Tri Pumpkin Salad with Basil, Honey Pepitas and Persian Feta

No, I didn’t make a spelling mistake, it is not a ‘Thai’ Pumpkin Salad, it is in fact a ‘Tri’ Pumpkin Salad, in that there is pumpkin three ways in here (well, maybe even four ways if you count the seeds). There have been pumpkins everywhere at the farmer’s markets lately, and as usual I’ve been making lots of different types of hummus. Turns out my pumpkin hummus has been a favourite. One night recently it even lead to a marriage proposal.

Slow roasting pumpkin with the skin on is probably my favourite way to cook it. And recently I came across a recipe that used raw butternut pumpkin teamed with fresh apple and candied pecans.

So, I decided to make a dish celebrating all things pumpkin and Autumn. It turned out a treat! Next time I will serve it alongside some fresh homemade flatbreads for scooping up all the goodness.

 

RECIPE
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 kent pumpkin, cut in half horizontally, seeds scooped out (you will only need 1 half)
Olive oil
Honey
Salt and pepper
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced with vegetable peeler and placed in iced water
1/4 butternut pumpkin, peeled and thinly sliced with vegetable peeler
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Small bunch basil, leaves picked
200g persian or danish feta
A few tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
1 tin chickpeas, drained
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup tahini
Handful fresh parsley
1/2 cup pepitas

Method
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place the cut kent pumpkin on a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil, honey and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook, for about 50 mins, or until caramelised and a knife is easily inserted into the thickest part. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, place the cut butternut pumpkin in a bowl with a 1/4 cup of the white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Use hands to marinate and set aside.
In a frying pan, toast the pepitas over medium heat. Once nearly done, add a drizzle of honey and stir to coat. Toast for another minute. Remove from pan, onto a plate and leave to cool.
Cut the cooked kent pumpkin in half. Put one half aside. Scoop the inside out of the other half (discard skin) and place flesh into a food processor along with the chickpeas, other 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, tahini, fresh parsley and some salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Check for seasoning and add more salt or vinegar if necessary.
Spoon the pumpkin hummus out onto a large platter and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Cut the remaining kent pumpkin into six wedges, leaving the skin on. Arrange on top of the pumpkin hummus. Drain the celery from the iced water. Arrange celery, butternut pumpkin, basil leaves and feta on top of the pumpkin hummus and cooked pumpkin. Sprinkle with pepitas. Drizzle with a little olive oil and the pomegranate molasses.
Enjoy!

Grilled Asparagus with Serrano Ham and Lemon Aioli

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Here is another quick and easy yet impressive appetiser for the festive season. It can all be prepared the day before and just grilled before serving. You could serve it as an entree or as part of an antipasto plate.

You will have leftover aioli as well, it goes really well with some Christmas ham and soft white bread.

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas with friends and family, lots of food and drinks and fun times!dsc_1376 dsc_1343

Recipe
Serves 6 as part of a platter
Ingredients
20 asparagus spears
20 very thin slices serrano ham
Olive oil
1/2 lemon
Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
Cracked pepper
Aioli (makes about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
2 cups olive oil
2 tbs french mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbs water
Method
For the aioli, place the garlic, salt and egg yolks in the bowl of a small food processor and process until combined. With the motor running, start adding the oil in a slow and steady stream until all gone. Aioli should be thick and pale like soft butter. Transfer to a bowl and add the mustard, lemon juice, zest and enough water to loosen into a creamy consistency. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.
For the asparagus, wrap each piece of asparagus with the ham, starting from the bottom and working towards the spear, leaving the spear uncovered.
Heat a grill pan over high heat and drizzle with a little olive oil. Grill the asparagus for about 5mins, turning frequently. Remove from pan and place on to a serving platter.
Sprinkle with the lemon juice, parmesan cheese, parsley and cracked pepper and serve with some of the aioli.
Enjoy!

Kalamata Olive and Roast Almond Tapenade

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Every year I say, I’m not doing anything for Christmas, I can’t afford it, I don’t have time, blah blah blah. But then, every year, next minute, I’m elbows deep in royal icing, fighting off the flies on a 35 degree summer’s day, making gingerbread houses that no-one is going to eat. And I secretly love it.

However, I’m guessing most people aren’t like me, so here is a recipe for an impressive but very easy appetiser for these entertaining times. Will post another one tomorrow for an even easier one!dsc_1371 dsc_1396dsc_1415 dsc_1434

Recipe
Makes about 2 cups
Ingredients
500g kalamata olives
4 anchovies plus 1 tbs of their oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs capers
4 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 cup roasted almonds plus a quarter of a cup of sliced to serve
To Serve
4 garlic bulbs, cut and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 180 degrees for about 30mins
Cherry tomatoes on the vine, roasted at 180 degrees for about 15mins
Danish Feta
Fresh baguette (or a gluten free alterna
Fresh basil leaves
Method
To make the tapenade, first roughly chop the almonds in a food processor by using the pulse button so as not to over-chop. Empty them into a bowl.
Place the olives, anchovies, garlic, capers, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper in the processor and process until combined and relatively smooth. Empty into the bowl with the almonds and stir to combine.
To serve, place in a bowl and top with the extra sliced almonds. Place bowl on a platter with the garlic, tomatoes, feta, baguette and basil leaves.
Enjoy!

