Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vietnamese noodle salad

On a hot Spring day after a very late night out with my lady friends I am feeling like eating something quick, satisfying and reasonably virtuous. Yearning for the fresh, clean flavours of Vietnamese I search the internet and find a recipe for just the kind of noodle salad I am craving from a blog called Low Fat Vegan Chef. I follow the recipe pretty closely, substituting the vegan fish sauce with light soy and a scant teaspoon of miso. I also use bean thread noodles rather than rice noodle vermicelli. Inspiration strikes when I recall one time eating a rather naughty vegetarian noodle salad dish packed full of deep-fried vegetable spring rolls at a city Vietnamese restaurant and find the (rather disappointing) leftover cocktail vegetable spring rolls from a recent party in my freezer. I bake a few of them, cut them in half and throw them into the salad. They are transformed from dodgy supermarket blandness into awesome-dressing-soaked crunchy treasures in a flavour-packed, textural, sensational dish!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fig and hazelnut sourdough

I decided to play around with flavours in this week's sourdough effort. I used my wholegrain spelt/rye/wholegrain starter to make sourdough as normal and when it came to kneading, I added 100g of chopped, dried figs and 40g of whole, skinned hazelnuts. I expected the loaf to come out a bit flat or small due to the retarding action of the fruit and nuts on the wild yeasts but was pleasantly surprised to find this wasn't the case. I ate some this morning, toasted, with vintage cheddar cheese on top. (My cheeky partner thinks I'm a weirdo!)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Make your own bircher muesli

Like many vegetarians, I have more than a passing interest in nutrition. One blog that I found myself returning to again and again is Limes and Lycopene, the blog of Sydney nutritionist and food writer Kathryn Elliot, Kathryn's blog contains a plethora of information and practical advice on eating well in a busy life. Two of the best things I have learnt from her blog and applied in my life are the 50/25/25 rule and her recipe for muesli.

I waxed lyrical in a previous post about my love for Nut Roasters, the source of much of my pantry. This muesli is one way I put their dried fruits, seeds and nuts to good use. I enjoy mine topped with Jalna yoghurt.

Bircher muesli

Makes approximately 18 servings of 75g

6 cups rolled oats
2 cups puffed brown rice
1.5 cups almonds
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped dried apricot
1 cup chopped dried apple
3/4 cup sunflower kernels
3/4 cup pepitas
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In the largest bowl you have (in my case, a giant plastic punch bowl), combine all ingredients.

Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yo ho let's go!

For the boys' 7th and 5th birthday party the theme was pirate. It tied in nicely with the international Talk Like a Pirate Day on 19 September. It was also a fantastic excuse for all the grown-ups to outdo each other with pirate costumes and antics. I never predicted the theme would be embraced with such gusto nor did I expect so many people to have an abundance of pirate paraphernalia stored away in their cupboards just begging for another day in the sun!

This year I went back to basics. Instead of going for an elaborate picture cake I made a simple treasure chest. I prepared double the recipe of my birthday cake standard, Nigella's sour cream chocolate cake, putting about a third of the mixture in one large loaf tin and the remaining two thirds in another, identical loaf tin. The smaller cake took approximately half an hour to cook while the larger cake took about one hour. The smaller cake became the lid of the treasure chest by turning it upside down and trimming the long edges off of it using a carving knife angled at approximately 45 degrees to the cake. These offcuts were later used to help prop the lid open. The larger cake, right side up (not inverted), became the bottom of the chest. Both the trimmed top and bottom cakes were iced with a delicious chocolate buttercream. I used Arnott's chocolate funsticks to make a border around the top of each cake. The top of the treasure chest was propped open by laying the offcuts from the top cake along one long edge of the bottom cake (the "hinge") and using wooden skewers further in front for added support. I used Chico lollies (pressed face-first into the icing) to make keyholes. To add a bit of sparkle on top, I removed the chocolate from some chocolate coated honeycomb pieces, placed the honeycomb in a sandwich bag and crushed it using a rolling pin. Voila, gold dust! All that was left to do was stuff the chest full of chocolate coins. These were snatched with alarming speed upon cutting the cake!

I was happy with how it all came together and particularly pleased to be presenting a cake containing no food colouring. Aaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggh!