Friday, September 30, 2011

Roast tomato soup

Hello :) During my week off from uni, I've very much been enjoying walking up to my local deli/grocer and buying ingredients I want for lunch. It's something I don't get a chance to do during the week, and I love buying ingredients I know I will use that day. Often I find, we'll buy several zucchini's, carrots etc and not have a recipe or idea what to do with them, so they may go to waste which is a shame. I also like  shopping at/supporting small businesses. Walking to the deli to buy bread, having a coffee and reading a novel. Which is what I did this morning, and it was lovely :)

I also went to a fruit and vege shop to buy tomatoes and a spanish onion for my lunch. I had planned to make a roast tomato soup, a recipe from a good living issue a few months ago. Oh and I used roma tomatoes which are larger than cherry tomatoes so I cut them in quarters and left the skin on for more texture and because I was too lazy...

Recipe: Roast tomato soup (adapted from Good Living)
800g ripe cherry tomatoes, in assorted colours
5 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 Spanish onion, chopped
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 bunch basil, leaves torn
Creme fraiche, to serve, optional
Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius. Pick green tops off tomatoes and put in a roasting pan with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkling of salt and garlic cloves, unpeeled. Toss everything together and cook on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook onion in a large saucepan over a low heat with the remaining olive oil for 10 minutes, until soft and translucent.
Add balsamic vinegar to the onions, stir and reduce for 5 minutes. Remove tomatoes from oven and carefully skin the garlic, using two forks to extract the flesh. Add tomatoes and garlic to onions. Pour mixture into a food processor. Add basil and whiz, leaving the soup quite chunky. Pour soup into bowls and drizzle with olive oil and creme fraiche, if desired. Serves 4. 

From this...
To this! The best word I can use to describe this soup is wholesome. I just loved it! I've never actually had tomato soup before, and this was delicious and nourishing. So simple and healthy too :) All that lycopene! The rye bread was dense and yum too. 

In other news, I am rather smitten with my short hair! I was getting so sick of having long hair, and man, short hair is so much easier to maintain! Plus it'll be great for hot summer weather. Are you thinking of cutting your hair short? Do it I say! Here's a photo of what my hair looks like. What else was I supposed to do when my soup was cooking?

Well at the moment it is sunny with blue skies. Even though it's a little windy, this weather is making me happy! I think some reading in the sun, with a few cups of tea is in order...

Hannah x

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tofu with soba noodles & bok choy

Hello :) So the other night when I went to my friends house for dinner (well I was just going to pick something up...4 hours later) we had tofu as part of our dinner. Her mother said she likes to cook the tofu using egg white to coat the pieces and potato starch (flour) to make it crispy and delicious! And it did taste pretty darn good, so I wanted to make it myself!

I found potato starch quite easily at my local Chinese grocer (I'm lucky to several in my neighbourhood!), as well as soba noodles and shallots.

Tofu with soba noodles & bok choy 

1. Pat (firm) tofu with a paper towel to remove any excess liquid. Cut tofu into thin large pieces, or however you want it!
2. Coat tofu in egg white then dip in potato starch, tipping off any excess
3. Heat a tablespoon of rice bran oil (or any other oil which is good for high temperature cooking) in a pan and wait a few minutes until hot. Then place tofu pieces in hot oil and let it cook for about 5 minutes on each side
4. While the tofu is cooking, boil up water in a pot and cook 1 packed of soba noodles and 1 bunch of bok choy for a few minutes.
5. When the tofu and soba noodles/bok choy are ready serve in bowls and garnish with chopped shallots and sesame seeds, as well as soy sauce and/or sesame oil.

A few key ingredients...
And it's ready! Remember that chopsticks are a must ;)
Mmmmm tofu close up. I was impressed that the potato starch created a nice thin batter, lovely! The result would vary though with different types and textures of tofu. 

Well have a lovely day everyone! I'm actually going to get my hair cut later today. I took the plunge and had it cut yesterday (surprise Adrian!) quite short (a little bit shorter than shoulder length) but I'm not 100% happy with the layers, so I'm going to get it cut a wee bit shorter into a more one length style which I prefer and have previously had. Although this may result in looking about 12, but that is nothing unusual ;) 

Hannah x

Update: I just made this for my mother for dinner and she loved the tofu! I didn't use egg white this time (the tofu seems to be damp enough to soak up the potato starch) and it still turned out great :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Black sticky rice

Hello :) Today's a wee bit miserable in Sydney, but that's nothing that some warm sticky rice can't fix! In the morning my beautiful friend Renee came over too, so I was able to give her some :) I've made sticky rice a few times in the past, but recently when I went to get the rice off the shelf, I found lots of tiny flying bugs in the container...not a pretty sight!

