Tuesday, 30 June 2015

10-minute fish salad with chilli, tomatoes, lemon, wilted greens

This quick and easy fish salad takes about 10 minutes to make!

I am triumphant. This delicious dish takes, oh, I don't know... 10 minutes to prepare and cook, and it makes a lovely light one-pot meal for one. Despite the minimal list of ingredients, the flavours are excellent. Infuse some oil with chilli, cook the tomatoes to bring out their sweetness, and fry the fish until they are a lovely golden brown before deglazing the pan with a splash of lemon juice and tossing in some mixed salad leaves. Add salt and pepper, and you're done. Too easy!

A simple one-dish meal - fish salad with chilli, tomatoes, lemon and wilted greens.

10-minute quick fish salad with chilli, tomatoes, lemon and wilted greens

1 tablespoon oil (e.g. macadamia oil, rice bran oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, etc.)
1.5cm / 1/2" red chilli, thinly sliced; or a pinch of red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
2 cocktail tomatoes, quartered; or 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
150 - 180g / 5 - 6oz white fish fillet, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon lemon juice, or juice from 1/8 of a lemon (adjust to taste)
1 handful mixed salad leaves
salt and black pepper, to taste

Select a pan that is big enough to fry all the fish in one go without having to overcrowd the pan.
Warm up the oil over medium-high heat, and swirl to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.
Add chilli and tomatoes, fry 1 -2 minutes with tomatoes cut-side down to sear them well.
Add the bite-sized fish fillets, fry them for 1 - 2 minutes, and then flip them over and fry for another 1 - 2 minutes until they are a deep golden colour.
Turn off the heat, and immediately sprinkle lemon juice over the caramelized bits in the pan. Quickly scrape at the bits to dissolve them.
Stir in the mixed salad leaves, and toss everything together.
Season with salt and black pepper - I like lots of pepper for this salad.
Serve. I love this dish as a warm fish salad, but it should also be tasty served at room temperature.

*For even more flavour, add a small minced clove of garlic along with the chilli, and add a scattering of fresh herbs along with the mixed salad leaves.
** This fish salad can probably work well as a taco filling, too!

A lovely quick fish salad that easy to prepare, and delightful in its simplicity.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

quick & easy 5-ingredient kimchi miso udon noodle soup

Quick and easy 5-ingredient kimchi miso udon noodle soup.

Even though I'm all partnered up, I'm the kind of person who actually doesn't mind cooking for one. In fact, I love making noodle soup for one. It's just so uncomplicated. No need to worry about dividing the portions. I can eat my noodles straight from the saucepan, and cleaning up is a breeze. Happily, I still get the opportunity to cook for just myself every now and then, and when I do, I seize the chance to make myself a simple and delicious noodle soup.

This kimchi miso udon noodle soup is one of my latest creations. I love that the short list of ingredients is capable of producing so much flavour. If you ever feel tired or lazy but you're still in the mood for a home-cooked meal, try this one-pot five-ingredient noodle soup recipe that is quick and easy to make. The recipe is wonderfully versatile, too - feel free to adjust or even swap some of the ingredients to suit your taste.

Spicy, umami kimchi udon noodles in a miso broth.

quick & easy 5-ingredient kimchi miso udon noodle soup
(serves 1)

90g / 3oz dried udon noodles
50g / 2oz minced pork (or: minced chicken or cubed tofu)
1 small handful chopped Asian greens (or: mixed salad leaves)
6 pieces kimchi
1 tablespoon miso

Cook the noodles briefly in a saucepan of boiling water, just enough to release some starch from the noodles so that the water turns cloudy. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water and drain again.
Pour 1 + 2/3 cups of water into the saucepan with the noodles. Bring the mixture to boil again, and add the minced meat. (Hold back if you're using tofu - add that only during the last minute of cooking.)
Allow the mixture to simmer until the noodles and the meat are done - or even just slightly underdone, as they will continue to cook in the hot broth. Stir in the greens, and remove the saucepan from heat.
Add the kimchi - you may chop them up into smaller pieces prior to adding them, if you wish, or leave them whole if you're lazy (like me).
Allow the noodle soup to cool slightly for a couple of minutes or so. Submerge the spoonful of miso just under the surface of the broth, and use a fork to gradually loosen up the miso and whisk it in. Taste and add more kimchi or miso, if you like, to make it spicier or saltier.

