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Archive for the ‘Recipes: Savoury’ Category

As a recently engaged gal, planning a wedding that is 18 months away has been very time-consuming. I still do find time to cook and eat and work…miraculously enough! Here are some photos of my proudest kitchen moments from the past weeks.

In order of appearance we have, roast portobellos with lentil salsa and a snow pea tendril salad, followed by an eggplant and chili rice pilaf and last, but hardly least, butternut squash, chickpea, chili and mint soup. I’ve been working on food presentation ideas, as most vegetarian dishes seem to be a bit flat and lacking the excitement of meat-centred dishes. Even though I don’t care for mushrooms, at all, I’d scarf those down in a heartbeat!

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Chickpea Burgers with Tomato-Chilli Jam and Labne

Earlier this week I came home from work one night to discover that my partner had motivated himself to cook, which made me sort of happy, as there wasn’t anything prepared to eat in the house. I’d fallen behind on my trips to the market at that point. However, he immediately informed that he’d failed miserably. The end result took ages to achieve and consequently made him feel sick after taking a few bites of it. He vowed never to cook anything for himself that required more than heating something up or popping open a takeaway lid. Something made me love him even more than I already do. In the end, I’m back to cooking up weekly storms to keep the fridge stocked with tasty eats for him to choose from through out the week. Even though I spend all day cooking at work, spending a portion of one of my precious days off cooking some more, doesn’t bother me. At work I’m just an apprentice not permitted to have opinions due to my lack of professional experience, but on the home front, I’ve been a cook for years.
Feeling really motivated after a glass of a Four Sisters Semillon blend and determined to materialise a combination of recipes I had in my head, I created this fantastic dish I’d be happy to order in my favourite cafe around the corner: A lightly pan-fried chickpea cake topped with a fiery tomato-chili jam, a cooling dollop of labne and a delicate little crown of sprouts.

I bought Super Natural Foods by Heidi Swanson while I was in California and finally sat down to pour over the gorgeous photos inside. I settled on her Sprouted Chickpea Burger recipe as it it was reminiscent of the bun-less burger one of my Japanese friends told me are ever so popular in Japan — a burger that uses two patties of your choice, instead of bread, and the fillings of your choice in between. I must say that the recipe produced delicious results indeed. The finely chopped onions mixed throughout the patties give the dish a great crunch without overwhelming your mouth with a raw punch-in-the-face taste.
Without further delay, I present the recipe that turned my kitchen upside down. Note: make your labne the night before.

Chickpea Burgers adapted from Super Natural Foods (Heidi Swanson)

Makes 4 patties

1 can of organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 free-range egg
2 tbs coarsely chopped parsley
1/2 of one medium-sized onion, finely chopped
approximately 5 tbs bread crumbs, depending on how moist your prefer your mix to be
a dash of sumac
salt and pepper, to taste

  • Combine the chickpeas and eggs in a bowl and blitz them using a hand blender or a food processor until you’ve got a very thick and chunky hummus. Stir in the sumac, parsley and onion to combine. Add your breadcrumbs to achieve the thickness desired. You want the mix to be able to be shaped into patties without sticking to you hands. After adding the breadcrumbs, let the mixture sit for a bit to absorb the crumbs. If your mix ends up being too dry, add more egg or water, conversely, add more crumbs if you find it too dry. Once you have the mixture to your liking, season it with salt and pepper.
  • Shape into 4 patties and place in the fridge to firm up.
  • Heat a few tablespoons of pure olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat and gently pan fry the patties until each side is nicely caramelised and the patties are firm, about 6-7 minutes on each side. Enjoy these while they’re hot.
  • To make the tomato jam;
    • 1 tin of diced tomatoes
    • 1/2 of one medium sized onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 tbs pure olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
    • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
      • Heat your oil over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic without colouring them (i.e. caramelising or burning) until the onions are transparent and the garlic is soft.
      • Add the remaining ingredients, stir and cook over a very low heat until the mixture has reduced to a consistency of a nice jam you’d spread on your toast. Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish with 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  • For the labne, which is essentially yoghurt that has had most of it’s moisture drained out;
    • I used organic no-fat plain yoghurt, but any plain yoghurt works well here
    • Take a sieve and line it with muslin or a clean tea towel. Place the lined sieve over a bowl and pour the yoghurt into sieve. The juices will then drain through the cloth or muslin into the bowl and leave behind a lovely, thick yoghurt with spreading and shaping abilities that can be flavoured with any savoury or sweet addition your heart desires.
    • Allow to drain over night. The labne will keep for up to two weeks if you use a clean spoon every time you take some.

