Another Journey

I can definitely see my life in stages, where I’ve taken different directions, shuffled things around and changed the journey. Since moving back to Australia just over 3 years ago I started a new stage, a new journey. The one thing that as never changed is my passion for food. I love that there is so much to learn and it will never end.

My blog hasn’t always reflected that and it frustrates me. I will sit on posts for weeks because they are not as good as I want them to be, and in the end they don’t get posted. At this stage I can’t commit the time or money into making my blog what I want it to be, so I’ve decided to have a break until I can make that happen. Thank you to all of you who have visited my little blog over the years and made such lovely comments. I will still keep in touch on Twitter and Instagram. Hopefully I can get my act together and I’ll be back at the keyboard soon. VM x

Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt

instant strawberry frozen yoghurtOK I’ve been away again. Not on holiday, well a short one to Bali was had, but I have a new job that has consumed my time. I’ve had some long days followed by long weekends on the couch recovering, hence the much needed break in Bali.

I don’t know about you but I go through phases of cooking like crazy and experimenting, to feeling lazy and uninspired. Maybe uninspired is not really the right word, it’s more that I’m overwhelmed with ideas I don’t know where to start and then feel too exhausted to be bothered with all the preparation.

This recipe is instant. It’s definitely one for afternoon treats, after dinner sweet cravings, and all those mothers with children demanding ice cream. No it’s not ice cream but they will be satisfied by this one.

The key to it being instantaneous is to have the strawberries frozen. If you don’t you will have to pop the mix into the freezer after mixing. This might be advantageous if you want to put it into ice cream moulds. I also tried to make it without the icing sugar but it needs a little sweetness, and it’s not much. The vanilla powder I used is from Loving Earth, otherwise you could add vanilla extract or paste. If you have vanilla essence in your cupboard throw it our now and get yourself some vanilla extract, you will never look back and you will always be able to taste the difference.strawberry frozen yoghurt

Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt

350g frozen strawberries (I used bought ones already frozen)

350g natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons icing sugar

Squeeze of half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder

Put strawberries and yoghurt into a food processor and blitz until combined. This will require stopping and coaxing the strawberries back into the blades every now and then. Then add the icing sugar, vanilla powder and lemon juice and blitz to combine. And that’s it!! Your done!

Serves 4 small portions

strawberry frozen yoghurt

Rainbow Chard and Quinoa Fritters with Tahini Yoghurt Dressing

Rainbow Chard and Quinoa PancakesI am a procrastinator, without a doubt. I’m not going to share the things I’ve put off, it’s just too embarrassing. Things that really should have been dealt with, and in a few instances could have lead to some serious health issues. I couldn’t bear hearing your sighs.

Fortunately I have some good friends who push me when necessary and a father who likes to nag about the ‘dad things’. You know what I mean, “you need to wash your car more regularly”, “what are you going to do with all the stuff in your grandfather’s garage that have been there for 10 years?” Yeah, yeah, yeah…ahem.

So when you don’t hear from me for a while it’s because I’m procrastinating.

I made this a few weeks ago when my little brother made an impromptu visit to do his washing after his machine broke. It was a week of warm weather, about what it’s like now, and I felt like spring was on it’s way.

The yoghurt dressing is one I use and adapt quite often.  I know I stole it from someone but I can’t remember who exactly. I’ve got a feeling it was Jamie Oliver, so sorry Jamie if it’s you but I know your the sharing type anyway.

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IMG_1433IMG_1427rainbow chard and quinoa pancakes

Rainbow Chard and Quinoa Fritters with Tahini Yoghurt Dressing

small bunch rainbow chard

1 egg

2 heaped tablespoons buckwheat flour

2 heaped tablespoons plain unbleached flour

1 teaspoon aluminium-free baking powder

1/3 cup whole milk

3 spring onions, finely chopped (I just used the mid portion)

1 cup cooked quinoa

a good pinch of ground pepperberries

sea salt

Tahini yoghurt dressing

3 heaped tablespoons natural or greek yoghurt

1 teaspoon tahini

juice 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Chop the rainbow chard, I didn’t use the stalks but you want to just make sure you chop them finely. Wilt the chard how ever you like, in a pan with a little water, or steam them, it will only take a minute or so. Remove from the pan and leave to cool. Meanwhile in a medium bowl whisk the egg with the flour, baking powder and milk until combined. Fold through the spring onions, quinoa, pepperberries, and a good pinch of salt. Then squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the chard and chop again. Add to the mix and combine.

