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Monday, May 20, 2013

warming winter miso broth aka "ghetto soup"

When I first moved out of home, as a wee little tacker, I had no idea how to cook. You see, my mother never trusted me to not burn the house down, so I was unofficially banned from the kitchen up until I had my own to mess about in.

And whilst I'm yet to blow anything up or incinerate it to the ground, I've definitely had my fair share of kitchen disasters...but that is another story for a different blog - right now I want to talk about a longstanding success story - my "ghetto soup".

Ghetto soup was the go to dish for myself and my sharehousing friends in the early part of this decade. Whether hungover, broke or hunched over the computer speeding through an assignment with little time to spare, this soup ticked all boxes - quick, cheap, easy. Granted, we used to make it with mi goreng noodles, scrappy (usually dumpstered) vegetables and something containing MSG, I've given it a bit (lot) of a makeover, and may I present my results?

Still quick, cheap and easy this soup is now nourishing, healthy and filling. I like it as a light afternoon lunch after a brisk walk in the fresh air, preferably consumed in front of a heat source - the ginger, garlic and chilli amassed will surely warm you from within as well.

(Not so) Ghetto Soup

serves 2.

1 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp coconut oil
1 litre water
1/2 salt reduced, vegetarian stock cube (I like Rapunzel or Massell brands)
1 thumbnail sized piece of ginger, minced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 chilli (I used a red habanero), minced
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tamari
1 "fold" of brown rice vermicelli (fold? what is the word for them?!)
1 medium sized head broccoli, roughly chopped including stalk
2 heads bok choy, roughly chopped
handful shiitake mushrooms (fresh or dried), sliced
1 tbsp miso paste

1/2 block marinated organic tempeh (I use Primasoy) sliced in strips
1 tsp coconut oil

In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut oil on medium heat and sautee the onion. After five minutes, at which point the onion should be nicely browned, add the litre of water.

This is where it gets really easy - when the water reaches boiling point, turn the heat down. All together add the mushroms, garlic, ginger and chilli, sesame oil and tamari. Turn down to a low heat, and after a couple of minutes add the noodles. Wait two more minutes and add the broccoli and bok choy. After a minute (you want your veggies to be still crisp and the brightest green in colour) turn off the heat completely and stir in the miso paste until it has been combined.

Leave to sit whilst you cook your tempeh in coconut oil, a small frypan will do the trick.

Use tongs and a ladle to arrange in a bowl, top with tempeh and a squirt of Sriracha if more heat is required.


You can add most any other vegetables to this dish as well - I've ladled the soup onto a mixture of raw, grated carrot and zucchini, which was a great move!

Monday, May 13, 2013

lavender, lemon and white chocolate cheesecake - raw, vegan!

I do love a bit of witchy kitchen dabblings, and even better when it leads to decadent desserts! This recipe involved quite a bit of foraging in order to obtain the lavender required; although I use tincture of Lavendula officinalis frequently as a naturopath and herbalist in clinical practice (wonderfully soothing and relaxing), getting my hands on the real deal proved a little difficult at this time of the year. Eventually, I stumbled upon some whilst nerding out at the Ceres medicinal herb garden and the rest, as they say, was history. 

This raw cheesecake was created for a friend's birthday, who reacted incredibly well upon spying it in the green bag I handed it to her in (there was squeals, hugs). 

Have fun creating this for a friend, for your family...or for yourself! If you experience difficulty finding fresh lavender from a reliable source (ie. you know it has not been sprayed with chemicals), you can substitute with 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil (depending on how floral-y you want your cheesecake to taste!). 

Lavender, Lemon and White Chocolate Cheesecake



1 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup goji berries
1 cup dates (soaked for at least two hours, water discarded)
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or essence
1 pinch salt


2 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least 8 hours), rinsed
1 young coconut - inner flesh and juice separated (you'll need 1/2 cup of coconut water and all the flesh!)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup melted cacao butter 
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup liquid sweetener - agave, coconut syrup or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
3-5 fresh lavender flowers, stem and fibrous green bits removed (taste as you add to ensure your final product doesn't end up tasting like an old lady)
1 pinch salt

How you go about it:


In a food processor or high powered blender (hello, Thermomix!) blend everything until sticky and crumbly, with no big chunks or lumps. Press the contents into a 9 inch spring-form pan evenly and put aside until you are ready to fill it.


