cauliflower and roast almond soup

cauliflower and almond soup

½ head cauliflower, florets
1 leek, white, chopped
1-2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ tbsp butter and/or 1 tbsp oil
about 700 ml water
1 tsp vegetable stock (use a light one or less than usual, you don’t want it to over power)
1 cup blanched almonds, dry roasted
salt and pepper, to taste

Dry roast almonds in the oven for about 10 mins at about 180c or until just turning golden brown.

In a soup pot, add the chopped leek and saute with butter and/or oil.
Add cauliflower florets, potatoes, stock, almonds and water.
Simmer for about 25 mins or until cauliflower and potatoes are soft, then (carefully, if hot and transferring liquids to a blender) blend to smooth.

Portion into approx. 250 ml capacity containers and freeze ready for work lunches.
At lunchtime, reheat in the office microwave.

Thermomix:
Add chunks of leek to bowl, chop on speed 5/5 sec. Scrape down sides, add butter/oil and saute 3 mins/speed 1/100c. Add cauliflower florets, potatoes, stock, roast almonds and water.
Set to 20 mins/speed 1/100c. Check cauliflower is soft buy pressing a floret against the side of the bowl (cook for 10 more mins if needed to ensure potatoes are soft), then puree on speed 6, gradually moving to speed 9, for about 40 sec or until smooth.

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almond pulp: chocolate fudge

You won’t believe this is healthy sweet treat – it’s so yummy. These chewy chocolate fudge balls are a great use of left over almond pulp.

healthy fudge balls

2 cups almond pulp (leftover from making milk)
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup dates (fresh), pitted
4 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tbsp honey
pinch salt (omit if you are using salted cashews)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Place cashews, almond pulp, dates, cocoa, salt, coconut and coconut oil in your food processor to combine. Thermomix: speed 8/20 sec. The texture will be like a moist, reasonably fine crumble.
Add honey and process to combine until the mixture sticks together turning a dark chocolatey brown. Stop processing before it gets too fine and buttery. Thermomix: speed 2/15 sec scrape down and speed 2/15 sec. 
Line a freezer-proof small dish or baking pan with baking paper.
Press the mixture into dish with a spatula then freeze overnight.
Cut the block into small treat sized slices or roll into fudge balls.
Store in a ziplock freezer bag  and eat without defrosting.

nut fudge

scallop, apple and radish salad

scallop salad

This is a lovely little starter to a candlelight night dinner in with your loveliest friend. It’s light and fresh and oh so tasty. He’ll think you’re a closet kitchen dynamo… as opposed to a kitchen closet dynamo which I’m sure would be a hand vacuum.

12 scallops (roe removed if you prefer)
2 tbsp butter
1 green apple, sliced very thinly (or julienned as pictured)
2 tbsp lemon juice (squeeze the lemon juice on the sliced apple to keep it looking fresh and stop it browning)
2-4 radishes, julienned (if not serving immediately, place in an ice bath to keep crisp)
4 chives, snipped or torn
chive flowers (if you happen to have them in your kitchen garden)

dressing:
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Prepare the julienned apple and radishes.
In a hot pan, fry the scallops in butter. Scallops don’t take long to cook – about 4 minutes each side.
Arrange the apple and radish on small plates, top with scallops, chives and a drizzle of dressing.

wild rice with pecan and orange

wild rice with chicken

A long time favorite in our house is this wild rice side dish. We love that its a little bit spicy, a little bit nutty, a little bit fruity and a little bit crunchy. More recently I’ve learnt that wild rice is also high in fibre, high in protein and a good source of B vitamins. Double whammy!

1 cup wild rice, cooked
1 cup brown rice, cooked
2 tablespoons orange zest
½ orange, juiced
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch salt
½ cup currants/raisins
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh coriander (or parsley), finely chopped

Combine orange rind, orange juice, clove, salt and olive oil in a large mixing bowl to make the dressing.
When the rice is cooked, add remaining ingredients (minus the pecans) to the bowl of dressing and gently combine to dress.
Top with pecans and serve as a side dish.

wild rice salad

Some ideas to serve with this walk on the wild rice side include:
– tofu steak, marinated in soy, lemon zest and garlic, then grilled
– chicken, marinated in lemon juice, thyme, pepper and olive oil, then grilled*
– white fish, grilled or poached with lemon wedges
– duck breast a l’orange and steamed green beans

*Serve with 1 tbsp soy mayo, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp lemon juice, whisked to combine and used to drizzled over the plate as chicken breast tends to be a bit drier.

(apple) cider (sorbet) spider

Remember being a kid and making soda spiders? Remember filling the glass ’til it overflows and then sucking the bubbles off the bench before someone saw you? Well, here’s the adult version and the best bit is, no one can tell you not too suck the bubbles off the bench now you’re a grown up!

Apple cider (I used Dirty Granny for this one but any nice cider will work wonderfully)
Mixed berry sorbet (mine was homemade but quality store bought will work perfectly)

Pour a nice tall glass of apple cider to about 3/4 full then add a scoop of berry sorbet. Slowly top up the glass if you want to avoid the frothy overflow. Or pour it in fast if you want to see the volcano.

