Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rocky road ice cream

Six months ago I made some rocky road. You can see the recipe and results here ... the general consensus seemed to be that it was delicious! More recently I'd found myself wondering about home made rocky road ice cream. What to put in it? Would the heavier ingredients sink to the bottom? I had a go at making it this week and it worked well. Phew ;-)

600 ml fresh cream
200 g sweetened condensed milk
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup peanuts
200 g white chocolate, broken into chunks
200 g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
100 g small marshmallows
2 x 55 g bars Turkish Delight, chopped up

Whip the cream, add the condensed milk and whip some more, then stir the coconut through. (If I'd frozen the mixture at this stage, I would have had a very nice batch of coconut ice cream.) Add all the other ingredients, combine well and spoon into freezer containers. Freeze and enjoy. Makes around three litres.

More easy ice cream recipes here, here, here and here if you're interested ...

P.S. this recipe contains marshmallows (which contain gelatine) so doesn't qualify as vegetarian. You could omit the marshmallows, or find some vego marshmallows, if preferred.

P.P.S. it is seriously sweet! Maybe TOO sweet. I doubt I'll make it often, but it was a fun thing to try.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Really, really easy pizza

Our garden is bursting with fresh tomatoes and basil at the moment so tonight's dinner is a home made pizza. This recipe is really quick and easy, and doesn't require any faffing around with yeast, cake mixers or the like.

2.5 cups plain or wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
about 1 cup warm water

Combine the flour and baking powder, make a well in the centre and pour the oil in. Mix together, and gradually add water until you have a dough. Roll or pat the dough until it is about 1 cm thick, then brush with oil, add toppings of your choice, and bake at around 220 degrees C for about half an hour. (Makes enough for two hungry people or four not-so-hungry people.)

Usually I just put tomato paste, fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella on top. Maybe a few anchovies too. But be creative – add whatever you like! You can also mix herbs such as thyme or rosemary, or chopped sun dried tomatoes, into the base to liven things up.

Splashed out tonight and used slabs of blue cheese
instead of mozzarella. This is what the pizza looked like BEFORE
it went into the oven. It was much more melty afterwards ...

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Fifteen years in a fabulous city

In the very early 2000s Andrew and I decided it was time to move. We'd each lived in Sydney for more than a decade and the gloss had worn off. The city was crowded and polluted, the cost of living atrocious and the commute tedious. It was time to move to a country town. But where? Reluctantly, we realised that Canberra (population then around 320,000) was probably the nearest thing to a 'country town' that could accommodate two fairly specific professional careers. So Canberra it was. Fifteen years ago this month we packed up our stuff, rented out our shoebox-sized flat, farewelled our colleagues and moved to the country.

Canberra is a fascinating and quirky place. As it's the national capital there are heaps of interesting (and cheap or free) national institutions to visit ... and as we're pretty geeky we DO enjoy regular visits to all the galleries, archives, museums and parks. There are mountains to climb, bike paths to ride on, rivers ideal for swimming. You can see magnificent critters like lizards, kangaroos and colourful parrots in everyday locations. The restaurants are plentiful and the people friendly.

Soooo glad we moved here.



 Thank you Canberra! It's been a blast.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

'Tis the time to eat tomatoes

One of the many joys of having room for a garden is being able to grow vegetables. And fruits. (Technically, tomatoes are fruits rather than vegetables.) We were very lucky to have not one but two friends give us tomato plants this season: one person showed up with a tray of seedlings in October, and another presented us with a bunch of plants – some of them already fruiting – before moving interstate in January. I hurriedly created a little 'kitchen garden' near our front door:

and over the past week or two the tomatoes have started to ripen. They're delicious not only as snacks and sandwich fillings, but in all sorts of recipes ...

Chunky avocado salsa
Vegetable soup
Pasta sauce

and salads like this one and this one and this one. Yum.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Avocado salsa wraps

It's really hot in Canberra right now! Too hot to cook, but luckily there are plenty of fresh, local vegetables available so we're enjoying some cold meals. Vietnamese rice paper rolls last night and avocado salsa wraps tonight.

spring onions
fresh lime juice
fresh coriander (optional)
garlic (optional)
chilli (optional)

Chop ingredients roughly, combine and refrigerate till the flavours have mingled. Enjoy as a filling for wraps or just eat as a salad.

The most important book I've read all year

Yes, I know it is only January! But still ... this book may have changed my life. It has certainly provided much food for thought.

Overdiagnosed, by H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa M. Schwartz and Steven Woloshin, is a book about medical screening. The sort that happens when a healthy person, without symptoms, is tested for tiny abnormalities. The authors argue that technological advances are allowing doctors to find more and more 'abnormalities' and that the treatments used to supposedly cure them are often more injurious than the condition ever would have been.

