Posts filed under ‘recipes’

Soup nor mai

20141117 soupnormai1

Have you ever had the experience of going to a much-loved restaurant only to find that your favourite dish is no longer on the menu? I have. Let me relate the story. It was a dark and stormy night…

Actually, it was a warm November evening at our Thai restaurant*–the ‘secret’ suburban Thai place that everyone knows about, but about which no one speaks. The menus had been reprinted, with very little change to the layout. Every dish was there, ostensibly, but when I ordered my soup nor mai, I was informed that it was no longer on the menu. Later in the evening, I asked the owner about the omission. She told me that it was difficult to make for everyone’s tastes and feedback had been mixed. Feedback, shmeedback. I love it.

What is soup nor mai? It’s an Esarn (south-eastern) Thai bamboo shoot salad. As for rujak, it is something of an acquired taste and, when you have acquired it, you won’t be able to get enough of it.

Naturally this meant that I had to make the recipe for myself. Fortunately, it wasn’t the first time I’d prepared soup nor mai, so I knew where to go for help: Amporn Oleski. I used her excellent recipe as a base, and you can find that right here:

Recipe #148: Soup nor mai [aka “spicy bamboo shoot salad”]. You will find all of the ingredients you need for this recipe at your local Asian grocer. You will need a spice grinder, mortar and pestle and/or Thermomix to make this recipe. Serves 8+ as a side.

You will need:
► 400g bamboo shoots, boiled until soft then sliced/shredded into fine strips [some stores sell bamboo shoots pre-cooked and vacuum-packed–in which case, I would give them a good wash before using]
► 4 shallots, finely sliced
► 4 spring (green) onions
► 1 big handful of coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
► 2 heaped Tbsp toasted rice powder [I toasted about 300g of brown rice, which I cooled and ground into a coarse powder. You don’t need all of this for the recipe–but preparing this volume will mean you have some premade for your next batch]
► 1 + 1/2 Tbsp chilli powder [for best results: buy dried chillis, toast them until they start to turn deep red (but not black), then grind them into a coarse powder with your mortar and pestle]
► 6 Tbsp fish sauce
► 6 Tbsp lime juice [I juiced two large limes for this recipe]
► toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Start by preparing your raw ingredients; this takes quite a chunk of time if you don’t have them lined up.

Combine the bamboo shoots with the shallots, spring onions, coriander, toasted rice powder and chilli. Combine the dry ingredients until the bamboo shoots are well coated; ensure the other ingredients are not clumping together too much.

20141117 nakedsoupnormai

Mix in half of the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste. Add more of each, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you reach enough saltiness/astringency to make your tastebuds pop.

Sprinkle over some toasted sesame seeds and eat. Tastes best when eaten within 24 hours, but it’s still pretty delicious on days two and three.

20141117 soupnormai2


  • Pandas eat bamboo raw, but we can’t. Bamboo is poisonous to humans. Cook it first, or buy it cooked and wash it well in water and a little apple cider vinegar before using.
  • Don’t buy the canned sliced/shredded bamboo shoots as a cheaty option. It’s a bit like using pitted olives as a shortcut; they don’t have the same flavour.
  • I tried to make this vegan, I really did, but I couldn’t substitute for the fish sauce. Ordinarily I would say that using some kelp or dulse flakes would do (a la my kimchi). In this case, they don’t. The flavour is utterly and disappointingly different (to me, anyway).
  • Different brands of fish sauce can vary in flavour and saltiness, some limes are more astringent than others, coriander can be tasty or tasteless depending on how old it is and where it is grown, etc. Be mindful of product/produce variations when (carefully) adding your ingredients and don’t be afraid to taste as you go.
  • I couldn’t get my hands on Lao cilantro, otherwise known as culantro, from Amporn’s recipe. Can anyone tell me where I can get this from in Perth?
  • If you’re going to all the effort of preparing your ingredients from scratch, I say it makes sense to prepare too much–that way you have plenty of self-prepped chilli powder and toasted rice powder for future batches.

I hope that you enjoy this dish as much as I do!

