Tag: vegetarian

Bonding Over Pineapple Lumps

About a month ago, Ollie and I went into a cool wee shop just round the corner from our apartment. The kind that sells beautiful greeting cards, necklaces, tea towels and candles. The girl working there was eating pineapple lumps so of course, we struck up conversation. She had just received a care package from her mum back in New Zealand containing the pineapple lumps and large amounts of Whittaker’s chocolate. She seemed lovely, so I went back in the next week and gave her my number. Now this may seem rather forward, but in a city where you don’t know many people and you meet a good one, you just have to be bulshy!

Turns out we have a whole lot in common, both having studied English and Art Theory, worked in galleries around NZ, and have since been hanging out. Last week we were going to be going to an art exhibition after work, but cold misty weather, tired feet and hungry tummies brought us up to our place with some red wine instead. I rummaged in the fridge and found a cauliflower, some chicken stock in the freezer, and this cauliflower risotto was made.

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Cauliflower Risotto – thanks Jamie O.

1 cauliflower
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 stick celery
1 glass of wine
1 1/2 cups of amborio rice
1 litre chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan

For the Pangrattato
A chunk of stale bread, I used walnut bread
3 anchovies
Chili flakes
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
Olive oil

Firstly, attack your beautiful cauliflower. Trim the leaves off and cut out the middle trunk part so you are left the florets. Add these to your pan of hot stock and they will start to soften. Next, finely slice the middle trunk, the onion, garlic and celery stalk and gently fry for about 15 minutes, or until they have softened. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and fry until it is slightly translucent. Next add the glass of wine and stir until the smell of alcohol has disappeared.

You can now start adding the stock and cauliflower bit by bit, little by little. The more you stir, the creamier it gets. You can smash up some of the cauliflower and leave other bits larger to keep the texture interesting. Continue until the rice is cooked and all the cauliflower has been added. The rice should be soft, but still have a bit of bite.

Remove from the heat and add the parmesan. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This lets the rice get really creamy and thick so don’t skip this step.

While this is happening, roughly chop the walnut bread. In a pan, fry the anchovies and chilli in the olive oil until the anchovies have melted down into a slaty oil. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring and tossing constantly until golden brown.

Serve with the pangrattato sprinkled on top, and some fresh parsley if you have it. The combination of the homely, creamy cauliflower and the crunchy, spicy and salty bread is heavenly. All the more so on a misty weekday night with a glass of wine and a new friend. The ultimate of girl’s nights.

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Pasta al Pomodoro

Yesterday I talked with a friend who is back in the stifling summer heat of Milan for a wedding. I was taken back to my time living there and how the two of us realised we were living just down the road from each other, friends from school who had fallen out of touch. I could see her as clearly as if it was yesterday, in gumboots on the side of Viale Gran Sasso in the slushy grey snow as she waited for me. We were getting our first of many espresso together in the city we Kiwis were choosing to call home. Sometimes it seemed like we were the only sane ones in the whole city, other times it seemed like we were the ones creating all the drama. I was taken back to the friendships and the adventures, the flavours and fragrance of an Italian kitchen. The bag of tomatoes in my fridge were calling to me and I knew what I had to do with them.

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Last Night’s Pasta al Pomodoro

A generous glug of olive oil
1 big garlic clove
2 anchovy fillets
A sprinkling of chilli flakes
1/2 red onion
6 big fresh tomatoes (I had a few yellow cherry tomatoes I threw in too for good measure)
A peeling of lemon skin very finely chopped
6 green olives
1 Tbsp capers
Salt

Cover the bottom of a thick bottomed pan with olive oil and then add your whole garlic clove. When you can start to smell the garlic, add the chilli flakes and anchovy fillets and slowly slowly fry these until they dissolve into the oil making a delicious salty, spicy and garlicky oil (I have been known to finish here and coat the pasta with the oil for dinner. If I learnt one thing from Italy it is that simplicity is always best). Next, finely dice the red onion and add this with the lemon zest to slowly soften in the oil. Fill a bowl with boiling water and drop your tomatoes in. Leave for 30 seconds and then pull out and peel the skin off. Chop the tomatoes up and add these to the onion. There will be a lot of liquid from the tomatoes at this stage, so you want to leave them to simmer and thicken until you are left with a deep red sauce. Add the capers and stoned and cut up olives and you have yourself a sauce. Cook your pasta – I think something long and skinny is best for a sauce like this – and combine them. You don’t want your pasta to be swimming in the sauce, but nicely shiny from it. Top with grated parmesan to really make your meal amazing.