Charred Avocado, Cucumber, Radish and Chickpea Salad

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Here is a recipe for an impressive but simple salad that would serve well as a nice lunch with some white wine or to take to a barbecue. It’s perfect on it’s own but would also go really well with some grilled chicken or salmon. Crusty bread would also go well on the side.
I used to talk about stuff on this blog about life and inspiration. But, at the moment, I have nothing interesting to say. And I’m sure no-one cares anyway. However, if you do, I’d love some feedback.
Hope you like the salad.

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Recipe
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 avocados
Lemon oil for grilling
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced on a mandolin
5 baby cucumbers, finely sliced on a mandolin
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Handful of fresh dill sprigs
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Crusty bread to serve (optional)
Method
Heat a grill pan over high heat. Cut the avocados in half. Remove the seed and cut each half into thirds. Peel away the skin. Brush the avocado with the lemon oil and place, cut side down, on the hot grill pan. Grill each cut side for about 2 mins, or until blackened lines appear. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard and some salt and pepper in a tightly sealed jar and shake well to combine.
To serve, arrange the avocado, radishes, cucumbers and chickpeas on a platter. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the dill.
Enjoy!

Beetroot Carpaccio with Horseradish Dressing

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This recipe came about as a result of some amazing fresh beets that I picked up at the farmers market and my new love for horseradish cream. This is a simple but impressive starter or light meal, or you could serve it with some grilled meat and crusty bread to bulk it out. Replace the horseradish cream with dijon mustard if you’d like the dish to remain vegan.dsc_1110

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Recipe

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a starter or light meal

4 fresh beetroot, stalks trimmed and discarded, leaves reserved
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs fresh chopped dill, plus extra to serve
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp honey
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp horseradish cream (or mustard for vegan)
salt and pepper
50g baby capers
70g walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
Crusty bread

Method

Place the beetroot in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil over high heat and continue to boil for about 45mins or until a knife inserts easily into the flesh. Drain and rinse under cold water,using your hands to slip away the skin. Set aside and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, to make the dressing, Place the lemon juice, 2 tbs chopped dill, red onion, honey, olive oil, vinegar, horseradish and salt and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake thoroughly to combine.
Using a mandolin, thinly slice the beetroot into rounds.
On a platter arrange the beetroot leaves, and then the beetroot. Drizzle over the dressing. Sprinkle with the capers, remaining dill and walnuts.
Serve with crusty bread.
Enjoy!

Indonesian Jackfruit and Mushroom Curry with Red Rice, Crispy Tempeh, Green Papaya Salad and Sweet Potato Chips

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Here is another curry recipe using the Indonesian Curry Paste from the last post. If you haven’t had jackfruit before, I strongly suggest you give it a go, especially if you are a vegan or vegetarian, it’s a great substitute for meat. It’s becoming easier to find in Australia, most good asian or indian grocers should have it in cans. Here in Indonesia it’s growing everywhere and most markets sell it by the piece, already cut, which is good because cutting a fresh one can be a very messy, sticky task. Check out my recipe for Smokey Pulled Jackfruit Burgers for another yummy way to use jackfruit.

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Recipe

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Curry

2 tbs sesame oil

1 cup Indonesian Curry Paste

500ml coconut milk

1 litre vegetable stock

4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

2 cans jackfruit, drained

200g chanterelle mushrooms (or any mushroom you like)

Bunch kale, roughly chopped

Bunch choy sum, roughly chopped

Green Papaya Salad

2 cups shredded green papaya

1 chilli, finely chopped

Juice of 3 limes

2 tablespoons palm sugar

1 tsp salt

Handful each of lemon basil, coriander and mint

Crispy Tempeh

1 piece tempeh, chopped into 2cm pieces

3 tbs Canola oil

3 tbs kecap manis

To serve

Cooked red rice

Lime wedges

Sweet potato chips

Method

For the curry, heat the sesame oil in a large wok over medium to high heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for about 1min until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, stock, tamari and jackfruit. Bring the boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45mins, or until jackfruit is very tender and starting to fall apart. Add water during this time if the sauce is becoming too thick and reduced.

Add the mushrooms, kale and choy sum and cook for a further 10mins or until mushrooms and greens are just cooked.

Meanwhile, for the green papaya salad, combine all the ingredients in a bowl, stir well, cover and refrigerate until needed.

When ready to serve, cook the tempeh. Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the tempeh and the kecap manis and cook, stirring, for about 5mins or until tempeh is crispy and golden brown.

Serve the curry with the cooked red rice, papaya salad, crispy tempeh, lime wedges and sweet potato chips.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Indonesian Seafood Curry

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Indonesian Seafood Curry, so called because I made it in Indonesia with ingredients from the local market, definitely not because it is an authentic Indonesian curry. Still delicious as anything though!