H :)

*I still love the restaurant, by the way, for its sharp and authentic flavours. It’s called Thai Esarn, you’ll find it in Bayswater, and Libertine Eats wrote up a fabulous review back in 2011:

my specialist shallot peeler :)

my specialist shallot peeler :)

18 November 2014 at 11:23pm Leave a comment

Uncooked is alive!

Welcome to World Food Day! This day has been established to raise awareness of world hunger–and to do something about it.

There are so many ways that we can contribute to efforts around World Food Day, including:

  • participation in formal events around Eat Local Feed Global;
  • pledging money to a hunger-busting cause (such as The Hunger Project);
  • volunteering time tending to a food garden;
  • spending time being mindful and appreciative of where our food comes from; and
  • ensuring that we are less wasteful in our own households.

I am proud to be timing the release of Uncooked with such a worthwhile date and cause.

Uncooked is now live on Amazon and Kobo, with availability on other good ebook etailers coming soon.

Featuring more than 60 of the most popular raw food recipes from my uncooking classes to date, I have priced it to cost around the same as an average cup of Perth coffee, so it’s very affordable.

*** To celebrate the release of Uncooked, I am giving it away to five lucky readers! *** All you need to do is comment on this blog post with your top kitchen waste-saving tip–or, if you don’t have one of those, just tell me why you want my ebook. Do this by 5pm WST on 30 October 2014 to be in the running. This competition is open to commenters worldwide.

As for the winner of my Griffiths Coffee giveaway from my nasturtium caper post: it’s Mar (commenter #7), as selected by the random number generation at Congratulations, Mar! I will be in touch to organise delivery of your coffee.

Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful rest-of-week,

H :)

Addendum (3 November 2014): Congratulations to Mar, Jodie and Dianne, whose excellent waste saving and recycling comments have garnered each of them a copy of Uncooked!

16 October 2014 at 5:23pm 6 comments

How to make your own capers, and would you like some coffee?

20140930 nasturtiumwaterdrops

It has been a while. Thanks for sticking with me; I hope you have been very well. I have good reasons for staying away — which make for poor excuses, I know — including work, family, writing stories, compiling my next ebook…

As excited as I am about Uncooked, that’s not what this post is about. And it’s not about coffee, although there is a coffee-related giveaway later on in the post. Today I am writing to tell you to eat more weeds – and by weeds I mean nasturtiums.

In my ‘Eat your flowers’ post of 18 September 2012, I mentioned some of the health benefits of the humble nasturtium (which include its use as an antifungal, antiseptic and expectorant) and gave you a recipe for a blooming good smoothie [1]. With its application as a natural antibiotic for respiratory illnesses and tummy upsets [2], I have to wonder as to why do not take better advantage of this plant that floods many Perth suburbs by the end of each Winter.

The recipe to follow uses the seeds of this versatile plant, and you will find these in convenient clusters of three. When you are preparing to make your capers, be sure to pick the unopened flower buds and very young, green seeds that are still attached to the plant, as these will pickle faster and give a sweeter result; the older seeds are fine to use but can take up to 8 months to soften.

20140930 nasturtiumseeds

Recipe #147: Nasturtium Capers. This is a recipe of ratios, depending on how many seeds you harvest. You will need a saucepan to make the brine, and a bowl you can cover for the brining process.

For every 1 cup of nasturtium seeds and buds, you will need:
► 1 x 400-600mL jar, cleaned and sterilised
► 1/4 cup of Himalayan or sea salt
► 2 cups of water
► 2 bay leaves
► apple cider vinegar (enough to cover the nasturtiums in the jar)
► olive oil, to seal the vinegar

Begin by making the brine. Place the salt and water together in a saucepan over a heat source, stirring occasionally. Remove the saucepan from the heat when the salt crystals are dissolved. Put the saucepan to one side and allow the brine to cool.

Once the brine has reached room temperature, pour it over the nasturtium seeds and buds. Let the brined seeds/buds sit for two days, and drain.

Place the brined seeds and buds into jars with 1-2 bay leaves per small jar. Pour over enough apple cider to just cover the seeds and buds, then top up with olive oil to create a seal. Put your capers somewhere cool and dark to rest.

