Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Heavenly Plate

Tonight the bf and I dined at a gorgeous little vegetarian cafe in Applecross called Heavenly Plate. The cafe and adjoining gift shop are just so pretty and cute! 

We ordered the mini martabaks and a red sea soup for our entrees. The martabaks were beautifully presented little spring roll parcels with a tasty tofu filling. The soup had authentic Thai flavours and was served piping hot with slivers of toast. For the main course, we chose the Japanese teriyaki burger and the green curry spaghetti. The burger had Japanese rice patties instead of bread and a tasty mock meat pattie with salad. It was a little on the small side for a main course but was accompanied by some of the best wedges we have ever eaten! So crispy mmm. The spaghetti was delicious and filling with lots of yummy vegetables throughout. For dessert I couldn't go past the chocolate brownie, it was truly divine.
I was very satisfied after this meal and would definitely eat here again. I recommend Heavenly Plate as a great place to catch up with the girls for a meal or coffee and cake. The shabby chic decor and dainty portions may be a bit off-putting to some men, but the food is tasty and quite different than the standard cafe fare. Prices are reasonable, it cost just over fifty dollars for this meal plus a coffee. Heavenly Plate is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 2/899 Canning Hwy, Applecross. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mega vegetable lasagne

I'm not going to lie, this was a very labour intensive meal to make! It was a bit of a kitchen experiment, I had no recipe, just a fridge full of vegetables and some beautiful fresh pasta sheets handmade by the bf to use up. Here is a breakdown of what I put in each layer:
First in the dish was a blend of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, mashed with spring onions, shredded basil and spinach, folded through ricotta cheese with a sprinkling of parmesan. Top with pasta sheets.
Then a thin layer of roasted red capsicum and sun dried tomatoes which I processed into a chunky paste with tomato passata and some balsamic vinegar. More pasta on top.
Next came a layer of sauteed portobello and swiss brown mushrooms with garlic and parsley and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I also added some slices of roasted beetroot here.
After another layer of pasta, it was time for the colourful roasted pumpkin and corn combination which also contained roasted shallots and garlic cloves. 
More pasta, followed by another helping of the ricotta blend topped with a thick lashing of the capsicum and tomato sauce made up the top of the lasagne. 
The finishing touch was a sprinkling of grated mozzarella and parmesan, then into the oven for half an hour and finally feast!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thai red lentil and carrot soup

I'm still being inspired by the delicious Thai ingredients I tried on my holiday last month. I wanted to make a healthy soup with a nice Thai flavour and I'm very happy with this recipe.

1 tblsp coconut oil
3/4 cup shallots, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 red chillies, chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, crushed slightly
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp finely grated galangal
roots and stalks from 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 Massel chicken style stock cube
1 tsp tumeric powder
1 tin of reduced fat coconut milk

Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium low heat. Saute the shallots for 1 minute, add the celery and carrots and saute for 3 minutes. Add the chillies, garlic, coriander, tumeric and lentils. Stir together. Add the crumbled stock cube and enough water to just cover everything. Add the galangal and  lemon grass and simmer until the lentils are cooked and all vegetables are tender. Remove the lemon grass and the lime leaves. Puree the soup once slightly cooled and add coconut milk until desired consistency is reached . Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with coriander leaves.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thai cooking class

One of our favourite restaurants in Patong was Kantok, an exotically decorated oasis serving delicious Thai meals. We enjoyed dining there so much that we decided to return on the last day of our trip for a cooking lesson!

While the other chefs looked after the restaurant patrons, our chef Yuth taught us how to create some delicious Thai food.

He had all the ingredients ready to go for us!

We started off by making a spicy green papaya salad and a deep-fried tuna salad. Both were simple to prepare and tasted fresh and delicious! 

The next course was tom yam gai soup and pad thai. 


Then it was time for the curries. We made a red, a green and a pa-nang curry. Did I mention that we were also eating all of this food! 

It's a good thing dessert goes into a separate stomach! We had bananas cooked in coconut milk and fried bananas, both of which were really good :)

After polishing dessert off, we rolled ourselves back to the hotel for a siesta. This was probably my favourite day of the trip. I think I was really starting to miss cooking!

