Saturday, 31 January 2015

grape & yoghurt icy poles / popsicles

Grape & yoghurt icy poles.

It's summer in Australia, and it's hot, hot, HOT. Most of my time is spent indoors, trying to stay comfortable. And alive.

Frozen desserts seemed like a good idea, so when I bought a bucket of green grapes from the farmers' market recently, I soon put them to use, pairing them with honeyed yoghurt to create ice cream on a stick. You can use them fresh as well, but I decided to stew my grapes in coconut oil to soften them and concentrate their sweetness.

I indulged myself in these grape and yoghurt icy poles as an invigorating cold snack any time I felt like I needed a pick-me-up, and the truth is, they are so wholesome that you can eat them for breakfast and pat yourself on the back for a pretty tasty well-balanced start to the day.

grape & yoghurt icy poles / popsicles / ice pops
(makes around 5, depending on the size of your ice cream moulds)

1 cup grapes
1 teaspoon coconut oil or olive oil
1 cup unsweetened yoghurt (plain - natural or greek)
1 tablespoon honey 

Slice about a quarter of the grapes in half, leave the rest whole. Cook in coconut oil or olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until soft. Alternatively, you could roast them in the oven.
Mix yoghurt and honey together in a bowl.
You can either stir the grape compote directly into the honeyed yoghurt before spooning it into the ice cream moulds, as I did, or try alternating the mixtures by spooning in the yoghurt and the grapes in turns.
Freeze until solid - this usually takes several hours for me, and I tend to just let them do their thing overnight.
When you would like to eat your grape yoghurt icy poles, run some warm tap water over the moulds to loosen them and gently ease them out.

Yogurt popsicles, studded with grapes.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

food monkey cafe, northbridge

Perth has a reputation for expensive prices, particularly for eating out, so when some new friends invited me to the relatively new establishment Food Monkey (101 Lake St, Northbridge) for brunch recently, I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable their prices were.

The menu had plenty of food options under the $10 mark, with a few closer to $15 if you feel like splurging a little more. As an unemployed person living off my savings in a foreign state, I appreciated this very much. It's nice to be able to afford to widen my social circle without breaking the bank!

Take this veggie bagel that Simon ordered, for example. It's not a huge item, but it's fair and wholesome at $6.95, layered with grilled eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, olive and sundried tomato cream cheese, spinach and aioli. If a plain bagel is too boring, you can get a fancier one topped with sesame or poppy seeds at no extra charge. I didn't try it, but Simon seemed pretty happy with his choice.

Veggie bagel ($6.95).

Meanwhile, I received my potato, carrot and onion hash cakes with poached eggs, which was a much heartier serving than I imagined for $8.95. I was expecting a few standard pieces of hash browns, but what came out really were literally large triangular slices of hash brown cakes. It was very satisfying.

Hash cakes and eggs ($8.95).

I also give them bonus points for offering complimentary water infused with cucumber or orange slices. I personally find Perth tap water to be objectionable, so anything that makes it more palatable is a win. The venue's multiple indoor spaces was also pretty cool.

My only criticism here may be the use of small wooden boards for serving their dishes. I can see it working for some things - dainty sandwiches, perhaps; or cheese, crackers, and cured meats - but for anything that has the potential to fall off the edge easily, or get drippy or messy, there isn't much room for error. I had to be very, very cautious with my poached eggs and hash cakes, when all I wanted to do was to attack them with fervour and tuck in without a care in the world, but that cute hipster cutting board was cramping my style.

So, there was that, but overall, I genuinely had a good time at Food Monkey, and I'd be happy to return for more. Give me a plate, and I'll probably be even happier!

UPDATE: I am pleased to report that I have been back to Food Monkey a few more times for their hash cakes, and they now serve them on plates! Thank you Food Monkey!! :)

Food Monkey Cafe on Urbanspoon

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Monday, 19 January 2015

mixed summer smoothie (with a little tomato)

A summer fruit salad smoothie.

British journalist Miles Kington once said, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

I wonder what he would say about this summer smoothie recipe, which is pretty much a blended-up version of a fruit salad... with just a touch of tomato.

Just a touch, mind. One single cherry tomato. Baby steps. Or kind of a wildcard, if you will. I'm not the biggest fan of the taste of raw tomato, in general, so really, this is me living life on the edge.

I was pleased that I tasted only just the tiniest hint of tomato in the end result - just enough to be discernible if you think about it, but so subtle that you might just completely miss it. I might be more daring next time in an attempt to slowly endear myself to the taste of raw tomato. Maybe.

mixed summer salad smoothie
(serves 1)

1 ripe banana
1 soft ripe nectarine or peach
1 orange (use whole segments with seeds removed)
1 cherry tomato / grape tomato / baby roma tomato
10 mint leaves
2/3 cup water
4 ice cubes

Blitz all ingredients together with a blender until smooth.
Serve and drink immediately while it's cool and fresh!