20140930 nasturtiumcapers1

Taste-test your nasturtium capers at 2 months, then at 2-weekly intervals, until they are pickled to your liking. While the end result will taste remarkably like the capers you already know, the nasturtium capers have a slightly firmer texture and a peppery aftertaste.

20140930 nasturtiumcapers2

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the dried capers could be used as a coffee substitute. The truth is that I probably wouldn’t go to the trouble of preparing capers for coffee except as a novelty; I love the taste, smell and ritual of real coffee too much.

A short time ago, a representative from Griffiths Coffee kindly gifted me with some Just Fair coffee to give away to one lucky reader. Just Fair is available at a wide array of independent stores around Australia and, as well as being delicious, it prides itself on being certified Fairtrade and organic.

20140930 JustFair

To win a 250g tin of ground organic espresso coffee, all you need to do is leave a comment to this post, listing where you are from and detailing your favourite coffee-inspired recipe or ritual. The competition closes at 5pm WST on 15 October 2014. I will announce the winner on this blog (chosen via random number selection) on 16 October – when I will also announce another giveaway.

Note that, while interstate or overseas readers are very welcome to comment, this is a local giveaway to readers from Perth, WA due to postage cost.

Speaking of coffee, on 16 October (that’s World Food Day to you!), my Uncooked ebook will be released for around the cost of a Perth coffee – and you can pre-order your very own copy from Amazon. I’m thrilled to be able to present this to you, as it represents over 60 of my most popular class recipes from the past five years in the one place, many of which do not appear in this blog.

As a final note, we will be making the blooming good smoothie, among other seasonal recipes, at my Spring Bling uncooking class on 12 October — and there is still a place for you. Let me know if you want to take it :)

Good luck with all your capers, and I hope to see you on 12 October,

H :)


  1. Khan, T. (2010) ‘Nasturtium Seeds & Flowers’ on Available online via [last accessed: 30 September 2014].
  2. Shipard, I. (2008) ‘Nasturtium – Natural Antibiotic’ on Herbs are Special. Available online via [last accessed: 30 September 2014].

30 September 2014 at 11:55pm 8 comments

Yummy homemade kimchi

mmm kimchi

If you are a fan of fermented and/or chilli-hot food and you haven’t tried kimchi, then you must! And if you don’t like it at first, you must try it in little bursts again and again and again. You may not be sold on its strong flavour straight away – but when you do decide you like it, prepare for the inevitable addiction.

Kimchi evolved from salted vegetables, or shimchae, in Korea some time before 700CE. Cabbage and chilli were added to the fermented mix much later – around 1800CE, with the introduction of hot chilli peppers to Korea via Japan – and there are even recorded recipes involving pheasant and fish [1,2]. Nowadays, it’s the quintessential Korean side dish.

I have to admit to falling for this spicy ferment in 2011, the year before the ‘kimchi craze’ apparently overtook Perth, and the year I turned…three years younger [3]. Fresh-faced. Newly fascinated with rujak [aka “rojak”]. Easy prey. Before then, I wasn’t overly fussed about it; now I cannot open a jar of kimchi without salivation and a generous tasting.

I am gradually experiencing and learning more about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation (ie. preservation by lactic acid, as produced via lactobacilli, which inhibits the growth of putrefying bacteria). Kimchi is a naturally (wild) fermented product that is full of probiotics, vitamins and antimicrobial activity, promoting good digestion and gut health, immunity and even an ability to lower cholesterol [4,5].

Knowing that the best foods are often the product of serendipity rather than design, and being aware of the myth around yoghurt’s discovery, I have to wonder as to whether this fermented food was ‘created’ or ‘discovered’ [6]. I mean, who would think of leaving a bowl of chopped-up, brined vegies lying around to see if they escaped spoilage at room temperature?

