Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Torba Restaurant Review

Reviews are somewhat varied, but my husband and I think we stumbled across an Eastern European gem of a restaurant in Brisbane city. If you're tired of eating the same old cuisines (we personally have got into an Indian rut), you'll be delighted at the menu options at Torba on Southbank. Authentic cuisine from all over eastern Europe star at this little restaurant-we were able to enjoy food from Russia, Moldova and Hungary while remaining seated in the one place, in the comfiest chairs. The food was hearty and full of flavour-rustic, traditional and decidedly scrumptious. The food is a sharp contrast from the opulent  and trendy decor and yet somehow the restaurant lounge pulls it off beautifully. We will definitely be returning! (Monday to Wednesday it's 2 for the price of 1 cocktails can you go wrong there?)

Shades of purple opulence and such comfy armchairs. We found it hard to pull ourselves out of those velvet chairs when we were ready to pay the bill.

 Extensive bar and more private curtained seating booths beyond.

 Divine strawberry mocktail for the fat pregnant lady (that'd be me!)

 Romantic ambiance.

 Cinnamon and Apple Pie cocktail (absinthe, cinnamon, Zubrowka, butterscotch liqueur, vanilla sugar syrup and apple juice)

 Russian Pelmini for starters- boiled dumplings filled with pork and beef and served with garlic and herb butter and fried onions.

 Moldavian Lamb Pilaf with pomegranate molasses, grilled eggplant, feta, good!

 Hungarian Beef Goulash with tender slow braised beef cooked in red wine and served with mash. Hearty and melt in your mouth goodness.

 My husband got shat upon by an overhead gecko-couldn't help laughing raucously! (they are everywhere in Queensland, probably not Eastern Europe though!)

Dessert to share because we were so full of our yummy filling mains. Russian Blini filled with vanilla ricotta cheese.

Torba Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ultimate Potato Soup

Recently I touched on a topic I am sure we have all experienced at some stage in life before-food ruts. You buy the same ingredients repeatedly and use the same recipes. You cycle through and through until you no longer enjoy eating and cooking what you're serving. Or worse still, you have no idea what you're having for dinner, and end up spending a fortune on take away or some last minute ingredients that are quick and easy solutions. So how do you get out of food ruts? Here are a few ideas on how to move away from living the same food day in day out. Any step is a step forward!

1. Buy something you've never tried-a vegetable you've never tasted, that quinoa that everyone has been raving about, or that weird gooey stuff you have been curious about in the foreign food isle at your supermarket. Ensure it gets used within your grocery period. It might just become a new favourite.

2. Menu plan, making sure that you schedule to try one new recipe. Menu planning not only ensures you're only buying what you need for the week/fortnight, but you have everything ready to go without any last minute grocery store dashes (and lets face it, you always end up buying more than you intended!) Menu planning has been the best way in cutting down costs for me personally. Our shopping bills have been heavily reduced. There is great peace of mind in knowing what you're cooking at the beginning of the day.

3. Use pinterest for inspiration-sometimes all it takes is a little tweaking of the same ingredients to make it a whole new meal. Do you always buy chicken breast? There are a million and one ideas on how to change up chicken breast on that damned addictive site.

4. Challenge yourself to use what is in the pantry before stepping out to grocery shop. Had a can of  cream of chicken soup in the pantry for a few months? Got chicken and pasta and broccoli? Type these ingredients into a recipe finder such as Recipe Matcher to generate dozens of new recipes using those ingredients.

5. Buy a food magazine every so often. Woolworths and Coles often has publications they give out for free. Have them in a central area like the coffee table and you will probably have other family members looking at them and making requests. These mags are also great reminders that you are in a food rut and should or can do something about it.

Good luck getting out of the rut and finding new favourites to cycle through! Here's one to kick start you off. It's the best potato soup I have ever tasted. It's the ultimate comfort meal- hot and hearty, thick, cheesey, bacony, potatoey goodness just packed with flavour. You will have people groaning with delight as they spoon this down-it's a real keeper! I have served this at the end of a party once, serving it in mugs as everyone huddled around the fire outside. My guests just couldn't get enough! I have also served it as a dip in a cob loaf, which worked well, as it gets quite thick as it cools. It's one of my most requested recipes. I know you will cherish it too.
Got any other tips? I'd love to hear them! 


500g diced bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, finely grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp plain flour
3 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped (optional)

Fry the diced bacon until golden and crispy. Drain any bacon at that may be in the saucepan. Add the onion, potato and carrot, along with the stock, parsley, salt and pepper. Place a lid on the saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the potato is quite tender (this time will depend on the size of your potato chunks.) Meanwhile, place the flour in a bowl, and adding a little of the milk at a time, whisk until a smooth paste forms. Add the remainder of the milk, and mix until well incorporated. Add this milk mixture to the pot of stock and potato. Let it reach the boil, then stir continuously for a further two minutes, until it thickens. Add the cheese and stir through. Serve sprinkled with chopped green onion if desired.

Serves 6-8

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pink Ricebubble Marshmallow Squares (Like ICMs)

I've just read a whole stack of blog posts from different authors about how hateful their Mother's Day gifts have been in the past. I sit here gobsmacked. I'm serious, mums are knocking their husbands for organising the likes of massage vouchers, lingerie, wine and chocolate and flowers bought from the service station (seriously who cares where they are purchased?) While people piped up that the articles were satire, I couldn't help but cringe. I'm getting slippers for Mother's day and I'm pretty damn pleased about it. Every time I slip my feet into those warm fuzzy pink things I will remember that hubby and my three little darlings all trotted off and picked them out for me, and that my 5 year old was so excited that he couldn't contain himself and told me what my present was as soon as they got home.
My swollen pregnant feet get so cold in the mornings that I just can't wait to slide into those babies. I've even secretly checked them out while putting away hubby's shirts. Shhh!
So shrinking husbands who don't know what to do get your wives, and who happened to read those blog posts, just remember your wife is not your mother, so anything you buy her in my books, is a win. You don't even have to spend money to make sure Mum gets a memorable Mother's Day. Sometimes I think the best gifts are the ones which are hand made and home made by the kids-the paintings, the weird cutout cardboard thingies and the not so perfect baking.
But here's a foolproof and fail-proof recipe for some yummy treats to spoil mum with that will definitely be appreciated. They're a hit with the young and the old and only have three ingredients. They're quickly put together, are no cook, and are a great recipe for the kids to get involved in.
They're chewy and sweet and look so pretty wrapped up in cellophane and given as a gift. How could you go wrong?
I sprinkled mine with tiny edible pearls. You can leave them plain, trust me they taste just as good!


4 cups marshmallows (I used 2x 180g bags)
1 tbsp butter
5 cups of ricebubbles
tiny edible pearls (optional)

Grease and line a 20x20cm dish with a little oil and baking paper. Ensure the sides of the paper come up higher than the sides of the dish for easy removal.
Place the marshmallows and the butter in a large saucepan. Stirring continuously over medium heat, melt the two ingredients until smooth. Pour in the ricebubbles and stir until well combined. Quickly pour the mixture into the lined dish. Wet your hands with cold water and press the mixture down evenly into the dish until the top is flat. Sprinkle with edible pearls if desired. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more before cutting into squares.