But a few days ago I stumbled across this recipe for Black Sticky Rice and thought it would be perfect! So I wandered up yesterday to my nearby Chinese grocer to get black glutinous rice and coconut milk. Although I'm not sure how ethical it is to buy palm sugar, we were given some a while back so I made use of it.

And here's how mine turned out! Photos courtesy of Renee ;)

It was very delicious!! The palm sugar had such a lovely sticky sweetness! I don't think we cooked it for long enough though because it wasn't that 'sticky', but yum nonetheless! 

And I added some sliced banana on mine. Although next time I might add some fresh sliced mango like I've had at thai restaurants...mmmmmm :) The recipe also made a lot so I might halve it next time too. But it's definitely a keeper! 

Have you ever made sticky rice?

Hannah x

Monday, September 26, 2011

Toasted baguette with roasted tomato basil pesto, ricotta & avocado

Hello :) Well I've had quite a lovely morning. It started with a sleep in until 10am, followed with a stroll up to my local library to borrow my novel for this week. It's Ian McEwan's latest novel, Solar. I read his novel Atonement a few years back, loved it  and even re-read it a year ago. So I'm interested to see how this compares! Have you read any of his novels?

Afterwards I wandered up to my favourite deli/grocer to buy some ingredients for my lunch. I came out with a baguette, tomatoes, basil, an avocado, garlic and fresh ricotta. I knew I wanted to make this roasted tomato and basil pesto from Angela's ever amazing blog and decided I'd serve it on some fresh toasted bread with avocado and ricotta. 

Look at those beauties! Roasting tomatoes is so simple, intensifying the flavour and making them so sweet, juicy and delicious!
Fresh, delicious ingredients...

And here's how I made my lunch...

1. Lightly toast bread under the griller
2. Spread on a generous amount of the roasted tomato basil pesto 
3. Layer with some sliced avocado
4. Spoon on fresh ricotta
5. Garnish with fresh basil
6. Eat and smile in delight at this tasty lunch you've created! The pesto is freaking creamy and full of flavour! 
Angela says to use 1.5 cups of the roasted tomatoes, so we had 4 halves left. I made this for my mother as well, so we were able to have 2 roasted tomato halves with our toasted baguettes. Um, yum!

So there we have it. There's quite a bit of leftover pesto, so I'm already thinking of having some of the pesto tonight for dinner with wholemeal spaghetti and spinach leaves....

Hannah x

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Millet muffins + rainy day snapshots...

Hello :) Just when I'm finally on a mid session break from uni, it starts to rain! Oh well I can't really complain as Friday was so sunny & warm, a teaser of what is to come! I was out at the Quay Dendy watching One Day, which I first shall say was wonderful :) Most of all because it was set in London and Paris, and oh my, her apartment in Paris was just divine...

Anyway! A few days ago I received my copy of 'Super natural every day', which came as a belated birthday present :) Well seeing how today, the weather is a quite gloomy I just had to try a recipe. And obviously it had to involve baking! I found a recipe for millet muffins, which as per usual got me quite excited and we had just enough millet to make them so I whipped up a batch straight away.

The muffins are very nice, not too overly sweet (the recipe uses honey instead of sugar) and very dense thanks to the yoghurt. The millet is great too! I might try substitute the butter for rice ban oil next time though to make it a bit lighter. Here's a link to the recipe :) It's in a PDF folder with a few recipes from her cookbook, so you can catch a glimpse if you haven't already. Flicking through the book, there's just so many yummy treats I want to make. Being vegetarian helps too as I can make use of the entire book.


Also, when the weather is a little crappy, I reach for simple pleasures and here's some I've been enjoying recently.