I can just imagine the conversation around that first fermentation:

     She says, ‘I thought you said you cleaned up last night.’
     He: ‘Yeah…’
     ‘But the spicy cabbage is still out on the table.’
     ‘Such a waste of food. I hate wasting food.’
     ‘And it’s my favourite, too.’
     ‘I know!’
     He turns his head sideways. ‘It was a cold night last night. I reckon it might be alright.’
     ‘No.’ Violent shake of the head. ‘Absolutely not. It’s bubbling on top – by itself!’
     ‘I’ll give it a go,’ says he, balancing red-speckled greens onto a stick and into his mouth. ‘Mmm..tangy. And still crunchy. It’s actually pretty good. You should try it.’
     She folds her arms and gives him a look of utter disgust.
     His eyes light. ‘Better yet, let’s bury it underground; let it go really sour! What do you think?’
     She rolls her eyes and walks off, unaware that she has witnessed the beginnings of a great dish…

Aside from the addictive flavour, another of the factors contributing to the ubiquity of kimchi has to be that it is ridiculously easy to make. My recipe uses napa (Chinese) cabbage and draws on the expertise of others who know better than me: Sandor Katz, Sally Fallon, Emily Ho, Ben Morris and David Lebovitz [4,7,8,9,10]. Incidentally, the thing I love about Ben’s bok choy recipe is that it features a calculator that updates the required amount of each paste ingredient based on your bok choy count [9].

napa cabbage

Recipe #146: Easy cabbage kimchi. This is a raw recipe. You will need a large saucepan, a small bowl, a very big bowl, a large colander and a very clean 2.5-3L jar (or 4-5 x 600mL jars). And I would invest in some rubber gloves, because this mixture can sting your skin.

Note that this recipe takes about 30 minutes of prep time in total (once the brine is cooled and ready to use), but you’ll need to wait at least 2 days before it is ready to eat.

You will need:
► 6 Tbsp of salt
► 12 cups of water
► 1 large (~2kg) napa cabbage
► 5 good-sized cloves of garlic, grated with a microplane
► 1 heaped tsp of ginger, grated with a microplane
► 4 Tbsp of hot chilli flakes [while this is a conservative amount of chilli, I recommend halving the amount if you can’t handle hot spice]
► 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
► 3 Tbsp of dulse flakes [you could equally use kelp powder or fish sauce]
► 6 spring onions (scallions), cut into 2 cm lengths

Begin by making the brine. Place the salt and water together in a large saucepan over a heat source, stirring occasionally. Remove the saucepan from the heat when the salt crystals are dissolved. Put the saucepan to one side and allow the brine to cool.

Once the brine has reached room temperature, cut the cabbage into rough pieces (cut out and compost its woody stem) and place into the very big bowl. Pour the brine over the cabbage. The brine probably won’t cover the cabbage – yet. Place a plate and a weight on top of your cabbage to weigh it down (I used a full teapot) and, once all the cabbage is covered in brine, leave it to soak for at least two hours. I leave mine overnight.

Drain the cabbage and place it back into your very big bowl with the spring onions. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, chilli, cayenne and dulse into a dry paste.

before the mix

Add the spice paste to the cabbage and spring onions. Mix well with gloved hands, ensuring each piece of cabbage has come into contact with the paste.

all mixed up

When the cabbage looks evenly coated, transfer the mixture into the jar(s), pressing down lightly as you go.

Leave the kimchi on your kitchen bench (or at the bottom of your pantry if the weather is warm) until it begins to ferment, then refrigerate and start using your kimchi.

The kimchi should take 1-3 days to start fermenting. There is an easy way to tell that fermentation has started: bubbles rise to the top of the kimchi when you open the jar, or when you prod it with a chopstick. If you’re not sure, taste it. You’re looking for a tangy, fishy, spicy flavour with plenty of umami. And you should notice that your cabbage has retained a delightful crunch.

