It’s Getting Hot in Herre! (but you can leave your clothes on if you want). Either way, it’s time to bust out some salsas. SALSA, people, is one of the reasons I exist. There is nothing I don’t like about a salsa. Nothing.
Pineapple salsa is a bit of a new one for me, I wasn’t even aware of the glory of pineapple in Mexican food until 2010 and I ate a vegan burrito in Vancouver. Black beans and pineapple in amongst the other assorted burrito-y goodness? Where had it been all my life? More importantly, could I pull off the same flavour at home?
I love this salsa as a side dish of sorts with enchiladas, quesadillas or burritos. It’s a bit too chunky to have with chips (but you could sort out the pineapple pieces if that’s what you want to do), so works well as a bit of a garnish. Grab yourself a margarita and a tortilla and let’s party!
1 small pineapple, peeled and diced into smallish pieces
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 – 1 red onion (depending on taste), chopped fine
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
1 lime, juiced
a pinch of cumin
salt to taste
Mix all in a large bowl and leave to sit for about at least an hour, to allow flavours to mingle. Test for seasoning before serving. Serve cold as a nice counterpoint to your spicy food! (very refreshing for summer).
I’m a bit of a cooking show connoisseur, truth be told, and I actually very seriously considered entering Recipe To Riches back when they did a call-out for contestants. I spent a little while trying to figure out what I could make a huge batch of that would sell well, but had to bow out at the last minute, as I wasn’t sure I could juggle that with a newborn Pepper. I still don’t know what I would have made! Pepper’s pretty edible though.
Last night I got to watch three contestants battle it out on the show, each with a unique version of a popular product. Straight off the bat, Leo Panetta and his chimi churri sauce had my vote – anyone with the good sense to listen to NOFX had to be worthy! Despite the fact I wrote his name down as LEON Panetta (who was actually the US Secretary of Defense and the Director of the CIA), proving once again that my love of American politics has overtaken my brain.
After brief confusion as to whether coriander is actually continental parsley (hot tip – it’s NOT), my poor punk buddy was let go. His chimi churri was too lemony, sadly. And his pronunciation of “oregano” was making me think of the movie Heathers (although that is a Good Thing).
It was tough to choose who from the remaining two to back, (Nillawan the software engineer nearly had my vote, because NERD GIRLS UNITE!), but Manju and her threatening rolling pin was hilarious. I liked her gumption. I secondly liked the sound of her samosas. I thirdly liked how she had a flash mob at her product launch, although for half a second there before I knew what was going on, I thought the chick in the pink shirt sprinting over was actually going to crash tackle her or something – girlfriend was agile.
Now, can we talk about the samosas? OH MY GOD, THE SAMOSAS. I trotted off to Woolies the next morning to buy a packet (briefly getting lost because I couldn’t see through the misty glass in the freezer section), and took them home to try. They took longer than the 15 minutes stated on the packet, but boy were they worth the wait. Flaky, golden pastry and a flavoursome, spicy filling – exactly what you want when you grab something from the freezer. I also liked that it was written on the box that they were suitable for vegetarians. Very helpful.
I even got a second packet for Pepper’s party this weekend, but they’re a bit spicy for kids. I, however, will give them a good home.
Looking at the filling after getting over the joy of the first bite was even better – straight up you see actual spice, potato chunks and peas. They’re full of chana masala, garam masala, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, chilli flakes and curry leaves. They are divine.
I’m also going to be giving a rundown of next week’s episode, which I’m very excited about – one of the products looked like some kind of caramel sauce, and if that wins I will be very happy indeed! Tune in Tuesday at 7.30 on Channel 10 to find out. And until then, grab yourself a box or two of Manju’s authentic vegetable samosas at your local Woolies. They’re only there for a week!
Here’s something I’d always wanted to make, but shoved it into the “one day” category (a lot of things are in there, I’m afraid to look! I slam the door and run…). It involved having iceberg lettuce to hand, which I rarely buy, and also sorting out a minced meat substitute for the traditional recipe, which seemed like a lot of bother. I didn’t want to use packet stuff, and I felt it needed a little more oomph than just chopped veggies in lettuce.
