Friday, May 28, 2010

Lets Talk Turkey....Simplest Lamb Kofta to die for...or at least swoon...Our Antique Urns...Mirror Magic..Plus! Turkish Deeelight Martinis!

Hi everyone and hope this finds you well after what was most likely a hectic week, if its been anything like ours!  Cath has once again been a very busy wonder she is so slim!  Its all the running around that she does...she is our very own Energiser Bunny!  This week, Cath has been helping out our friends at Reflect Mirrors with their showroom display dilemmas.  As you can see below, she has managed to turn what was a stark and uninteresting space into a beautiful display, using items from the Charcoal Showroom.  Michelle from Reflect was just thrilled with an end result that truly compliments the surrounding mirrors.  

This Friday we are exploring just a smattering of the delights of Turkey.  Our inspiration for this weeks blog has come in the form of New Arrivals to the showroom - our latest range of Antique Turkish Yoghurt Pots.  
The bases of the Yoghurt urns taper to a narrow point, because they were intended to be partly buried.  

Many of the jars used for storing yoghurt, grains and olive oil were also buried to preserve their contents, and over time the yoghurt has seeped through the terracotta and created beautiful rustic patterning.  When you purchase pots such as these from us at Charcoal Interiors, you are introducing a sense of history....a story...we find our customers really connect to certain pieces because of this.  It creates an added dimension of interest, not to mention unique style to a home.

Above: Our latest Antique Yoghurt available instore.

 When you purchase pots such as these from us at Charcoal Interiors, you are introducing a sense of history....a story...we find our customers really connect to certain pieces because of this.  It creates an added dimension of interest, not to mention unique style to a home.  Great as a feature inside, or a striking addition to the garden.

Above: Another of our gorgeous Yoghurt can see how the yoghurt has seeped out over time and stained the exterior creating a wonderfully interesting patina


This week I wanted to share with you what is my all time favourite Lamb recipe...The Lamb Kofta.  I just find that it is so quick and very versatile too.  We like to eat a lot of platter style meals at home due to the 4 teenagers and constant line-up of hangers on.  So, these are great on a platter and will impress.  Serve with some yoghurt (mix in some lemon juice and spice the yoghurt up with a little cumin, pepper and mint)...this can make the dish a bit more interesting and flavoursome.  I also use these balls as my all time fave pizza topping.  If this interests you contact me for the recipe, as I do have a few different ways of serving this it delicious.

Heres the recipe for the Lamb Kofta Balls.....

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh continental parsley leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 35g (1/2 cup) fresh breadcrumbs 
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tbs olive oil


  1. Line a baking tray with plastic wrap. Combine the lamb, onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and tomato paste in a large glass bowl. Add the breadcrumbs and egg, and stir until well combined (I use my hands...get stuck into it!). Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide mixture into 16 portions and shape each portion into a 4cm ball. Place on prepared tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 15 minutes to chill.

  3. Place flour on a plate. Roll kofta in flour and shake off excess. Heat half the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add half the kofta and cook, turning occasionally, for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the remaining oil and kofta, reheating oil between batches.  Serve as suggested above.....

    And finally....Lets Beat the Nagara (Turkish Drum) and get stuck into Cocktail Friday...and this week we have excelled with the Turkish Delight Martini.  Even if you dont end up making just have to check out how they are made.  We popped the Turkish Delight in ours as suggested in the recipe...and it was 'şaşırtıcı'! (Thats Turkish for AMAZING...).  Its a 'You Light Up My Life' wrong...yet just so right....

Turkish Delight Martini

50ml rose petal schnapps
tsp gin
tsp martini bianco
2 tsp rose water
½ tsp orange flower water

Chill a martini glass in the freezer or fill with ice. Pour all the ingredients quickly into an ice filled cocktail shaker and swirl without shaking until the outside of the shaker is frosted - 30 seconds.

Strain into the martini glass. For added jazziness pop a piece of icing sugar coated Turkish delight into the glass, or float a pink rose petal on top....How pretty!...not to mention a complete girlie Cocktail Friday experience.

And, so as we scrape ourselves off the floor after a few of these, we bid you goodbye...Happy Friday to all.  Hoping that you get a chance to put your feed up and have a read of the blog.
Cath is having a few days off and we look forward to seeing her Cocktail Friday photos next week.  I am really looking forward to experimenting with my lime green decorating ideas while she is gone....can you tell I'm the one who does the words and she is the one who does the Interior Design?
Until next week....yours in all things unique...Jen, Cathie and Colette...The Charcoal

Friday, May 21, 2010

Baby its cold outside...Easy peasy potato and leek soup.....Projects we love & Indulgent Chocolate Martinis!

Baby...its cold outside!

Read on for our fail proof winter soup recipe that will have them licking the bowl!  Latest design projects, New Arrivals!  Chocolate Martinis, Fan Pics and more....
Cathie Venardos - The lowdown on her latest design project

Charcoal Designer, and fashionista about town, Cath Venardos (above), shares with us her inspiration for this gorgeous design project created recently.