Phi Phi Islands

A highlight of our Thailand trip was exploring the awesome 
Phi Phi Islands.

A speed boat picked us up from the jetty and it was a quick ride out to the islands with our tour guide "Captain Jack Sparrow" and his crew. They looked after us all day, taking us to various locations for snorkelling, swimming, monkey watching and sunbathing.

It was a magical day!

Thailand holiday

I was lucky enough to have a 10 day holiday in Thailand this month! We stayed in Patong which is a tourist mecca. There were lots of shopping bargains and sunny beaches to enjoy but of course I was far more interested in the restaurants and scrumptious Thai cuisine :)

The festival of Songkram fell during our visit. We were wondering why everyone kept trying to sell us super-soakers!

The water is cleansing everything for a fresh start in the Buddhist New Year. Luckily April is Thailand's hottest month so it was quite refreshing, especially the iced water people were throwing from cars! I'm glad I wasn't riding a motorbike though, they were getting a bit wobbly at times with entire buckets being thrown at them! We ventured out onto the streets defenceless and got totally drenched :)

There were lots of food stalls set up along the beach for the day. Most of it looked delicious, these crispy fried insects... not so much.

The hotel threw a big party around the pool with a buffet dinner which we attended. We were entertained by the house band featuring some hilarious translations of western songs as well as some traditional Thai dancing. It was a good night and they decorated the pool area so beautifully!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In the garden

Our back garden has been getting a makeover these past few months and it is starting to look really awesome! The bf has been putting in a lot of effort and time to create a lovely and productive veggie patch. 

 1 of 4 raised garden beds with herbs, veggies and marigolds

Chillies, spinach and capsicums



Sarge got a new tough boy collar. I think he likes it! Turn around Sarge...

He looks mean but is really a big softie :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pesto & panforte

My Dad is a master at growing herbs, he always has plenty to share with the family and even supplies a local restaurant! Lately he has had an abundance of basil, my favourite herb. My sister and I collected a huge bag of basil leaves and took them back to my place to create this delicious pesto.

We made so much that I lost track of the quantities of each ingredient so unfortunately I have no recipe. The ingredients I used are: washed and dried basil leaves, lightly toasted pinenuts, grated pecorino cheese, crushed garlic, olive oil and a little salt. We just kept tasting it and adjusting as we went along until we were happy with the balance of flavours.

Later that day I had a hankering for something sweet and decided to make this raw apricot and almond panforte that I had seen in the New Vegetarian Kitchen recipe book by Nicola Graimes. Instead of putting the mix into a slice tin and cutting it into pieces, I thought it would be fun to make little rounds in my silicone mini muffin tray. After chilling for an hour they came out easily with no greasing required.

I did tweak the recipe a bit so here is my adapted version:

1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup wholegrain raw oats
2 Tbslp pumpkin seeds
2 Tblsp sunflower seeds
1 cup dried apricots
3/4 cup raisins
5 Tblsp orange juice
2 Tblsp cacao powder
2 Tblsp dark choc chips or cacao nibs
2 tsp cinnamon 
1 small pinch cayenne pepper

Process the nuts, oats and seeds in the food processor briefly until the larger nuts are in small chunks. Put into a bowl and add the cacao powder and choc chips/nibs. Process the remaining ingredients to a paste. Mix all together in the bowl until well combined then press into either a lined slice tray or a silicone mini muffin tray. Chill for 1 hour before serving. They should be firm but a bit sticky and hopefully delicious!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So many veggie burgers

As you may have already noticed, I am a massive veggie burger fan! They are delicious, easy to make, perfect for lunch the next day, and readily accepted by most meat eaters. Recently I purchased Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger. I am really impressed with his recipes and have decided to work my way through ALL of the burgers. I have never even come close to making all of the recipes in any of my other cookbooks, so this will be a good challenge for me! 

So far I have made the bean burger which I served with sweet potato fries and frizzled shallots, and the Thai carrot burger which is pictured below. I thought they turned out really well!

The addition of some plain Greek yoghurt and a splash a sweet chilli sauce gave them the wow factor!

