Very, Quiet - I'm Hunting Vintage!

I love old kitchenware.  I get deep pleasure wandering around Op Shops and Junk Stores and finding pieces to fill my kitchen with.  Vintage things are so full of history and were really made to last.  I enjoy digging around and finding old collectible pieces, imagining where they came from, and what stories they could tell.

I was in a bit of a stinky mood today, so I decided the tonic would be to take myself Op shopping.  I was feeling lucky and I always like to follow my instincts.

It was a busy Thursday.  There were people everywhere.  I giggled to myself as I watched a lady in the car park attempting to stuff a large wooden toy trunk into the boot of her car without success.  I was thinking out aloud, 'Should have thought that one out a little better lady' and then thought that if it were me, I would have done whatever I could to get that trunk home, come hell or high water.

When Op shopping, my usual modus operandi is to go to the clothing section first, but today I went straight to Bric-a-brac.  I am glad I did because it was there I found this wonderful old Nelly Ware cake canister.

Isn't it delicious!  OK, maybe I am a little over zealous, but for $5 I knew I absolutely had to have it. I mean, being a self-styled baker, how could I not get excited?

As I continued browsing, a lady rushed up to me saying 'WHERE DID YOU FIND THAT?  ARE THERE MORE?  I COLLECT RETRO!  I MUST HAVE IT!' to which I felt like replying 'You can prise it off my cold, dead fingers lady' (I told you I was in a stinky mood!).  Instead I smiled sweetly and said 'Bric-a-brac, I guess today is my lucky day!' and I merrily skipped away.  (Well, in my head that's what I did).

I went to the cashier to pay and then she was all over me like a rash, wanting to know if I knew what it was, how valuable Nelly Ware is these days, how hard it is to come by, and that her Nanna had one just the same that she wished she had kept and was disappointed that she didn't.  At this point I couldn't wait to get out of the store!

I am so happy I bought it, it really made my day and dissolved my crummy mood! I am certain it will be quite at home with all of the other retro and eclectic pieces in my kitchen that all have their own stories to tell.

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Friday, March 18, 2011


My Italiano juices were flowing with gusto last weekend.  I bought 4 Heirloom tomato plants from the nursery and planted them in a big pot out in my herb garden.  I am so excited - I am going to grow my own Heirloom tomatoes!

I have 4 different varieties and It is such a novelty seeing them in the pot all staked out and looking so lovely.  I did a little research online, gave them a dose of liquid seaweed fertiliser, some mulch and I have been talking and singing to them in Italian.  I don't know why I feel that tomatoes need to be talked to in Italian, but I guess my bambini will grow up with culture! (There was nothing about talking to my plants in the research by the way, it is my own little experiment).

My lust affair with tomatoes begins in New York, at the Union Square Farmers Market.  I saw Heirloom tomatoes of all colours, shapes and sizes.  I was smitten with the rainbow of colours and the some of the gnarly shapes some had grown into. (I hate how hybridisation has taken the charm and flavour out of our vegetables).  What sold me was the taste - I can't remember the last time I tasted tomatoes so good - these were how tomatoes should be.  Since then I have yearned to grow my own.  After a little revamp of my potted garden it gave me the inspiration to finally get some tomatoes growing.

The labels tell me I have to wait 10 weeks to maturity.  I am not sure what kind of harvest the plants will yield, but I think I am going to have a lot of fun.  I just hope I don't run out of songs to sing to them.

To get me in the mood, I made some tomato soup for dinner.  The tomatoes were canned, (we can't have everything!) but the soup tasty nonetheless...

Tomato Soup

1 can good quality Italian tomatoes
1 brown onion, fine dice
1 clove garlic
1-2 sticks celery
1 cup vegetable stock
Handful of basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch sugar
Olive Oil

Heat 1tbs olive oil in a saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and fry until translucent.  Add celery and fry a further 2 minutes.  Add can of tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook off the 'canned' taste.  Add a pinch of sugar to cut their acidity.  Add stock and let simmer for 20-30 minutes on medium heat, stirring now and then, making sure not to burn or over-reduce.  Check seasoning.

Blitz with a hand blender or blender and add basil leaves.  Transfer back to saucepan if necessary to reheat.  Serve with Parmesan cheese and croutons.
Until next time...

Kitty xx

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Paris, Anyone?

I have always loved the thrill of a big city.  There is just nothing like the buzz you get from the feeling of being within the Metropolis, especially when you have lived most of your life away from the hustle and bustle.