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Organic Rye Loaf

I recently moved house and am now the proud owner of a kitchen that is actually equipped with an oven large enough to fit food that will feed the mouths of more than 2 people. I can bake 2 (yes, 2) or more loaves of bread at one time, several trays of biscuits rather than half of one and can even roast several trays of vegetables in a matter of minutes. I’ve started baking bread again and am loving it.

After a recent visit to San Fransisco over the holidays, I now feel compelled (and somewhat obligated) to buy everything I can at the market rather than make the convenient trip to the supermarket and buy food that has several hundred “food miles” attached to it’s price tag. I’ve been buying my flours in bulk at Victoria Market for over a year now. The stall has an excellent selection of flours and grains, which are either bio-dynamic or organic. They are less expensive what you’d get at the supermarket because you’re not paying for packaging, marketing, etc. They were out of bakers flour and wholemeal flour, so I picked those up at Coles out of desperation and settled on an organic rye flour and organic white flour from the market stall.

I tend to bake my breads using 100% whole grains, however, because rye, spelt and buckwheat flours have even less gluten than plain wholemeal flour, I’ve been doing a 50/50 blend. Half white, half rye (or spelt or buckwheat). The results have been none other than absolutely pleasing. I usually bake 1kg loaves, either in 2 small loaves or one massive one…and we have no problem polishing it off before the week’s end.

The flours in this recipe can be switched up to suit your desires, however, I wouldn’t recommend using 100% rye, buckwheat or spelt if you are expecting to get a light bread with rise. Even wholemeal is on the heavy side, but it has a very comforting, dense, yet soft, luscious crumb. 100% wholemeal works fine here as well.

Organic Rye Loaf (make a 1kg loaf)
250 g organic plain, white flour
250 g organic rye flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp instant yeast (or 16 g fresh yeast)
1 tbs olive oil
warm water, approximately 300 ml; dependant on the freshness of the flour and air moisture

  • Combine all of your ingredients, except for the water in a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, give everything a stir to create a uniform mix. Make a well in the centre of the flours and pour 1/3 of the water, plus the olive oil. Stir to combine.
  • Continue to add water until the flour has come together to form a stodgy mixture, but not too sticky. Sprinkle flour on your bench-top and turn out the dough. Begin to knead the dough until it’s dry enough so that it holds its shape when twisted, but not so moist that it sticks to your palms like cheap white bread on the roof of your mouth.
  • Wholegrain doughs will require about 10 minutes or so of kneading to create a nice, pliable dough.
  • Once you’ve got a flexible dough, you’ll want to form it into a ball. Grab a clean bowl, grease it with olive oil and place your dough inside. Cover the bowl loosely with cling wrap or a moist tea towel and leave to prove (rise) for about an hour.
  • Preheat your oven to 250ºC. When your dough has expanded to about double it’s size, press down on it to remove all of the air pockets that have formed by the gas produced by the yeast. Form the dough into a football-shaped oval and place in your oiled loaf tin to prove until the dough rises over the top of the tin.
  • Bake for 15 minutes and then lower temperature to 200º C. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the loaf sounds “hollow” when flicked with your fingers.
  • Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack before scarfing it down.
  • I usually enjoy freshly baked bread with lashings a really nice cold-press extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.

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Eggplants from Vic MarketCurry in progress

I’ve finished cookery school, moved house, took a 6-week holiday and have since obtained a proper kitchen job working with proper chefs. The arrival of 2008 and the resolutions (which are made every year and every year are only nearly accomplished) I’ve made are the signal of a new start. I’m diving in head first in the Melbourne food scene and eating my drinking my way to the deepest, darkest corners of the city.

