Cause » Recipe

Cheap and Dirty Martini Recipe

As my housemates will attest I drink a lot of gin. It doesn’t really matter, if it is Gin and Tonics, Martinis, Negronis or Gin Gimlets they all have their place on the drink menu. This becomes a problem because going through a bottle of gin a week takes a massive toll on your bank account (not to mention kidneys and liver.) Luckily, this is a problem that has solutions, earning more money, drinking less, buying gin by the container, or, and this is my current solution, drinking cheaper gin. Don’t get me wrong, I would drink Tanq 10, Hendricks (maybe not in a Martini), or Martins every day of the week, but I can’t. Gordon’s London Dry is my regular poison and I buy it by the litre.

I’m not a fan of dry martinis at the best of times but they really don’t appeal to me when made with such a harsh gin. There are 2 solutions that go hand in hand. Wet martinis and bitters. Vermouth is an amazing flavour and I’ve never figured out why people hide all of that herby goodness in their martinis. Bitters add a good dose of whatever their flavour to the libation and are brilliant at tempering the harshness and add a level of interestingness that a regular martini doesn’t posess.

Dirti Martini with BittersRecipe

  • 45ml Gordon’s London Dry Gin
  • 15ml Dry Vermouth (Cinzano is really cheap and not altogether bad)
  • Bitters
  • 1 or 3 olives

The bitters depends on your taste, orange bitters is quite mild in flavour and I recommend a few dashes of orange bitters in the glass before you add the drink as well as a dash of Peychauds. Peychauds is great by itself, the tart works well with the botanicals of the gin. Angostura is a curious flavour and more than 2 dashes is too much.

Finally, the olive flavour of a dirty martini is sufficient to mask the burn and asperity of the low quality ingredients. To some extent olive brine is similar to bitters in that it is a concentrated flavour, but they don’t quite hold the same intensity of bitters. an extremely dirty martini consists of a further 15ml of olive brine.

Mushroom and Asparagus Soup Recipe

Mushroom and Asparagus Soup Vegetable based soups are cheap, easy and are a perfect lunch on a winters day. The trick to any soup is make sure it is seasoned well, so ensure you keep tasting throughout the process favouring the taste of a bit too salty, to a bit too bland.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch of asparagus roughly chopped
  • handful of swiss brown mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • half a handful of shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • half a lemon worth of lemon juice


Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan on, add the onions, garlic, carrot and celery and saute for a few minutes until the onion is soft and the garlic is aromatic. It is important not to burn the garlic so keep the heat down.  Now add the asparagus and mushrooms and cook for a further 4-5 minutes stirring frequently. Add the stock, bay leaf and ample ground sea salt and simmer covered for 30-40 minutes, stirring infrequently. Take the fluid, add the lemon juice and blend in a food processor or with a hand blender into a runny puree. Serve with a garnish asparagus head garnish, a drizzle of olive oil and buttered toast.

Wine Pairing

Asparagus is very difficult to match with wine, however the creaminess of the blended mushroom soup will pair well with a buttery american-oak aged chardonnay with a medium finish.

Spicy Tomato and Basil Soup Recipe

This post is part of an ongoing series about dinner ideas.

A newfound source of super flavoursome Doncaster tomatoes inspired this recipe at a recent dinner party. I peeled the tomatoes myself, but you could just as easily use tinned whole tomatoes. I also don’t have a blender so just cooked this down and mashed the tomatoes with a potato masher and cooked the tomato skins down in a small amount of water to turn them to paste.

Spicy Tomato and Basil Soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped
  • 1kg juicy tomatoes
  • 500mL of vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • large handful of fresh basil, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons of raw sugar
  • sour cream


Peel the tomatoes by submersing in boiling water for 2 minutes and then transfer them to a bowl of cold water. The skin on the larger tomatoes will easily peel off while the smaller ones will need to be helped with the aid of a knife. Save the skin and blend them to paste.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook until soft, add the celery and chilli and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes and blend them roughly with a hand blender. How smooth you want the stock is a matter of preference, I personally prefer it to be pretty chunky for a nice mouth texture. Finally stir the tomato paste, sugar and basil into the soup.

Simmer the fluid for as long as is practical, this should reduce the fluid to a nice thick soup.

Garnish with a fresh basil leaf and a dollop of sour cream.

Wine Pairing

Sangiovese and Barbera always go well with strong tomato sauces and soap. However, in this case with the spicy flavours in this soup it will pair perfectly with a peppery medium-aged Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

This post is part of an ongoing series about dinner ideas.

