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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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.

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

oh jamie, I think I love you: cheat’s pizza (or, the-never-buy-pizza-again pizza recipe)

Oh, Jamie, it’s a slow burn, but I think I love you.

Jamie Oliver is an international cooking phenomenon. Quite possibly he is the world’s most well known kitchen-dweller. At first, about 14 years ago, I wasn’t so sure I liked his busy, uber-chatty, hands-in, chunky-chopped style. But it could have been I was deterred by the rolling and jittering hand-held camera work of his first show. As a sufferer of motion sickness, the combination of boating and food does not conjure positive association.

More recently, the release of ‘30 Minute Meals’ has seen the reemergence of my man-friend into the realm of steam and kitchen-whizery. At our house, one night a week has been named ‘Jamie Night’ as he works from cover to cover. But there is one recipe that makes me say (and often out loud), “…genius…” and it is, Cheat’s (10 minute pan) Pizza*.

Jamie Oliver cute and cuterpizza base:
1 ½ ‘mugs’ self raising flour
½ ‘mug’ tepid water
dash olive oil
pinch of salt
another dash of olive oil for the pan

tomato paste
feta, crumbled

tomato salsa:
cherry tomatoes, halved
basil, torn
chive, flowers/ chopped stem
dash olive oil
dash balsamic
salt and pepper
Combine them all in a bowl.

In my stand mixer with dough hook attached combine the flour, water, salt and oil to form a dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a food processor to get it started and then knead it for a minute on a well floured surface, but don’t fuss over it.
Put the grill on to med- high.
Put a dash of olive oil into an ovenproof fry pan.
(Jamie uses half at a time to make 2 pizzas – I use it all at once and make a thick crust)
Use your hands to spread the dough to the edges of the pan so its a fairly even thickness.
Turn the stove top heat on to med-high and let the dough come to golden brown on the bottom. Check it by lifting a corner using a spatula.

Spread a spoon of tomato paste over the top of your pan pizza and crumble feta.
Place under the grill for about 3 minutes.
Top with salsa.
If it’s breakfast/ brunch, add a poached egg on top of each slice.

Obviously, you can top yours with whatever you like, but don’t over load it for grilling.

What’s your favourite Jamie recipe?? Or, what’s your fav pizza topping?? I wanna know!

10 minute pizza

*This describes the actions I take when I make it, if you want to hear it how Jamie writes it, buy the book.

image: http://www.rspca.org.au/news/jamie-saves-our-bacon.html

rye toast with tahini and tea cup alfalfa

Oh so humble, the alfalfa sprout will grow in just about anything if given some water.

A sweet idea that I saw somewhere, sometime, on the web, was growing alfalfa in tea cups. Totally cute and easy to do – even for the brownest of thumbs*. Having clumsily smashed my glass jar sprouter just last week, I couldn’t resist giving it a go…

tea cup alfalfa sprouts

And then made one of my favourite healthy snacks … Rye bread toast with tahini and alfalfa.

alfalfa tahini on rye

* How to: Put a cotton ball in the bottom of a tea cup and sprinkle in some alfalfa seeds. Leave on the bench top in a light spot, but not in direct sun. Give your seeds tiny amounts of water once or twice a day and in 3-4 days – voila! – a cup of alfalfa.

not just mushrooms on toast

I love the earthiness of mushrooms. Especially the brown ones. They taste like a forest. If I close my eyes, I’m somewhere else. While I’m not keen on the hallucinogenic kind, nor the kind that kill you. I’m very fond of the table varieties. Eating these mushrooms feels as soul nurturing as a bush walk on a crisp and clear Autumn morning (but with less exertion).

mushroom and egg on toastMushrooms on toast #1
sourdough bread, toasted
parmesan cheese, finely grated
butter
olive oil
parsley, chopped
thyme, chopped
swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
salt
black pepper
egg, poached (I had 2 eggs because this was actually my dinner)
½ clove garlic, crushed (garlic is optional. Either add to the frying mushrooms or rub it on the toast if you want a sharper flavour)

Fry the mushrooms in butter and oil, add parsley and thyme.
Sprinkle the parmesan on the toast, top with mushrooms.
Place poached egg on top and finish with salt, pepper and a parsley garnish.

mushroom and goat cheese on toast

Mushrooms on toast #2
sourdough bread, toasted
goat cheese curd (a smooth creamy goat cheese)
olive oil
swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
salt
black pepper
parsley, chopped

Fry the mushrooms in a little oil.
Spread the goats cheese on the toast, sprinkle with salt.
Top with mushrooms.
Finish with pepper and parsley.

ratatouille: a healthy dinner in 15 minutes!