Quick, easy, five-ingredient udon noodle soup with pork, vegetables and kimchi in a miso broth.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

sydney! - opera house & vivid light festival 2015

The city of Sydney lights up during the Vivid Light Festival.

Surprise! We're in Sydney!

Just for a month, that is. Simon has work to do in the area, so I'm tagging along and playing housewife. Basically, I do laundry and make sure there's dinner upon his return to the apartment. It's not a bad life.

The Sydney Vivid Festival was in full swing as we arrived. We walked into the city one weekend and took in the sights. Vivid Sydney comprises Vivid Light, Vivid Music and Vivid Ideas. Our casual stroll that evening gave us a nice glimpse of the elements of the Vivid Light Festival.

A view of the harbour, with the lit-up buildings.

The buildings' lights are always changing...

And changing.

Sydney Opera House - cool aqua patterns.

Sydney Opera House - purple, red and yellow splotches.

Sydney Opera House - yellow anemones.

Sydney Opera House - glowing pink.

Sydney Opera House - turning bright yellow.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Monday, 25 May 2015

easy tomato chilli garlic pasta

An easy pasta dish with fresh rigatoncini, tomatoes, garlic, chilli, herbs and parmesan.

I love going to the farmers' market, but I tend to stick to fruit and vegetable purchases when I visit. Recently, however, a fresh pasta vendor caught my attention as I was strolling past his stall. He was down to his last few containers of fresh pasta and he was willing to get rid of them quickly for a good offer. I bought two containers for five dollars, and opened up the one of them as soon as I got home to make a delicious fresh pasta lunch. I am not quite sure what this variety of pasta is, but it looks like it may be rigatoncini, a smaller version of rigatoni. Ridged, slightly curved, and with straight-cut ends. Lovely and rustic.

The idea for this rigatoncini recipe started with the basic ingredients of aglio e olio pasta - olive oil, garlic, chilli, salt and pepper. I embellished it with fresh tomatoes and dried mixed herbs, stretched the sauce further with cooked pasta water, then crowned the final dish with finely grated Parmesan cheese. Simple! To make it vegan, simply omit the Parmesan, or substitute it with vegan cheese or nutritional yeast instead. Also, feel free to use other types of pasta - other medium-sized ridged tubular pasta such as penne rigate or tortiglioni will work well, and spiral pasta such as fusilli or rotini should also be suitable.

You can easily modify this tomato chilli garlic pasta recipe to make a good vegan pasta dish, too.

easy tomato chilli garlic pasta
(serves 2 as a main)

350g / 12oz fresh pasta or 200g / 7oz dried pasta (ridged tubes and spirals work well in this recipe)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced (use less chilli and/or remove the seeds if you want it less spicy)
4 tomatoes, sliced into eighths
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until just slightly shy of al dente. Exact cooking times depend on the type of pasta used - different shapes and sizes have different cooking times, and fresh pasta cooks faster than dried pasta. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and halt the cooking process with cool running water, then drain again and set aside.

Warm up the olive oil in a pot or saucepan with low heat. Gently cook garlic and chilli in the olive oil for 2 - 3 minutes or until the garlic is soft and golden. Add tomatoes, dried herbs and the reserved pasta water. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat and allow it to bubble moderately for approximately 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender and disintegrating, and the liquid thickens to form a light sauce. It should not be too watery, but it is also not very thick. There should be just enough sauce to thinly coat all the pasta when you add it.

Turn up the heat and then add the cooked pasta along with salt and pepper. Stir the pasta through the sauce for about 30 seconds or until everything is warm. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if you like. Ladle the pasta into bowls and top with grated parmesan.