I have made two batches of kimchi using this recipe, and it just keeps getting better.

mmm kimchi

Some notes and tips from my learnings:

  • If you can’t find napa cabbage, you can substitute with bok choy or another cabbage variety in its place – or you can use other vegetables, like daikon radish or carrot, as well as/instead.
  • Traditional kimchi recipes call for the use of gochugaru, a coarse Korean chilli powder [11]. I am sure that this would impart a smokier, more authentic flavour. I elected to use what I had in my pantry because it was there.
  • That said, there really is no such thing as ‘traditional’ kimchi. Some kimchi-ers swear by ingredients that others would not dare to use.
  • Use an unprocessed sea/rock salt and filtered/spring water to make the brine. White table/cooking salt usually incorporates an anticaking (free-flowing) agent and this may inhibit fermentation, as can the chlorine in unfiltered water [8].
  • When you know the flavours you are after, play with the amounts of each ingredient – but remember that too much garlic will make your kimchi bitter, and too much ginger will make your kimchi sticky [8].
  • Many traditional recipes feature sugar. While it can increase the speed of fermentation, it really isn’t necessary.
  • The finished product lasts for at least three weeks, and potentially for months, if kept in the refrigerator once signs of fermentation are present [8,10].

This simple recipe adds a bucketload of zingy goodness to any meal. My favourite way to enjoy this side dish is with poached eggs. Or with salads, rice, pastas. Or straight from the jar. Actually, yes, straight from the jar is my absolute favourite way to eat it.

H :)


  1. McPherson, J. (2006) “Kimchi: A Short History” on ZenKimchi. Available online from: [last accessed: 16 June 2014].
  2. Korea Tourism Organisation (undated) “History of Kimchi” on Visit Korea. Available online from: [last accessed: 16 June 2014].
  3. News Ltd (2011) “Kimchi the hottest foodie trend for 2012″ on perthnow Lifestyle. Available online from: [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  4. Fallon, S. & Enig, M. (2001) Nourishing Traditions, NewTrends Publishing, Washington DC.
  5. Lee, H., Yoon, H., Ji, Y., Kim, H., Park, H., Lee, J., Shin, H. & Holzapfel, W. (2011) “Functional properties of Lactobacillus strains isolated from kimchi” in International Journal of Food Microbiology. Available online from: [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  6. Jalna Dairy Foods (2014) “Origins of yoghurt” on Jalna. Available online from: [last accessed: 16 June 2014].
  7. Katz, S. E. (2001) Wild Fermentation, Microcosm, Kansas.
  8. Ho, E. (2013) “How To Make Easy Kimchi At Home” on Apartment Therapy – The Kitchn. Available online from: [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  9. Morris, B. (2013) “Bok Choy Kimchi” on The Urban Farmer. Available online from: [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  10. Lebovitz, D. (2008) “Kimchi Recipe” on David Lebovitz. Available online from: [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  11. Ho, E. (2013) “From The Spice Cupboard: Gochugaru” on Apartment Therapy – The Kitchn. Available online from: [last accessed: 8 June 2014].

17 June 2014 at 10:47am 1 comment

Hot diggety!

Meet my mustard.

my mustard

Many moons ago, I set myself a simple mission: to make my own hot, seeded and excellent-flavoured mustard. Why? I wanted to see if I could make something better than the offerings from my local stores, and I wanted to do achieve this using only wholefood ingredients.

The event that sparked this mission was my failed search for a ‘natural’ hot English mustard. I was annoyed to find that the most common brands incorporate nondescript vegetable oils, soy lecithin, spices and/or spice extracts, all of which send my GM and MSG radars into a spin.

I did manage to source a smooth variety of ‘strong’ yellow mustard that used wholefood ingredients, however its heat was disappointing and I had to wonder as to whether this has something to do with the way it was treated after manufacture, as high temperature destroys the spicy heat of mustard’s volatile compounds.

In my reading about mustard-making, I have discovered that mustard is really very simple to make and the main determinant of a mustard’s hotness is the heat (mainly of the liquids used) in preparation. This works in an inversely proportional relationship, ie. the colder the water, the hotter the mustard. Success seemed too easy after I found these little facts so, armed with the Instructables instructions, I gave myself two sub-missions: (1) to grow enough seeds to make my own mustard; and (2) to make my mustard raw.

Along the way, I also discovered that you need a LOT of seeds and even more patience when it comes to the harvesting. I harvested 12-15 plants with mature seed pods from different parts of my garden, dried them in a paper bag for two weeks, then spent hours de-podding and collecting the seeds with the help of various others on the way. And then, after more time spent winnowing away the pod membranes that refused to part with the seeds, I measured out the fruits of my labour. Six tablespoons’ worth of seeds. Somewhat demoralising.

mustard seeds

With this, my plans for a totally homegrown mustard were dashed – but I did have just enough to make up the ‘seeded’ component of my mustard.

