Tag Archives: vegetarian

Red Lentil and Roast Capsicum Soup

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Roast Capsicum Red Lentil Soup

This winter we have had some of the coldest winter nights that I can remember in Sydney.  Lots of beautiful warm sunny days, but some really bitter nights and early mornings.  These are nights on which you crave something warm and hearty with loads of flavor for your evening meal.

For a lot of people that might mean a rich and chunky beef casserole, or a hearty minestrone, not a vegetarian or vegan soup.  This soup is rich and filling and full flavoured.  It leaves you feeling satisfied and warm inside, and in no way craving a hit of meat.

  • 4 red capsicums
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 lg cloves garlic
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 lg red onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 100 g kumara, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 c dried red lentils
  • 9 c good quality vegetable stock
  • 3 T fresh coriander, plus extra to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 190C.

De-seed capsicum and cut into about 8 strips each.  Spread 2 T oil over a baking tray and place capsicums pieces on it in a single layer.  Press garlic over the capsicum and mix to distribute.  Place in oven and roast until capsicum is soft.

In a large soup pot on medium heat, sauté the onions and celery in the remaining oil until becoming translucent.  Add cumin, kumara and lentils with just enough stock to prevent sticking to the pan.  Cook for one minute then add remaining stock and bring the pot to a boil. Boil for one minute and then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook until all ingredients are cooked.  Season to taste. Chop capsicum into small pieces (removing skin is optional – with this soup I don’t) and add to soup.  Simmer for 5 minutes, add coriander and turn off the heat.

Serve with thick pieces of fresh bread.  Enjoy!

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Caramel Corn

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Caramel Popcorn

Saturday night was all about soccer.  Manchester United was in Sydney to play a match against a collection of A League players from the Australian premier competition.   There were more than 80,000 people filling the stadium, and it was a sea of Manchester red. The devoted fans, one of whom is my son, were out in force.   It was loads of fun.  The crowd was hyped – and surprisingly well behaved! – and there were lots of goals scored!   Although, fun as it was I have to admit I felt deeply for those brave Australian players, who were playing at ‘home’ with a team that had been cobbled together for the event, while the spectators by and large, and the commentators were SO not there to see them!   Tough gig – and we really should be proud of them, if only in retrospect.

So we traipsed off to the stadium nice and early, thinking that with 5 very very excited young boys in tow, the 3 adults would have to work hard to keep them close amidst the crowds.  ‘Frogs in a wheelbarrow’ springs to mind…  So once we had them all seated (took a while to herd them up to the 6th tier!) we wanted to keep them settled.  And for that, the key was plenty of food! Junk food is an expectation at such an event, but I had to make sure that at least some of it was homemade.

This candy corn is such an easy thing to whip up beforehand – as long as you do it early enough to give it time to set.

Try not to eat while the Mexican wave is passing through…

Recipe

  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c popping corn

Caramel

  • 125 g butter
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 T honey

Line a large baking tray (preferably with a lip around the edges) with baking paper.

Heat oil in saucepan.  Test that it is hot enough by adding a couple of kernels of corn – if they start to spin, the oil is ready.  Add the corn and making sure that the lid if firmly held on, gently toss as the kernels pop. I used a glass lidded pan so that I can see what’s happening – and it’s fun watching them pop.  Remove from heat as soon as the popping stops and place in a large lightly oiled bowl.

Prepare the caramel. Chop butter into a saucepan and add sugar. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the honey and bring to boil, and cook without stirring until mixture turns a light golden colour.  Remove from heat and pour over popcorn.  Give the popcorn a mix to even out the caramel coating. Transfer to the baking tray and spread out. You need to work very quickly because the caramel will stiffen very quickly.  Leave to set.

Once the caramel has hardened, break the popcorn up and place in containers.

 

Caramel Popcorn 2

 

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

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  • Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

As we all know, blueberries are a super food.  I take this to mean that this is a health food cake!

• 1/3 c brown sugar
• 300 g blueberries, plus extra to serve
• 1 ¾ c plain flour
• 1 c caster sugar
• 2 ½ t baking powder
• ½ t cinnamon
• 1 egg
• ¾ c milk
• 1/3 c vegetable oil
• Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 20cm round cake pan with baking paper. Sprinkle base of cake pan with brown sugar and then spread 150 g of blueberries evenly over the sugar.

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Add remaining blueberries and mix to coat.

Whisk together egg, milk, oil and lemon rind. Add to dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra blueberries and thickened cream.

Basic White Bread

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Basic White Bread
I have always enjoyed making (and eating!) bread, but my repertoire has been fairly limited. Lately I have been experimenting with all sorts of recipes. I have had some great successes and have had some impressive failures. The thing about bread making is that if your dough is too tough you can end up with a rock. It can also be very hard to work out what exactly goes wrong with a dud bread. You try a recipe that clearly works for someone else, but you just can’t make it do the right thing for you. It can be very frustrating!

So when you find a good simple reliable recipe that works for you, hang onto it!!

