Posts filed under ‘recipes’

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.’
     ‘Oh.’
     ‘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 :)


References:

  1. McPherson, J. (2006) “Kimchi: A Short History” on ZenKimchi. Available online from: http://zenkimchi.com/top-posts/kimchi-1-short-history/ [last accessed: 16 June 2014].
  2. Korea Tourism Organisation (undated) “History of Kimchi” on Visit Korea. Available online from: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/FO/FO_EN_6_1_2_1.jsp [last accessed: 16 June 2014].
  3. News Ltd (2011) “Kimchi the hottest foodie trend for 2012″ on perthnow Lifestyle. Available online from: http://www.perthnow.com.au/lifestyle/kimchi-the-hottest-foodie-trend-for-2012/story-e6frg3pu-1226217500980 [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: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160510006938 [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  6. Jalna Dairy Foods (2014) “Origins of yoghurt” on Jalna. Available online from: http://www.jalna.com.au/truly-natural/origins-of-yoghurt.html [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: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-cabbage-kimchi-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-189390 [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  9. Morris, B. (2013) “Bok Choy Kimchi” on The Urban Farmer. Available online from: http://blog.bentheurbanfarmer.com/2013/04/bok-choy-kimchi.html [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  10. Lebovitz, D. (2008) “Kimchi Recipe” on David Lebovitz. Available online from: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/02/a-kimchi-recipe/ [last accessed: 8 June 2014].
  11. Ho, E. (2013) “From The Spice Cupboard: Gochugaru” on Apartment Therapy – The Kitchn. Available online from: http://www.thekitchn.com/from-the-spice-cupboard-gochug-142194 [last accessed: 8 June 2014].

17 June 2014 at 10:47am Leave a 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.

20080227_Andes_44

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 http://www.thinknatural.com/. Available online via http://www.thinknatural.com/articles.php?id=10202; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[2] Meldrum, J. (2013) “Samphire: The Next Superfood?” on Weekend Notes. Available online via http://www.weekendnotes.com/samphire-the-next-superfood/; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[3] Plants for a Future (2012) “Crithmum maritimum – L.” on http://www.pfaf.org/. Available online via http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crithmum+maritimum; accessed on 1 October 2013.
[4] The University of Western Australian (2012) “Adaptations 4: Surviving Extremes (fact sheet)” on http://spice.wa.edu.au/. Available online via http://spice.wa.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Surviving-extremes.pdf; 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.

serving

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.

eating

Thank you to Tiina for the inspiration!

H :)

References:
[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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_velvet_cake [last acessed: 15/06/2013].

16 June 2013 at 11:22pm 8 comments

Honey nougat goji cashew cacao ball delights

The title is long and a work in progress, but the balls themselves are raw and scrumptious – and everyone knows just how loved up you feel after a solid dose of good chocolate.

20130511 balls5

I have tasted a number of variations on the goji-cacao ball theme in the past and none quite hit the spot like these, which I whipped up quickly when I needed a healthy snack for a girls’ night. I hope you like them too.

Recipe #141: Honey Nougat Goji Cashew Cacao Ball Delights. You will need a food processor, Thermomix or similar to create this recipe. Makes around 20.

You will need:
► seeds from ½ of a vanilla pod [or ½ tsp of vanilla paste/powder]
► ½ tsp ground cinnamon
► 20g cacao powder
► 200g cashews
► 120g shredded coconut [or use desiccated if you can't find the shredded version]
► 50g goji berries
► 50g pitted dates
► 50g jarrah honey [you can use any type of raw honey you have to hand, however jarrah honey has the distinctive taste I was after, plus it is also purported to exhibit greater antimicrobial and antifungal qualities than other honeys]
► extra cacao powder, to serve

Start by processing the vanilla, cinnamon, cacao powder, cashew and coconut until the mixture reaches the consistency of a fine breadcrumb [TM: this takes about 10 seconds on speed 8]. Add in the goji berries, dates and honey, then process until the mixture clumps together when you press it in your hand [TM: process for about 10 seconds on speed 8, followed by a manual mix with a spatula to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom, then process on speed 10 for up to 30 seconds, or until the TM grinding sounds laboured].

Roll your mixture into balls of any size you like. Mine were moulded from rounded teaspoonfuls of the mix:

20130511 balls0

Refrigerate on a bed of cacao powder in a container for at least two hours (or freeze for one hour). When you are sure that your balls are quite firm, shake them around in the container for an even coating of the powder. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

20130511 balls4

Eat. Enjoy. Yum.

H :)

PS. On a personal note, I got married on 30 April (International Jazz Day)! Another reason, besides the chocolate, to feel lovey dovey :)

12 May 2013 at 12:13am 4 comments

Guest Post 7: A mindful business, a retreat & a recipe

When Nicole van Kan from Équilibre told me about their upcoming retreat, I thought it sounded fabulous enough to warrant its very own post. Thankfully, Nicole thought so too!

One of the great joys in my life is the fact that I can pop out my back door and gather together a variety of edible greenery from my herb garden, so I am also excited that Nicole’s post features Sophie Zalokar’s simple and delicious recipe for greens with an apple cider vinegar dressing.

Enjoy!

H :)

*

Équilibre + Our Autumn Retreat
by Nicole van Kan

20130410 equilibre-big

Équilibre is a health and fitness business with a difference. We don’t believe in quick fixes, miracle cures or gimmicks. We do believe in the sheer enjoyment of food, cooking with love and exercising for how it makes you feel. We also believe in BALANCE!

It would be very easy to hand clients a calorie controlled diet sheet full of low fat foods and tell them to weigh, measure, eat this and not that, all while doing numerous high energy exercise sessions per week. And you know what? If they followed it to the letter, they probably would end up losing weight and feeling better. But ultimately, we don’t think this approach is sustainable or really very healthy.

Very much like Hannah does at A Foodly Affair, we advocate a mindful approach to food and believe that everyone needs to discover what works best for their own body. A healthy body image and harmonious, connected relationship with food (and exercise) is the real key.

As a way of demonstrating our ethos in action, we had always envisaged running retreat style getaways. So, on discovering Foragers – a farm-based cooking school and dining room with gorgeous self-contained accommodation in the Southern Forests of WA – we knew that it would be the perfect setting. A weekend of beautiful food, wine, cooking, fresh produce and shared meals; all balanced with gentle, invigorating exercise and the opportunity to form a foundation for glowing good health and fitness.

Our first retreat at Foragers last spring turned out to be an amazing weekend and surpassed our expectations (and those of our guests!). That’s why we’re heading back for more this autumn with our Mother’s Day weekend retreat.

Sophie Zalokar owns and runs Foragers, along with her Swiss-born husband Chris, who is the craftsman behind many of the beautiful buildings and chalets. She grew up in the Barossa Valley and qualified as a chef under Maggie Beer. Sophie’s view is that cooking and food production is not only a fundamental life skill but also one of life’s greatest pleasures. We couldn’t agree more.

20130410 blackboard-big
Image courtesy of Sophie Zalokar

You can see from the menu for our Saturday evening ‘seasonal dinner’ that Sophie is adept at creating mouth-watering dishes based on the freshest seasonal produce, all with an inherent balance. Ingredients are sourced from the local area wherever possible – including, in this instance, watercress from the brook at the edge of the property, about an hour before dinner!

Our lunchtime cooking class with Sophie was also a special experience. We came away armed and inspired with an array of classic recipes that have become a welcome part of my own cooking repertoire, including labna (yoghurt cheese), a herb and spice spiked aromatic sea salt and a golden chicken stock.

I’ll leave you with Sophie’s recipe for this quick and easy apple cider vinaigrette, which makes leafy greens and herbs taste spectacular, especially if picked freshly from your own garden (still a work in progress for this non-green thumb!).

Recipes like these are a great reminder that simple really is better and that getting back to basics can be good for our taste buds, as well as our health.

20130410 foragedgreens-big

Recipe #140: Foraged Greens with Herb Infused Vinaigrette.
by Sophie Zalokar (reprinted with permission)

You will need- for the dressing:
► 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
► 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
► 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
► 3 tbsp mild oil (I use cold-pressed macadamia oil)
► sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
► 1 tsp each chervil, tarragon, chives, parsley & mint

- for the salad greens:
► 4 large handfuls of a mixture of the following: watercress, landcress, oakleaf or cos, turnip tops, Italian parsley leaves, radicchio, salad burnett, mustard leaves, corn salad, endive, broad bean tops…
► optional extras: avocado, radish, seed mixture

Mix together the mustard & vinegar with a little salt & pepper. Whisk in the oils and then add the herbs. Check the seasoning. Dress the salad by lightly tossing the salad greens with the fresh dressing.

