Monday, March 26, 2012

Pistachio & Chickpea Curry!
Ok, a little curry curve ball! This dish has Indian sensibilities, however was made from a pantry that fell short in the spice department.. so i had to improvise. Delightfully, it seemed to work quite tastily! Try not to be intimidated by the lengthy list of ingredients. Once you have everything out on the bench and have chopped all you need, then it's literally a matter of throwing everything in a fry pan and voila!

Serves 4 - 6


Spice flavorings -
1 heaped tsp chinese five spice
1 heaped tsp tumeric
1 flat tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground jamaican allspice
salt and pepper

Aromatics -
2 eschalots, diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 serrano chili, finely sliced
1/2 small nob ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 stem of lemongrass, beaten and finely diced
1 cilantro root and 1/2 bunch's worth of stems, finely diced
splash of water
1 ripe tomato, roughly diced
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
juice half lime

1/2 pound long grain brown rice (I used Trader Joe's "Brown Rice Medley" which included a delicious mix of long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon radish seeds!
2 C vegetable broth
3 C water (added through out, you may need to use a little less or a little more, depending on your stove and rice variety)

1 C diced carrot
2 zucchini, diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed well
1/2 pound frozen green peas
1 C shelled pistachios
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Into a large hot non-stick fry pan add all the spices and then all the aromatics, stirring roughly to prevent sticking. The smell should be delicious!
Then add your rice, veggie broth and 1 C water.
This is like a low maintenance risotto. It requires far less stirring, just once in a while... and just needs you to cast your eye over things from time to time to make sure nothing's sticking.
After the rice and broth and water are bubbling nicely add your carrot and stir.
If the liquid is disappearing too quickly, add some more water.
About 10 minutes after the carrots go in, throw in your zucchini and well-rinsed chickpeas.
Again, check your liquid and add more if required. You want the rice to be moving fluidly round the pan, no sticking. You may wish to cover the pan at this time, either with a tight fitting lid or a loose piece of aluminum foil to speed up the cooking process.
About 5 minutes before serving add the frozen peas and pistachio nuts.
As soon as the rice tastes cooked, take it off the heat and stir through the cilantro leaves.
I'd say, all in all it takes about 10-15 minutes of prep and 30 minutes to cook. Not too long to wait before tucking in.

Broccoli Soup

Serves ~ 4

1 small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
splash of water
1-2 heads broccoli, including stems, roughly chopped
2 zucchini, diced
6 stems asparagus, sliced into 1cm lengths
1/2 c white wine
2 cans veggie broth

To a hot medium-large sized pot add the onion, garlic and scallions and sauté with salt and pepper, adding a splash of water to prevent sticking.
Add all the green vegetables followed by the 1/2 c white wine and sweat.
Then add the cans of stock and bring to the boil.
After a few minutes of bubbling, turn it down to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft, but still a nice bright green.
At this point you can serve as is, with a good chunk of crusty bread... 
Or you can blend it and serve it with said bread, but also a dollop of the reserved unblended veggies.

The Super Smoothie
1 banana, roughly chopped
2-3 leaves of kale, shredded
2 T almond butter
1/2 glass shaved ice
3 tsp agave
1/2 glass almond milk

Blend and serve!!!
Delish :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pad Thai
Serves 3-4

4 small orange sweet potatoes
Pad Thai noodles (made from brown rice if you can find it)
1 eschallot, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
stems from 1/2 bunch cilantro finely sliced
1 wedge ginger for flavoring (to be removed before serving)
salt and pepper
1 heaped tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp agave
1 T hoisin sauce
1 splash soy
juice from 1 lime
splash of water, more if needed
1 cup green beans, cut into inch lengths
2 large puk choy, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 block medium-firm tofu sliced into 1/4 inch "steaks".
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
leaves from half bunch cilantro
thai basil leaves
black sesame seeds

Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 min - 1 hr, until soft and sweet.
For pad thai noodles, soak in warm water for 15-20 min until they move loosely but are still quite firm.
To a hot wok add eschallot, garlic, sliced cilantro stems, ginger wedge, salt and pepper. Stir roughly so it doesn't stick. Add a jot of water if it's getting too sticky!
Then add tamarind paste, agave, hoisin, soy and lime, with a dash more water.
Add drained pad thai noodles along with the green beans and puk choy and stir. Add more water to keep things smooth and fluid. Add the tofu carefully and arrange the noodles and veggies on top of them so that the tofu warms through.
Adjust flavors as necessary, adding more agave, hoisin or soy, or lime as necessary.
Just before serving, pile on the shredded cabbage and carrot, cilantro and thai basil and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
Serve with the baked sweet potatoes and enjoy!

Steamed eggplant with silken tofu and green onions.

Eggplant is somewhat of a conundrum when you can't cook with oil! After much trial and error, i found that steaming it is the only way to go, to produce that soft silky texture, brought out beautifully in this chinese style dish.

Serves 4 as a side.

1 big fat beautiful eggplant, skin left on, sliced lengthways and cut into 8ths or 10ths, depending how fat the eggplant is (you can use the black skin or purple and white skinned variety, both work just as well).
Optional puk choy, rinsed thoroughly and quartered lengthwise
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
1/2 small nob ginger, finely julienned
3-4 T shao hsing wine
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
2 T soy sauce
dash of mirin
1 block silken tofu, broken into large chunks, or diced into neat nice squares
2 green onions, finely sliced

Quarter fill with water a large pot fitted with an asian bamboo steamer. Alternatively, if you don't have the proper steamer, you can use a stainless steel vegetable steamer. I fill the water to just below the bottom of it, and then on top of it place a dinner plate and place the eggplant on top of that. Cover with the pot lid and voila - works just as well.. poor man's steamer.. just careful not to burn yourself.. things get very steamy and scauldy!

To the steamer/make-do plate & cheap-ass steamer, place the eggplant and optional puk choy and sprinkle with garlic, ginger and a little salt. Place the lid on.
Steam for about 8 minutes, or until eggplant (& puk choy) is soft.
Remove carefully and place on a serving platter. Pile the silken tofu on top immediately, to warm it through.
In a small bowl, whisk together the shao hsing wine, brown sugar, soy and mirin. Adjust to taste if necessary and drizzle over the top of the tofu and eggplant (& puk choy), finishing off by sprinkling with the green onions.

Goes very nicely with steaming hot rice and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds!

Warm carrot, fennel and wild rice side.

This is a warm side, perfect for autumn or winter.
Serves 4 (as a side dish)

1/2 c wild rice
1/2 head garlic
1 bunch of fabulous carrots - the lushiest ones you can find! Organic if you can, peeled and sliced on the diagonal .
1 bulb fennel or 2 if you're a fennel fanatic, quartered lengthwise.
salt and pepper
a light squeeze of honey
juice of 1 -2 lemons
optional splash of white wine
1 -2 C broth
1/2 bunch dill
1/3 bunch italian parsley
salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees F

For rice, rinse a few times and then place in a small pot, covered with about 1 C water (you can add a little more if necessary) and place on high heat, covered with a lid, until it comes to the boil.
At this point, turn heat to low and wait until all the water is dissolved. The rice is ready when it splits into flower like blooms! If it's still a bit too al dente add a little more water. Once cooked, put to the side.

Begin with the half head of garlic- this is sliced through horizontally (at the fattest part of the clove) with the skin left on. Wrap it up tightly in aluminum foil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and place it in the oven for a head start.

In a non stick baking tray add the carrots and fennel. Season with salt and pepper and a quick drizzle of honey and add the juice of a big fat lemon.
You may add a splash of vino at this point.
Add 1 C broth. (While they are baking you may wish to add more broth, depending how quick it's evaporating - usually i will go through 2 cups liquid).
Bake for ~ 40 minutes, until carrots are the desired amount of done.

I usually put the dish altogether in the oven tray.
Remove the garlic from the oven and careful to not burn yourself, unwrap the foil and squeeze the garlic bulbs out from the garlic skin - they should just ooze out. If needs be, chop them/mash them up with a fork and add to the carrots and fennel in the oven tray.
Add the cook wild rice and stir altogether.
Add the finely diced dill and italian parsley and then season to taste with more salt and pepper and lemon juice if needs be.

Jungle Curry

This is hearty and great for entertaining. It is a coconut cream free thai/vietnamese number :)
Serves 4-6


2 C white/brown rice
6 C water
Lemon grass pieces
2 kaffir lime leaves

Aromatic base:
3 eschallots, sliced
1 large clove galirc, minced
1 green chili, finely minced (with seeds and segments if you like it hot, without if not).
1 stick lemongrass, beaten and finely minced
3 kaffir lime leaves (for flavoring, to be removed before serving)
3 thick slices of ginger or galangal root (for flavoring, to be removed before serving)
1-2 large cilantro roots (also for flavoring, to be removed before serving)
stems of 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely diced
Salt and pepper
2-3 T brown sugar
juice of 2 limes
1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (this is my fish sauce "tang" equivalent)
dash of soy
dash of mirin
1-2 C veggie broth

3-4 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
4 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthways into 6 segments
1 good handful of shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 C green beans, cut into 1inch lengths
1 yellow capsicum pepper, sliced into fine pieces, lengthwise
Optional cup green peas
1/2 bunch asparagus, bottoms cut off & stalks sliced on the diagonal
1 can of chinese straw mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots
1 c raw cashews
1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves roughly chopped


For Rice, rinse in a colander til the water runs almost clear and then whack in a medium sized pot, cover with the water and float the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves on the top.
Cover with a lid and bring it to the boil on the highest heat setting.
Once it's bubbling, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cook until all the water has dissolved and you have perfect fluffy rice, infused with the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.
The rice will usually be done before the curry is finished, so just leave the lid on and turn off the heat until you are ready to serve.

Prepare all the vegetables, slice and dice like a "mo fo".

