rise up and bake

OMG I LOVE FOOD SO MUCH!

my dear basil May 18, 2009

as the warmer weather disappears, we begin to mourn the end of the basil season. i know that we’re supposed to appreciate each season for it’s diversity of produce, and the cooking combinations this provides, BUT i really love basil! i try and use it in everything – stir fries, pasta sauces, gnocchi, salads, sandwiches, and most of all, pesto!

i was taught to make pesto by my father, whom himself is famous within our extended family for the tasty pesto he produces every year for family gatherings. the best part of pesto is the brilliant simplicity of it! just good fresh ingredients which tantalise the taste-buds. quite a simple one to vegan-ise as well.

because the recipe already contains pine nuts, it’s got a natural creaminess that’s unaided by cows cheese. in the absence of parmesan cheese, a little extra garlic will give this pesto nice “bite”, and some nutritional yeast flakes add to the “cheesy-ness”.

i am guessing about quantities of liquids, so really have a play around and get a feel for the taste that you prefer. i’m a salt fiend, so i always go a little crazy with it and need to add a little extra tahini and lemon juice to balance it out.

garden fresh ingredients (thanks anya!):

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basil pesto

ingredients

  • large bunch of fresh basil, rinsed
  • one head of garlic
  • good quality olive oil, as required
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • half a cup of pine nuts
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • juice of a medium sized lemon
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes

to make:

  1. peel garlic and place in food processor. cover with olive oil and blend into a paste.
  2. add in all the basil leaves, a little more olive oil, and whizz again.
  3. place the tahini, lemon juice, pine nuts and nutritional yeast flakes into the mix, and blend until combined. it should look quite chunky, but thickly pourable. carefully add little bits of oil until you achieve the right consistency.
  4. add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. eat immediately, or transfer into an airtight container (jars are good for this) and refrigerate. if you plan to store it for a while, pour a very thin layer of oil over the top to help maintain freshness.

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ways to serve:

  1. on hot pasta or gnocchi.
  2. as a pasta salad.
  3. on yummy crusty bread – as an entree, a snack or with other toppings (e.g. garlic mushrooms or baked beans)
  4. as part of an anti-pasto platter with grilled eggplant, olives, tofetta, etc
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tea tales. May 14, 2009

Filed under: enjoyment,love love — katrinacake @ 6:10 pm
Tags: , ,

i recently purchased an amazing tea cup and saucer for $3! so beautiful, so sleek, so much room for my tea:

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i just cannot get over the capacity of this tea cup! it’s not one of those soup bowls disguised as a tea cup (although i am quite partial to them as well), but a genuine tea cup with a depth of 8cm and a diameter measuring 10cm. so great!

this has inspired me to:

a) drink more tea and hot chocolate (perhaps the cold weather has something to do with this too);

b) organise my (pathetically small) tea collection;

c) expore a zine i acquired many moons ago at sticky in melbourne titled herbs and what they can do (made by esther for the melbourne uni food co-op).

this zine combines a few of my favourite thing: botany, cute zines and food co-operatives! what is better than people mobilising around food? de nada! i have also been having “lung issues” for quite a while, and i’m keen to explore non-medicinal means of health improvement.

some herbs this zine recommends for lung healing:

  • elderflower – aids mucous clearance, especially in the upper respiratory tract
  • angelica – strengthens and supports the lungs
  • warm concoctions including ginger, garlic and cinnamon
  • nettle – helps with convalescence (recovering from illness) and general run-down-ness. also a great source of iron and vitamin c!
  • rosehip – gives loads of vitamin c and helps prevent colds

write to me if you want some knowledge from this little book of herbs and i shall attempt to dish out the goods.

i am heading over to alfalfa house this weekend to get my hands on some of these. in the meantime my as-yet-unnamed tea cup will continue to get a workout:

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(those are ginger cookies in the pics)

 

stuffed baked potatoes with roasted garlic humous and other deliciousness May 12, 2009

Filed under: baking,home cooked — katrinacake @ 11:19 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

oh whow!!!

i have never had a stuffed baked potato before, probably because i have never enjoyed sour cream and it seems to be a kinda vital ingredient. i got a couple of MASSIVE taters yesterday, so i thought i would give this a try and HOLY CRAP it was so tasty!

i topped mine with soy cheese (that nice nacho flavour of cheesly), sauteed mushrooms, roasted garlic humous and caramelised onions. what a combo! i think i now stink like an obsessive vampire slayer. oh well, was totes worth it. look at this:

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on a side note, i find the term “stuffed baked potato” quite humorous – makes me think of this fat couch potato, who got a bit stoned and ate too many snacks, thus is stuffed full of food! but maybe that’s just me…

apologies for the photos in this post. it seems the lighting in my kitchen at night isn’t so great.

totally tasty stuffed baked taters

multiply as necessary. this will make loads of humous!