So I dillied and I dallied, and one day after seeing this vegan basil “chicken” recipe, which kind of looked like pretty delicious san choi bau filling if I tinkered a bit, I thought now is the time. I am a little bit in love with Marc’s blog. He takes us through the freezing and crumbling of tofu method here, which provides the “meat” portion of this recipe. He veganises a lot of Asian food which makes me very, very hungry. I love Asian food SO DAMN MUCH and while my tolerance levels mean I’ll turn a blind eye here and there when I get ethnic food and I know something will more than likely contain dashi or fish sauce or shrimp paste, for eating it at home I like to use recipes where I don’t have to do that. Marc creates recipes that still pack a punch of flavour without their more traditional ingredients. Win!
He also makes spicy chicken lettuce wraps, so I based this recipe from that one, using the crumbled tofu method and adding a few bits and pieces. It is so good it makes me want to buy iceberg lettuce more often – and to also always keep a block of tofu in the freezer! Who would have thought. Good fun, peeps – serve them as an appetiser, or as part of a Monday night yum cha like I did, with edamame and veggie gyoza.
(Meanwhile, I love Not Quite Nigella’s version here – I will be doing this next.)
1 Small piece ginger (about a centimetre long), minced
1 Medium shallot, diced fine
1 Small carrot, diced fine
1 Large green onion, sliced thin (save tops for garnish)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
few drops sesame oil
crispy fried shallots, fresh coriander and fresh chives, to garnish
In a frying pan, heat some oil over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, ginger and the bottoms of the green onions.
Meanwhile, squeeze all the water you can from the tofu block (you might have to do this in pieces) until dry. Crumble into the the frying pan and saute until it picks up the flavour, a few minutes.
Turn the heat down and add the sauces, and sesame oil, adjusting to taste preference. Feel free to add more sriracha, that shit is the bomb! Stir until well coated.
Break apart the iceberg lettuce into little cups, the area around the heart works best for this. Spoon a little of the tofu mix into each one, and garnish with crispy fried shallots, fresh coriander and chives. Yum!
I can’t believe it took me so long to try this simple but sinful dish for myself. Ooey gooey cheese? What’s not to love?
It did seem a bit decadent for one person’s lunch, but I had just been watching a documentary on French cheesemaking and the host tucked into a little melty wheel of brie with some bread and a side salad and I just about broke all land speed records to get to the store and make one for my very own.
No, I did not share.
But never fear, I did not eat it all. I regret that decision, looking at these pictures!
While I have no fancy French wooden boxes with which to house my oven-bound cheese, I did have a ramekin that worked just as well. I poked little holes in the top of the cheese and added a sliver of garlic to each one. Then I popped on some foil and put the lot in a hot oven (200C) for about 20 minues. I ate it with some home-made fig jam, bread and sliced apples. YUM.
Next time though, I’m going to try a cranberry-macadamia concoction on the top and baked. Join me?
I have to say, that as a vegetarian, the choice of ready-made meals and grab-and-go prepared items have been pretty thin on the ground for the last few years although it’s getting better. While I like making my own items, it is unarguably handy to have pre-made things you can throw in a pan or the oven on busy nights, and to take to barbecues and parties. I keep a small stash in the freezer for just these situations. I don’t think I am alone in wishing we were catered to with more variety, but I suppose I’ve thought it just comes part and parcel with the territory.
I have been watching with an eager eye the new vegetarian choices Woolworths have been rolling out since late last year in their Macro range, as I’m always keen for something different. The Eggplant and Lentil Balls with Chilli caught my attention, and I thought that combination was just crying out for tahini and lemon.
I think these would be a fabulous addition to a little shared platter as a hot option, and you could even make cute honey-chilli glazed Hard Tofu bites as well… if I can ever get over my fear of tofu. I feel I’m turning. Ever so slowly!