We still have a few places available at our autumn retreat which runs from the 10th-12th May, so if you feel inspired to join us, be sure to get in touch very soon!

Équilibre also runs an outdoor group exercise program called Fitness for Foodies and will be commencing an exciting new workshop series mid-2013 for those who want to learn the secrets to joyful eating, fabulous fitness and healthy balance!


Thanks again to Nicole for sharing!

My guest posts typically get lots of clicks well after they are published – because I only choose talented & interesting people to contribute to A Very Foodly Diary! Check out previous guest posts via their links:

10 April 2013 at 9:47am Leave a comment

Guest Post 6: How to create award-winning olives

first place

When my lovely friend Claire Trolio of We Love Perth and Ruck Rover fame asked me to write a guest post, I said that I would love to – on the proviso that she also share her award-winning recipe for curing olives. I am very happy to report that she agreed to my cheeky request.

Some of you will be familiar with my earlier misadventures in curing. Claire, however, has managed to not only produce an edible product, but one that also won her first place at last year’s Perth Royal Show!

Thank you, Claire, for sharing your secrets – and for giving my 2013 olive harvest the chance to be more delicious.

H :)

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Recipe #139: How to create award-winning olives (without using caustic soda).
by guest blogger Claire Trolio

A few years ago I was lucky enough to move into a house with a thriving olive tree. Our Mediterranean climate makes Perth an excellent place to grow these beautiful plants, and they don’t need a lot of ongoing care either.

olives on branch

When it comes to turning their fruit into an edible form, however, they require a lot of attention. There are times in the preparation where I thought to myself, ‘this better be worth it’; crossing my fingers that nothing would go awry. But the work well and truly paid off. Last year we ended up with litres upon litres of delicious olives that won first place in the Olives category in the Perth Royal Show Cookery Competition!

It’s getting to the time when your olives will be ripe for the harvest. There’s a large window when this can happen, and when you choose to pick them will depend on what sort of olives you like. As a guide, I’d say when some of the green olives start turning black they’re ripe, but if you prefer more meaty, bitter olives you can pick them when they’re more immature, alternatively if you’re a black olive lover, then wait until you have a tree of plump, black fruit. For me, I got stuck in when the top quarter of the tree, the bit that’s in full sun, was full of black, juicy olives.

Picking the olives is relatively straightforward. Take them off one by one and place them into a bucket or a bag, being careful not to drop them from a great height. Although it might be tempting to shake the tree or gather them on the floor, doing that will bruise the olives and give them a bad taste.

Once they’ve been collected, it’s time for the laborious task of washing, slitting and separating the olives. Before you start, have some large, clean jars at the ready. Empty the olives into a large basin filled with water, but pour them in gently so as not to bruise them, of course. Take each olive one by one, cleaning it and removing any remaining stalks. Then take a sharp knife and make a slit in each olive all the way down to the pip. Many people recommend doing both sides, as it will assist in removing more bitterness, though I think one side is fine – at least it’s to my taste. Then place them into jars keeping black and green olives separate – this is because they have different soaking times. Fill each jar with water and place a small, sealed plastic bag filled with water on top of the olives to keep them submerged, and seal the jars. You don’t want the olives exposed to air while in there otherwise they’ll go mouldy. Store the olives away from direct sunlight and extreme heat.

Every day now you need to empty the water, rinse the olives and the jars, and return them to the jars with fresh water. It is normal for some scum to form at the top of the water each day. Repeat this process for 5 days for the black olives and 8-10 days for the green ones.

The next step needs to be done in two parts, once for the black olives then later for the green, but the process is the same. You need to make the brine, and to do so bring water and salt (about 1/3 cup to every litre of water) to the boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Take it off the heat and let it cool.

