Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roasted Cauliflower, Walnuts and Queso De Cabra Salad

This recipe rocks. I remember a couple of years ago they tried making cauliflower the 'it' vegetable: cauliflower risotto, cauliflower pasta and to be honest, I wasn't sold. To me, cauliflower has always been a poor mans broccolli.

I changed my mind when we found this recipe in a Gourmet Traveller Magazine. It's from the 2007 Christmas issue from an editorial about the truly talent brothers: Andrew & Matt McConnell (chefs of restaurants Three One Two and Bar Louringha respectively) It's a Christmas staple on their family table and I think it will be on ours too in the many years ahead.

If you're looking for a new Christmas salad, I suggest giving this a go..

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, dry roasted
1 cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g (1/2 cup) roasted walnuts
1/2 spanish onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley leaves, coarsely torn
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 1/2 lemons
Shaved Queso de Cabra cheese. If you can find this particular Spanish goats cheese, any soft goats cheese will do (try for Italian next)
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Preheat oven to 200ºC

Place coriander seeds in a mortar and using the pestle, finely crush them and combine with cauliflower, olive oil and 2/3 of the walnuts.

Place in a heavy based roasting tray and roast for 25 minutes or until slightly brown and just beginning to soften.

Cool slightly then add the onion, garlic, parsley, lemon rind and juice.

Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and toss gently. Scatter cheese over cauliflower before serving, either warm or at room temperature.

We recently had this salad with some BBQ lamb cutlets and a refreshing ale on a Sunday afternoon. Just delightful.

Healthy Muesli

Occasionally I get the urge to detox. To be honest I've only gone through with it a few times and although it's challenging not having alcohol, salt and sugar for weeks on end, you do feel good for it. Recently I'm more inclined to try and eat a few really healthy meals a week and go without grog at least 3-4 times a week. This enough of a challenge for me right now.

I think the easiest healthy thing to eat almost daily is muesli. With this recipe, not only do you get a kick out of making it yourself, it's healthy and filling. The recipe below is from the book - The Liver Cleansing Diet by Dr Sandra Cabot (the one with the daggy ginga Doctor on the cover)

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of raisins or sultanas
1 cup of rye or rice flakes
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
1/4 cup pepita seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine and mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Serve with your fruit of choice and yoghurt. I like mango with vanilla yoghurt or pear and strawberries. Yum

Will post a pic soon..

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vegetable and Lentil Pie

This is the kind of pie you would make for the following reasons -

1. Perhaps you feel you haven't eaten many vegies lately?

2. It's a Sunday, it's raining and you have a bottle of wine giving you 'drink me' vibes

3. You have a sweet chilli sauce addiction and you need a vessel to assist our craving

4. There are two of you in the kitchen and you feel like getting busy

Well, I answered 'all of the above' when I thought of sharing this recipe. This Vegetable and Lentil Pie recipe originates back to my vegetarian Sydney days, most likely when living with Stacey and Luke Dwyer in Camperdown. It's changed over the years - vegetables have been ditched, new vegetables have come on board. Basically, there is no rule to what you can use.

This is my latest version and this is what you will need -

2 red capsicums
2 medium zucchinis
1 bunch of English spinach
1 medium eggplant

3 large field mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic

1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of milk

1 cup of green lentils
1 handful of parsley
1 zest and juice of a lemon

200g ricotta
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 sheets of puff pastry
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
Olive Oil

Ok, first of all, get yourself a big glass of wine. You're going to be chopping, roasting and assembling for at least a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 180ºC

If you're cooking with a friend, divy up the following instructions, otherwise you could do it in this order -

Slice the eggplant and zucchini into 5mm slices (circles for the eggplant, lengthways for the zucchini). Place them on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the red capsicums whole onto the same baking tray. Put in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until they are browning and mostly cooked. You may need to turn them occasionally to avoid them sticking to the tray. Once cooked, set aside.

When the red capsicum skin is getting burnt and they are looking ready for the peel, removed them from the oven and place in a plastic bag for 5 minutes. Then peel the capsicums and slice thickly. Set aside.

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into chunks and place in water in a pot. Bring water to the boil and simmer until they are cooked. Drain them, place in a bowl and mash together with 2 tablespoons of butter, 3 tablespoons of milk and season with salt and pepper. Put a plate over the bowl so the steam will keep them warm. Set aside.

Place 1 cup of lentils in 3 cups of water. Bring to boil and then simmer on low heat for approx. 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft. When cooked, drain the lentils and place lentils in a bowl. Add chopped parley, zest and juice of lemon and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Slice the field mushrooms and saute in some olive oil and garlic. Once cooked, set aside.

Wilt the English spinach in some hot water and roughly chop. Set aside.

Now you should have all your ingredients ready to go for the assembly, the best part.

Grease a rectangular baking dish with butter and line with the puff pastry. Put in the oven for around 5 minutes until it gets a little light brown in colour. It may puff up (it wouldn't be called puff pastry if it didn't!) so just pop the puffs with a fork.

Now for the assembly. Again, there are no rules to the order of layering. Spread 4 tablespoons of tomato paste on the bottom, then the ricotta.

Then add layers of all the vegetables and lentils and finish with the sweet potato mash.

Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top and put in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. Test with giving it a poke and making sure it's heated all the way through.