This cider spider is sure to impress those who also struggle to grow up.

apple cider sorbet spider

dark chocolate and raspberry brownies

I’ve passed a significant mothering milestone: I baked for the school fund raiser. I’m a little bit proud of myself … don’t tell anyone that these brownies are super easy to make.

brownies choc raspberry

125g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate melts
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease then line a 20cm x 31cm baking tray with baking paper.
In a small saucepan melt butter and chocolate over a low heat (or microwave gently).
Once melted (but not so hot as to cook the eggs), add eggs and vanilla essence and beat to combine.
Add sugar, flour and baking powder, stir well to combine.
Add the raspberries and gently mix through, then pour into the baking tray.
Bake for 30 minutes. Ideally your brownie will have a crackling top with a fudgy middle.
Remove from oven and let cool for 15 mins in the tin before cutting into portions and leaving to cool on the rack.

I don’t bother with dusting with icing sugar, when you are eating something this yummy, you don’t need to be worrying about making a mess.

almond milk: homemade

I don’t eat much dairy these days. I find that if I divert too far from goat milk cheese and natural yoghurt I feel worse off. Yellow cheese rarely makes an appearance on my menu. To add to my fussiness, soy milk is expensive and it tends to curdle in my coffee. So with the help of my fan-dangled new kitchen tool (a thermomix), I decided to make my own milk – almond milk – and it was surprisingly quick and easy.

1 cup almonds (I used blanched but you can use raw almonds).
About 3 cups of water to soak almonds overnight (this will make them easier to blend).
In the morning, drain the almonds and place in the thermomix (or equivalent quality blender) with about 700ml clean water.
Blend almonds (gradually move from speed 6 to speed 9 for 40 sec) to achieve a fine grind of the almonds.
Place a nut milk bag* into a jug or line a sieve with muslin and pour the almond milk through the bag/muslin.
With clean hands, squeeze the milk out of the muslin into the jug.
You’ll be left with a jug of almond milk and a bag of almond pulp/meal.

Your homemade milk will last 3 -4 days in the fridge. Shake before use.
Adjusting the water content down will make a creamier milk.
Uses for almond pulp/meal to follow.
*nut milk bags are available from some health food shops and online.

almond milk coffee

roasted tomato and red lentil soup

roast tomato soup detail

I like to call this Roasted Red Soup. For obvious reasons.

½ cup red lentils, cooked in 3 cups water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
about a litre of water, boiled in the kettle

In a roasting tray:
roma tomatoes, quartered
1 red onion, quartered
1 red capsicum, chopped coarsely
olive oil, just a nice slosh
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper

Essentially all that needs to happen here is that you add cooked lentils to roasted tomatoes and capsicum in a pot with some stock, boil and blend, but a more detailed description can be seen below:

Toss the tomatoes, capsicum, onion with oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a baking tray and bake at 160c for about 30 mins. Your aiming for the tomatoes to be soft, and slight darkening on the edges of the capsicum.

Meanwhile, in the soup pot, cook 1 cup red lentils in 3 cups of water, simmer for about 15 mins. Drain out the water from the lentils in a colander (use fresh water from the kettle for the soup but don’t bother washing the pot between).

By now, your tomatoes are looking nicely roasted by not dried out. Add the roasted tomatoes, capsicum and onion to the soup pot with the drained lentils. Add any juices that are in the roasting tray (you should find it quite wet).

Add the boiled water and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes then blend to smooth.

Note: If you feel motivated to do it, peeling the tomatoes after roasting (and leaving them to cool for a bit) will make a nicer textured soup.

Served here with a dollop of greek yoghurt and parsley leaf (crusty bread not pictured).

roast tomato lentil soup

christmas cookies in a jar gift

My dear friend has announced she’s thrown down the credit card and taken up the glue gun for a handmade christmas project this year. So in keeping with her christmas goal, I gave her a jar of make-your-own-christmas-gift cookies for christmas. Not only is she making her gifts but now she’s making her present too. … perhaps not quite the gesture we were aiming for. However, these christmas cookies in a jar do make a very pretty gift.

cookie jar giftLayer the ingredients into a 1 litre jar in the following order:
110g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicab soda
¼ tsp salt
75g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
65g rolled oats
100g crainins
130g white chocolate bits

The instruction card reads:
You will need:
125g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence

To make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 190c. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Empty the jar into a large bowl. Add butter, egg and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Shape tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the baking trays approximately 5 cms apart. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Turn biscuits onto a wire rack to cool.

colourful caesar salad

Caesar salad is one of those things that usually sounds better when read off the menu than when served. Too often I’ve received a bowl of dressing with a smattering of dried-up parmesan shards, fat-crusted bacon bits recycled from the breakfast plates of yesterday morning, and croutons that leave an oil slick on my conscience. Well I say, no more!

cos lettuce, chopped coarsely
bbq chicken, meat removed and chopped coarsely
avocado, chunks
2-4 eggs, boiled (or poached), soft to hard depending on preference, quartered
100g prosciutto, grilled to just crispy on a tray lined with baking paper, then crumbled/torn
2 slices toast, cubed
parmesan, shaved
chive flowers (or just chopped chives)

dressing:
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp mayonnaise (I used soy mayonnaise)
a dash of water

Add the salad ingredients to a big bowl in the order listed.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small jug to be added as desired.
Serves 4

colourful caesar salad