Today marks the beginning of the future of a new direction for my food writing. A future with lashings of food writing, drizzlings of good eats and generous dabbles in kitchen adventures. After not having posted anything fresh here for months, it was time I did some cleaning up. There will be a greater focus on vegetarian food that not only comes out of my head or a magazine and into my kitchen, but also a focus on the multitude of restaurants and cafes in Melbourne and what they have to offer to those who say, “No thank you” to meat.

Consider this the new Chronicles of a Dirty Flamingo in the Kitchen and I’m sending us off into the new year with a fabulous curry recipe by Sydney-based Skye Gyngell.

Eggplant, White Bean and Puy Lentil Curry adapted from Delicious magazine (FEB 08)

2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 dried curry leaves
1 dried kafir leaf
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 medium sized eggplant, cut into bitesized cubs
400g canned chopped tomatoes
30 ml coconut milk, plus 300 ml water
400g can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
100 g cooked puy lentils, optional

  • Heat your oil in a large, deep frypan over medium heat, add onions and ground coriander, then cook while stiring periodically until onions soften; about 3-5 minutes
  • Throw in your garlic, curry and lime leaves, lime juice, sugar and soy sauce. Stir to combine and add the eggplant, cooking it for about 8 minutes.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir. Reduce to low and cook until eggplant is soft and the mixture has thickend. About 15 minutes.
  • Add the beans and puy lentils and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until warmed through.
  • Serve hot over the rice of your choice (basmati or jasmine is lovely) and top with yoghurt or creme fraiche, if you prefer.

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Today was one of those days where I was debating going out into the rain to pick up some ingredients at the supermarket or see what I could whip up with just what I had in my kitchen. I chose the latter. Carrots and macaroni left over from the cookery club meeting turned into Huevos a la Flamenca (Spanish baked eggs) with fresh goats’ cheese over macaroni and Carrot, Onion, Potato and Sage soup — both a success if I might say so myself.

I recently rediscovered some smoked paprika in my cupboard, so I thought that would give the baked dish a nice hint of smokiness to replace the chorizo that traditionally goes into it. It was also a perfect excuse to use some of my stark white bakeware I never seem to get around to using.
Huevos a la Flamenca with fresh goats’ cheese over macaroni –serves 2–
200 g cooked macaroni shaped pasta (about 100g to 130 g uncooked)
200 g passata, Italian cooking tomato sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp of smoked paprika
1/4 tsp powdered cumin
1/4 tsp powdered coriander
2 eggs, Free Range
20 g soft goats’ cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 220º C. Combine spices with passata then stir in pasta until thoroughly combined. Spoon pasta into two oven proof mini casseroles and make a well in the centre of each. Crack 1 egg into each well. Divide the goat’s cheese into two portions, then break into smaller pieces and arrange around the egg yolk. Season, cover with baking paper followed by foil and place into your hot oven. Bake until the yolks are set, about 20-25 minutes. To serve use a knife to make a criss-cross on the yolk, crack some pepper over the top and enjoy!

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I’m always dubious when I see things like “Mexican stew”, “Cajun chicken”, mostly because I always imagine people using their pair of kitchen scissors to snip the corner off of a spice packet, empty it into whatever they’re cooking consequently allowing their taste buds to instantly be transported to the streets of New Orleans or the Mexican countryside. One of the specials at my restaurant this week is Jamaican stew, I haven’t tasted it, but I have seen it. It looks a whole lot like a Thai curry — light, creamy and delicious. That 2 second visual experience inspired tomorrow’s lunch, Jamaican-style Lentils & Rice. I say Jamaican-style because I really couldn’t be bothered with facing the drab weather outside today.

Jamaican-style Lentils & Rice – adapted from here – serves 4

200g dried lentils
15o g brown rice
2 cloves of garlic, bruised (mashed)
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 g fresh ginger
6 tsp powdered coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste
1 litre + water

**Combine lentils, water, rice, garlic and ginger in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes or until rice is tender and lentils have lost their bite. In final minutes of cooking remove garlic and ginger and add remaining spices. Season to taste and serve with fresh chopped parsley.