"This is one of my absolute favourite projects so far", says Cath.  "I call it the 'Urban Romantic', and it really does personify a very sophisticated French Provincial style.  The centrepiece is the amazing custom made oak table that we had specifically crafted for the client.  Using a process called 'Adzing' by hand gives the timber an amazing texture.  We listened carefully to the clients wishes and had some gorgeous loose fitting French Linen covers made for the chairs.  These were finished off with a hand braiding that we feel gives the chairs a distinctive and unique appearance, working in perfectly with the table adding texture and balance.  The imposing Old French Mirror was purchased in the Flea Markets in Marc Sangnier, Paris, on a buying trip a couple of years ago....tough work, but someones gotta do it", laughs Cath.

Brrrrr......Warm up with The Best Soup the world!!

I am sure anyone reading this from anywhere South of Brisbane will tell us all to harden up....BUT..its a bit chilly here in 'ol Brisbane town today.  Anything under the 25 degree mark calls for a woolly scarf and heavy jacket.  Call me soft, but I just feel the cold!
So, we wanted to share one of our all time favourite soup recipes with you. Its 'souper' easy...and 'souper' deeelicious!

Potato & Leek Soup
(serves 4-6)
  • 2 slices of bacon, diced
  • 3-4 leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 5 - 6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch chives, minced (for garnish)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (for garnish)
Place the diced bacon in a large pot and set over medium heat. When the bacon starts to brown (but is not quite crisp), add the leeks, a pinch of sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Cook the leeks for 8-10 minutes, until the leeks become golden.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken stock up to a simmer.
When the leeks are ready, add the diced potatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in about 1/2 cup of stock so it just covers the bottom of the pot. Bring the stock to a simmer, stir, and then add another 1/2 cup of stock. Repeat this process until you have added all of the stock.
Allow the soup to simmer until the potatoes are tender and can easily be crushed with a wooden spoon. When the potatoes are ready, stir in the butter and taste to adjust any seasonings. At this point you can serve the soup as is or puree it using a blender. We drizzled a bit of olive oil over the top and a sprinkle of chives to finish off. And if you feel like a bit of extra comfort, just add a dollop of sour cream on top and swirl it through...

Something for the kids....

We found this incredible website called 'Foldschool'.  Its a fun website where you can download really cool FREE patterns for making unique kids furniture out of cardboard...its heaps of fun, and the furniture is really cutting pun intended...hee hee..

We love....

....this incredible home in LA..the added texture with the rug gives this room such a sumptuous comfortable feel.  We just want to light that fire up, tuck the legs up on the sofa and relax with a...dare we say.....Chocolate Martini!?...its that time again.  Its Cocktail Friday Folks!  And this Friday we are sipping on the most indulgent of all the Martini styles....
The Chocolate Martini!  Trust me, I overindulged on these last weekend.  They are incredible, and you cant stop at the one...

4 fl.ozs baileys
3 fl.ozs vodka
1 fl oz chocolate syrup or topping (get a good quality one for best taste results)
Combine baileys, vodka and syrup in a cocktail mixer full of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into two chilled martini glasses. 

Fan Pics
Thanks to Jacqui and Deb for this great Cocktail Friday shot taken on a recent houseboat holiday on the Gold Coast.  Cheers girls!  Keep the cocktail pics coming everyone.  We are going to progressively get through publishing them on the blog and share the joy!

And finally, from us...The Charcoal you...we wish you a very happy weekend.  If you're in Brisbane, pop into the showroom and say hi.  We would love to see you. Until next time...Cathie, Colette and Jen xx

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting Cold? Tips for Warming Up a Room for Winter...Designer Home Pics..and..Cocktails of course!


Photo by Charcoal Interiors

Our Head Designer Colette Venardos featured in the Home Section of last weekends Courier Mail.  She was asked to give her quick tips on how to cosy up a room for the Winter months.  With over 35 years experience in the trade, she had a stack to say..........

"Snuggling up on the couch under a woolly throw, candles lit, erhaps the fireplace ablaze, the feel of soft carpet underfoot....
Its not only the air temperature that can determine how warm you feel.
Charcoal Interiors' Colette Venardos says adding small t significant touches to a room can change how people perceive that space.  Mixing texture with dark, rich colours and creating an intimate atmosphere with lighting can transform a space to a cozy haven.
Add textures via cushions, winter-weight rugs...add a few candles and richer darker colours to really set the mood."
Adding a rug and a textured ottoman really can change a room into a winter haven....with a few selected candles a' have a very cosy space to relax and unwind.

Photo by Charcoal Interiors...An exclusive Charcoal Project

Below...another example of how the addition of rugs and texture can really enhance the warmth in a room.  This is another exclusive Charoal Interiors Project that we are proud to share with you.

Photo by Charcoal Interiors...another quality Charcoal Project

And...what better way to cosy up, than with the ultimate winter warmer....Vodka...yes!...its cocktail Friday folks and we have something very special for you....