In my 20's it was always my dream to go to New York City.  I just got back from my sixth visit - I am enamoured by the place.  I feel I need to keep the dream alive and think about other places I would like to visit, such as Paris.

I almost cringe when I say I want to go to Paris because I know for the most part, it is such a cliché.  Only, it just never lost its style.  I mean, Bogie told Ingrid Bergman, "We'll always have Paris" in Casablanca.  For a line to be so famous in a movie, that has to mean something!

I recently read a book 'Lunch in Paris' by Elizabeth Bard (2010 Harper Collins).  It is a sweet memoir of an American girl and a French guy.  They love to cook, to eat, then voila! - they fall in love. What makes this book so delicious is that not only is it a story about their love, it is also a culinary journey of their relationship, with each chapter ending with recipes.  

How wonderful is it, to not only find your soul mate, but for them to love food as much as you do...  And for it to all happen in Paris... *Swoon*

All this buzz about Paris has sparked an interest in Julia Child.  I am not all that interested in the Julie/Julia phenomenon, but I admit, it was the catalyst.  The real Julia was so honest and endearing.  You can't help but feel at ease and at home with her advice on how to cook.  I am still to make her famous 'Boeuf Bourguignon', but winter will be here soon enough...

My French Revolution is also thanks to David Lebovitz and his blog 'Living the sweet life in Paris'.  He is giving me hunger pangs to travel to this suddenly exotic and must-see locale. David's blog has also introduced me to the recipes of Dorie Greenspan, who's French Apple Tea Cake must be tasted to be believed...

I imagine riding around the city by bicycle, to stop for an impromptu picnic of cheese and Champagne near the Eiffel Tower and looking (as well as sounding) ridiculously foreign.  Mostly I am just salivating over all the fabulous things I plan  to eat, after shopping at all the Patisseries, Boulangeries and Charcuteries...

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship... Would you like pommes frites with that?

Until next time... (au revoir)

Kitty xx

Friday, February 11, 2011

On the lighter side...

It should come as no surprise how much I love to eat.  I love eating almost more than I love cooking.  However my whole 'never trust a skinny chef' philosophy is making my jeans fit a little tighter than I prefer.

Now I am not a thin girl.  Having said that, I am not a big girl either, perhaps a little more rounded and Botticelli than some.  I like to think that the extra pounds I carry are the hallmarks of me being a good cook who obviously enjoys what she eats.  I remember an old work colleague had not seen me for a few years who said 'You look like you have been feeding up in the top paddock' and added 'I s'pose the happy cow makes the most milk'... to which I immediately thought he was making reference to the size of my boobs. I am still scratching my head about that comment.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I have been trying to detox and be good to my body.  I haven't been killing myself with lemon juice and salt water, or on a radical crash diet.  I have been drinking more water, eating more fruit, more grains and upping my fibre intake.  So far I have been feeling a great deal lighter and heaven forbid - healthier! 
My pangs and yearnings for certain rich and fried foods have also subsided considerably.  I find I want to eat less and I am reaching for fruit and water rather than chocolate and coffee.  I don't know how long this fad will last.  I haven't gone to the extreme and started exercising as yet as I figured I would see how I looked and felt after a month of healthy eating to see if I could marry this up with some physical activity.  We'll see.

Pumpkin Risoni with Fetta (recipe inspired by Donna Hay Magazine Dec Jan 2011)

500g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
100g fetta, crumbled
1/2 cup risoni
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp chili flakes
50g sun dried tomatoes (or semi dried)
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed (if you don't rinse them they give you gas - trust me!)
1 big handful Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1 handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tbs pine nuts
scant amount of garlic, grated
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Toss pumpkin, fennel seeds, chilli flakes with a lug of olive oil.  Spread out onto a sheet pan (lined with baking paper for easy clean up) and bake in a moderate oven until fork tender (about 20 mins).

Cook risoni as per directions and drain well.  Dry roast your cashews and pine nuts.  In a large bowl, grate about a half a clove of garlic.  Toss in your cooked pumpkin, along with the risoni, tomatoes, chick peas, mint and garlic and toss well to combine.  (The residual heat in the pasta and pumpkin will steam the garlic, taking away the raw taste).  Add your toasted cashews, pine nuts and fetta cheese.  Check seasoning and give a final toss to combine.  Add a little extra olive oil if the mix seems a little dry.

You can't help but feel smug and good about yourself after eating this.  I have served this to carnivores and they have not missed the meat.  However I do believe it would make a nice accompaniment to a big juicy sirloin...

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hello? ... Whoever you are...

