Soup for all seasons

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It’s not very often that I will think about eating soup during the warmer months, I would have smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could! It’s just starting to cool down (a little!) here in Perth so I though now would be the perfect time to make a light, fresh soup that could be enjoyed anytime of the year. It went down an absolute treat and with all the garlic I’m hoping to fend of any colds coming my way for the next couple of weeks!

This broth is the perfect base for any vegetables, whatever the season. It’s early autumn here so I have used yu choy as the main leafy green but broccoli, bok choy, zucchini strips or Chinese cabbage would all be delicious. The hot broth is poured over the vegetables, cooking them lightly whilst still keeping everything fresh and crunchy.

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Fragrant vegan soup

4 C salt reduced vegetable stock (home made is best but if your like me and didn’t have time a good quality one will be fine)

2 C water

8 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 T crushed ginger

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves washed

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole star anise

1 bunch yu choy

100g or two bunches of 100% buckwheat soba noodles

300g mushrooms

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T hoisin sauce

Thai basil leaves, bean sprouts, sesame seeds, chilli and radish to serve.

Method

Pull the leaves off the coriander and reserve for serving. Thinly slice the stalks and had to a large pot along with the sliced spring onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, stock and water. Slowly bring to the boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Bring another pan of water to the boil and cook your soba noodles for 5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and refresh under cool water. Set aside.

In the meantime, slice the mushrooms and fry in the olive oil. Once starting to soften add the hoisin sauce and cook for another minute or until nice and sticky and cooked through. Set aside.

Wash and slice your yu choy or whatever veggies you have chosen and set aside ready for serving.

You can either place everything on your table and let everyone dig in and construct their own soup or serve it up.

Either way, place the yu choy (or your choice of veg) in first followed by the noodles and then cover with steaming hot broth. Then top with your desired combination of fresh toppings.

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Get creative and enjoy!

Indian Curry Night

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As I sit here writing this my nose is tingling after I carelessly scratched it with my HOT chilli fingers. It’s not at all pleasant so I shall get to the point.. I have proclaimed Sunday nights to now be Curry Night in my home. This has come about due to my cravings for sensual curries after months in India feasting on the greatest food ever. Tonight we are having Eggplant Masala and Thoran, and I shall share my version of both these recipes on here.

I learnt both recipes at a cooking school in Fort Kochin, Kerala, a beautiful old Portuguese inspired village on the south west coast of India. I have adapted them to suite my taste and, of course, make them healthy but I think they still capture the vibrant flavours of South India.

Making a Garam Masala spice mix is essential if you intend on doing any sort of frequent Indian cooking. It will have such a greater depth of flavour than any store bought version. Once you have Garam Masala in your pantry, these recipes can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. Perfect for lazy sundays or mid week meals.

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Masala Spice mix 

1 C cinnamon sticks

1/2 C whole cloves

1/2 C fennel seeds

8 whole cardamon pods

1 T whole pepper corns

Place all the spices into a high power blender, food processor or coffee girder and blend to a fine powder. Place in an airtight jar. Now you have a spice mix for impromptu curries.

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Eggplant Masala 

3 T extra virgin coconut oil

1 onion

5 cloves garlic, crushed

400g Eggpplant (I used two varieties of small and medium but any will work)

2 medium tomatoes

1 C coconut milk

Masala spices

1/2 t tumeric powder

1 t cummin powder

2 1/2 t coriander powder 1

/2 t chilli powder

2 t Garam masala

Finely chop the onion and place in a large sauce pan with the coconut oil and crushed garlic. Fry over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop your eggplant into 2x2cm cubes. Add to the onion mix and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until just softening. Finely slice the tomatoes and set aside.

Now to make the masala spice mix simply combine spices in a small frypan and dry fry until fragrant. Only 2-3 minutes. Place in a mug with 1 C water. Set aside. Now the eggplants have softened, add the tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Finally stir through the diluted masala spices and the coconut milk. Heat through, add salt to taste and serve. Serves 4.

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Thoran (A dry curry of beans, carrot and coconut)

This is such a versatile dish, cabbage, peas, cauliflower and beetroot can all be used, as long as you’ve got the fresh coconut it will be delicious.

3 T extra virgin coconut oil

2 t mustard seeds a handful of fresh curry leaves

1/2 green chilli, thinly sliced

1 t cummin seeds

1 t coriander seeds

250g fresh beans (I used green, yellow and purple heirloom varieties)

2 medium carrots

1/3 C fresh grated coconut meat

1 t turmeric powder

Firstly, slice your beans into 2 cm pecices and set aside. Slice the carrot into very small cubes, set aside. Heat the coconut oil in a large frypan and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, chilli, cumin and coriander. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the beans, carrot and coconut, frying for another couple of minutes. Mix the turmeric powder with 1/4 C water and add the the pan. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until just tender. Serves 4.

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These recipes are perfect on their own or with homemade chapatis, brown rice or quinoa.

A vibrant late summer salad

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Here in Australia autumn has officially arrived, although, it does not feel like it yet as we are still enjoying bright blue sky’s, HOT days and fresh late summer produce. My parents have a mountain of figs coming off their tree’s so I have been putting them in everything, especially salads. I love the contrast of flavours when adding sweet fruit to salads, it really adds another dimension. I have also snuck a little preserved lemon in here, which gives a beautiful mediterranean flavour.

This is the perfect salad to have on its own, take to a friend’s barbecue or pack up for a weekday lunch at work.

Quinoa salad with green beans, asparagus and figs

1 C quinoa, I used a mixture of red, black and white

1 bay leaf

2 bunches of asparagus

200g green beans

2 C baby spinach

a handful of fresh mint

1/4 of a preserved lemon

1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced

4 figs, quartered

2 T sunflower seeds

2 T pepitas

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T lemon juice

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Method

Firstly, rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Place in a saucepan with the bay leaf and 1 1/2 C of water. Bring the the boil, cover and turn to low to cook for 15 minutes. Once cooked remove the lid and fluff with a fork.Place into your salad bowl.

Meanwhile bring another saucepan filled with water to the boil and blanch the asparagus and then the beans until just cooked. After removing from the water refresh under cool water. Put aside.

Finely chop the preserved lemon and stir through the quinoa with the red onion.

To make the dressing combine the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small jar. Give a good shake and pour half through the quinoa.

In a dry pan toast the sunflower seeds and pepitas until crunchy.

Now, assemble! Firstly toss the green beans, asparagus, spinach and mint through the quinoa. Place the figs on top, drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle on the seeds.

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Enjoy the flavours of late summer!