To a large hot pot (i use a cast iron one, but a wok will work just as well) i add the eschallot, garlic, chili, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, cilantro root and finely diced stems and stir roughly.
Add the salt and pepper. Sauté.
Add the brown sugar, lime juice, tamarind paste, soy & mirin & stir to combine. The smell should be sensational at this point!
Add a cupful of broth to start (and you can add more as needed once all the other veggies are in).
To this aromatic bath add the carrots and give them a head start. You can put the lid on to speed this part up.
Once they are half cooked then add the tomato segments and the shitake.
Cook a little more before adding the green beans. Cook a little more.
Then add the capsicum pepper.
Add more broth.
A few minutes later add the peas, asparagus, chinese straw mushrooms, bamboo shoots & cashews. You can add more broth if you think it needs more sauce too.
Finally stir through the cilantro leaves and test for flavoring - you may like to add a touch more of brown sugar or another squeeze or two of lime.

Serve with rice and wedges of lime and a few fresh cilantro leaves.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

THE sandwich
THE bagel

Choose your favorite bread option, be it 7 grain sourdough or poppyseed bagel, slice and toast and prepare your fillings... the quantity is up to you!

1 toasted bagel cut in half/ 2 slices of toast
some slivers of spanish onion
1 roma tomato, thickly sliced
salt and pepper
some fine slices of green capsicum pepper
1/2 carrot, grated
1 radish, thinly sliced,
6 spears of tinned asparagus,
slices of tinned beetroot
6 lengthways slices of lebanese cucumber
a small handful of alfalfa sprouts (you'll be balancing by now, so add carefully!)
a leaf or two of lettuce
1/3 avocado, thinly sliced and smooched onto the top half of toast/bagel, seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice!

You will need BOTH hands for this sandwich, (possibly an extra set), your sleeves rolled up,  a big pile of napkins and a sense of humor if eating with a friend!

The plant eater's big breakfast :)

Serves 2 peeps with extra hearty appetites!


For baked beans:
1 clove crushed garlic
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well.
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
1T chopped italian parsley

For breakfast plate:
1 avocado & squeeze of lemon
3 roma tomatoes, halved length-wise
2 large portabello mushrooms
2 -3 C baby spinach leaves
4 slices of hearty healthy whole grain toast
splash of caramelized balsamic vinegar

For the baked beans, you can cheat and use the canned variety, however they're easy to make.
Into a fry pan throw some garlic and stir it vigorously to prevent sticking. Add the drained and rinsed cannellini beans along with the diced tomatoes and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper and brown sugar and simmer for about 30 minutes. Right before serving, sprinkle through the parsley.

Once the beans are dealt with, you can leave them be and put on the toast.

In a cast iron grill pan, add the tomatoes and mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme leaves and turn after about 4-5 minutes to achieve the nice char marks.
In another small fry pan, add your spinach leaves and a few dashes of water for steam and cover with a lid to wilt down and become bright green. This won't take long at all.

Right before serving, spread 1 slice of toast with avocado, seasoned with a little salt and a squeeze of lemon, add a dollop of beans to the other slice of toast and serve the grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and steamed spinach on the side. For the last touch, add a good drizzle of the caramelized balsamic and serve!
Autumn Vegetable Roast
The easiest recipe of all!

Desiree Potatoes, halved or quartered
Peeled carrots sliced in big chunks (so as to cook in the same time as the potatoes)
Yellow squash
Spanish onion, quartered
Sprigs of rosemary
A good splash of white wine
A cup or two of vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper

Throw everything into a deep oven tray and roast at 400 degrees F for 40 min - 1 hr, til the vegetables are tender. Serve with some fine slices of preserved lemon! Delicious and hearty!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The ATV or ATP or ATM with arugula and edamame.
Ok, brace yourselves.. this proves we are Australian.. and are familiar with such spreads as vegemite, promite and marmite! Be brave and pick your desired alternative (you must at least try it once.. you might just be surprised... and if you're very wimpy, leave the spread off, but pretend you didn't!)
In America i haven't been able to find promite and i can't stand marmite and vegemite, so i am spread-less.. one of the things i look forward to when returning down under!

2 slices of whole wheat toast (ezekiel if possible)
spread very sparingly (they're STRONG) with your choice of crazy spread - vegemite, promite or marmite
topped with slices of avocado and thick slices of fresh tomatoes, sprinkled with salt.
For extra vitality, throw on a handful or arugula, some edamame and a sprinkling of sesame seeds!
The ultimate lunch!!
The Uber Super Soup!

After a rather taxing week, this soup seemed the perfect meal to kick us back into life!

1 leek
4 large carrots, diced
3 large sticks celery, diced
1 small-medium turnip, diced
fresh thyme, rosemary, oregano & parsley (just a little of each, or to your particular taste)
1 c diced mushroom
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can vegetable broth
3-4 c water, more as needed
1 can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans
4 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup diced green beans
1/2 bunch kale, shredded
1 can corn, juice included
salt and pepper,

After the chopping marathon...
Add the leek, carrots and celery to a hot pan and sweat with salt and pepper, adding a little water if necessary to prevent sticking.
Add turnip, herbs and mushrooms and then stir through the can of diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and water.
Bring to the boil and then add the last of the vegetables and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add extra salt and pepper to taste.
This soup can be served straight away, or saved for later, the flavors just get better. Great served with crusty whole wheat rolls or alternatively you can add a cup or two of cooked pasta bows/penne/macaroni for additional comfort!
Enjoy :)