Tea. Of course, like you haven't heard it enough! But I've recently received two new teas as birthday gifts. The Dilmah Exceptional tea which 'combines black tea with the flavour of rose with a hint of french vanilla' is just delighful! I've been taking it to uni on days when I don't feel like coffee. Because who likes paying $3 for tea? Not me!
I also received this Monk Pear tea from T2 which consists of Chinese black tea combined with sweet pear and jasmine petals. It's such a beautiful, light black tea and I've been having far too many cups of it already! 
Books. Yes, I'm still going with my 'book per week' goal. This week I started A Life in Frocks, a frivolous memoir about a love for clothes. I'm nearly finished and have found it quite delightful! Yes, it's a book about clothes but I honestly don't think having a love for clothes is vain, as I have quite an interest in fashion, particularly vintage.
Lipsticks. There's nothing like a bright lipstick to lift your mood! I recently purchased this gorgeous Laura Mercier lip stain as I was looking for a red lipstick. The colour is just as pigmented as a lipstick, but it's also very moisturising and you apply it like a lipbalm. Brilliant! 

Well I'm off to listen to Kimbra's new album (which is rather spectacular!), and finish reading my book. I was planning to go out later to the Red Rattler (in Marrickville) as part of the Fringe Festival with a friend, so I hope it stops raining soon! 

 I hope your weekend has been relaxing...I'm almost too excited that I can sleep in tomorrow. Oh and I have lots and lots of cooking planned for my week off. Expect many more posts ;)

Hannah x

Sunday, September 18, 2011

High Tea at the Tea Parlour

Hello :) This afternoon I decided to try out the Tea Parlour, in Redfern as a little birthday celebration with a few friends. I booked the night before for Sunday at 2pm :) We were told though that when we arrived she forgot a party would be coming at 3pm and book out the entire place, so we were able to have the high tea at no expense, as we could only stay for 1 hour! We were fine with that though, and she was so sweet about it :)

The place was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, it was so cute! From the outside you wouldn't have known it was there and inside is filled with flowers, old fashioned chairs, teapots, everything was vintage & so lovely. We had 3 'high teas', which was usually $20pp (very reasonable!) and came with tea of your choice, cucumber sandwiches and a selection of cakes.

Such pretty teacups...
Yummy cucumber & cream cheese sandwiches
I love this photo :) 
Oh my, the cakes were truly amazing. Lemon tart/pie, pecan pie, little cupcakes with strawberries and a piece of chocolate cake...yum yum. 
We ordered both Monk Pear tea and Apple Berry tea. Both delicious & fruity!
Love these teapots!! 

I'd definitely recommend checking out the Tea Parlour in Redern if you're in the area, just remember to book in advance! You can have scones & tea for only $8 too! We had such a lovely time and now we're planning on having our own high tea or picnic soon with lots of yummy cakes & treats!! 

Hannah x

3 weekend brunches...

Hello :) So on weekdays as you probably all know, porridge is my breakfast of choice. It takes only a few minutes to cook and fills me up, well until morning tea! But on the weekend the idea of porridge becomes rather boring and so I look for other options and this weekend being no different. But why did I say 3 weekend brunches when there are only 2 days of the weekend? Because I don't have uni on Friday and so that becomes a weekend day too ;)

On Friday morning I felt like an egg, so went up to the shops, got a wholegrain roll from Bakers Delight (I wanted a cape seed roll you see, however they were still being made!), and an avocado to have with one. When I got home I spread some miso paste and avocado chunks on the roll then topped with a fried egg. Like a vegetarian version of the "bacon & egg roll", kind of. Well it was delicious, just what I felt like, and I do love a gooey egg...
I slept in way too late, and decided to make something so that when my sister & dad came back from tennis and my mother came back from yoga, there would be something yummy to eat! So I opted for baked oatmeal of course! This time I added some sultanas too. Bill Granger actually made a similar one on "Bills Tasty Weekends" but added some cream as well, quite indulgent! Does anyone watch the show? I love it! 
And served with greek yoghurt. Delish!
The word Sunday in Greek means "cake of the pan" (haha not really), so pancakes were on the menu. We always make the same basic pancake mixture though so I wanted to mix it up. I found a recipe for orange yoghurt pancakes via The Greedy Gourmand and decided to make them! 
Whilst my sister cooked the pancakes I set up the table...I don't use this T2 teapot nearly enough! And my mother made the fruit platter- we definitely got our Vitamin C! 
Pancakes are ready! Oh my, so yum! I used grated orange zest in them which gave them a zesty bite and the yoghurt kept them moist and soft...mmmmm. 
Pancakes are fun because I like to pretend that I'm 5...
And on a side note, I received this Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate fragrance reed diffuser for my birthday and yesterday I set it up. My room now smells simply amazing and is supposed to last for a few months, genius! So thankyou (you know who you are!) :) :) 


Hannah x

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Red quinoa salad

Hello :) The weather is gorgeous today, meaning I don't really want to be doing my nutrition assignment! It involves comparing a 3 day food record of my own diet and adapting it to suit a dairy free diet and seeing if it meets the criteria of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommendations. It's interesting, but I want to go play in the sunshine!

