Tuesday, 27 September 2011

jalapeno rosemary potato fritters

Crunchy fried snacks are awesome. There is no dispute about this in my world. However, for the most part, I have been happy to sit back and relax as a paying customer while someone else prepares my crunchy fried snacks for me.

In an uncharacteristic move, however, I've recently taken to making my own crunchy fried snacks at home. Yes, I am still not fond of using and discarding all that oil. Yes, I still dislike the eau de grease that lingers in my kitchen and on me after the event.

But the rewards of taking things into my own hands are wonderful; it means I can bring my very own crunchy fried snack ideas into fruition. Take today's post subject as an example. I can't get these vegan and gluten-free jalapeno rosemary potato fritters at my local takeaway, but I can sure make them at home. And ain't that grand?

vegan, gluten-free jalapeno rosemary potato fritters.

jalapeno rosemary potato fritters (makes 12 fritters, serves 2 as a snack)

2 medium potatoes (approx. 300g or 2/3 pound)
1 - 2 fresh jalapeno chillies (may be substituted with other types of chilli pepper)
1 sprig rosemary
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup rice flour
oil, for frying

Prepping the ingredients...

Peel and shred the potatoes. Lightly rinse in cold water, then squeeze out excess water (but keep in mind that a little moisture is fine, and can actually help adherence when coating with rice flour) and set aside in a bowl.
Slice chillies lengthwise. Discard the seeds if you like it mild. Chop the chillies into thin strips.
Strip rosemary leaves from the sprig. You may leave them whole or roughly chop them.
Mince the garlic.
Toss together shredded potatoes, chilli, rosemary leaves, garlic, vinegar and sea salt.
Mix in rice flour and continue tossing until well combined.

Now the frying!

Prepare a pan or skillet for frying. Pour in enough oil (I used macadamia oil, but any oil with a high smoke point will do) to fill it up to between 2 - 3 cm, or 1 inch, and let it heat up over a high flame for a minute.
For each potato fritter, drop a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the oil and slightly loosen and flatten it to a more uniform thickness. The bottom of the fritter will cook faster, so turn it over once halfway through.
Fry until the fritter takes on a crispy golden appearance and starts to brown a little at the edges on both sides. I fried my fritters one at a time, but if you have a large skillet and deft hands, you could probably do a few at a time.

Drain your jalapeno rosemary potato fritters on paper towels, then serve on a plate while they're hot and crunchy. Enjoy these little bundles of joy with an extra sprinkle of salt and perhaps some freshly ground black pepper. Throw in a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt for good measure. Oh... and you know what else will go with this? A cold beer. Oh yes. Now that would be very nice indeed.

a stack of rosemary jalapeno potato fritters, anyone?

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

pandan & ginger tea

a warm cup of pandan and ginger tea.

I want a tropical holiday, I do. I want to stay in a quaint little wooden hut overlooking the beach. I want to enjoy a lovely salad glistening with lime and studded with chilli, before devouring a plate of smoky wok-fried noodles. I want a mango cocktail with a little pink umbrella.

The last holiday I spent in Southeast Asia was two years ago at a resort in Ao Nang, Thailand. I remember loving the cold herbal tea they served as a welcome drink to their guests. It turned out to be just a humble ginger tea - but as an icy beverage, it gave something a little different to the hot ginger teas I usually have.

Thirst-quenching. Perfect on a sunny day.

knotted pandan leaves, sliced ginger and water, ready to brew...

For my re-enactment of this ginger tea, I decided to throw in a few pandan leaves as well for extra tropical pizzazz. Pandan, also known as pandanus or screwpine, has been described as Southeast Asia's answer to vanilla. The taste is hard to describe - I find it smooth, mellow and soothing. Very vague, I know. You just have to try it. You can find pandan leaves in some Asian grocery stores. Fresh or frozen ones are preferable - dried ones tend to be much less potent.

In this pandan and ginger tea, the gentle touch of pandan counterbalances the spicy hint of ginger for a harmonious marriage of flavours.

pandan & ginger tea

4 cups water
4 pandan leaves, tied into knots
6 cm ginger (2.5 inches), sliced
3 tablespoons raw sugar (or to taste)

Bring all ingredients to boil in a saucepan.
Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes, covered.
Add sugar, stir till dissolved and remove from heat. Strain to discard ginger and pandan.
Serve hot or cold.