Fresh rigatoni with tomato, garlic, chilli and parmesan.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

quick pear and lime jam

Quick and easy lime and pear jam.

Overripe pears, almost wasting away in their basket, were the inspiration for this pear and lime jam. I enjoy soft, ripe pears, but these pears had softened to such a degree that they were no longer appealing, even to me. I tried slicing one up and using it in a salad. The pear slices broke up as I tossed the salad, so fragile they were.

Zesty lime and pear jam. Deliciously tangy.

I gave one of the pears to a bandicoot who hopped into our garden, and he ate it with gusto, but I did not feel the same enthusiasm that our cute little marsupial visitor displayed.

Cute bandicoot eating an overripe pear.

So there the pears were, languishing away. On a whim, I chopped them up and threw them into the saucepan, drizzled lime juice all over the pieces, mashed them up with a fork, covered them in sugar, and cooked them into a translucent jam. The taste of the pear is subtle, perhaps almost unnoticeable, but it gently tempers the dominant lime flavour. The delicious sourness, along with the pretty bits of lime zest, make this jam creation feel like a milder, less intense form of marmalade.

The gentle pear softens the sharp acidity of the lime, but this jam still packs a sour hit.

quick pear and lime jam
(makes only a cute tiny portion - feel free to multiply the recipe)

2 overripe medium to large pears (Williams/Bartlett pears or any soft, creamy, overripe pear will work)
1 medium to large lime, or at least 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 1 teaspoon lime zest or slightly more
1/4 - 1/3 cup granulated white or raw sugar

Peel and core the pears. Roughly chop the flesh and place the pieces in a saucepan.
Grate the zest of the lime. Set aside.
Thoroughly squeeze the juice from the lime into the saucepan. Using a fork, toss the pear chunks through the lime juice, then mash up the pear pieces. (This is why you need really soft, overripe pears for this recipe!) They do not need to be perfectly mashed; a little roughness can add interest to the texture of the jam.
Allow the mixture to bubble over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, or until it is thick and no longer runny. Test with a spoon by scooping up the jam - if it is done, it should form a glob that slowly slides off the spoon.
Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in lime zest. Since this is a tiny portion, you can just pour the jam into a small ramekin and allow it to cool completely. Cover securely with cling wrap and store it in the refrigerator. It can stay fresh for at least a week this way.
Feel free to multiply the recipe, and if you do, you may want to extend the life of the jam by keeping it in a sterilised glass jar with a secure lid.

Spread this marmalade-like jam on bread or toast... and enjoy!

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

zingy coconut and lime macaroons

Zingy coconut and lime macaroons on a platter.

There are many coconut macaroon recipes on the Internet, and here I am, adding one more to the fray. These coconut and lime macaroons came about because I wanted to make something that feels light in both texture and taste, something that's not too sweet. Something that may, perhaps, surprise you with its charm.

Lime juice and lime zest in coconut macaroons makes them nice and tangy!

I use unsweetened shredded coconut along with a modest amount of sugar, and incorporate lime juice and lime zest to give the coconut macaroons some extra zing. I also bind the shredded coconut with a fairly minimal amount of egg white. This did make them slightly challenging to assemble, and I was wondering if the mixture would come together at all, but the resulting bite-sized lime and coconut macaroons stayed intact in their construction, though you do need to handle them with care, as they might be a little fragile. They are also crisp and tangy, and pretty delicious, too!

Shape your lime and coconut macaroons into cute little domes, and bake them till they're golden brown and crunchy.

zingy coconut-lime macaroons
(makes approximately 22 dainty macaroons)

1 egg white
1/4 cup caster sugar / superfine sugar
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 pinch of salt
1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Whisk egg white, sugar, lime juice, lime zest and salt until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture is foamy. Stir in shredded coconut and thoroughly mix everything together.

Set the oven to 140°C / 285°F fan-forced or 160°C / 320°F conventional.