Spaghetti BologneseSpaghetti Bolognese is the most Australian-Italian recipe there is. It is a staple in nearly every university student’s diet, taught by their mother with instructions something along the lines of, “This is cheap, good for you and you can freeze it for a rainy day!” Cheap it is, with enough food to feed 4 or 5 well clocking in under $15. It is so easy it is almost a case of throwing all the ingredients in a pot, boiling some pasta and serving.

The actual Italian authenticity of this recipe is doubtful. It has almost certainly been bastardised by lazy, homely cooking techniques, but one thing is for certain, it never fails to please. It is easy and almost impossible to go wrong with and there are so many ways to modify and improve this recipe.

Ingredients, to serve 4

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 500g good quality mince
  • 2 tins of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 200ml of stock, beef or vegetable
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of vegemite
  • Fresh or dried basil, parsley, oregano, thyme
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, diced
  • 2 handfuls of swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 500g homemade pasta (spaghetti) or 300g of dry pasta
  • 1 block parmesan cheese


Spaghetti Bolognese Over a medium heat in a deep frying pan, cook onions till they are clear in the olive oil, add the garlic and cook for about a minute. With the onions and garlic, fry the mince until it is brown. Stir into the mince the tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, vegemite and finally the herbs (the more the merrier). Let this simmer for approximately 10 minutes, before adding the carrot, capsicum and mushrooms. Cover and simmer for a minimum 10 or more minutes, the longer the better.

Cook the pasta with a liberal amount of salt, strain and 5 minutes before serving add to the sauce and stir in. This step is important as the pasta absorbs the flavours in the sauce and makes the meal that much better.

Serve in a deep bowl with cracked pepper, rock salt and a generous serving of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Wine Pairing

This meaty, tomato sauce is best eaten with an earthy, spicy, medium bodied red such as a young Cabernet Merlot, Sangiovese or Pinot Noir. Notes of tobacco, leather and dark cherries will complement but not overpower the rich tomato flavours. There is no need to overspend as most recent releases of these varieties will probably be suitable. Read the label and if the winemakers notes agree the wine will be great.

Thai Green Curry Recipe

This post is part of an ongoing series about dinner ideas.

Thai restaurants seem to be everywhere in Australia, ranging from the finest dining experiences to cheap $6 curries for lunch and takeaway dinner. The popularity of this style of food stems from the fact it is full of flavour and caters to a variety of palates and requirements. Gluten free, vegetarian, seafood, spicey or mild are all very easy to achieve without any compromise to the quality of the flavours.

In a similar vain, it is easy to cook an authentic Thai curry yourself, at home, with minimal fuss. Forget about the pre-packaged ready-made stir through sauces, all a great tasting green curry requires is nothing more than a heap of really fresh veges, a bit of meat, a tin of coconut milk, curry paste and a few spices.
Thai Green Curry


  • A few tablespoons of green curry paste
  • 200 ml tin of coconut milk
  • 2-3 Kaffir lime leaves
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red capsicum, diced
  • 1 small green capsicum, diced
  • handful of green beans
  • 400g of the diced meat of your choice (preferably pork, chicken or prawns)
  • 10 grams of palm sugar
  • 200 ml or vegetable or stock of the meat of your choice
  • Chilli to taste


Start by frying the curry paste in vegetable oil until you can smell it, add the coconut milk, Kaffir lime and palm sugar. Once the palm sugar has desolved, add the meat and cook over a low heat until meat is mostly cooked, add the stock and all vegetables and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Serve on long grain rice.

The trick to making this is making sure not to overcook the vegetables, the low heat means you don’t need to worry so much about overcooking the meat as it should remain juicy regardless.

Wine Pairing

While I very rarely recommend people to drink the most citrusy of sauvignon blancs, the tangy lime flavours will be tempered quite nicely by the spice of the curry and blend quite nicely with the slight citrus flavour brought through by the Kaffir lime. Gewurztraminer almost always stands up well to the often overpowering flavours of curry and spice and this will be no exception.

Dinner Ideas

Great dinner ideas are hard to find, often recipes are too complex, time consuming or just plain over the top. The problem I have is that I cook the same thing over and over, forget about it in 3 weeks and then start cooking something else over and over. So, hopefully to combat this never-ending story I’m going to compile a list of all these dinner ideas and post the recipes. What does this all have to do with an aching head, you ask? Any of these go perfectly with a bottle of Riesling, Pinot Noir, Beer or a number of other poisons. All you have to do is drink.