Once more, blend everything until smooth and creamy - this took approximately two minutes in my Thermomix. You may have to scrape down the sides now and then, but perservere until you get that wonderful, silky texture. 

Place the filling into the pan and distribute evenly over the crust.

Place in the freezer for approximately 6-8 hours (or longer) and remove about 1-2 hours before serving. Decorate as you like - some coconut shavings, hazelnuts, strawberries or whatnot would look adorable! 

Give to people and watch them fuss over it, and you. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

pretty in pink pudding - chia, coconut and berries!

Holy crap, but it's hot in Melbourne! My poor little house is seriously melting from within, all it's inhabitants can do is loll about in front of the fan in our underwear, limbs akimbo, whinging wholeheartedly about the ridiculousness of 30degree + temperatures in AUTUMN.

Perhaps my biggest complaint? The inability to make full use of my sweltering kitchen. Cooking on the stovetop? Oh boy. Turning on the oven? Not a chance. The blessing in disguise is, of course, the abundance of use my Thermomix has been getting as well as all the raw goodies I've been partaking in - delicious smoothies, juices and other treats - when it's simply a matter of bunging a few things in the blender and whizzing for a minute? Yeah...I guess I can manage that (despite my heat related apathy!).

And this is precisely how my Pretty in Pink Pudding came about - to be honest, it was more of a mousse than a pudding, but I wont let facts stand in the way of an alliterative and catchy title! Like the majority of my recipes, this is a great mix and matcher - it allows for any number of substitutions in terms of the fruit used and flavours added, but so long as you keep in the chia seeds, nuts, coconut milk and protein powder, you're definitely treating yourself to a healthy and welll balanced breakfast/snack/dessert treat with a nice mix of protein, healthy fats/essential fatty acids and unrefined, wholefoods based carbohydrates - helping you fill up quicker and stay full for longer. Definitely a goodie to have chilled in the fridge for those 3pm snacky-slumpy moments that are all too common!

Pretty In Pink Pudding

One generous serving.

1/4 cup chia seeds
1 scoop protein powder (my favourite is vanilla Sunwarrior)
6 medium sized frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
3/4 cup of your favourite nut/oat/soy/rice milk (I used my homemade ABC milk - almonds, brazil nuts and cashews)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp maple syrup (coconut sugar would work marvellously too!)
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence.

Putting it all together is as simple as chucking it in a blender and whizzing on high. The consistency at first will be much more like a thick smoothie than a pudding/mousse. You'll need to upend it into a receptacle (I used a glass mason jar) and let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours at least.

If you like, you can top it with other goodies before serving - I whacked some hemp seeds and spirulina on mine and mixed it in (totally sabotaging the pretty pinkness of it, but, oh well), as well as some extra berries for texture.

I hope you like this one! I'll be experimenting with more autumnal varieties in the future, hoping to introduce some cooler, breezier days by channeling them from my kitchen.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

raw carrot cake with cashew "cream cheese" frosting

I had a buddy 'round the other day who is equally as food-crazed as I am, and we had quite a time playing with my Thermomix and inventing new, unexplored combinations of green smoothies; additionally, we delved into the sometimes risky world of raw desserts and (un)cooked up this winner!

The "cake" part of this concoction is spicy and intriguingly flavoured with a nice, dense crunch from tiny chunks of carrots that somehow managed to escape the powerful blades of Thermie. And all that carrot is doing you a world of good -  The frosting is smooth, rich and tangy, so creamy that it's difficult to believe how simple it truly is.

The recipe is one I found and adapted slightly on The Sweet Life blog  - a recent discovery that is jam packed with some pretty delicious, vegan and wholefoods based recipes.

Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake

4 medium sized carrots, washed
1 cup raw walnuts or pecans (or a mix!)
1 cup pitted dates, soaked
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom powder
3/4 tsp dried ginger or a thumbnail sized knob of fresh ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt

Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least two hours
1/4 cup liquid (I used almond, brazil nut and cashew milk but you could use water or coconut water/milk too)
4 tbsp maple syrup
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup coconut oil
pinch of salt

Have a 8x8 pan (or similar size) at the ready.

To assemble the "cake" portion:

1. Depending on the power of your blender, either add the carrots in chunks directly to the blender or grate prior to blending.
2. Add the remaining "cake" ingredients.
3. Blend at high speed for 1-2 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides until you have achieved a uniform, sticky mixture. You shouldn't mind a few stray bits of carrot, as long as the rest of it is primarily mush.
4. Pat down the mixture evenly in your pan or tray.

To make the frosting:

1. Drain the cashews and rinse with water.
2. Put all the frosting ingredients in your blend.
3. Blend similar to the cake mixture - on a high speed with regular scraping downs of the blender. You'll want a very creamy, lump-free mixture and this may take some time and patience depending on your blender.
4. When you have reached your desired texture, upend the blender over the cake mix and smooth out evenly.
5. Top with some more cinnamon for fanciness.
6. Freeze for at least two hours, then leave to defrost for about half an hour before serving. This will slice up into about 12 generous portions.

An amazing dessert with a cup of tea and good conversation to enjoy it with!

Sidenote: Next time I make this (and oh yes, there will be a next time!) I will almost certainly double the frosting recipe, it was that good!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

food people feed me: chin chin

As much as I love to knock about in my beloved but hilariously unweildy kitchen (I'm fairly certain it was designed for a 4 foot nothing Italian grandmother circa 1960 something - all low tabletops, linoleum in varying shades of brown and cupboards that refuse to just. stay. shut),  I also adore chucking on a dress, running a brush through my (equally unweildy) hair and dining out! I waste precious hours scanning menus online and emailing restaurants and cafes to find out whether their kitchen is able to feed me, and most of the time, they are (albeit with varying levels of success).

This year, as well as blogging about stuff that happens in my kitchen, I'll also try to include regular posts about the kitchens that feed me (without me having to do a thing but plant by butt down on a seat and order). If you have any restaurant recommendation, by all means, give them to me!

Up first is Chin Chin, located on Flinders Lane in Melbourne's CBD.

First hot tip: unless you have a fetish for queuing, do arrive before 5pm. My party arrived at about 4:45pm, waltzed in and were immediately seated on one of the several empty tables, but two hours later, as we departed, there was a veritable throng of people clustering to get in. Not my idea of fun, especially after a long day at the office. Some reviewers on Urbanspoon even claim wait times of three hours - this would surely result in my intestinal lining beginning to devour, absorb and assimilate itself from hunger, so no, not advisable. Arrive early.

Whilst the menu at Chin Chin certainly doesn't offer a whole lot of vegan options, there was enough variety of the menu to keep me happy. Though in the end I ended up sharing two mains and brown rice (yes! brown rice!) with a friend, there was a vegan-friendly sounding entree of DIY rice paper rolls, and a potentially vegan dessert (black rice pudding) both of which I intend to investigate on follow up visits.

My pal and I settled on the two vegan curries - a dry tofu pad ped packed with fresh herbs, eggplant and baby corn (that never resided in can) and a rich yellow curry full of chunks of soft pumpkin, smokey eggplant and toothsome (what a word!) tofu.

Both dishes were ridic good - fresh, lovingly prepared and packed full of enough veggies and herbs that it totally balanced out how much I actually ate, right?

I accompanied my meal with a deliciously refreshing coconut, watermelon and apple slushie (okay, so it had a bit of vodka in it too!). I thought the decorative watermelon rind was an apple, and looked quite the fool when I heartily bit into it! Ah, the joys of being my dining companion.

Chin Chin
125 Flinders Lane
(03) 8663 2000