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I just happened to pick up the July issue of Super Food Ideas today and found a recipe for Jambalaya. I’ve cooked Jambalaya only once in my life as a home cook and remember it being a rather satisfying dish. As soon as I flipped thought the magazine, I forgot about the Jambalaya and instead focused on what sort of sweets I should bake. I fiddle about the kitchen a bit and then found myself gathering ingredients for a Jambalaya inspired dish based on Spanish rice and Mexican rice. Jambalaya is typically cooked with different types of shellfish and meats, much like a paella, so I added some red beans as a protein substitute. The result was essentially a rather tasty Creole-style Jambalaya. A hearty dish like this one perfectly suits a day like today: cold, foggy and perfectly bleak.

Jambalaya — adapted from Super Food Ideas, July Issue
100 g brown rice
200 g canned red beans, rinsed and drained
45 g onion, finely diced
1 garlic, minced
120 g red capsicum, cut into 4 cm strips
2 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 sweet paprika
1 Massel Chicken-style stock cube
500 ml water

1. Saute the onion and garlic over low heat in the olive oil until lightly browned. Add the rice and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add water, capsicum, beans, tomato puree and spices along with the stock cube and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook over low heat for 40 minutes.
2. Check water levels after 20 minutes and adjust accordingly. Stir infrequently. When the rice is cooked, adjust seasonings. The end result should be like a “dry” soup.
3. Garnish with parsley chiffonade and eat away!

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The arrival of winter means soups, pies and other warm, hearty foods, well, provided you don’t live in the tropics. To fill up before heading off to work with grease laden food at my favourite place of employment I whipped up this clean tasting Asian-style broth — hopefully it’ll keep me from scarfing down chips at the end of my shift!

Asian Vegetable & Noodle Broth — serves 1

500 ml water
2 cm chunk of fresh ginger
the juice of 1/4 of a lime
2-3 springs of fresh coriander, picked, no stems
120 g bok choy, chiffonade (thinly sliced)
60 g of firm tofu, 1 cm cubes
4 g of Asian rice seasoning (Furikake — for rice balls, inari, etc– a mixture of shredded seaweed, sesame seeds, etc.)
22 g rice stick noodles
10 ml light soy sauce
2 ml kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 spring onion, cut into 3 portions

Bring the water to a boil along with the ginger root, rice noodles, rice seasoning, soy sauce and kecap manis. Turn down to a simmer and add the tofu, bok choy. Simmer until the noodles are soft and bok choy is tender. Before serving remove spring onion and ginger root. Garnish with fresh coriander and add a squeeze of lime. After finishing the broth you’ll find crunchy toasted sesame seeds and shredded nori at the bottom of your bowl for added texture and interest.

108 calories/3.3 g fat/9.1 g protein/98mg calcium

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Roast Fennel and Orange Salad with a citrus vinaigrette
(it tastes way better than it looks)

Zucchini batons with a polenta-herb crumb served with a saffron aïoli dipping sauce

Everyone knows that anything, well, almost anything fried is delicious so it’s without saying that dinner was absolutely fabulous tonight. I don’t think Will and I have actually sat down and had dinner together since January or February so on my unexpected day off I organised 5-course meal: Zucchini Batons with Saffron-Aïoli (adapted from a dish a chef once made for me because I was vegetarian), Roast Fennel and Orange Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette (adapted Vegie Food), Pumpkin and Mint Ravioli (a disaster due to temperamental store bought pasta dough), a cheese plate with Maggie Beer’s quince paste, a Pont L’Eveque and fresh Asiago with savoury biscuits and sliced baguette, and finally a white chocolate pudding cake — which is waiting to be baked as I type. To wash everything down neatly, we opened a bottle of Peter Lehman Semillon.

The zucchini batons and the salad were by far the best parts of the meal, but the salad from Vegie Food was outstanding. The faint hint of aniseed from the fennel and the refreshing burst of citrus from the chilled orange segments was a surprisingly tasty combination:

Roasted Fennel and Orange Salad (serves 2)

4 baby fennel bulbs
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 orange
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of roughly chopped mint, no stems
1/2 tablespoons of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Trim the fronds (the frilly green leaves) from the top of the fennel and set aside. Remove the stalks and cut a slice off the base of each fennel by 5 mm. Slice each bulb in half lengthwise, then slice each half into three. Arrange on a baking tray, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to evenly coat them with oil and seasoning. Grill the fennel until caramelised, turning twice during cooking. Allow to cool and toss through the mint and parsley.