So whilst I'm procrastinating on a nutrition assignment at least what I've got to share with you today is a highly nutritious recipe (ah ha, see the nice segway?). It's a quinoa salad from the wonderful Lola Berry. Yet another recipe I've been wanting to make for ages, but it meant going to the shops and purchasing a few key ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, beetroot and spinach leaves, but seeing as the weather was so nice it was good to get out!

Recipe: Quinoa salad (adapted from Lola Berry)
1 cup read quinoa wholegrain, rinsed
6 roma tomatoes, finely diced
100g baby spinach leaves, shredded
1/4 spanish onion, finely diced
1 large beetroot, peeled and grated
juice and zest of 1 lemon
dried cranberries, small handful
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon pepita pumpkin seeds
pinch sumac
Get one cup of red quinoa and cook the same way you would cook rice or according to packet instructions. To do this, simply put your quinoa into a pot and over it with 1.5 cups of water. As the quinoa grain cooks, you'll notice they look like they grow little tails: this is completely normal! The quinoa gets about triple its original size. When it's ready, the quinoa will look light and fluffy and there shouldn't be any leftover water. This cooking process takes about 15 minutes, with an additional 5 inutes needed to let the quinoa stand and fluff with a fork.

Add the tomatoes, baby spinach, spanish onion, grated beetroot, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. Toss and add agave dressing. Finish with a sprinkle of pepitas and sumac.

Recipe: Agave Dressing 
juice of 1 small lemon
3 tablespoons tamari (wheat free soy sauce)
1 tablespoon agave
splash of apple cider vinegar

Why hello there amazing salad! Well it truly is amazing. I've been a wee bit obsessed with red quinoa of late, and this salad shows it off very nicely. Since the weather is getting warmer I'm loving raw veggies and so the grated beetroot is just delicious! I accidentally forgot to buy cranberries, which would have given it a nice sweetness. The dressing was yum too, I just used soy sauce instead of tamari though. 

I love that this salad looks nice too. Look at all those vibrant colours! 

Do you love quinoa at the moment? What do you like making with it?

Hannah x

Friday, September 16, 2011

Birthday/picnic snapshots...

Hello :) So as I mentioned on Wednesday I turned 19 which was pretty exciting! In the evening I went out to a restaurant called Rubyos in Newtown, which I'd walked past the other week, thought "thats looks nice!", and so I booked it the following day :)

We ended up getting a shared grazing degustation which consisted of sparkling wine, 8 small shared courses and dessert. I was a "bad" vegetarian though and decided to eat all the meat and seafood dishes. Woops! Not going to lie, it was all amazingly delicious. We had dishes such as duck pancakes, scallops with a wasabi infused edamame crush, panfried halumi with a watermelon, coriander and mint salsa, soft shelled crab and a caramelised pear salad with baked ricotta.

(...So technically I'm not "vegetarian" anymore, but this is why I said I don't like labelling! I felt comfortable with the idea of eating meat at the time but 99% of the time I'm always going to choose the vegetarian option.)

Mmmm sparkling wine... it had a splash of creme de cassis too (not sure what that is though!)
Why hello there Adrian...
And this was our dessert plate which consisted of a flourless chocolate torte, dark cherry sorbet and a blood orange panna cotta. It was seriously good! 

Afterwards we had cocktails at the Sydney Fringe Festival bar 5 Eliza, just off King St. I was pretty tired at uni the next day but it was worth it :) 


And today, since the weather was nice we decided to have a picnic at Coogee beach! I made lots of yummy pesto pasta for lunch.
It was so sunny and warm...
Some brave people went swimming, I bet the water would have been freezing!
We walked around to Clovelly which was nice!
Just playing "tourist". Hello!

For my birthday, I asked for Heidi Swanson's cookbook, so hopefully that'll come in the mail soon :) I also received a voucher to get a massage, can't wait for that!! 

Have a lovely weekend everyone :) 

I'm going to be catching up with friends, finishing a nutrition assignment and hopefully doing lots of cooking! I actually just made this eggplant curry, which was delicious (and served it with cous cous), so if you have a spare eggplant I suggest you make it too ;) 

Hannah x