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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.