The book was a wake-up call for me. Over the past twelve or so years my GP has assiduously screened me for all manner of conditions, due to a family history of heart disease. There have been a number of false positives – scares around hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer – and these have led to unnecessary anxiety, expense, pain and wasted time. Admittedly, I'm quite risk-averse and regret-averse, so submitting to the regular barrage of tests felt like the right thing to do. I'm not so sure anymore. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

A celebration of coriander

From what I've heard and read, people either love or hate coriander [called cilantro in North America]. It's one of my favourite summer flavours and seems to be featuring in two or three meals per week at our place at the moment. If you're a fan of coriander/cilantro too, here are a few things you may like to try:

Vietnamese rice paper rolls
Spicy Thai salmon and lychee salad
Pumpkin soup with drizzled coriander pesto
Carrot and coriander soup
Chickpea delight
Coriander and green pea dip
Chunky avocado salsa
Kelp noodle salad

Enjoy ...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Spicy Thai salmon and lychee salad

Tonight's dinner. A perfect summer recipe!

1 tablespoon fish sauce ('Squid' brand from Thailand is good)
1 teaspoon palm sugar, grated
2 small red chillies, chopped
2 salmon fillets
2 Lebanese cucumbers, chopped
10 spring onions, thinly sliced
10 mint leaves, chopped
1 bunch coriander [cilantro], chopped
1 cup roasted peanuts (unsalted)
20 lychees, peeled and halved
2 limes

Marinate the salmon in the fridge in the fish sauce, palm sugar and chillies for a couple of hours. Make the salad by combining the cucumbers, spring onions, mint, coriander, peanuts and lychees. Grill the salmon fillets, cool briefly, then flake the salmon into pieces (removing any skin or bones) and stir through the salad. Squeeze the limes and pour the juice over the salad. Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish or two as a generous main course.

Note that the lychees can be replaced with seedless grapes, blueberries or other seasonal fruit, or the fruit can be omitted altogether if you like.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Feeling hot, hot, hot

It has been HOT in Canberra lately. Too hot to cook, but at least there are plenty of wonderful fresh fruits and veges available for salads. Tonight's dinner ...

... featured rocket [arugula], home-grown tomatoes,
mango, fried haloumi and cashews

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Teriyaki tofu with broccoli and snow peas

We learned to make teriyaki tofu at our cooking class in Kyoto last year. It's delicious on its own, but even better when tossed with fresh snow peas, steamed broccoli and some chopped chilli.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Monday, January 09, 2017

Kelp noodle salad

I don't know Masa and Michael, the Canberra couple who blog at The Minimalist Vegan, personally. But I enjoy following their occasional blog posts, and appreciate the recipes they share! Today's lunch is leftovers from last night's dinner, their kelp noodle salad. Thank you ;-)


Sunday, January 08, 2017

Brekkie @ Penny University

The first time we ate at Penny University both Andrew and I ordered humongous croissants cooked French-toast style with lashings of mascarpone. They were delicious and picturesque, though I didn't blog about them as I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the sugar. I usually go for savoury rather than sweet breakfast foods and the giant croissant reminded me why ...

Penny University tends to be very crowded so we took advantage of January being Canberra's quietest month and went there for brekkie today.

He had:

Black barley porridge slow cooked with spiced almond milk,
with nuts, seasonal fruit and a goat's cheese and maple panna cotta

and she had:

Smashed avocado and chèvre on toasted dark rye, with charred
corn and quinoa tabouleh, chilli oil and a poached egg

The coffee was good too. The menu has heaps of yummy-looking options and some fun puns. We'll have to brave the crowds again one day, methinks.

Penny University Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dinner @ The Hungry Buddha, Belconnen

Back in 2013 a visiting American friend introduced us to The Hungry Buddha Nepalese restaurant in Curtin, on the south side of Canberra. She's a vegetarian and had Googled for Canberra vego restaurants before leaving home! We enjoyed a lovely meal there, and I ended up on their email list as I'd booked online. Fast forward three years, and they've opened another branch in Belconnen. Andrew and I had dinner at the new place last night. Great food, cool décor and cheerful service.

For the entrée we shared:

Makkai fry (corn kernels sautéed in Nepali style with onion,
ginger, garlic and pepper timmur) and pakora (spiced mixed vegetables
in a chickpea batter, served with tamarind sauce)

and our main course was:

Bheda ko masu (boneless lamb cooked in traditional Nepali style 
with tomatoes, coriander, bay leaves and other spices) and
jogi tarkari (Nepali style mixed vegetable curry of cauliflower,
broccoli, carrot, zucchini, peas, potatoes and bamboo shoots)


The Hungry Buddha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Kahlúa and pecan ice cream (Happy New Year)

600 ml cream
0.5 tin (200 g) sweetened condensed milk
0.25 cup Kahlúa liqueur (or more or less, to taste)
100 g pecans (or other nuts if preferred)

Whip the cream till thick then mix in the condensed milk. Add the Kahlúa and pecans, combine well and freeze …

Makes about two litres.