Recipe #144: Hannah’s Strong & Very Yummy Mustard [which is also a basically raw recipe – except for the coconut flower nectar]. These are exactly the ingredients and quantities that I used. Please feel free to substitute for your own tastes and pantry.

You will need:
► 6 Tbsp of oriental (purple osaka) mustard seeds, soaked for 3 days in the fridge
► 1/2 cup of yellow mustard powder
► 3 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
► 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric
► 1 tsp of finely ground Himalayan salt
► 1/2 cup of very cold water [I cooled mine with iceblocks, but didn’t used the ice itself]
► 1 heaped tsp of coconut flower nectar

Method: Pulse all ingredients together in a blender, food processor or Thermomix until you have the consistency you want. This took me only a few seconds because I wanted to see the seeds in my mustard.

Easy peasy, right? Now comes the really hard part: leave your mustard alone in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you can hold off for this long, your mixture will thicken and lose the bitterness that is present in the fresh mustard and you will be happier with the result, which is very awesome with the combination of orange-infused labneh* and olive & onion sourdough ciabatta (both homemade, of course! And that includes the olives – homecured according to Claire’s award-winning recipe).

very yum

On tasting, the flavour and heat of my mustard is great, however I do have one complaint: the bite dissipates within a few moments. It packs a wasabi punch that is sock-knocking then suddenly not.

This brings me to my next mission: to give more length to my mustard. I want a more lingering heat to my hot mustard, and this calls for more research and experimentation.

I am very happy with this first attempt, even though I only managed a single jar (plus a tiny sample pot) from my harvest – and that came with a lot of help from store-bought yellow mustard powder. I constantly marvel at the number of ingredients and combined efforts (from human hands and mother nature) that contribute to even the simplest of recipes, and this appreciation increases with every ‘from scratch’ recipe I attempt.

Even though my ingredients are locally grown/produced in the main, I realise that the mustard, apples, turmeric, Himalayan salt and coconuts on which my recipe relies are not native to the Perth metro area. This extends my supply chain for the base ingredients to at least three continents. I have so many people (across cultures and generations!) to thank for my humble jar of mustard.

Please let me know if you make your own mustard at home; I would love to learn from any tips and variations you can share.

H :)

* Recipe #145: Homemade Labneh [aka “labna”]. Use some muslin, cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag as the cloth for the straining, over a bowl or jug.

You will need:
► 1kg of Greek-style yoghurt
► 1 tsp of finely ground salt (to taste)

Method: Mix the yoghurt with the salt. Place the yoghurt in cloth and tie so that it can hang into a bowl/jug – or use a strainer lined with cloth, over a bowl/jug, aided with a heavy weight (like a plate or mortar). Hang at least overnight, and for 2-3 days if you can.

You can leave the labneh plain and use it as you would a soft goat’s cheese. Alternatively, you can store it with a herb/essential oil-infused olive oil, or roll teaspooned balls of it in your favourite flavours. My absolute favourite way to prepare/present labneh: fresh sprigs of marjoram with teaspoons of labneh in tangerine-infused olive oil (3-4 drops of tangerine essential oil in olive oil). This does not last in my house.

3 May 2014 at 12:00pm 2 comments

Conquering a mountain with (samphire) salad

I can’t remember when or how it happened; it just did. One meal I didn’t pick up my camera to take a photo before eating. Then before I knew it, a day, a week, a month, three months had passed, with no food photos. And that coincided – or is that culminated? – with no blog posts for a while.


Sometimes assembling a blog post can seem an Andean effort when you are caught up in the flurry of other stuff that is life. Then you remember that wellness is not only about what you put into and onto your body. Sometimes you just need to remember to breathe and know what to let go.

My quest for balance and mindfulness sees me spending less time online and more time with my husband, being mum, reading, writing and singing to my mustard seedlings, as I slowly learn what it is to work smarter. It’s not any less hard but it is incredibly enriching.