I find it to be super-helpful to have a variety of veggie food that is quick and convenient and easy to find, and I’m pleased that Woolies is stepping up to answer the call. There are 1.15 million of us out there, and we all want something to eat! The chilled items can all be found in the one place (with in-store recipe cards, and ideas online), and the extensive range only available at Woolworths also includes Vegetable and Chickpea Sausages, and Tomato, Basil and Onion burgers, among others. Hell, you don’t even need to be vegetarian to enjoy their offerings, there’s so much to choose from, you are bound to find something for everyone.
But for your delicious little morsels of chilli-spiked eggplant, allow me to share my lemony tahini dip. And if you’re serving it at your next party, I’d love an invite!
Mix half a cup of tahini with half a cup of plain greek yogurt. Add salt, a minced garlic clove, and the zest and juice of a small lemon. Add chilli powder to taste (or use a real chilli and blend in the food processor). Put in a serving dish and grate over a little extra zest and sprinkle with paprika.
What are your thoughts? Seen something you’ve tried lately and loved? I feel there’s so much potential out there for new veggie items, and I’m excited! It’s not just chickpea casserole any more
Ok so I jumped on the kale chip bandwagon. All the cool kids were doing it.
And you know what? I’m glad I did. Because this stuff is awesome. Kale grows so damn fast in my garden, and only just faster than the bugs that eat it. So I have to do something with it, and chips fit the bill perfectly. They are crispy and salty and not bitter, like I expected. Whoever thought this up was a genius – kale is so fricken healthy!
So I tore my kale into bits, after first removing the spine.
I put it in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and stirred it all up until each piece was lightly coated.
Then I put it on some pizza trays (I like the holes in the bottom) and sprinkled with Himalayan crystal salt. This makes me sound like a pretentious prick, but I bought some ages ago from the bulk bins at the health food store, not really knowing what to do with it. Turns out it’s super healthy and chock full of good stuff. So I used it and I liked it.
And I baked at 200C for about 15 minutes. That was it. Oil, salt, bake.
Oh – beware of oversalting. I went a little nuts.
What do you like on your kale chips? I think I might branch out next time with some new flavours.
Ok so the other day I asked on my Facebook page what everyone’s favourite soup was. And damn were there some delicious answers! But the one that kept popping up the most had to do with pumpkin. And I concur. There’s something about its sweet savouriness and perfect texture that gets me every time. And if I can spice it up, more’s the better!
I concocted this little number in Tefal’s new Soup and Co, as I was incredibly fortunate enough to get sent one to try. One for me, one for my readers, they said. I was intrigued. Normally I shy away from “all-in-one” appliances in favour of good, old-fashioned pots and pans. I don’t own a stand mixer, I have an ancient blender and everything else I do by hand. Buttons and whizbangs and whatever just don’t normally excite me.
However. I looked it up. It makes soup with the touch of a button. It then blends the soup (if you want), turns itself off and keeps itself hot for 40 minutes after. An eyebrow was raised in interest.
Apparently when it’s not being the world’s most helpful soup appliance, it also makes smoothies, hot chocolate, fruit compote and crushes ice, among other things.
And best of all? It cleans itself! I was hooked.
There’s nothing more annoying than having a sleeping (or near sleeping) baby on you when your pot boils over/needs stirring/needs turning off or down/finishes cooking or a thousand other things it does when you can’t tend to it immediately. I am sold on the idea that I throw the ingredients in, and the Soup and Co does the rest of the work. Kinda like a slow cooker, only… not slow. While I love the idea of setting aside an hour or so to chop and prepare and simmer and generally enjoy the process, I just honestly don’t have that time at the moment. I’m busy. And tired. And this thing cleans itself.
And the “keep warm” function? Goodbye eating cold soup, mum-style!
Oh, and if you’re so inclined, it can be used to cook and blend baby food. I’m probs gonna marry it.
It has three programs for soup and other cooking/cleaning, and a regular blender function with five speeds and a pulse option. And a little ice-crush button.