I’ve been a bit slack on social media of late. Caught up in the shoeless island life. Sun, sea, fish bbq and countless margaritas…it’s been bliss.

Use this curry paste with any veggies, tempeh, tofu, eggs, seafood or meat. It would also work with rice instead of noodles. I’ll be posting a recipe for a jackfruit curry using the same curry paste soon.

Use less chillies if you aren’t up for a hot curry!

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Recipe

Ingredients

Curry Paste (makes about 3 cups)

1 red onion, peeled and chopped

10cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped

10 birdseye chillies

6 kaffir lime leaves

4 lemongrass stalks, white and pale green parts, peeled and chopped

Bunch fresh coriander, leaves, stalks and roots, washed and chopped

Whole bulb garlic, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup tamarind pulp

80g palm sugar

6 limes, juiced

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp turmeric powder

3 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

Curry

1 tbs sesame oil

1 1/2 cups curry paste

1 litre coconut cream

2 cups chicken or veg stock

3 tbs fish sauce

Bunch snake beans, chopped (about 2 cups)

3 asian eggplant, sliced into 3cm rounds

12 spears baby corn

2 bok choy, quartered

500g prawns

To serve

Cooked rice vermicelli

Fresh shallots, chopped

Fried shallots

Fresh coriander

Beansprouts

Chilli sambal

Method

In a large wok, heat the sesame oil over medium to high heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for about 1min until fragrant. Add the coconut cream, stock, fish sauce, beans, eggplant and corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and vegetables are just tender, about 10mins. Add water if necessary.

Add the bok choy and prawns and cook for a further 3mins or until prawns are just cooked.

Serve curry in bowls over the cooked noodles and top with the fresh and fried shallots, coriander, beansprouts and sambal on the side.

 

 

 

Creamy Kabocha Squash Dip with Kale, Nashi Pear, Chilli and Cashew Topping

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Dips are one of my favourite things to make, it’s so easy to make a different variation every time, depending on what you have available. I also like the challenge of making them super healthy but equally as delicious as a naughty, creamy, oily, cheesy dip you might buy from the supermarket. So many of the so called ‘healthy’ dips you can buy, like hummus and babaganoush can have very high levels of oil in them. When I make dips, sauces and pestos at home I try to use water and vinegar where possible and usually it turns out just as delicious. Sometimes just a drizzle of oil on top of the finished product is all you need.

The kabocha squash I used in this dip is a type of asian squash that is abundant in the markets here at the moment, but you could use any type of pumpkin you like, butternut would work well. You could also use green apple or a firm green pear in place of the nashi pear.

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Recipe

Ingredients

1kg kabocha squash, cut into wedges, skin left on, seeds removed

1/4 cup coconut nectar or maple syrup

1 tbs sesame oil

1 whole bulb garlic, cloves separated

salt

150ml coconut cream

1/4 cup tahini paste or cashew butter

Juice of half a lemon

1 tsp curry powder

2 large leaves of kale stem removed, finely shredded

1/2 nashi pear, julienned

1 long red chilli, finely sliced

handful of fresh herbs such as lemon basil, mint and coriander

1 tsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 a small lime

handful of roasted cashews

Brown rice crackers, to serve

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Place the squash in an even layer on the tray, along with the garlic and drizzle with half of the coconut syrup, sesame oil and sprinkle with salt.

Roast in the oven for about 45mins or until very tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Scoop the flesh from the squash into a food processor (reserve the skins for a roast vegetable salad or just to snack on, they are delicious). Squeeze the garlic from the skins and add to the pumpkin along with the rest of the coconut syrup, coconut cream, tahini, lemon juice and curry powder. Process until combined and smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Spoon out into a wide, shallow bowl.

In another bowl add the kale, nashi pear, chilli, herbs, olive oil, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Use your hands to combine and slightly massage the kale to soften it.

Spoon on top of the dip and sprinkle with the cashews.

Serve with brown rice crackers or scoops of choice!

Enjoy!

 

Vegan Pandan Cake

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Pandan. Amazing. Smells and tastes like nothing else I’ve experienced, and the colour is something else! It is used in so many desserts in many asian countries, but also works beautifully in savoury dishes like curries and rice. Fortunately lots of Asian grocers in Australia now stock Pandan leaves, and will definitely stock the Pandan essence I used for this cake. The Cassava flour turns the cake into more of a pudding texture, it is unusual but delicious. I iced this cake with condensed milk that was simmered and reduced with Pandan essence to form a sort of caramel. But if you want to keep the cake vegan, I would suggest using a simple icing of icing sugar, lemon juice and pandan essence.
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Recipe

Ingredients

4 cups cassava flour

1 1/2 cups palm sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups coconut milk

2 tsp chia seeds mixed with 2 tbs water

1 tsp pandan essence

1/4 cup white vinegar

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line a 30cm cake tin.

In a large bowl combine the flour, palm sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

Add the coconut milk, chia, pandan essence and vinegar. Stir to combine.

Spoon into prepared pan and bake for about 40-50mins or until risen and springs back to the touch.

Cool in pan.

Turn out and ice as you please.