Month: December 2015

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad: 1977 v 2015

Last time we spoke I was making a mad mix of ginger beer pickled pears for my Christmas Day Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.  If you follow my Instagram, you would already know how this turned out.  If not, take a look!

Pickled Pear & Blue Cheese SaladI am amazingly proud of this.  It looks so pretty and festive and it tasted just as good as it looks! 

The ginger beer pickled pears were great. They were so tasteless raw, it was like chewing cardboard.  The ginger beer pickle not only  added some flavour but also made them taste more pear-y.

 Pear & Blue Cheese Salad2

For the salad, I used a supermarket bought mixed leaves, toasted walnuts, some crumbled blue cheese and some red currants to add some festivity!

I kept the skin on the pear during the pickling but took it off for serving. 

For the dressing I mixed some of the pickling liquid with some olive oil.  And then promptly forgot to take it to mum’s.   She had some bought dressing which we used on the day but I actually think the one I made was better.

Pickled Pear & Blue Cheese Salad3My Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad was inspired by a recipe in the A-Z of Cooking for a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.  I didn’t copy it totally first because of the issue with the pear.  But also I felt that the combination of blue cheese and mayo would make my salad too heavy.  We have been in a heat wave and so for me the lighter dressing kept the salad more lean and the increased acidity worked well in the heat. 

Here is that recipe, you’ll find my recipe for the Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad at the bottom of the page.

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad collageI may be am totally biased but I’m calling my 2015 version of a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad the winner in this bout of retro v modern.  I absolutely loved it.  But you know what?  Try them both and let me know what you think!

Meantime, I have half a jar of saffrony-gingery-chilli-ish pickling liquid left over.  Fruit and sugar and vinegar  =  a shrub does it not?  I’m researching as we speak.  This could be the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s a dirty job but someone is going to have to taste test cocktails made with the pear and ginger shrub to find out which booze it goes best with.  I think it can go three ways – keep it lean with some vodka, make it sparkle with some prosecco or play to the spicy notes with some spiced rum.That’s where I’m heading anyway. 

Pickled Pear Juice and Dressing.Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions will be gratefully received. 

I’ll try to get it right before NYE.  Speaking of which, what are your plans? The fussiest eater in the world is working so it’s me on my lonesome.  Which is perfectly fine by me.  I am working during the day so will use the evening to prepare a Bridget Jones curry buffet for the following day when my friend Ali is coming over for what has become a New Year’s Day tradition. 

Hopefully,the ratio of cooking vs shrub testing stays on the right side and I don’t end up  doing the full Bridget Jones couch routine!

Have a fabulous week! 

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Here is my recipe:

Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Pickled Pear and Blue Cheese Salad


  • 1 pear, cored and thinly sliced, peel on
  • 1 birdseye chilli
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ginger beer
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 cups mixed leaves
  • 50g blue cheese crumbled
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for salad dressing
  • red currants to garnish (optional)


  • Toast the walnuts until golden. Set aside.
  • Combine the gingerbeer and the vinegar in the a small saucepan.
  • Add the chilli and bring to the boil.
  • Add the pears and the saffron.
  • Lower the heat and poach the pears in the liquid for around 5 minutes. The pears need to be cooked through but not at all mushy. If they are not cooked in the 5 minutes, turn the heat off but keep the pears in the hot cooking liquid until they achieve the right level of doneness.
  • Once done, drain the pears but keep the ginger-vinegar liquid. Place the pears in the fridge to cool down while you make the rest of the salad.
  • Spread the mixed salad greens over a plate.
  • Sprinkle over the walnuts and the crumbled blue cheese.
  • Remove the peel from the pears and spread the slices over the greens.
  • Top with the red currants, if using.
  • Make a dressing by mixing 1/2 tbsp of the ginger-vinegar liquid with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season to taste and pour over the salad.
  • Enjoy!


Christmas Cocktail – The Partridge

Hello world, here’s a song that we’re singin’
Come on, get happy
A whole lotta lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy”

 – The Partridge Family

Hello World,
What I’m bringing today is  a Christmas Cocktail called The Partridge.
To make you happy.