Line baking sheets with baking paper. Stir the mixture thoroughly again, then drop heaped teaspoonfuls of the coconut mixture onto the baking sheet and shape each dollop into little domes.
(These coconut macaroons don't spread so you don't have to leave much space in between, though some space helps when you're shaping each portion on the baking sheet. I left about 2 - 3 centimetres or 1 inch space in between each macaroon.)
Bake the macaroons for 15 - 20 minutes or until they develop a crisp, golden appearance and the bottoms are dry.
Allow your coconut and lime macaroons to cool completely before storing them. They should keep in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least a few days.

These coconut and lime macaroons taste so light, they'll be all gone before you know it!

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Friday, 24 April 2015

$2 taco tuesdays at the belasyse, perth cbd

Belasyse Bar and Restaurant, Perth CBD.

We were intending to meet up with friends for $2 Taco Tuesdays at the Belasyse, but it was only upon our arrival that we found out that our little social gathering had been cancelled. Oops. Well, we decided to hang around and try the tacos anyway.

The taco bonanza starts from 6pm on Tuesdays, apparently, and all we had to do was to purchase a drink each to make ourselves eligible for a taco-ordering-frenzy. We kept calm, though, and ordered two of each taco from a menu of five options (all gluten-free).

The options were:

Fish, cabbage salad, Baja sauce, chipotle
Chicken, guacamole, lettuce
Black beans, tomato, cheese, coriander (vegetarian)
Pulled pork, black beans, tomato, chipotle
Beef, cheese, black beans and tomato

The restaurant wasn't very busy. We were served quickly and the food came out quickly, too. As for the tacos themselves? The tortillas seemed to be a little on the dry side. The fillings were pleasant enough, but lacked some zing - perhaps more lime, chilli, or condiments could have elevated them. There is definitely potential here if they go bolder with the flavours.

The Belasyse has a pretty nice atmosphere with an easygoing courtyard area and a cozy indoors dining area. While I wasn't quite drawn in by this first visit, I'd be willing to try it again for a second time if my friends want to - and if they promise they'll show up! There are also half-price pizzas on Thursdays at the Belasyse, so that's an idea...

Tuesday tacos - fish taco at the Belasyse.

Tuesday tacos - pulled pork taco at the Belasyse.

Tuesday tacos - beef taco at the Belasyse.

The Belasyse on Urbanspoon

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Friday, 17 April 2015

a smoky, savoury apple salad

A smoky, savoury apple salad.

Another salad!

I promise the next post won't be a salad recipe, but for now, I hope you are tolerating (and even enjoying) my recent run of salads.

I'll put some of the responsibility/blame on Simon - I was chopping up apples the other day and had all the intentions of making an apple dessert. He insisted that he wanted a salad and I gave in. On the bright side, it's nice that he is trying (with some success) to lose weight. Plus, given my appreciation for fruits and vegetables, it is really quite a good thing to have a boyfriend who likes salads. Right? Right?

So here we go... a simple, savoury apple salad that I created on a whim. The apples provide sweetness while the green capsicum pleasantly counterbalances that with a hint of grassy bitterness. The tomatoes add juiciness, while the lime juice keeps everything fresh and tangy. Garlic, smoked paprika and coriander leaves impart piquant, aromatic touches. This salad is easy to make, and it's easy to eat, too.

Sweet, smoky and tangy flavours...

a smoky, savoury apple salad

1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tart/green apple
1 sweet/red apple (optional - include for a sweeter, fruitier salad; omit for a more savory salad)
1 green capsicum / bell pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves / cilantro (or substitute with flat-leaf parsley)

Mix lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, smoked paprika, cracked black pepper and salt in a salad bowl.
Chop apple(s) and capsicum into bite-sized pieces, discarding the stems, cores and seeds. Cut cherry tomatoes into quarters or sixths. Place the pieces of fruits and vegetables in the bowl. Add the coriander leaves.
Toss everything together to combine the ingredients. It's preferable to let the salad rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle, and if you do so, toss the salad again just before serving.

Healthy apple salad. Also vegan and gluten-free!

Click here to read the rest of the post!