And there you have it, vegetable and lentil pie! Serve with sweet chilli sauce and more wine of course.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake with Peach and Blueberry Salad

There's something weird about baking with yoghurt but it surprisingly works well. This recipe is from Neil Perry's Good Food Cookbook, a regularly used book in our household. Neil serves it with a peach and blueberry salad and whipped cream - amazingly delicious. We tend to serve it with any kind of fruit we have hanging around the house. For photo purposes, it was strawberries. It's also a winner with the kids. There's a little sugar involved but not too much. Jed is a big fan.

4 large eggs separated
100g caster (superfine) sugar
3 tablespoons of plain flour
400g Greek style yoghurt
grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
icing sugar (for dusting)

Peach and Blueberry Salad
6 ripe peaches cut into wedges
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Grease a 22cm spring form cake tin with butter and line base and side with baking paper.

Beat eggs yolks with sugar to a thick, pale cream.

Beat in the flour, then the yoghurt, lemon zest and lemon juice until it is thoroughly blended.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the yoghurt mixture in two batches.

Pour mixture into the baking tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Check cake after 30 minutes and cover with foil if over browning.

Unclip spring form tin and slide the cake onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, place the peaches, blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice into a bowl.

Split the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Add these to the fruit salad and toss all ingredients until combined.

Cover the bowl and set aside at room temperature to macerate for several hours.

Transfer the cake to a serving plate and dust with icing sugar.

Serve wedges of cake with peach and blueberry salad and a dollop of whipped cream.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Miso Eggplant with Udon Noodles

I've been very naughty not contributing enough to this food blog. No excuse, just plain naughty. So to make up for it, I'm going to upload 5, yes 5! new recipes this week.

Recipe No 1.... Miso Eggplant with Udon Noodles. This is a weekday winner. Quick, healthy and delicious. This recipe makes enough for 2 peeps.


1 medium eggplant
1 knob of ginger, finely chopped
1 red capsicum
1 medium head of broccoli
Handful of green beans
Handful of cubed tofu (Mr Lee's savory tofu is my preferred)

Miso simmering sauce ingredients -
2 tbsp white miso paste
2 tbsp tamari or light soy
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp white sugar
1 cup water

1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp of toasted pumpkin seeds
2 spring onions, finely sliced

What to do -

First get your garnish ready. Place the seeds in a hot pan and dry fry until they are golden. You can add a little soy sauce to make them a little salty if you like. You'll only need around 2 tbsp of this mixture for the garnish but I always like to make more and store in a glass jar in the fridge. You can sprinkle on most asian dishes. Finely chop the spring onion and set aside.

To make the delicious simmering sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a glass and mix together. It should taste quite sweet but a little salty too.

Next, chop up all your vegies and tofu into chunky pieces.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil (olive, vegetable oil, whatever you have) in a pan and fry the chopped ginger and eggplant off, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking. Once eggplant is ever so slightly soft, pour in the simmering sauce. Bring to the boil then reduce to low heat. Pop on the lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Next, get a bamboo steamer (or something similar) and put in the chopped broccoli, beans and capsicum. After 5 minutes of simmering, place the steamer on top off the saucepan.You only want to lightly steam your vegies to keep their vibrant colour and crunch. Add the chopped tofu to the miso eggplant when you have around 3 minutes of simmering time left.

While you are simmering and steaming, place the udon noodles in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes or until cooked. Drain and set aside.

Now for the assembly. Place noodles in a bowl. Spoon on top your miso eggplant/tofu mixture. The eggplant should be very soft and almost falling apart and the sauce quite thick. Then place your steamed vegies on top then garnish with a tablespoon of chopped spring onions, the toasted seed mix and lightly drizzle with sesame oil. Yummo.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

sneaky brownies

i have been subscribing to this blog for a very long time. heidi swanson is an amazing cook, she has a wholefood approach and cooks with mostly natural ingredients. i came across this recipe when searching for gluten and wheat free baking recipes. i have been meaning to try it for a very long time....and now i wish i tried it a very long time it is amazing! i don't think i'll ever make brownies any other way..why bother? protein in a brownie? gzzeeesh????

black bean brownies

i found it hard to get agave nectar so i used an organic raw honey 1:1 -raw is much sweeter than processed honey and contains both fructose and sucrose, plus it still has its enzymes intact. although when heated some are destroyed.
i also used hazelnuts instead of walnuts....i just prefer a hazelnut in a brownie. the baking notes also suggested keeping these brownies in the refrigerator and to do so for several hours before slicing. i couldn't wait several hours so i stuck my in the freezer for about 30mins. i also substituted cocoa for coffee 1:1.
for kids and anytime these brownies are perfect but i did find for a brownie recipe the chocolate amount was quite modest... i would probably up this amount the next time i make these to 150 gms.
i soaked my beans overnight and cooked them in a large saucepan for 1.5hrs till i could smoosh them in between my fingers.

110gms unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well (hs: canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped *hazelnuts
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive) *cocoa
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar *raw honey

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan (hs note: or jellyroll pan) with parchment paper and lightly oil.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over simmering water. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the nuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, [i at least did 5 mins] or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup nuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee [cocoa], and salt. Mix well and set aside. [next time i will omit the nuts and dot them into mixture when its in the baking pan]

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well [approx. 7 mins till doubled in size and light and fluffly]. Set aside.

Add the bean/nut mixture to the coffee [cocoa]/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

photos will be posted soon.