The PartridgeUnlike his blue friend, currently residing on the Christmas tree, my little Partridge looks like a bit of a bruiser!  Which is quite appropriate seeing as it’s namesake also has some bite in its…well, not bark but cheep? Tweet?  What noise does a partridge make???  What I”m trying to say, in the most convoluted way possible is that with white vermouth, triple sec and whiskey making up the layers, The Partridge is all killer, no filler.

Blue Bird Christmas Ornament
The three layers in The Partridge were slightly easier to see with the naked eye but the triple sec on the white vermouth was not highly noticeable.  Even so, I think the gold band of whiskey across the top is very pretty. And I am like a child when it comes to layered cocktails.  It’s my form of marvel!
The flavours in the Partridge worked nicely together.  It was a bit smoky from the whiskey, herby and sweet from the vermouth and citrussy from the triple sec. 
The Partridge2I actually found it a bit too strong and had to drop a couple of ice cubes in the glass to dilute it down a bit before I could really enjoy it. 
Having said that though, I think the weather may have had something to do with it. I made, and drank, The Partridge in the middle of one of the hottest spells Melbourne has had.  It was over 40 degrees on the day I made it (that’s 100 to you folks in the States) which was way too hot to be drinking some thing this potent. 
I think this would be perfect sipped by a warm fire with snow falling outside – it could certainly warm the cockles of the coldest heart!  I almost want it to be winter again so I can taste this in what I think would be it’s element!
Now, just in case you are wondering if I have a pear tree for my partridge the answer is yes/no /maybe.
I bought a pear which I was going to use to garnish The Partridge and then promptly forgot all about it.  Enter the A-Z of Cooking which has a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.
Happy Days!!!!
Pickling Pears
I always take a salad and the desserts to my mum’s for Christmas.  The Christmas Pudding was bought and taken round there  weeks ago.  Earlier today I made a white chocolate and raspberry Tim Tam Cheesecake (stay tuned for that) and my plan was to also make the Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.  However, the pear I had was totally tasteless.  So I am currently pickling it.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Then again, I could be delirious.  It’s 8:15pm and my phone is telling me it’s 33°C outside.  Which could have also lead to….
I really wanted to have ginger in the pickling mix but had none in the house.  I have already been to the supermarket twice today, I refuse to go back for round three of Christmas Eve parking and queues in 30+ heat so instead of sugar and ginger and water with the vinegar, I am using ginger beer.
Pickling Pears2
Eeekkkk…..This could either be a total fiasco.If I post some pictures of our lunch and you see a big bowl of what looks like plain lettuce with some lonely specks of blue cheese you’ll know!
And instead of a Christmas Carol to leave you on, here is another Partridge inspired treat for your ears!

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!  I hope you’ve all been not too naughty so Santa leaves you exactly what you want!  Personally, I am leaving a Treasury of Great Recipes shaped space under my tree…fingers crossed!
Christmas Cocktail – The Partridge

Christmas Cocktail – The Partridge


  • 1 Oz White Vermouth
  • 1 Oz Triple Sec
  • 2.5 Oz Whiskey


  • Put all the cocktail ingredients in the right order : White Vermouth, Triple Sec, Whiskey. Pour the Triple Sec and the Whiskey slowly over the back of a spoon to preserve the layers.
  • Served in an old-fashioned glass.


Recipe from

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Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade

Back in the day when I was a philosophy student, one of our tutors used to give us moral problems to solve. You know the sort of thing. Would you push one person into the path of an oncoming train to save a hundred people? Well today I am going to talk to you about a food bloggers dilemma – The Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade conundrum.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade10

What if you had an item of food that tasted really good. Awesomely good. And it took no time to make and is a perfect addition to a Christmas, or any, cheese platter. Only thing is, it is really, really ugly.

Seriously ugly.

Ok, I’m just going to come out and say it.

The Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade looks like a turd.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade11

What do you do? Post it anyway? Then cringe in a corner and wait for the sounds of international guffaws to reach your ears?

Or simply not post ? And deprive the world…well a small segment thereof of a definite snicker and a delightful addition to their cheeseboard in all it’s pooh looking glory?

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade5

Well you know what? Damn the torpedoes! Maybe 2016 can become the year of keeping the internet real and we can all be free to post picture of ugly food free of ridicule.

Starting with the Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade6This may be the ugliest thing you have seen but it tastes…welll:

By itself – good

With Cheese – amazing

With cheese and a glass of Pedro Ximenez sherry or a Sparkling Shiraz – mind blowingly awesome!!!!!