Then rinse the olives with tap water for the final time. Sterilise the jar again before returning the olives to it and covering them with the cooled brine. This time we slowly poured in a layer of olive oil on the top, to keep the air from getting to the olives, and filled the jar to the brim. The olives need to soak like this for at least a couple of months and can remain in the brine for up to a year. There’s no need to refrigerate them, but keep them in a cool, dark place.

olives in jar

When they’re ready, grab out some olives and marinate them in whatever takes your fancy. Do it jar by jar, because once marinated the olives won’t keep that long – depending on what they are marinated in they will last about a month. The combination I keep returning to is: very thin slices of raw garlic, and lots of it; equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil; and a little sea salt.

I’d love to hear your olive stories! Claire.


Thanks again to Claire for her words of wisdom!

My guest posts typically get lots of clicks well after they are published – because I only choose talented & interesting people to write on A Very Foodly Diary! Check out previous guest posts via their links:

5 March 2013 at 4:43pm 5 comments

Love Thy Food: an intimate traverse into mindful eating

I am proud to let you know that it’s finally here. My ebook, that is. Now available from Amazon – via http://www.amazon.com/Love-Thy-Food-intimate-ebook/dp/B00AL82DEM/ – and coming soon to the iBookstore. Very exciting indeed.

Love Thy Food - the cover to my ebook

As many of you will be aware, I wrote an ebook in the lead up to launching A Foodly Affair. It was an important step in articulating my mindful eating philosophy, where I had come from and where I was going. Then it was shelved for two years.

This is that ebook, with a few minor revisions.

Here is a sample from my introduction to whet your appetite for more:

I love to be happy and healthy – and I also love to eat. This is very fortunate, as I spend a goodly proportion of each day planning, preparing and consuming food, and I am sure many of you do the same. Also fortunate is the fact that good health and great taste are not mutually exclusive; they magnify each other. Yes, with the eating experience of many years, I can tell you this: love thy food and it will love you back.

When you spend more than a few minutes a day with anyone or anything it is inevitable that a relationship of sorts will form, whether consciously or not. So it is with food.

Our bond with food starts in our very first moments of life when, as infants with mouths full of perfect and untrained tastebuds, we take our first milk and every emotion and experience of our prehistory with it. Food related habits are set deep and early, just as many of our memories and milestones are cemented in important meals or favourite dishes.

Our unified need to eat connects us all inextricably across the cloths of culture and time. As a species, we eat a wide variety foods for wildly different reasons, including sensory pleasure, health, cost, history, socialisation, social pressure and mood. We also eat, of course, for fuel – but the foods we gift to our bodies are intrinsically linked with more than mere sustenance. They influence every bodily function, our mind, our society and our environment as one holistic system. Food is a never ending adventure.

[Gratuitous reminder: if you would like to read more, you can purchase my ebook from Amazon right now!]

Some of you have been on this journey with me from the very beginning, while others have joined in further down the track – and that is just as awesome. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.

H :)

12 December 2012 at 1:13am 6 comments

Spring beans

Here’s to spring produce and farmers’ markets and simple recipes made from real foods!

salsified broad beans

One of the things I love most about this season is the broad beans. At Saturday’s markets visit, I gathered together my stash of green pods and promptly spent many minutes at my outside table unwinding my mind as I peeled and chatted and grinned in glee.

This reaction belies my early experiences with these vibrant legumes, musty memories involving flavourless tags of boiled grey leather that almost defied chewing and definitely defied swallowing.

Eating broad beans does not have to be this way. In fact, when consumed young and in season, broad beans are absolutely yummy uncooked with little else to accompany them.

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Recipe #138: Raw broad bean salsa. I very loosely call this a recipe, because the quantities and even the ingredients themselves are so open to personal taste. This “recipe” serves 4 as a side, an accompaniment to leek fritters, a topping for a soup.

Take 20 or so fresh broad bean pods. Remove the beans from their pods by unzipping them at the seam, and reduce them to their inner bean by pinching and peeling away their skins. I guess you could cook and cool your beans before salsifying them, just be aware they may not have the same fresh taste or textural beauty.

Roughly chop your beans (littler beans can be used whole) and place them into a bowl with handfuls of your favourite soft herbs; I used finely chopped parsley and fennel along with very, very finely minced zest from around half a lemon. Add a generous pinch of salt, a good grinding of pepper, and enough olive oil to make the beans glisten. Let the flavours infuse for about an hour, then taste and season further if desired.