I chilled mine in the fridge for several hours before drinking, and added a few ice cubes as well. Rejuvenating!

iced ginger pandan tea.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

moshi moshi japanese seafood restaurant, port melbourne

Hello readers. Look at your lunch, now back to mine. Now back at your lunch, now back to mine. Sadly, your lunch isn't my lunch, but if you took a trip to Moshi Moshi at Port Melbourne, you could have a lunch like mine.

a mini oyster degustation, plus raw wagyu beef salad at moshi moshi, port melbourne.

Now that I'm done ripping off the Old Spice ad, it's time to tell you what I had... I had oysters. I had wagyu. I had Friday off. I'm living the life you wish you could have.

I kid. I actually ended up in Moshi Moshi (79 Bay Street, Port Melbourne) after being tragically failed by Melbourne's dismal public transport system on a cold wet morning. I shall spare you the details, but suffice to say, it turned out to be quite the blessing in disguise.

a steaming cup of green tea at moshi moshi.

Let's get started on the food, shall we?

I don't normally go crazy for oysters, but there was something incredibly enticing about Moshi Moshi's oyster menu. So much so that I ordered one of each of all the available options on their regular menu, plus an extra one they had in their daily specials.

Oyster degustation for lunch. Welcome to my world.

First of all, we have this lovely candidate - a fresh oyster with Japanese seven-spice dressing. I adored the seven-spice seasoning - it didn't pack much heat, but it does tingle ever so pleasantly on the tongue.

7-spice oyster, $3.5.

Next up, another fresh oyster, this one with moshimoshi dressing (soy vinaigrette and spring onion). Simple, classic and good.

moshimoshi oyster, $3.5.

I then beheld with barely contained excitement a deep-fried crumbed oyster with Japanese BBQ sauce. It looked awesome. It was awesome. The gratifyingly crunchy exterior gave way to the warm, juicy oyster within, the sweet, tangy sauce pulling everything together to create the perfect package.

crumbed oyster with japanese bbq sauce, $3.5.

This tempura oyster, served with lemon and salt, was from the daily specials menu. Come on, I'm not going to turn down anything deep-fried with Asahi beer batter. It was light, crisp, and quite the delicious tease with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.

tempura oyster (asahi beer batter) with lemon and salt, $3.5.

But a girl can't survive on oysters alone. Which is why I also ordered the raw wagyu beef salad. The dressing was a triumph of sweet and umami flavours. The wagyu itself, with a slightly chewy texture not unlike sashimi, tasted exquisite - gentle, mellow and harmonious.

raw wagyu beef with julienne vegetables and special sauce, $9.8.

I enjoyed every bite I had that day at Moshi Moshi. Now all I want is a direct train, tram or bus to Port Melbourne from my apartment. One that stops right in front of the restaurant. Really... I don't think I'm being too greedy. Wouldn't you wish for the same thing?

Moshi Moshi on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, 8 September 2011

strawberry paste... strawberry candy.

soft and chewy strawberry jelly candy.

Don't you just love it when you try to make something and you mess it up - only to gain a fabulous final product anyway?

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when I made this. I had visions of a silky strawberry butter - similar to strawberry jam, but with a texture so soft and smooth and velvety that you'd want to drown in it. Death by strawberry butter. Yes.

cooking them strawberries with sugar.

Well! That didn't happen. I cooked it too much, for too long, so instead of a dreamy strawberry butter, I got strawberry paste instead. A strawberry paste so firmly set, you might call it strawberry cheese.

But guess what? I like it. Look, I can slice it up and serve it with brie and crackers! I can cut it into pieces, roll it in sugar and transform it into soft, chewy strawberry jelly candy!

And guess what. All you need is three ingredients. Strawberries. Sugar. Lime juice. That's it. No pectin, no gelatine. How good is that?

life is good with strawberries, brie and crackers...

strawberry paste / strawberry pâtes de fruits (strawberry candies)
(makes one small block of strawberry paste or two dozen strawberry candies)

1 punnet strawberries (250g / 1/2 lb)
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Hull and halve strawberries.
Cook over a medium low heat with sugar for 10 minutes until soft and juices released. Blend till completely smooth.
Return to saucepan and continue cooking for 20 - 30 minutes or until very thick and goopy. Check on it often, stirring so that it doesn't burn at the bottom.
Add lime juice and bring to a boil for a 10 seconds, stirring, then turn down the heat and simmer for another 10 - 15 minutes.
Times may vary, but the mixture should be a deep red colour, the texture dense and sticky. It should start moving in towards the centre of the pan, cling to a spoon (sliding off slowly and reluctantly) and form a clean, distinct line at the bottom of the pan when you scrape across with the spoon. Bring the mixture to boil for a few seconds occasionally to speed up the process.
Pour or scoop into a small tray, mould or other suitable container. Keep it in the refrigerator until set.