On the work front, I am proud to be involved with The Forever Project, with which I co-presented two workshops involving the dynamic Chris Ferreira and illustrious Steve Wood as part of this year’s Kings Park Festival.

In the lead-up to Saturday’s food theatre, I was asked to use samphire in my dishes – and this led to an unexpected journey of discovery. I had to figure out what on earth samphire was, how to find and harvest it, and how to eat it.

Now I have stir-fried this native herb with vegies, blanched it with hot broth, steamed it with broccoli, nibbled on it neat, and enjoyed it raw in a salad. I find its mild saltiness quite delicious, and am very excited to now have my own plant to nurture, with thanks to a certain nursery owner.

20130928 samphire_plant

*** Important note: if you’re planning to forage for samphire along the Swan River, you will need a permit (and I assume you would now get this from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, as it is subsuming the Swan River Trust…). ***

Rich in folate and vitamin C [1], samphire may just be the latest superfood [2]. It has a salty, fennel-like flavour and certain varieties appear to be related to fennel [3]. As a pickle, samphire has been used to combat scurvy on long sea voyages [4].

the remnants from Saturday's tasting...

the remnants from Saturday’s tasting…

This is an opportunistic salad, as those who came along on Saturday will know. I used what was seasonal and available while attempting to balance saltiness, sweetness, tartness, texture, colour, smell, and more. I encourage you to change the recipe to match your supplies/taste rather than spend a lot of money on specific ingredients.

Recipe #143: Samphire salad. Serves 4 as a side. The only utensils you need for this recipe are a knife, chopping block, serving bowl and glass jar.

You will need – for the salad:
► 3 x 10-15cm sprigs of raw samphire, finely chopped [remove and compost any woody segments before you chop]
► 1/3 of a small red onion, finely sliced
► a handful of young asparagus spears, sliced into 2-3cm lengths
► 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, each tomato sliced in half
► 1 overflowing handful of salad greens, roughly chopped [I used wild rocket]
► a handful of goji berries
► [optional] fennel flowers, cut from 4-5 umbels [yes, ‘umbel’ is the formal name for the ‘umbrella’ to which the flowers are attached]
► a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

You will need – for the dressing:
► 1 clove of garlic, smashed
► 3 fine slices of fresh ginger
► ~40mL of your favourite vinegar [I used a mix of apple cider and coconut balsamic vinegars]
► ~60mL of good olive oil

Start by making the dressing. Place all ingredients into a jar. Seal the jar tightly and shake vigorously. Set the dressing to one side. Shake and strain just before adding it to the salad.

To make the salad, combine all salad ingredients, except for the walnuts and fennel flowers. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to make the rocket leaves glossy. Sprinkle the walnuts and fennel flowers (if you have them) over the top of the salad. Serve and enjoy.

I did not add salt to my salad because of the natural salt content of the samphire, however you may want to season to taste.

Final note

20131002 cacaocherryslice

You could be making and tasting this delectable cacao-cherry slice if you come to my class this Sunday; there is still a place just for you! Book by emailing or calling: 0468 830 114.

Stay well until next time (and it really is lovely to see you here again!),

H :)

Samphire references:

[1] Think Natural (undated) “Medicinal plants: Samphire” on Available online via; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[2] Meldrum, J. (2013) “Samphire: The Next Superfood?” on Weekend Notes. Available online via; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[3] Plants for a Future (2012) “Crithmum maritimum – L.” on Available online via; accessed on 1 October 2013.
[4] The University of Western Australian (2012) “Adaptations 4: Surviving Extremes (fact sheet)” on Available online via; accessed on 1 October 2013.

2 October 2013 at 11:35pm 2 comments

Chocolate & beetroot

While I ordinarily enjoy the witticisms and observations sandwiched between the pages of The Flavor Thesaurus (my excellent Mothers Day present), I respectfully disagree with author Niki Segnit’s comments regarding chocolate and beetroot [1]:

In chocolate beet cake, the cocoa almost entirely overwhelms the beet flavor, leaving nothing but a hint of its earthiness, which make the cake taste like a cheap chocolate cake that’s been dropped in a flowerbed.

the cake

You may have already heard of or fallen in love with red velvet cake – a chocolate cake that is coloured red, either by red food colouring, beetroot or the reaction of vinegar and buttermilk with light cocoa [2].