The beauty of pasta al pomodoro is that there is no one way to do it. I am sure there are many nonne out there who are shaking their heads at this recipe, but there seem to be hundreds of variations on eating tomatoes and pasta together. It can be as simple as oil, garlic and a tin of tomatoes. Either way, you know it is going to taste gooooood. It is my go to food, my comfort food and my favourite dinner in the world. Plus, I can put away serious amounts. Very happily.

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While the pasta cooked, we had a little marinated zucchini salad which was a lovely combination of fresh crunch, zingy vinegar and soft mozzarella. 

Marinated Zucchini Salad

Half a green zucchini
Half a yellow zucchini
1/2 clove of fresh garlic minced
Olive oil
The juice of a lemon
Salt
A splash of white wine vinegar
Handful of fresh basil, torn
A few balls of fresh mozzarella
Handful of baby spinnach
A few pieces of prosciutto torn into smaller pieces

Finely slice the zucchini and put in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, basil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Leave these for a couple of hours to marinate. Just before you serve, add the baby spinach, prosciutto and mozzarella. Easy as that.

Buon appetito a tutti. And Livs, I wish I was there with you x

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Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

This is the kind of salad you eat and feel like you are doing good things to your body. It is fresh, tasty and packed full of flavour. We had it for dinner by itself – there was enough to take leftovers for lunch today, but you could have it with some nice meat for a more substantial dinner.

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Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

1 small green cauliflower head
1 small white cauliflower head
Half a red onion
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water (for cooking the quinoa)
Handful of baby spinach
Half a raw green zucchini, finely sliced
Half a yellow zucchini, finely sliced
Handful of fresh mint and parsley
Feta
Zest and juice of a lemon
Olive oil
Salt
Sprinkling of pumpkin seeds
Sprinkling of chilli flakes

Break your cauliflower into florets and pop in a 180 degree oven with the sliced red onion, a dash of olive oil and cumin. While the cauliflower and the quinoa  is cooking, finely slice the zucchini and put in a big bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice. This marinates it nicely before you simply add everything else, sprinkling the seeds, zest of the lemon and chilli flakes to finish. Happy Wednesday x

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Little Indian Elephants

One fantastic thing about San Francisco is its love of Indian Pale Ale, every local brewery seems to make a good one, especially the one we found with the elephant on the label. It comes in a cute bottle, and did I mention the elephant? Anyway, the beer and then the beautiful cauliflower we bought at the farmer’s market on Sunday inspired me to make a curry to eat while we drink the beer. Here’s what I did.

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Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp tumeric
1Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp chili flakes
1Tbsp fresh grated ginger
Oil (I used olive oil because that is all my kitchen has, but you could use any)
1/2 red onion
1/2 white onion
4 cloves garlic
1 head of cauliflower
1 can chickpeas
1 cup frozen spinach
1 handful fresh coriander
Juice of half an orange
Splash of coconut water (you could also use stock or coconut milk, this is all I had at home)

To serve

Rice- obviously
Natural yoghurt
Fresh mint
Roughly chopped raw almonds (hazelnuts are even better with cauliflower if you have them)

Heat your oil and add all the spices, garlic and the grated ginger. Fry these until it has made a kind of paste like base for your curry. Now add the onion and slowly fry. Next comes the cauliflower, spinach, coriander, chickpeas, orange juice and coconut water or milk. Put the lid on the pot and simmer for at least half an hour or until the vegetables have softened and flavoured. Mine simmered for a good couple of hours as Ollie’s meeting lasted a little longer than expected, which was fine as it meant the flavours really had time to do their thing. I served it with some natural yoghurt, fresh mint and some roughly chopped raw almonds. And of course, a cold beer.

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Add some crunch to your lunch

At my family home, we often have grated things for lunch. Grated things has changed and evolved over many years, depending on who is making it, what is in season and what people feel like that day. Generally there will be at least a couple of the following: cabbage, carrots, beetroot, celery, apple, cheese, cashews, peanuts, chickpeas, red onion, chillis… the list goes on. I don’t have a grater in my new kitchen, but did some fine slicing today to make a San Fran Grated Things. I sent a picture to a salad loving friend, and she wanted the recipe- so here you are Al, enjoy!

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SAN FRANCISCO GRATED THINGS

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 granny smith apple
1 fennel bulb
1 stalk of celery
Handful of flat leaf parsley
Olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Tsp whole grain mustard
Salt
Rocket

Put the rinsed (don’t have a sieve so I didn’t actually do this step…) quinoa in a pot with the water, bring to the boil and then simmer until the water has all absorbed. Set aside to cool. Finely slice the apple, fennel and celery. Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, mustard, olive oil and salt and then mix it all together with the rocket and quinoa in a big bowl. Make sure you do this straight away as the apple and fennel will start to discolour if they don’t get any loving from the lemon juice. This is a very quick and easy recipe, perfect for a lunch at home with friends – just add some poached chicken, nice cheese, a loaf of bread, some wine. Or make it up the night before to take to work. It will be worth it.