Ratatouille is a super fast and super healthy meal. What’s more, I think it’s super tasty. You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a basic ratatouille but you can jazz it up with extras like parmesan or romano cheese, olives and more fresh herbs, like basil and parsley. Don’t make your vegetable chunks too big, this will slow cooking time.

Ratatouillle1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red capsicum, 2 cm dice
1 eggplant, 2 cm dice
1 zucchini, 2 cm dice
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp thyme leaves
½ cup water
½ tsp sugar (sugar will balance the acidity of the tomatoes)
handful of baby spinach

In a medium saucepan, start by frying the onion in the olive oil.
Add the remaining ingredients, minus the baby spinach.
Simmer for 10 minutes or until eggplant is soft and cooked.
Watch the moisture level, add a little more water if you need to, the aim is a thick sauce but not too dry.
As soon as eggplant is reaching ‘cooked’ which is 5 minutes before serving, prepare couscous (1:1 with boiling water, cover and allow to absorb for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork).
Finally, add the baby spinach and stir through. …Bon appetit!

Alternatively, serve with brown rice, pasta, a bread stick, or on its own.

Ratatouillle

spinach and chickpea curry (or, how I decided to just buy beans in a tin)

The most discerning of you will notice that this isn’t a picture of chickpea curry.

If you have read my page about a spoonful… you will know that I stopped buying beans in a tin. It was one of my great ideas for eating healthier, minimising waste, or some such rubbish that I’ve since forgotten.

Last night I thought I’d make chickpea and spinach curry. What is usually a quick and easy meal with a tin of chickpeas became an hour and a half of boiling the dang peas, followed by a frantic throwing together of miscellaneous-veggie pizzas with whatever was in the fridge/garden (while the chickpeas still boiled in the pot).

Today’s chilli beef and bean con carne has been a day-long exercise in boiling and draining and rinsing and boiling again and rinsing again – because the last thing we need is to have a house full of phytohaemagglutinin toxin poisoning and be expelling chilli beef and beans like something out of The Exorcist! And don’t think that you can save time and energy by cooking kidney beans in your slow cooker either, because that makes them 5 times more toxic than a raw bean. Oh the pressure!! (Insert: raise back of hand to forehead and tilt)

There’s no such thing as ‘whipping up a quick meal’ with the dry bean. It’s hot, frustrating, tiresome, water-consuming work. And I haven’t even started cooking yet!

On a scale of 1 to any other number, I’d have to say no, it’s not worth it.

Kale tomato pizza eggplant capsicum olive pizza not with chickpeas

Kale and Tomato Pizza, Eggplant Capsicum and Olive Pizza, not with chickpeas

… And in case you’re wondering what happened to the chickpeas in the end: I just baked some of them with Moroccan spices to make a wine-time snack. They don’t taste that great and they are like little rocks. Essentially, I spent all that time re-hydrating them only to re-de-hydrate them with some spice on! (insert: eyerolling)

ginger soy barramundi on rice with bok choy

The most time consuming part of this dish is cooking the rice. It’s clean, healthy, quick, cheap and tasty. For the vegetarian option, substitute fish for tofu.

barramundi fillets
soy sauce
ketchup manis
ginger, small julienne
garlic, thinly sliced
water
rice to serve
Asian greens to serve

Put the rice on.
In a suitably sized pan to hold your fillets, pour in about 2 tbsp of each soy sauce and ketchup manis, add the garlic and ginger and about 3 tbsp water.
Turn on the heat and mix the sauce.
Add the fish (skin down), essentially you will be poaching the fish so keep adding water in small amounts if the sauce becomes too thick and sticky. If you have a lid, put it on.
Dinner is done in 15 minutes from start time.

Serve over rice with quick steamed Asian vegetables (bok choy, choy sum, pak choy, whatever).

Sub: Barramundi for sea bass, snapper or almost any white fish. Barramundi for thick cut tofu.

ginger soy barramundi with bok choy