When my friend Tiina shared her raw chocolate beetroot cake with me a few weeks ago, my tastebuds were tickled and my brain buzzed with new possibilities.

Enter today’s recipe, which is uncooked and features both beetroot and cacao in generous proportions. The main points of distinction between this and your usual chocolate beetroot cake recipes are that the cacao, beetroot and other ingredients are raw, no flour/eggs/refined sugar are featured, and there is no baking involved.


I am really happy with the end result, with its complementary variations in flavour and texture. The base is biscuity, the cake is moist, and the topping is light and creamy. The only thing I would do differently for next time is to pass the mousse through a fine chinois (fine mesh strainer) to make it even smoother and fluffier.

Recipe #142: Raw red velvet cake. Or you may prefer to know this cake by its full title: Hannah’s Version of Tiina’s Delicious Chocolate Beetroot Cake. You will need a food processor or Thermomix [TM] to make this recipe.

You will need – for the biscuit base:
► 140g raw cashews, ground into meal
► 140g shredded coconut
► 50g dates (I use medjool)
► 50g raw honey (I favour jarrah, but any will do – or you could substitute agave syrup, yacon syrup, coconut nectar or more dates)
► 50g goji berries
► 40g cacao powder

- for the cake filling:
► 2 medium-sized beetroots, cut into quarters
► 140g almonds, ground into meal
► 45g almond flour (made from dehydrated pulp leftover from making nut milk. You could substitute for this by doubling the amount of almond meal)
► 140g macadamia nuts, ground into meal
► 35g cacao powder
► 1 decent pinch of Himalayan salt

- for the mousse topping:
► 140g dates (use whole dates, don’t worry if you are slightly over or under 140g)
► 35g cacao powder
► 1/2 small avocado
► 6 tbsp of olive oil
► 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
► 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder
► [optional] a swirl of agave syrup (for extra sweetness, if needed. You could also use more dates)

Start by making the base. Place all the biscuit base ingredients into your food processor and process until the fine crumbs of mixture stick together like dough when pressed [TM: less than 30s on speed 8]. Press the mixture into a lined cake tin (I used a 20cm round springform tin) and place into the freezer while you make the cake filling.

To make the cake filling, process all ingredients until the mixture looks like semi-cooked cake dough [TM: speed 6-7 for up to 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go]. You may need to add a little water to help the mixture to process effectively.

Remove the cake tin from the freezer and spread the fresh cake filling evenly over the top of the biscuit base, pressing it slightly at the sides to ensure there are no air bubbles. You will need to work fairly quickly, as the mixture will darken (oxidise) from red to brown on contact with the air. When you have an even surface, place the cake into the freezer for a few minutes while you make the topping.

For the mousse topping, process all ingredients together until the mousse is completely smooth. This may take a few minutes [TM: speed 7-8 for a few seconds at a time then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat these steps as often as needed]. Add more olive oil – or macadamia oil is also fabulous – if your end result is not creamy enough, a little water (a trickle at a time) if your mix is too thick to process, or agave syrup if you need more sweetness.

The mousse topping is a variation on the avocado mousse from my chocolate uncooking class, incorporating much less avocado than I have previously advocated. By using only part of an avocado, you lose the avocado flavour while retaining the creamy consistency.

Spread or pipe the mouse over the top of the cake and it’s ready to enjoy – in a modest slice with a dollop of cashew nut cream [= 2 cups of presoaked raw cashews blended with lemon juice + 4 dates + a pinch of salt] and your favourite chill out track playing in the background.


Thank you to Tiina for the inspiration!

H :)

[1] Segnit, N. (2010) The Flavor Thesaurus, Bloomsbury, New York.
[2] Beard, J. cited in Wikipedia (2013) “Red velvet cake” in Wikipedia. Available online via [last acessed: 15/06/2013].

16 June 2013 at 11:22pm 8 comments

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