Celebrating with Italian Food

Today we signed our lease! We have a home! After getting a bit stressed about how competitive it is and how we don’t have social security numbers OR credit history in the US (apparently very important), I was starting to doubt our ability to be accepted anywhere. And when you have to pay $50 every time you apply for a place, things were getting expensive. But we succeeded. We are now proud renters of a one bedroom apartment and we move in on Saturday. It’s on the fourth floor, it’s near parks, cafes and restaurants, and it has a beautiful view out over the city. (Plus it is just near the Full House houses!)

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We went out to Ragazza for dinner and ate amazing salads and pizza, drank some yummy red wine and talked about what we needed to get for the place. And then the next night we stayed on the Italian buzz and ate this:

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MY KIND OF CARBONARA

2 zucchini
1 leek
1 onion
Fresh thyme
Fresh parsley
2 eggs
Long splash of cream
Salt and Pepper
Fettucine
Parmesan

Slowly and softly fry the finely chopped leek and onion in olive oil and the thyme. Add the zucchini halved and then cut into long slithers once they are lovely and soft. This will mean you will have some different textures going on. In a bowl mix together the cream and eggs with some salt, pepper and chopped parsley. When your pasta has finished cooking, drain it and then return it to the pot. Quickly add the cream mixture, stirring it through so it coats all the pasta equally. You want the pasta to be silky and shiny, not scrambled eggs, so make sure the pot is no longer on the heat. Then mix in the vegetables and serve with some shaved parmesan.

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Now I know this isn’t a REAL carbonara, but it  is rich and delicious. So Italians, you will have to excuse me.

You can add pancetta, prosciutto or bacon if you wish, it can add a nice bit of crunch. Or you can spend that money on a bottle of white wine to drink while you eat, as we did.

Springtime soup

I love finishing a weekend with something healthy and tasty to prepare you for the week ahead. This springtime soup was perfect- easy, quick and delicious. The beauty of it lies in its versatility, you can just use whatever is in season. Make it a denser wintery soup with the addition of root vegetables, or a earthy autumnal soup with mushrooms.

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SPRINGTIME SOUP

1 onion
1 fennel bulb
4 cloves of garlic
Zest of half a lemon
6 spears of asparagus cut into thirds
Handful of brussel sprouts halved
Half a Savoy cabbage finely sliced
1 handful of baby spinach
Fresh Italian parsley
Fresh basil
Chicken stock

Slowly fry the finely chopped fennel, lemon zest, garlic and onion in a good amount of olive oil. Once they have softened and are lovely and sweet, add the chicken stock, the asparagus, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, herbs and simmer for about ten minutes. You don’t want to vegetables to be raw, but you also don’t want them mushy and boiled tasting. Aim for firm and youthful!

Serve with some grated parmesan, freshly ground black pepper and bread and butter. Health instantly restored after the weekend.


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Fresh Produce Delights

I am so excited to have a whole foods market and multiple little fresh produce shops just around the corner from our airbnb apartment. Here’s hoping our permanent home has so many delicious food shopping choices close by because fresh berries are in season! Breakfast is instantly so much better with them. Speaking of breakfast, two of my amazing friends, Lucy and Jono are launching The Muesli Hub, a made to order muesli company. They have asked me to make up a San Fran mix, so watch this space.

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Last night we resisted the pull of 100 different restaurants we want to try. After unsuccessfully looking at four different apartments- one too small, one too dark, one too mouldy, one too like a dungeon with fleas- we came home and enjoyed a cold beer and our first cooked dinner in our (kind of) San Francisco home.

I made a lentil salad with grilled asparagus, poached eggs and a loaf of sourdough bread. It took a second to whip together and tasted good!

Lentils and green things

1 cup of lentils

1 lemon

Big bunch of basil

2 cloves of garlic

tsp mustard

Big bunch of asparagus

2 eggs

S and P

Cook the lentils until the are firm, not schmushy. Dress these up with 2 garlic cloves cooked whole in a lot of olive oil until softened and then break them up with a fork into the oil. Add the mustard and juice of a lemon. Stir through the lentils with the roughly chopped basil leaves. Top this with the asparagus and then the poached eggs. I like to fry the asparagus on a griddle pan so they have those awesome charred marks. And if you don’t like eggs (like me) substitute some cheese in there instead. I used mozzarella, but haloumi or even slithers of parmesan would work just as well.

We ate this with delicious sourdough bread, whipped butter and cold beers by the open bay windows.

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