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Aside from tasting delicious, broad beans (aka “fava/faba/horse beans”) are incredibly healthful too. They contain minerals, such as iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and copper, fibre, Vitamins A, B1 and B6, and are known to be beneficial for digestive, heart, skin, bone, teeth and eye health [1,2].

Another fabulous facet of broad beans is the fact that they contain L-dopa, a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which controls or contributes to mood, sleep, movement, libido (so just about every bodily function!), and it is used to treat Parkinson’s disease [1,2,3].

An aside: A number of references warn not to eat raw broad beans in large quantities due to the presence of phytohemagglutinin, which is a lectin [4,5]. Lectins are types of proteins found in dairy foods and plants, such as grains, legumes, and the nightshade family, and they can cause symptoms including nausea, cramps and diarrhea [5,6,7]. They are not all bad, however; lectins have a useful role to play with respect to differentiating or even deactivating cancer cells [7,8]. While I am aware that some people have experienced rather dangerous reactions, I have never suffered ill effects from eating raw broad beans, and I think that this could be due to the prohibitive effort required to prepare broad beans en masse – plus I am wondering just how much of the lectin content is actually in the skin of the bean, which I compost.

Finally. Broad beans are so steeped in history that I was tempted to include notes on their sacred past, but that was before I discovered Coquinaria, a collection of historical and seminal recipes by an intrepid Dutch collector. Please do take a look at this site, particularly the entry on broad beans. I promise it will expand your culinary horizons.

Ever smiling,

H :)


References:
  1. Nutrition-and-You (2012) “Fava beans nutrition facts” on http://www.nutrition-and-you.com [online]. Available via http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/fava-beans.html; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  2. Organic Authority (2010) “Fava Beans” on Organic Authority [online]. Available via http://www.organicauthority.com/vegetables/fava-beans.html; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  3. Siegenthaler, M. (2003) “Dopamine” on Homepage for Molecular Biology Web Assignments, Davidson College [online]. Available via http://www.bio.davidson.edu/Courses/Molbio/MolStudents/spring2003/Siegenthaler/Dopaminesite.htm; accessed on 28 September 2012.
  4. TheHealthBenefitsOf.com (2012) “Broad Beans” on TheHealthBenefitsOf.com [online]. Available via http://thehealthbenefitsof.com/broad-beans/; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  5. US Food and Drug Administration (2012) “BBB – Phytohaemagglutinin” on Bad Bug Book: Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook [online]. Available via http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/foodborneillness/foodborneillnessfoodbornepathogensnaturaltoxins/badbugbook/ucm071092.htm; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  6. Sisson, M. (2010) “The Lowdown On Lectins” on Mark’s Daily Apple [online]. Available via http://www.marksdailyapple.com/lectins/#axzz2847nfRlw; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  7. Natural Therapy Pages (2008) “Lectins” on ntpages.com [online]. Available via http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Lectins; accessed on 2 October 2012.
  8. Jordinson, M., El-Hariry, I., Calnan, D., Calam, J. and Pignatelli, M. (1999) “Vicia faba agglutinin, the lectin present in broad beans, stimulates differentiation of undifferentiated colon cancer cells” in Gut [online]. Available via http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1727505/pdf/v044p00709.pdf; accessed on 2 October 2012.

3 October 2012 at 11:21pm 5 comments

Eat your flowers

My garden is abloom with ruffles of sunny yellows and bold oranges. Nasturtiums: prettiness so good you can eat it.

orange nasturtium

The entire nasturtium plant above the ground is edible, and each part has a distinctive taste and use:

  • delicately-flavoured flowers are great in salads, wraps and smoothies. I seem to recall a trend of adding flowers to salads in the 70s or 80s; various modern and ancient dishes incorporate floral essences (such as rosewater, orange blossom water, lavender) or tiny buds (eg. violets) as a microherb;
  • the peppery leaves can be used as you would any other soft, green herb in salads, soups and stews;
  • the seeds - apparently you can use these as a substitute for capers (when pickled) and black pepper (dry). On the strength of the one seed that I at yesterday, I could imagine the seeds being used in place of pepper, but my tastebuds and imagination could not be stretched to believe that they could be caper-like in any way (and, yet, I can see myself pickling them just to see) [1].

You may be thinking ‘why…?’, and I am excited to tell you that there are excellent health reasons to consider adding nasturtiums to your meals.