And I have a dirty bench. Moving on.
You can keep track of the temperature, and the time remaining. It makes gentle whirring noises as it heats up and will scare the bejesus out of you when you’ve left it to its own devices and you’re working away on something else and it starts the blend cycle automatically. Although that might just be me.
Soup in 25 minutes. Wanna try?
Ingredients: 500g chopped pumpkin 1 large onion, peeled and chopped 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated Fresh chili or chili flakes to taste a pinch each of salt and sugar Enough stock to barely cover the veggies 100ml coconut cream coriander, to garnish
1. Put everything but coconut cream and coriander into the Soup and Co.
2. Put the lid on. Press the “P” button. Press “OK”
3. Go find something else to do until it beeps. Pour in the coconut cream and use the blender function for a second or two to combine.
4. Serve in a warm bowl with a swirl of coconut cream and a sprinkle of coriander.
Oh, and it also has a handy-dandy removable piece in the lid, so when you forget the garlic (what kind of monstrous soup has no garlic?) You can pop it in while it’s running and put the lid back on like nothing ever happened…
And because I was overly excited, I’ve been making smoothies in it every five minutes. This one is extra fun!
Ingredients: 1 large banana 100ml coconut cream handful of pineapple splash of pineapple juice (you can use the canned stuff) pinch brown sugar squeeze of lime
1. Place all in Soup and Co, but break up the banana into bits first.
2. Blend on low speed 2 30 seconds, then speed 5 for 30-45 seconds.
3. Make a stupid joke about getting caught in the rain.
To win one of these beauties for yourself (the appliance, not the smoothie), all you need to do is leave a comment telling me about a time when something stopped you from checking a pot and what disaster ensued. Me? I nearly set fire to the house with a frying pan of burning oil, and once I left a hotplate on for 12 hours… no biggie.
The story we find most interesting/horrific gets the prize, valued at $299. No more soup disasters for you!
Competition closes Monday July 23 at 5pm. Australian residents only, please.
Please make sure you are contactable, as winners will be notified by email.
*Disclaimer: I was sent a Tefal Soup and Co to keep, and one to give away. That’s all. Over-enthusiasm is all mine. Told you I was tired.
Sure these rice paper rolls are super-simple, but if you’ve never made them before, you might shy away thinking they’re too fiddly.
They’re not. They’re SO not.
All you need is a bit of bench space, some pre-sliced veggies and pre-soaked rice noodles and you’re ready to roll. You could add anything you like to these babies, but I tend to stick to the tried-and-true carrot/cucumber/capsicum trio. I’m thinking next time of maybe adding some marinated tofu batons to give them a bit more oomph, but I truly love the fresh taste of crispy veg and am not usually in the mood to have it overshadowed.
Don’t ask me to pop in non-marinated tofu. I’m just not ready.
Oh and the dipping sauce is the funnest part of this. You could mix together some soy, lime juice, brown sugar and chopped chilli with a little coriander/cilantro, or you could just smother them in kecap manis like we do and roll about moaning over how good it is. I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but sweet soy sauce is one of the greatest condiments of all time. OF ALL TIME.
rice paper wrappers
rice noodles, soaked according to package directions
assorted veg, julienned
fresh herbs – I use coriander/cilantro and mint. And lots of it!
1. I usually soak the rice paper wrappers in a shallow bowl of warm water until pliable. I also just saw on TV this is too much soaking, and you should just splash water on them and spread it around until it soaks in. I’ve not tried it, but it sounds good. Either way should be fine.
2. Line up your noodles, veg and herbs just a little ways up from the bottom of your wrapper, and away from the sides.
Then carefully fold the empty bottom part of the wrapper over the filling and gently fold in the sides. Don’t be afraid to grip your contents fairly firmly with your fingers or you’ll just squash the whole thing and end up wrapping it like Veggie Dad does. Don’t do that.
Continue rolling, ensuring the sides are tucked in and press down the final edge to seal. I like to then rest it on the seal to help it stick together while I make the rest.