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade9

This recipe for the Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade came to me via my friend Pam who gave me one of these ugly but awesome rolls for Christmas last year. I ate mine in one go.  And I don’t even like figs! 

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade7I gave one of these to my boss the other day… I wrapped it in the paper and cellophane with the red ribbon as in the photo below.  Because as one of my friend’s commented.  “if you leave one on his desk unwrapped, it just looks like you’re being passive aggressive”.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade1He later told me that he and his family enjoyed it very much so it was taken in the spirit of good cheer and Christmas spirit in which it was given. And I warned him beforehand that it was of dubious looks so he was fully prepared. An added advantage is that my bosses wife who is coeliac could also enjoy this because it is totally gluten-free.

Mine were also vegan because I used maple syrup not honey as the sweetener.

nel and Pistachio Roulade3

People of the world, close your eyes, think of England, do whatever you have to do but please, please, please make this.  You will  not be disappointed.

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade

Fig, Fennel and Pistachio Roulade

Adapted from my friend Pam who got the recipe here:


  • 500g (2½ cups) dried figs, stems removed
  • 100g (1 cup) pistachios, lightly toasted, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • rice flour, to dust


  • Using a large knife, chop figs until they form a chunky paste. Or if you are lazy like me put them through a food processor until they break down into the same.
  • Place figs in a large bowl with the pistachios, spices, maple syrup and brandy. Knead mixture for 4 minutes or until it starts to come together, adding extra brandy if mixture is too dry.
  • Lightly dust a work surface with rice flour. Shape dough into a 20 cm-long log, then roll in rice flour, to coat.
  • Wrap log in baking paper and twist ends to seal. Place in a large container with a plate on top, weighed down with a tin. Set aside in a cool, dry place for 3 days to dry out before slicing to serve. Fig roulade will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.


Adapted from my friend Pam who got the recipe here:

And whilst we’re speaking of the holidays, here is one of my favorite Christmas stories courtesy of David Sedaris. 

I read this on the train on the way to work one day and I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself.  This is quite honestly the funniest thing I have ever read.

And for the non-readers, here is a you tube.

Let it be known that this is the year I gave you a Christmas present that looks like a pooh. And 6-8 black men.

I hope you love them both as much as I love you for reading and commenting and being a part of my little space of the internet.

Merry Christmas!Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2

History Happy Hour – 1959 – On The Beach

+Hello and welcome to a very special history happy hour. 

Because today, December 17, not only do we have a super fruity and delicious cocktail to celebrate today’s event but also two yummy recipes courtesy of one of my (and hopefully your) favourite bloggers, Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers.  Jenny is also making the same trio of recipes so when you have finished here, please head over there to have a look. 

But what, and how are we celebrating?

On The Beach CollageOn The Beach – The Film

December 17, 1959 saw the première of the film On The Beach.  And just look at this for a cast list – Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins.   There’s galaxies that wish they were that star studded!!!!  Oh and just for fun, Frank Sinatra came along too.  Not to be in the film,  Just to hang out with Ava.  On the beach. 


And that beach was in my home town of Melbourne!  Or in a place called Frankston on the outskirts thereof.  In fact, for many a year, there was a scurrilous rumour that Ms Gardner had made the snarky comment that Melbourne was “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.”  Not true my friends,  not true.  Said quote was totally invented by a junior reporter from a Sydney newspaper, obviously miffed that we got Ava, Gregory, Fred, Tony (and Frank) and all they got was a bridge and an Opera House. 

On The Beach, based on a novel by Nevil Shute (which I have not read but now really want to) is a post-apocalyptic romance in which Australia is the only country to survive a nuclear war.  However it is only a matter of months  before radiation clouds doom the survivors to the same fate as the rest of the world.  Unless…Dah dah da dah….

This is a film worth seeking out. A stellar cast, some superlative acting, and an engrossing story line, which although somewhat dated has much to speak to us about our current situation.  And, if you can watch the scene with Tony Perkins and Donna Andrews without welling up?  You’re already a little dead inside.

On The Beach – The Drink

What more appropriate way to celebrate the release of On The Beach than with the classic cocktail Sex on The Beach!  And it’s so good.   Peach schnapps where have you been all my life?