Nasturtiums are high in vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, flavonoids and carotenoids [2]. They also contain an appreciable amount of glucosinolates, or mustard-like oils, which keeps garden pests at bay and explains why they make such good companion plants [3].

It is also because of its pungent oils that this showy South American plant demonstrates antibacterial and even antibiotic properties. While generally considered to be an immunity booster, a 2006 study verifies that nasturtium stems can be used, with horseradish, to directly treat upper respiratory tract and urinary tract infections [3,4]. Other reports state that nasturtiums have historically been used to variously treat liver, kidney, bladder and skin disorders – and oil from the seeds can be used to varnish furniture [5,6].

Health benefits aside, if nasturtiums didn’t taste good, I wouldn’t be eating them – and that’s why I thought I would tempt you toward these edible blooms with the awesome seasonal and superfood-ful smoothie I blended up for my family on Sunday morning.

Recipe #137: The Blooming Good Smoothie. Makes enough for 2 adults and a little person.

You will need:
► 10 nasturtium flowers
► 4 tbsp of bee pollen
► 4 tbsp of lucuma powder
► 3 tbsp of hemp seeds
► 1 tbsp of white chia seeds
► 1 tbsp of maca powder
► ½-1 tsp of turmeric powder [use fresh turmeric if you can access it]
► ½ tsp of ground cinnamon
► 1 banana, skinned
► 1 sweet orange, skin removed
► the flesh from 1 young coconut
► a handful of strawberries
► about 500mL of water kefir [milk kefir or drinking yoghurt would also work well]
► agave syrup, to taste
► just enough water for everything to combine to your desired consistency

Blend all ingredients, except for the agave syrup, together until completely smooth [this will take about 60 seconds at speed 8-10 in a Thermomix]. Taste and adjust the sweetness with agave syrup if needed, then blend for another 10 seconds. Serve topped with a nasturtium flower.

blooming good

Don’t fret if you don’t have all of the ingredients listed here. This recipe literally resulted from a 5 minute consultation with my fridge and pantry, and I encourage you to do the same. For example, if you do not have bee pollen, use honey, yacon syrup or coconut syrup. Use a handful of sunflower seeds instead of the hemp seeds. No maca? Leave it out. So long as you are using raw/whole/organic ingredients with low processing, the end result will be superb and supremely good for you.

All of this has awakened me to the fact that we are constantly surrounded by nutritious and even medicinal plants without necessarily being aware of it. Take a few moments to notice the plants growing in your garden or on your verge. You may be harbouring a superfood without even realising it.

H :)


References:
  1. Christina (2009) “Tropaeolum (aka “Nasturtium”)” on NutsaboutPlants [online]. Available from http://nutsaboutplants.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/tropaeolum-aka-nasturtium/; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  2. Osbourne, G. (2012) “Once were weeds – now superfoods” on The Sydney Morning Herald: life&style [online]. Available via http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/once-were-weeds–now-superfoods-20120823-24om9.html; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  3. Stone, B. (2011) “Benefits of Nasturtium Herb” on Healthguideinfo.com [online]. Available via http://www.healthguideinfo.com/herbal-medicine/p95793/; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  4. Conrad, A., Kolberg, T., Engels, I. & Frank, U. (2006) “Abstract: In vitro study to evaluate the antibacterial activity of a combination of the haulm of nasturtium (Tropaeoli majoris herba) and of the roots of horseradish (Armoraciae rusticanae radix)” on PubMed.gov [online]. Available via http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17260672; accessed on 17 September 2012.
  5. abbas (2011) “Nasturtiums – Edible Flowers: History, Uses and Health Benefits of Nasturtiums: How to Make Nasturtium Salad” on Herbs-Treat and Taste [online]. Available via http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/nasturtiums-edible-flowers-history-uses.html; accessed on 17 September 2012.
  6. HMYG (2009) “Nasturtium for coughs, colds, flu and hair loss” on Herbal Medicine from your Garden (or Windowsill) [online]. Available via http://www.herbalmedicinefromyourgarden.com/nasturtium-health-benefits/; accessed on 17 September 2012.

Addendum of 19 September 2012:
Just discovered: a blog that is focused solely on nasturtium benefits and recipes! http://nasturtiums.wordpress.com/

18 September 2012 at 9:06am 8 comments

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