Versatile Vodka makes 'mean' winter cocktails

Bloody Mary...bloody good!
An all time classic, which I’m sure you’ve all experienced in the past, but here’s how to make the perfect Bloody Mary! You’ll need the following ingredients: -
  • One large shot (50ml) of vodka (we recommend a pepper vodka, such as Absolut Pepper)
  • 200ml of tomato juice
  • 2 – 10 dashes of tabasco (depending how spicy you would like it!)
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • One teaspoon of horseradish sauce
  • One dash of port or red wine
  • The juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • A grind of salt and pepper
  • Small stick of celery
  • Slice of lime
Not the most challenging to mix this one! Bang everything into a shaker 1/2 filled with ice, shake and strain the contents into an ice-filled highball. Garnish the cocktail with a small stick of celery and a slice of lime and hey presto, the perfect Bloody Mary!

And so...we wish you all once again a fabulous Friday!  I am off on a houseboat trip. Colette is having a weekend away up the coast...and poor Cath is holding the fort, so feel free to drop her a message, or pop into the showroom to say hi!  All offers of cake and coffee accepted :-)

......until next week its Cheers from the Charcoal Girls...Jen, Colette and

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mothers Day Picnic Ideas....Family...Food....Relaxation..and Champagne!

This Sunday afternoon, we are taking the Mums to New Farm Park in Brisbane for Mothers Day.  I can think of nothing more pleasant and civilized than sitting under one of those great big expansive Moreton Bay Fig trees with a picnic rug, pillow and glass of bubbly and bikkies and cheese.

Its just such a simple way to spend time together, but there really is nothing like a picnic in the park on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.
 Here's some great picnic food ideas...these are quick and stress.

 Savoury Cob Loaf
Mothers Day is the perfect day for a picnic, so if the weather's fine, pack this loaf in your hamper and enjoy your day off.

Prepare at least 6 hours before required.  Can be prepared the night before.

Preparation Time

15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green zucchini , ends trimmed, thickly sliced crossways pan fried and cooled
  • 1 x 450g (23cm-diameter) cob loaf
  • sliced red onion
  • 100g semi-dried tomatoes
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 200g bought chargrilled eggplant
  • 150g brie, thinly sliced
  • 40g baby spinach leaves
  • 200g bought chargrilled capsicum 
  • Ripped herbs
Heres the 'no brainer' part.  Cut the top of the cob loaf.  Scoop out the soft bread it :-)  Its just so moorish....  Then!  Just layer all the ingredients into the hollow.  Pop the top back onto the loaf and wrap in plastic. Transfer to a plate and then top with another plate...this compresses the filling.  Refrigerate for 6 or so hours and then voila! slice and serve.  Very filling and very delish!

 Savoury Muffins

Savoury Picnic Muffins...just bring along a tub of sour cream or yoghurt and chutney!  Slap it on and dig in!


  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 80g butter, melted, cooled
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 100g sliced ham, diced
  • 1/3 cup (50g) semi-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 12 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • butter, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a 12-hole, 1/3 cup-capacity muffin pan.
  2. Sift flour into a large bowl. Make a well in centre. Pour butter, egg and milk into a jug. Stir to combine. Pour into well. Stir until almost combined. Fold through feta, ham, tomatoes and olives.
  3. Spoon mixture into muffin holes. Insert a rosemary sprig in the top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set aside in pan for 1 minute. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Place muffins in an airtight container. Serve with yoghurt...sour cream and fruit chutney.

    Cheese Platter and Fruit Platter

    This one...once again...a 'no-brainer'...except do not skimp on the cheese quality.  I find anything from South Cape is excellent and will not disappoint.  Grab some gorgeous Brie, Blue Vein, Fetta and add smoked salmon slices, proscuitto, thinly sliced pear and strawberries.  Team with a selection of breads and crackers.  The blander the cracker the better so it doesn't detract from the flavours of the platter.

    Mothers Day Gift Ideas
    We pride ourselves in sourcing the most amazing range of Mothers Day Gift Ideas.  When you visit the showroom and shop with us, you are involved in a unique shopping experience as you browse through our massive showroom and the eclectic mix of incredible products.  We hope to see you soon and please visit us this weekend for a great range of Mothers Day gift ideas.


    What would Friday be without indulging in a little bit of bubbles?....its Cocktail Friday Folks!....

    I do believe that Champagne (Sparkling..still cant bring myself to say that word in if its in brackets it doesnt count...) is synonymous with all things indulgent and girly.  So, this Friday we are going to celebrate women, motherhood and all things feminine by clinking a slender glass or two of sweet, smooth and seductive Champagne.  And just remember.  As long as it says 'Methode Champenoise' on the doesnt matter if its from France, or the Coonawarra....its Champagne.  Methode Champenoise merely means...created by the Traditional Champagne Method.

    ....And finally

    To all the Mums...the Grandmas...Greatgrandmas...The Aunts...The Godmothers...we say...Happy Mothers Day to you all.  And on Sunday in our own little way, while we sit on our rugs in the park, we will charge our glasses and clink away in honour of you all.

    And so, from the 3 of us, to all of you, we wish you a very Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.  Give your Mum a big smooch from us and spoil her rotten.

    With love from Cathie, Colette and Jen...The Charcoal Girls xxx

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The looks that we love!

We simply love this bathroom look.  Don't you just feel like slipping into that bath?  The setting creates an air of intrigue and mystery.  The combination of bohemian rustic and classic sophistication works so well.