Mixed summer smoothie, with a little tomato.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Monday, 12 January 2015

chocolate tahini chia pudding

Chocolate tahini chia pudding, topped with blueberries.

I have noticed chia seed puddings around for a few years now, but have not felt compelled to try them.

The fact of the matter is, I think the world is divided into those who like the texture of chia seed gels - the foundation of chia puddings - and those who don't really care for it.

I had a feeling I would fall into the camp of those who don't care for it, and now that I have finally taken the leap, I can confirm my intuition was correct. The slippery water-logged chia seeds with their still-crunchy centres are an interesting study in texture, but not for me. Which is a bit of a shame, because the sweet chocolate-tahini combo, by itself, was spoon-lickin' good, so it all seemed like a waste.

However! It appears that Simon falls into the camp of those who enjoy chia puddings, so that worked out well. After I miserably attempted to endear myself to the pudding and failed, he took it away and happily finished the rest, proclaiming it to be delicious. Thus, despite my personal misgivings, I am reassured that this is still a chia seed pudding recipe worth sharing. If you're a chia pudding lover, try it and let me know what you think!

Chocolate chia pudding, with a touch of tahini.

chocolate tahini chia pudding
(serves 2)

1 heaped tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder
1 heaped tablespoon tahini
1 level tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk (or oat milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc.)
1/4 cup chia seeds

toppings (optional): fresh fruit e.g. sliced bananas are a good choice, as are cherries, or any berry fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.

Mix cacao powder, tahini, and honey (or maple syrup) together to form a paste. Add in warm water and stir thoroughly to create a cohesive liquid. Add in milk and stir vigorously again to make sure everything is mixed well.
Place chia seeds in a bowl or container. Pour over the liquid mixture and stir everything together. Cover and refrigerate.
Give the mixture a brief stir after 30 minutes to encourage a uniform consistency throughout, then let it sit in the fridge again for another 2 hours, or until mixture is chilled and thickened to your liking.
Divide into little glasses, top with fresh fruit of your choice, and serve.

*To make this recipe vegan, use maple syrup and non-dairy milk.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

happy new year, new beginnings, and the 5:2 diet...

Delicious homemade Christmas breakfast, thanks to Simon's mum.

Happy new year!

After the gluttonous indulgences of the Christmas season, we are finally ready to tackle a new routine.

As regular readers will know, we have recently returned to Australia after nearly 5 months traveling through Asia - we set foot on Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Taiwan during this time, and had adventures that we will remember for years to come. I will be sharing some of these memories with you over this year as I sort through my thousands of photos, but for now, let's get back to food blogging.

As our journey neared an end, Simon expressed an interest in trying out the 5:2 diet. Many of you might have heard of this diet, which employs intermittent fasting to achieve weight loss (and potentially other health benefits as well). Basically, for each week you choose two days in which you you consume a very limited number of calories (500 for women, 600 for men), and the other five days you may eat normally.

While I am not terribly interested in following a diet, personally, and often find them a bit gimmicky, I have heard good things about the 5:2 diet from people who have personally tried it. Plus, I do enjoy crafting meal plans and recipes, and of course, I fully support Simon in his endeavour and I hope he succeeds.

A salad appropriate for the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet.

I made this salad for Simon's lunch on his first day embarking on the diet, after meticulously researching the calorie contents of various foodstuff the night before. It was made based on what I found in the kitchen, and, other than the egg and some red oak lettuce leaves, by chance it turned out to be made entirely out of green ingredients.

P.S. I'm not doing the 5:2 diet. My support is solely in preparing the appropriate food for Simon. I eat whatever I want while he suffers, hahaha! (Though actually, he has been coping alright, all things considered. I like to think that it's thanks to my wholesome meals.)

P.P.S. If you're interested, on that day, he had a banana and a coffee for breakfast. For dinner, he had another salad (slightly different to this one).

a green salad recipe for the 5:2 diet
(Serves 1.  Each serving = 136 calories.)

50g mixed salad leaves (16 kcal)
4 broccoli florets - raw, steamed or boiled (28 kcal)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (5 kcal)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves / cilantro (4 kcal)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce* (10 kcal)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (10 kcal)
1/8 teaspoon chilli powder (2 kcal)
1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste (0 kcal)
1 hard boiled egg (61 kcal)

Put all vegetables and herbs in a large salad bowl. Combine the condiments and add into the bowl. Toss everything together till thoroughly mixed. Taste and add more condiments if necessary, but remember to factor in the added calories if doing the 5:2 diet. Top it all off with the egg.

*Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, however, there are vegetarian/vegan versions on the shelves these days. Some contain gluten, while others are gluten-free. Please remember to check the labels if you have specific dietary requirements.

Click here to read the rest of the post!