This recipe is a great starting point. I have made it many many times and it always works. It makes a medium density white loaf with beautifully crunchy crusts.

Recipe

• 2 T polenta
• 800 g bread flour
• 15 g instant yeast
• 2 t salt
• 2 T sugar
• 600 ml warm water

Preheat oven to 50C for rising the dough. Lightly oil 2 loaf pans, and dust each with 1 T polenta.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour in water and mix to a stiff dough. Place into a large oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Lightly knead dough until it feels smooth and slightly elastic. This dough can be kneaded gently, pushing down with the heel of your palm and then folding the dough back onto itself. You want this dough to remain light and soft, so it doesn’t need too much pummelling and prodding.

Place each loaf into a pan and dust with flour. Using a sharp knife cut 3 slashes into each loaf. Place back in oven, uncovered, to rise for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn oven temperature up to 200C, returning the pans to the oven when the correct temperature has been reached. Bake until loaf tops are golden and they sound hollow when you tap them.

Spice Roasted Pumpkin

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Spice Roasted Pumpkin

Pumpkins are great vegetables.  You can use them in soups, salads, sweets and more, and they are nutritious and filling.

This recipe is so simple and easy but creates dish so full of flavour that it will be the star of the meal.

Recipe

  • ½ Kent pumpkin (organic if possible)
  • 4 T toasted pepitas
  • 4 T macadamia or avocado oil
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t cumin
  • Sea salt
  • 2/3 c Greek yoghurt
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh coriander

Preheat oven to 200C. Brush large oven tray with 2 T of oil.

Deseed pumpkin and cut in 1.5 cm wedges. Place in single layer on tray.

In a mortar and pestle lightly crush the toasted pepitas. Add remaining oil, cinnamon and cumin. Spread spice mixture evenly over the pumpkin pieces.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for around 30 minutes or until soft.

Mix yogurt, lemon and coriander together.  Drizzle over the pumpkin immediately before serving.

For a vegan option you can omit the yoghurt, just sprinkle the coriander and lemon over the pumpkin when you serve.  Still delicious!

This recipe was inspired by one in Better Homes and Gardens, July 2013.

Sesame Green Beans

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Sesame Green Beans

This is a super simple and super yummy way to liven up some green beans.  It’s great as a side dish but I will often make it for myself when I feel like having a green lunch.

Recipe

  • 200 g fresh green beans
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 T toasted sesame seeds

Steam or boil green beans until just beginning to soften. Drain the water from the pan. Add soy sauce and sesame oil and toss well to coat.  Place in serving dish and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.

Cinnamon Babka

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Babka freshfromtheoven

There’s an episode of Seinfeld called “The Dinner Party” in which Jerry and Elaine are on their way to a dinner party, and decide they need to take something with them for the hosts. They stop at a bakery wanting to buy a chocolate babka, but end up with a cinnamon one instead.  Elaine is unhappy because she considers a cinnamon babka “a lesser babka”.

There are different types of babka, which I believe originated in Poland, but it is traditionally baked on major holidays in a number of Eastern European countries.  Some make babka as a cake, and glaze it with chocolate or vanilla icing and decorate with nuts and dried fruit. For others it is a sweet bread braided and filled with sweet cinnamon or chocolate fillings with streusel toppings.  This latter version reminds me of the Bohemian sweet breads that I love so much, and which tend not to use chocolate.  So for me, cinnamon is definitely not the lesser babka!

Recipe

  • 125g cream cheese
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 1 1/4 c warm milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 c flour
  • 2 T cream

Line 2 large loaf pans with baking paper.

Beat cream cheese, oil and caster sugar until light and creamy.  Beat in egg yolks.

Combine milk and vanilla. Stir in yeast and set aside for 2 minutes to activate the yeast, then fold yeast mixture into egg mixture.  Add flour and salt, and beat until the dough is soft and sticky.

On a well floured smooth surface, knead the dought until it is smooth. Place in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a slightly damp cloth and leave in a warm spot to rise (about an hour).

Filling

While the dough is rising, the filling needs to be prepared.

  • 1 1/2 c caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 125 g butter
  • 1/2 c warm milk
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 egg

In a medium bowl, beat butter, sugar and cinnamon until light and creamy. Add flour, milk and egg and beat until well mixed.  Set aside until required.

Once the babka dough has doubled in size, remove from the bowl and divide into 4 pieces. Roll 2 pieces into braid-able lengths and set aside. Roll remaining 2 pieces into braidable lengths and then flatten them so they can be filled.

Divide filling into thirds. Using 1/3 of the cinnamon mixture each, place a line of filling along the length of both flattened lengths and gently wrap dough around the filling. Cover the remaining filling and leave in the refrigerator until needed.

Create the 4 lengths of dough together. Cut braid in half crossways and place each piece in a prepared pan. Cover with the cloth and leave to rise again until doubled in size.

Babka braided

Preheat oven to 180C. Brush each loaf with cream and then crumble the remaining filling mixture over the tops. Bake for about 30 minutes or until firm.  Allow to cool in their pans for 5-10 minutes before removing.

Babka sliced