Sex On The Beach 3

This is fruit, fruit and more fruit – peach from the schnapps, cranberry, orange juice and pineapple juice all playing a role.  With a hit of vodka to give it some backbone. 

Sex On The Beach 2

This is the best summer you have ever had, in a glass.  And unlike its namesake you don’t have to worry about getting sand in your privates if you have one. And you can have two, maybe three in one night with lots of different people without anyone looking askance at you!

On The Beach – The Food

Jenny (this woman is a marvel!!!)  sent me a host of recipes by the stars of On The Beach but there was one that stood out for me above all others. 

Gregory  Peck’s recipe for Happy Pappy Eggs.  Oh my…’s not often that words fail me.  But….first up how you could you not love something called Happy Pappy eggs and second…the recipe came from Gregory Peck.  AKA Atticus Finch (pre Go Set a Watchman). And then I also chose a Gregory Peck recipe for ratatouille. 

Happy Pappy Eggs

The Happy Pappy Eggs were scrambled eggs with some slow cooked onions.  Simple and delicious!!! But oh man, that rataouille was amazing!!!  I have no idea why I don’t make it more often.  It went really well with the eggs. And together they would make a super brunch dish after a long night of Sex on The Beach (either way).

I also ate the rataouille for lunch for a few days with some cheese in a toasted turkish roll and OMG…it was a revelation!  So good!

Ratatouille Cheese Roll

On The Beach – The Recipe

There were some rather frightening copyright restrictions on the Gregory Peck recipes so we  decided not to print them.  However, I’m sure if you asked Jenny very nicely she would send you a copy.  For personal use only. Don’t let us find you in a dingy alley handing out illegal copies of the recipe of Happy Pappy Eggs!

There are also a myriad recipes and variations for the Sex On The Beach Cocktail.  This is a fairly classic take on it.

History Happy Hour – 1959 – On The Beach

History Happy Hour – 1959 – On The Beach

Recipe from Wiki-How:


  • 1.5 oz (45 ml.) peach schnapps
  • 1.5 oz (45 ml.) vodka
  • 2 oz. (60 ml.) cranberry juice
  • 2 oz. (60 ml.) orange juice
  • 2 oz. (60 ml.) pineapple juice
  • Orange slice for garnish
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish
  • Ice cubes


  • Pour peach schnapps, vodka, cranberry juice, orange juice, and pineapple juice into a shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake until the outside of the shaker gets frosty - about 20 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into a glass filled with more ice cubes.
  • Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

This was so much fun, it was great collaborating with Jenny and getting to watch a fabulous movie to boot!  Thank you Jenny for the awesome recipes, I can’t wait to see what you have dome with them!

Have a great week you lovely people, happy drinking (and eating)!

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History Happy Hour 1863 – The Scream

Happy History Hour People of The World! 

Or, more appropriately, Hei! Velkommen.

The Scream

Because today, December 12, we are heading over to Norway to celebrate the 1863 birth of the artist Edvard Munch.  Munch is most famous for his painting The Scream,  painted in 1893.

The Scream

I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

 – Edvard Munch

The Scream  has achieved pop culture icon status appearing in The Simpsons, Doctor Who, inspiring the mask in The Scream films as well as appearing on countless t-shirts, mouse pads coffee mugs, anything you can name from the sublime in this divine dress by Deconstructess:

To the ridiculous! 

if you are suffering from existential angst, The Scream Cocktail, may just be the cure.  Because, as we all know:

You put the lime in the coconut and mix them both together,

You put the lime in the coconut and then you’ll feel better”

 – Harry Nilsson

Deeee-licious!  I feel better already!

The Scream2

I had a query recently about whether or not I would allow someone to guest post on here.  The answer, is a big, yes, yes, yes and the History Happy Hour may be the perfect place to start!

Why not celebrate a historic event in your neck of the woods by writing a post? I can help to find you a cocktail, or you can provide your own, just let me know if you are interested.

History Happy Hour 1863 – The Scream

History Happy Hour 1863 – The Scream


  • 3 ½ parts Malibu coconut rum
  • ½ part Stolichnaya vodka
  • ½ part triple sec
  • ¼ part lime juice


  • Shake contents and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wedge.


Recipe by Jonas Halpren on

Happy drinking!

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