To make the dressing just combine all the ingredients. It’s important to taste your dressing and adjust. You might need more lemon or vinegar just make it to taste and a bit picant.

Heat a pan over medium high heat, when hot add a little rice bran oil and big heaped tablespoons of the mixture. After a few minutes, or if you can see bubbles on top of the pancakes, turn them over and cook for a minute or so on the other side.

Serve with smoked trout and the tahini dressing.

Serves 2.

Substitutions

Lots of greens can be used instead of the rainbow chard, equally as good would be english spinach, swiss chard, or kale. Instead of the quinoa, I think millet or maybe buckwheat would work too. If you don’t have ground pepperberry ( I got mine from Herbie’s Spices) sumac would be an excellent substitution, otherwise just leave out. I have also made the dressing using dijon mustard instead of the tahini and it worked well. Instead of rice bran oil you could use sunflower or vegetable oil, something with a high smoking point.

Cardamom and Orange Creamy Rice

orange and cardamom creamy riceMost people know this dessert as rice pudding but in our house it’s called creamy rice, and it was THE favourite dessert of my childhood. It make an appearance most winters and especially when I need some comfort.

There are some recipes I don’t like to mess with and I always thought this was one of them. I was wrong. Thick creamy sweet rice is perfect on its’ own but it can also carry so many other flavours so well.

orange treeI recently had a trip home to my parents house and arrived back laden with lemons, mandarins, and the last of the navel oranges. The oranges have been sitting in front of me waiting for an opportunity to be added into something but gee they’re good just on their own.

I do love cardamom, it’s not for everyone but it’s definitely for me. Now if you don’t fancy cardamom, I think medjool dates would be nice. I would add 2 chopped dates and halve the sugar. In fact dates and cardamom now that would be good too. Ahh now I’m just getting carried away.

Cardamom and Orange Creamy Rice

500ml full fat milk

2 tablepoons rapadura (or brown sugar)

60g medium or short grain rice (I often use carnaroli as it’s to hand)

4 cardamom pods

zest of half an orange 

Use a heavy based saucepan over med heat, add milk and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved then add rice and lower the heat to a very gentle simmer. Break the cardamom pods, remove the seeds and ground in a mortar and pestle. Add to the milk saucepan. Keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until it’s thickened up. Stir through the orange zest and serve hot or cold.

It’s pretty sweet, so best served for 2, or 1 person in need of a massive, sweet, comfort hit.

Roast Pumpkin, Red Rice, Cavolo Nero and Haloumi

Pumpkin, red rice, calvalo nero, haloumiMy favourite standby dishes come and go quite quickly. I guess this is due to mainly what is in season, in the fridge and how bothered I am to make an effort. Fatigue can set in early once I arrive home from work and find a glass of wine in my hand. This is recipe is easy, trust me.

I try to think of ways to add pickled red onion to everything at the moment. I pretty much love pickled anything, full stop. I can’t stand harsh raw onion in salads especially the continued after taste. Once you lightly pickle them they become softer, sweeter and brighter.  It’s my substitute for a dressing, it’s like my winter vinaigrette.

You could easily make substitutions for the other ingredients. Sweet potato instead of pumpkin, pearl barley would work well instead of the red rice and of course there are many substitutes for the cavolo nero. Mix it up with strong winter greens, like kale, or swiss chard. The haloumi is kind of a must for me although a persian feta could also do the trick I guess.Pumpkin, red rice and cavalo nero

Roast Pumpkin, Red Rice, Cavalo Nero and Haloumi 

3 wedges of pumpkin ( not a dry pumpkin, I like jap or butternut) leave the skin on, you can eat it.

125g of haloumi, sliced

4-5 leaves of cavolo nero or kale, washed stalks removed and roughly chopped

35g Thai red rice

60mls red wine vinegar

3/4  teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 small red onion

Set oven to 175°C. Stand the pumpkin up in a shallow tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the oven for 45 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how thick you cut the wedges.