The author has an excellent blog with loads of recipes, including the one for this burger. Click here to get the recipe and check out his blog! I am tempted to buy his other cookbook too despite my already huge collection :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kalamunda farmers' market

For the past couple of Sunday mornings we have been to the Kalamunda farmers' market. There are lots of fruit and vegetable stalls, potted plants, homemade cakes and other treats, seafood, meat, eggs and some takeaway food stalls. Last Sunday I bought the most deliciously ripe figs which I stuffed with goats cheese and grilled as part of a special birthday lunch for my dad (sorry, no photo!). Today the fig man was sadly absent but we did manage to score some plants such as: passionfruit, chilli, eggplant (including a tomato lookalike heirloom variety and a Lebanese style purple one), and a couple more herbs. We also got some fruit and veggies to hopefully turn into something delicious next week.

These peaches are from the markets a few weeks back. Thanks for taking this great photo for me mum! Unfortunately my camera battery has died, so there are no new ones from today's trip. We are working hard in the sunshine setting up some new garden beds this afternoon. No need to hit the gym tonight!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spicy, creamy chickpea soup

Autumn has arrived in Australia though it is still pretty warm over here in Perth. Still, what better way to welcome the new season than with a hearty bowl of autumn coloured soup. This recipe is seriously easy and delicious, not to mention healthy and vegan! I was inspired by the chickpea and greens curry soup in the March issue of Vegetarian Times magazine, but of course I had to put my own spin on it :) It also gets the tick of approval from my meat loving bf which is high praise indeed!

You could leave it chunky as I did, or blend up half and stir back in for a thicker soup.

Here is my version:

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1-2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup of light coconut milk
4 cups vegetable stock (or 4 cups of hot water and 1 stock cube)
chopped parsley or coriander and Greek yoghurt (optional) to serve

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Fry the onion, celery and shallot for 5 mins, then add all of the spices and cook for a further 2 mins. Add the garlic, tomato and spinach and stir through. Add the chickpeas, vegetable stock and coconut milk. Reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour. Add salt to taste and serve with a small dollop of yoghurt if desired and a sprinkling of parsley or coriander leaves.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cashew & carrot burgers

These little beauties were really yummy and made my workmates jealous when I ate them in the office for lunch (sorry ladies, next time I will make more to share!).

They are adapted from the New Vegetarian Kitchen recipe book by Nicola Graimes. Here is my version:

1 cup roasted unsalted cashews
1 red onion, chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large carrots, grated
1 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 beaten eggs
1 heaped tblsp plain Greek yoghurt
chick pea flour to dust
oil to fry

Fry the onion in a splash of oil for 4 mins over medium heat. Add the spices to the pan and continue to fry for another minute. Add the garlic and turn off the heat. Process the cashews to coarse crumbs. Mix all ingredients (except flour and oil) in a bowl, add salt to taste, and shape into burgers or patties. Lightly dust each burger with chickpea flour and place in a single layer on a dish in the fridge for 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Heat some oil in a frying pan over medium to high heat and carefully add the burgers, cooking for 2-3 minutes each side or until nicely browned. Place cooked burgers onto an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes to firm up. Serve in a bun or on their own with tomato sauce or your condiment of choice!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chocolate craving

I made this flourless chocolate cake today, It is really moist and dense like a brownie which is definitely a good thing!

I served it slightly warm with some vanilla Greek yoghurt, raspberries and a drizzle of honey. 

This is another recipe from the The Metabolic Clock book. I did make a couple of changes so here is my version:

4 eggs
150g dark chocolate
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
125g fat (I used 100g unsalted butter and 25g coconut oil)
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups almond meal

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease and line a round springform tin. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Melt the fat and chocolate in 20 second bursts in the microwave until melted, stirring between bursts. Mix the cocoa powder, vanilla and water into a paste and beat it into the egg mixture. Gently stir in the ground almonds and the melted chocolate. Pour into the pan and bake for 55 mins to an hour or until a skewer comes out with crumbs rather than raw mixture.
Having a mixer makes the process a lot quicker and more fun, especially when it is a pretty pink one :)