Wow!  Blogger stats indicate to me there are quite a few countries viewing Cucina Povera.  I appreciate that Internet is 'working', plus I love the International flavour. Only it seems to be a great deal of voyeurism for the most part!

I just wanted to say thank you for finding me, even bigger thanks for sticking around, clicking around and heartfelt hugs to you if I have given you inspiration to cook!

This project is a wonderful outlet for me.  It gives me joy and brings me inspiration, not only to cook, but to write and to share my thoughts, feelings and recipes.  Though I may never hear from every person who reads this blog, I just wanted to say thank you for making my day and stopping by.

Maybe one day we can all get together for afternoon tea.  Wouldn't it be grand!

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Summer Picnic / Anytime Picnic

I don't know what it is about picnics, but they make me feel so nostalgic.  I love filling up my wicker basket and going off on a local adventure.  I recently bought an old Thermos Flask from my local Op Shop.  It is old and its green and I love the Retro feel I get even just by looking at it.  (I just want to tie on a silk scarf, jump into my Karmann Ghia and drive up the coast!)

I guess when it comes to things like picnics, tea parties or just tea for me I can't help but be a bit of a fuddy duddy.  I love using all my silly little nick knacks and accouterments - serving on pretty plates and drinking out of pretty cups, sitting on a tartan rug with a cosy blanket on hand just in case it might rain...

It is fun.  I think it is the food stylist in me (or 1950's housewife) just begging to get out.  If you are going to eat, entertain, or just enjoy time on your own, why not let it be a chic or luxe event? 

My picnic was down by the beach, Rainbow Beach in fact.  The weather was a little inclement, so I was sure to pack accordingly.  The food was simple - a cold platter of deli meats and cheese, olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and a fresh sourdough Vienna loaf.  I had some left over apple tea cake which went down really well with my thermos of coffee (I was so glad that after 5 hours my coffee was still hot!  $3 well invested!).

It was a beautiful day, despite the weather, and I was able to even get down to the beach to play in the sand for a little while.

Too soon it was time to go home.  But I know there will be other Sundays...

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When Vanilla is better than Chocolate...

I don't think I could live in a world without chocolate.  It is one of the most comforting things I know.  Sometimes a square of chocolate is better than a warm hug on a cold day, a block of chocolate can help one drown their sorrows.  It is the thing I reach for when there are plenty of other 'healthy choices' in the fridge or pantry, and what I crave when there is nothing else to eat.

So why on earth would I say vanilla is sometimes better than chocolate? 

It was a self-declared 'Experimentation Sunday'.  I had a jar of vanilla pods (a sweet bargain I probably will never find again - 12 pods for $4) and a Christmas magazine (a little late, I know) where I found a recipe for vanilla syrup.  Now I pay at least $7 for vanilla extract and $14 for vanilla bean paste, so imagine my joy at being able to make my own vanilla concoction (with possible potential for use in baking) for nix?

My intentions for this syrup were not pure, but indeed had purpose.  Yes, dear friends, this syrup was destined for a very strong, very vanilla and very velvety smooth Martini.

I can hear Martini purists getting all squeamish and wanting to hit me over the head with their Cocktail Bibles and I can probably hear you cussing and swearing at me for having the hide to call a 'Cocktail' a 'Martini'.  Well this is my blog, my drink and I like calling it a Martini.

Call it what you will, it is a rather potent but smooth and deliciously syrupy-sweet drink. 

Firstly, here is the recipe for the Vanilla Syrup.

Vanilla Syrup (Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine, Dec/Jan 2010/11)

Place 1 cup of caster sugar, 1 cup of water and 2 split vanilla pods into a saucepan.  Set heat to medium and stir with a metal spoon until the sugar becomes dissolved.  Let the mixture come to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes.  The syrup will thicken slightly.  Allow to cool completely and pour into a sterilized glass bottle (making sure you add the vanilla pods as well).  Makes 1 cup.

Vanilla Martini/Vanilla Cocktail

2 shots of chilled Vodka
1 shot of your home-made Vanilla Syrup

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour over Vodka and vanilla syrup.  (Wave a bottle of Vermouth over your cocktail shaker to ward off any evil Martini Spirits).  Shake your booty vigorously along with the shaker and strain into a chilled Martini glass.

Enjoy in moderation.  Serves 1

I would love to think I could convert aficionado's of the Mud Slide with my sophisticated alternative.

I still have some syrup left from my weekend of indulgence which I plan to experiment with by using in place of vanilla extract in my baking.  I also plan to 'recycle' the vanilla pods for my next batch of syrup.  I will be sure to post my results.

Until next time,

Cin Cin!

Kitty xx