Combine the red wine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Warm on a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add onion. Leave to cool. You will only need a small amount of this. Keep remainder in the fridge for a week to use on other salads.

Place the rice in a small saucepan just covered with cold water (about an inch above usually suffices). Bring to the boil and reduce to a low simmer, covered for 12-15 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

When the pumpkin is nearly ready, grill the haloumi in a dry pan on med-high heat until golden brown. When you have turned the haloumi over add the cavolo nero to the other half of the pan to wilt.

Remove pumpkin from the oven and place in serving dish. Spoon over red rice, then the cavolo nero, a small amount of the pickled onion and the haloumi.

Serves one hungry person.

Spiced Rhubarb Syrup

rhubarbThis weekend welcomes the start of winter with a rainy few days. I for one, love the excuse to stay in and catch up on some relaxing. Well I call it relaxing but it’s just staying at home, cleaning, baking and repotting some of my plants to make more space on the balcony etc etc.

When I first made this syrup it was to accompany a semi-sweet sparkling wine on a picnic in the park. I was honestly surprised how well it worked, balancing perfectly together with the wine. It was a warm Autumn day and the leaves were in full change, so beautiful. If only I remembered my camera.

The syrup would also work swirled through some natural yoghurt or drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Don’t waste the remaining rhubarb either! Use it over muesli or porridge but remember to remove the spices before storing in the fridge.

rhubarb syrup

Spiced Rhubarb Syrup

250g caster sugar

350ml water

6-8 stalks rhubarb, cut into 5 cm pieces

1/2 a star anise

1 stick cinnamon

thumb size piece of ginger, sliced

squeeze of half a lemon

First make the simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low-medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then add the remaining ingredients and simmer gently until the rhubarb is soft.

Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Stir the rhubarb to remove most of the liquid. If you want a clearer syrup and have the patience let the liquid drip out without forcing or stirring the rhubarb. Leave to cool then store in a jar in the fridge.

Roast Escarole, Beetroot and Walnut Quinoa

escaroleescaroleThere are some vegetables, actually quite alot, that I find beautiful. I often buy them then wonder what the heck I’m suppose to do with them, like escarole.

Last night I steamed some of the escarole in an attempt to retain it’s colour and make an effort to retain some nutrients. I didn’t like it at all, bitter, bitter, bitter. I don’t know what I expected, it is from the bitter leaf family. Maybe it was the kimchi I put with it, but I don’t think so. Now roasted, it’s a whole different story. It becomes sweeter, like most roasted things, bringing out it’s sugars. I really wasn’t sure it would work but it did.escarole

Quinoa was another little challenge. I have struggled to like this old seed but I think I’m finally there. If you’ve got some sitting in your cupboard or have given up trying to cook it, here are some tips.

Firstly you must to rinse it. This removes the saponins from it’s outer layer. This is their bitter defence mechanism, which (according to Harold McGee) will actually penetrate within the seed if you soak them for too long. The second tip is not to overcook it. It seems like there are a matter of moments between perfectly cooked quinoa and overcooked, irretrievable mush, so be attentive.

Roast escarole and beetroot quinoa

Roast Escarole, Beetroot and Walnut Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa

1 large beetroot

1/4 large head of escarole, roughly chopped and washed

1 medium carrot, sliced

a few radish, thickly sliced

1-2 spring onions finely sliced

handful of walnuts

marinated feta

lemon infused olive oil ( I use Colonna Granverde brand)

Set the oven to 180°C. Wrap the beetroot in foil and roast for about an hour or until cooked. While still warm remove skin and cut into bite size pieces.

Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve. I don’t have one so have to use a muslin lined sieve, which requires you to scrap some bits stuck onto the cloth when you transfer it to the saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. Drain and use a fork it to fluff up.

Meanwhile roast the carrot, and radish with a little olive oil for about 35 minutes, turning half way through cooking. Cook the escarole in a baking tray with a little olive oil and salt, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Bake walnuts for 8-10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the carrot, beetroot, radish, spring onion, escarole and quinoa. Add pepper and a swirl of lemon infused olive oil. Divided onto two serving dished and top with roasted chopped walnuts and crumbled feta.

Serves 2.