(i am going to attempt to guestimate amounts – i don’t measure, sorry! also, i am not even in possession of a tablespoon. oh, the shame!)

  • 1 large potato
  • a large handful of munchrooms (or mushrooms, you choose!), chopped
  • one brown onion, sliced into rings
  • two teaspoons of nuttlex
  • a sprinkling of paprika
  • a dash of ground black pepper
  • a pinch of thyme, basil and oregano
  • salt (plenty!)
  • a couple of drops of olive oil (or canola oil, or veggie oil)
  • some soy cheese to serve (i like cheesely!)

roasted garlic humous

  • two heads of garlic (yes, TWO FULL HEADS!), roasted
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • three desert spoons tahini
  • juice of a whole lemon
  • lots of olive oil (better quality will = better taste!)
  • salt, cumin and paprika to taste

equipment (there’ll be a little washing up):

  • oven
  • small baking tray
  • food processor
  • small saucepan
  • small frypan
  1. pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius. i have an electric oven, so i pre-heat to 250 degrees, then turn it down to 200 degrees just before i put the potatoes in.
  2. wash the dirt off your potatoes. dry thoroughly, and prick the potato all over with a fork to let steam escape as your tater bakes. about 10 times will do it. this is strangely satisfying.
  3. put a drop (really, just a little) of olive oil on the potato and rub over the skin. this will help it crisp up nicely, but not burn.
  4. adjust oven temp (if needed) and place the potato directly onto the oven rack, with a tray underneath just in case there’s any drips. it’ll take between 1 – 1 1/2 hours to bake thoroughly (mine took 1 hour 25 minutes, and it was big).
  5. get out of the kitchen for half an hour.
  6. place two heads of garlic on a lightly greased tray, and pop in the oven. if you leave them whole, it should take about 30 minutes for the garlic to nicely bake. this also makes it steam a little so the skins will slip straight off.
  7. return to your propaghandi sing-a-long for another 30 minutes while the oven does it’s job.
  8. remove the garlic from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.DSCF3415
  9. melt a teaspoon of nuttlex in a small saucepan. stir in the rings of onion and sit on the heat, stirring every couple of minutes. caramelised onion requires dilligence, restraint and patience, all of which i find hard when hungry. it takes approximately 30 minutes for 0nions to properly caramelise to that brown, slightly crispy yet sweet goodness. good things come to those who wait! whilst the onion is caramelising, concentrate on making humous.DSCF3418
  10. once you can bearably touch the garlic, remove the bulbs from their skin and pop straight into the food processor. add some olive oil (3 desert spoons?) and blend for until you have garlic paste.
  11. add the chickpeas and tahini. blend again. add more olive oil if necessary!
  12. add in the papprika, cumin, tumeric, salt*, and lemon juice, then blend one last time. taste and add more flavour if needed.
  13. melt a teaspoon of nuttlex in a small frypan. stir in the sliced mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes.
  14. once the mushrooms are slightly soft, sprinkle in the paprika, black pepper, basil, thyme and oregano. continue to saute, and add salt to taste.
  15. remove your potato from the oven. hopefully it is baked to perfection, and all your toppings are ready now!
  16. split the potato in half. place a layer of soy cheese in the middle, then spoon on the mushrooms, followed by lashings of humous and topped with the caramelised onions. because i am a garlic fiend i added an extra sprinkling of fried garlic on top:DSCF3425

in case you haven’t notice, garlic is one of my favourite foods. second only to basil on my list of faves!

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* do not underestimate the powers of salt! people love my humous, and i think it’s because of the copious amounts of salt, cumin and lemon juice i add.

 

c-c-c-cold! May 11, 2009

Filed under: brunch,home cooked — katrinacake @ 4:41 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

who hates this icy cold weather? me, that’s who!

these wintery mornings are contributing to an extra sluggishness at the start of my days. the remedy? cooked breakfasts of course! i’m not afraid of hectic savory flavours in the morning – most notably garlic and shallots. delish i say!

cold morning cook-up up

ingredients:

  • splash of olive oil (or melted nuttlex)
  • two shallots, sliced (spring onions are good too, or you can use regular brown onions)
  • as much garlic as you can handle, diced
  • handful of mushrooms, sliced (the more the better!)
  • sliced firm tofu (aka stir fry tofu), approx 1cm thick – i like two slices
  • corn bread (that’s a recipe for another day!)*
  • sprinkling of sweet red paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado¬† (enough to spread – be generous)
  • lemon / lime wedge (to serve)

tofu marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons soy or tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • one teaspoon powdered ginger

how to:

  1. the night before, mix marinade ingredients in a bowl until combined. with a fork, stab the tofu slices a few times (this helps the marinade absorb into the middle of the tofu). place the tofu slices in the marinade and toss until marinade evenly distributed. cover the bowl and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. in the morning, heat oil (or nuttlex) in a reasonable sized fry pan, and saute shallots for a few minutes.DSCF2259
  3. add the diced garlic and mushrooms. toss and saute for another couple of minutes.
  4. stir through the paprika, and a dash of salt and pepper.
  5. move this mixture to one side of the pan. place the pre-marinated tofu slices in the other pan. fry for 3 minutes, turning as required.DSCF2262
  6. pour the remaining marinade mixture over the tofu. if some of this mixes with the mushroom mix, that’s ok! extra flavour!
  7. take off the heat once most of the sauce has evaporated.
  8. cut two slices of cornbread and heat (in the toaster or under the grill).DSCF2266
  9. to serve: spread warm bread with a generous amount of avocado. plce tofu slices on the bead, and top with the mushroom and spring onion mix. serve with a slice of lemon or lime.DSCF2267

* you could use any sort of bread here really!

a note on avocados:

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these things really are delicious! i read somewhere (sorry, no reference here at all!) that if you could only eat ONE thing to keep you alive, you could survive longest on either bananas or avocados. that’s fairly awesome. i would hazard a guess and suggest that this is due to the high fat content of avocados, and the potassium in bananas.

regardless, avocados are joyously creamy and a tasty addition to almost any meal!

 

breathless brunch beans! May 4, 2009

there is something so great about digging into a tasty bowl of beans at brunch. not those pathetic “baked beans” they sell in over priced chat cafes, but really tasty, flavour-full, melt-in-your-mouth beans.

this is also a great way to use up some slightly tired looking veggies in the fridge. for me: corn, rocket, chilies and tomatoes.

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i have a ridiculous collection of jars filled with dried beans, and i only cook with them once a week. in an endeavour to clear these jars out i soaked some tasty black eyed peas overnight. soaking overnight really does help bring down cooking time! i put the beans in a plastic container, cover with boiling water and leave to sit overnight. you can’t really put too much water in there as these babies soak it up. an equal height of water above the height of the beans is good (ie if there is 2cm of beans in the container, fill with water so there is at least 2cm of water above the beans). make sense?

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you could always just use canned beans, but i have a feeling that this is more energy intensive and carbon emitting. does drastically reduce cooking time though.

a note on onions:

please cook your onions thoroughly! be patient and wait until the bits are transparent! these are NOT translucent onions:

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brunch beans

ingredients:

  • 1 cup black eyed peas (soaked overnight and then rinsed); also great are butter beans and fava beans.
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • two green chilies (more or less depending on taste)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • some chopped rocket
  • a cob of corn, shucked
  • 3 cups veggie stock
  • paprika, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste
  • juice of one lemon (lime is good too!)
  • vegetable oil (a spoonful?)

how to:

  1. dice the onion and saute in oil for a couple of minutes.
  2. finely chop the chilies and garlic. add to the onion and saute the whole lot until the onions are see through. be patient!
  3. stir the spices into the onion mix (approx 1 teaspoon of each, except cayenne paper. just a little of that.). don’t be afraid of spices*!
  4. stir in the beans, veggie stock and can of tomatoes. bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. continue to simmer and add the remaining veggies – corn, cherry tomatoes and rocket. allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes.
  6. when most of the liquid has evaporated off, taste a bean. is it crunchy? add more water and simmer for longer. does it melt in your mouth? proceed to step 7.
  7. take off the heat and stir in lemon juice.
  8. serve in an over-sized soup mug. these are handy devices, as you don’t burnt your little hands on the sides of a hot bowl. genius!

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variations / additions:

  • you can add any sort of veggies that take your fancy – small bits of potato or kumera would be ace, as would capsicum, and mushrooms.
  • a mix of beans can add variety, and variety is the spice of life!
  • soy cheese crumbled on top is delectible!
  • a side serving of warm bread, particularly corn bread.
  • tasty guacamole on top!

* do be wary of adding the correct spices. do these two look the same to you?

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they did to me! as a result i got a bit excited with the cayenne pepper (thinking it was paprika) and made the whole thing rather spicy! yeow! hence the breathless-ness…

 

you beaut birthday burgers! May 3, 2009

last weekend was burga’s birthday. hooray! he doesn’t like cakes, but even he dug into one of these little babies:

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(apologies for lack of photos / close-ups. i didn’t have my camera…)

these were SUPER easy to make. i must admit, it’s not an original idea. i saw a picture of a similar thing somewhere on the internet a few weeks ago.

the layers:

* 1 cappuccino cupcake (sliced in half)

* half a choclate cupcake (so for 12 burgers you need 6 choc cupcakes)

* vanilla butter-cream icing (half tinted red and half green)

* sesame seeds for topping

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vegan food colourings are something i know almost nothing about. stay tuned for more experiments in brightly coloured food!