2. Segment the orange over a bowl to catch any juices. Squeeze any juice remaining in the “membranes” into the bowl as well. Whisk 2 tablespoons of oil together with the orange and lemon juice until more or less emulsified. Season with a bit of salt to taste.

3. To assemble the salad on each plate, place the fennel in the center of each plate to form a small mound. Arrange the orange segments over the mound. Spoon the dressing around the edges of the plate and drizzle a bit over the salad. Use a few of the reserved fronds to garnish.

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I fell in love with the unique taste of olive oil in Spain, but only at the every end of my 3 years in Spain. I remember my father always had it drizzled over his salad with a bit of white vinegar. I tasted it once, in secret of course, and I wanted nothing to do with it. One of the first few days in my off-campus (university-owned) apartment, I was set up in the kitchen, ravenously hungry from who knows what and about to cook myself some potato product that looked charmingly round (“Oh look, globe-shaped potato product, let’s eat this for lunch”, I said to myself in the supermarket). Upon extracting the potato balls from the oil and letting them sit on a pile of kitchen towels, I popped on into my mouth and just as quickly spit it out. I had mistakenly purchased olive oil instead of standard vegetable oil and found the new flavour quite unpleasant on my poor undeveloped palate.

It was my first year away from home and my first year cooking food for myself as new vegetarian. I’ll be honest, I lived on cheese sandwiches, tortilla (española) sandwiches, chips, candy and pasta for the first two years in Spain. That sounds absolutely horrendous to me know, but back then I never dreamt of buying a cookbook or eating tapas in the bars. Every time I browsed over the selection of tapas in the bars I could never decipher one greasy pool of food from the one sitting right next to it, plus, most of it didn’t look vegetarian, which is why I lived mostly on potatoes. It wasn’t until I left Spain at the end of two years and spent a year and a half in America, that I learnt about Spanish cooking and began to cook with olive oil and never looked back.

I’ve been back to Spain twice since then and it was during my time living in the southern tip of Spain, Seville to be exact, that I began to appreciate the vegetarian-unfriendliness of Spain and how to work around it to get what I wanted. I went out for tapas, drank sangria by the litre, dowsed myself with tinto de verano when it was hot — I was like everyone else, for once. There was no longer a need to stuff my face with hot chips.

Some weeks ago I borrowed a book titled Shaha: A Chef’s Journey through Lebanon and Syria along with Moro Cookbook. The cuisines of the Muslim- Mediterranean all share so much in common. For some reason, I like to throw Italy in there as well — there is a focus on simply cooked food and good ingredients.


On a previous Dirty Tuesday I posted photos of Manoushi Bread, which is a Syrian/Lebanese bread similar Italian pizza, but with chewier tendencies and an all-together different vibe. It’s typically not loaded up with toppings and sent to the oven to cook until crisp. These fantastic little rounds of bread cook up in about 3 minutes and taste best just out of the oven, although they can be reheated under the grill for a minute or two.

Manoushi Bread (makes 12 rounds) adapted from Saha: A Chef’s Journey Through Lebanon and Syria

355 g plain white flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp sugar
175 ml – 200 ml warm water

1. Sift the flour, yeast and salt into a bowl. Dissolve the sugar in the water.
2. Slowly add the water while using one hand to mix. The dough should be on the stickier side, but you should be able to form a ball and knead it until smooth. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes.
3. Roll the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and leave to rise for 2 hours. While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings for your bread. Less is more in this case as the bread itself imparts it’s own delicious flavours.
4. Divide dough into 12 pieces and form into balls on a lightly floured surface. Preheat oven to highest temperature if you’re using a baking stone or 230-40º C if using a baking tray and set balls aside until ready to use. Roll out the balls into rounds and top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Try caramelised onions and feta or minced sun dried tomatoes and Granda Padana cheese (or a proper Parmesan if you’re not that strict with your vegetarian diet)
5. Bake for 3 minutes, cool only slightly and enjoy.

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