When the strawberry paste has set, and you would like to serve it, turn it out.
Cut into thin slices to serve with cheese and crackers. It'll go well with a mature brie, parmesan or cheddar.

Alternatively, cut into pieces and roll in sugar to create strawberry pâtes de fruits - i.e., strawberry jelly candies. I used raw sugar, which gave it a rough appearance and a crunchy texture. Use a finer sugar to achieve a more delicate quality.

I didn't actually get around to retrieving this from the fridge and trying it out until two weeks later. I was pretty excited by then.

So I had it with brie and cracked pepper crackers for lunch...

a dab of strawberry paste, a dab of brie and a cracked black pepper cracker.

And finished off with a dessert of strawberry pâtes de fruits.

strawberry pâtes de fruits, or strawberry jubes.

Life is sweet. Strawberry sweet.

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Thursday, 1 September 2011

vegan coconut mocha ice cream. pure bliss.

Are you in need of a chocolate fix? I was, the other night. I cursed my empty cupboards. I cursed the absence of a secret chocolate stash. I cursed and I sulked and I craved and I yearned... and then I remembered I had this glorious tub of vegan coconut mocha ice cream sweetly tucked away in the freezer.

How could I have forgotten? But I remember now. I remember licking that sensational batter off the spoon. I remember swiping my fingers all round the insides of the saucepan and the blender, savouring every last glossy, clinging remnant. I remember hoping that the wonderful batter would turn into an even more wonderful ice cream. And now, here it is. Here it is, perfectly frozen, perfectly ready to satisfy me... perfectly delicious.

a half-eaten tub of fabulous homemade vegan coconut mocha ice cream.

Don't be alarmed by the inclusion of avocado in the recipe. You won't even taste it, but it's there alright, weaving a lush buttery magic through the concoction. Then there's the sultriness of the thick, full-fat coconut cream, and the sexy integrity of a good quality organic cocoa powder - even in its frozen state, I get a strong whiff of chocolate whenever I open up this tub of ice cream. Absolute decadence. I never thought I'd say this about a vegan recipe, but this is rich, rich goodness, and not for the faint of heart.

This makes only a very small portion of ice cream, so feel free to multiply the quantities for a bigger batch.

vegan coconut mocha ice cream

1/2 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup coarse raw sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
3 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 small ripe avocado (approx. 150g / 1/3 lb)

Warm up coconut cream over low heat and add raw sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, instant coffee granules, water and salt. Stir till all dissolved. Turn off the heat.

Peel avocado and extract the flesh.

Blend mocha coconut mix together with avocado flesh until completely smooth.

Freeze in a container. Take the container out of the freezer to give the mixture a good 30 second whisk every half an hour for the next two hours, then allow it to rest serenely in the freezer until sufficiently frozen for consumption.

*As coffee doesn't always sit well with me, I opted for a more chocolatey mocha with a high ratio of cocoa powder. If you would like the coffee flavour to shine through, feel free to adjust to your taste. If you would like a more mildly sweet ice cream, sugar used can be reduced to 1/4 cup, though the texture of the resulting ice cream might turn out harder.

vegan coconut mocha ice cream: the pretentious version.

In other news, I figured this was as good a time as any for a first attempt at creating ice cream quenelles. Okay, so my quenelle isn't particularly handsome, but at least it's not completely horrendous. Or is it? ... I hurriedly dressed it up with a macadamia nut and a strawberry slice to give it a little more character. I think I just needed some kind of crumble to complete the picture, but this was all I had, and the ice cream was starting to melt, and I was getting tired, and...

Seriously, though, when I'm not trying to take fancy photos for my blog and all that jazz, I just dig in with a spoon. Sometimes - and this is not just my indolent nature speaking - it's the simple things I enjoy most, and eating ice cream straight out of the tub while curled up in bed on a cool breezy night? Bliss at its best.

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