Apple and Tomato Gazpacho

>> Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You're probably wondering why I am attempting all these summer-y dishes in the middle of winter - first the Japanese anmitsu with matcha ice-cream and now this gazpacho, the Spanish cold and raw vegetable soup.

Sometimes not everything has to make sense, friends.

All I know is that I am possibly suffering from a bad case of winter blues that only my canine friend here can understand...

Just kidding!

I don't have the winter blues because I get to drink hot chocolate and have hot showers. *thankful* The dog above was only giving me the look because I wouldn't share my hot chocolate.

And the reason I made this gazpacho on a cold and wet day was because that day happened to be the 22nd July - a date marked in my diary to make this soup. Why?

It's time for my second contribution to Stephane Reynaud's 365 challenge (initiated by publisher Murdoch books), of course! (First is here) The aim is for all keen foodies to cook through the cookbook 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat in one year!

Well, at least this recipe makes total sense to the rest of the world experiencing the summer heat at the moment.

This is not your usual Spanish gazpacho however. Instead of the typical cucumbers, onions, capsicums and garlic used to make a gazpacho, only apples are used here along with tomatoes! Many recipes I've seen also use bread crumbs (or stale bread) into the blended soup, unlike this no-carb one.

Anyhow, to make this soup...

First you'll need the following ingredients! (Plus salt and pepper of course!)

Even though this is a raw soup, you'll still need to slightly boil the tomatoes so that the skins can come off easily. Much fun - this is my favourite step!

And you'll need to cut the apples into both cubes (for blending) and matchsticks (for garnish!)

You could practice your knife skills here too!

Blend the apple cubes and tomatoes together into a puree (I used my bamix) and pour in the cider vinegar and olive oil. Season it up and you're good to go! Not surprisingly everything came together in less than 10 minutes! Speedy!

This is a light tomato soup sweetened by the apples while the spring onions give it a slight punch. The addition of the sour cider vinegar (apparently an age-old home remedy that we could all have more of!) complements the other flavours well while the apple matchsticks add a nice texture! *crunch* 

As much as I enjoyed this refreshing gazpacho (which I had while all rugged up in a heated room in my make-believe-it's-summer state of mind) I couldn't help feel something was missing. Perhaps I would blend in some bread to add more body to the soup next time! 

Or perhaps my body was just craving for something steaming hot and hearty.... 

I think the next time I'll see this soup again would be on the hottest days in summer! :)

Apple and tomato gazpacho
Serves 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 bulb spring onion (scallions)
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 100ml olive oil
  • salt and pepper
1. Cut a cross in the base of the tomatoes and plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins.

2. Peel two of the apples, cut them into cubes, then cut the third (unpeeled) into thin matchsticks and combine with the lemon juice.

3. Finely slice the spring onions.

4. Puree the tomatoes with the apple cubes, add the cider vinegar, olive oil and spring onions and season.

5. Serve garnished with the apple matchsticks and drizzle with olive oil.

I hope you smile today :)


Anmitsu - Japanese dessert

>> Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dear bed,
You're so warm and toasty, and I almost wish you weren't this comfy making it so hard for me to get up in the morning.

Dear rain,
Please can you re-think your forecasted long stay this week?

Dear pizza delivery boy,
Please don't deliver anymore pizzas to my place. *burp*

Dear treadmill,
You make me sweaty and my heart beat faster than anything else. And you challenge me like no-one does. That's why I like you. 

Dear friend,
Thank you for your 'surprise'. Now I can watch Ugly Betty and The Mentalist whenever I want!

Dear poodle in cooking with dog,
Your hair is slightly wonky at times but I admire your patience and self control whilst your owner is cooking.

Dear Australian winter,
Your baldness (on trees) is starting to appeal to me. I also like how I can turn up my heater and eat summertime desserts when you're around too. 

Have you seen the youtube cooking videos: cooking with dog

I've been a fan for a while now. Not just because I am fascinated by a sleepy poodle who sits by the stove like a rock, but I adore all the mouth-watering Japanese dishes featured on this channel.

So remember how I was sick a few weeks back? I watched the clip for Fruit Cream Anmitsu then and it immediately took me back to my unforgettable Japan trip (where I had anmitsu every single day) and I wanted to recover from the flu faster than anything else. (Talk about the most effective 'medication'!)

Anmitsu is a popular Japanese dessert made of small cubes of agar agar in a brown sugar syrup. It is also served with sweetened red bean paste, pieces of gyuhi (mochi-like sweets) and a scoop of ice-cream. Oh and decorated with seasonal fruits too. Yummo!

Ok, wanna see how it's made?

First you'll need to make some agar agar. Not flavoured or sweetened. Simple as!

Then dice them up into dainty fine translucent that it's almost like they're invisible!

To make the kuromitsu (Japanese sugar syrup) to go with the agar agar, you'll need to melt some dark brown or muscovado sugar with corn syrup.

Pour it onto the agar agar...

To make the gyuhi (which is a type of traditional Japanese mochi), get some glutinous rice flour in either powdered form or granules...

...add a bit water to the rice flour and heat it up and eventually you'll get something like this...

To prevent the glutinous rice flour mixture sticking to everything else, you'll need to dust some potato starch all over!

Then you make some ankosweet red bean paste (just because red beans and green tea ice-cream are a match made in heaven!) If you don't have time, just buy them canned (sweetened) at your local Asian grocery store. Recipe (or rather, another youtube video with the poodle) for anko can be found here.

Then it's just a matter of slicing up the oranges wedges and strawberries...and adding a scoop of the green tea ice-cream! You might want to use an ice-cream scoop for this. Sadly I don't own one. I wonder why? Definitely not because I eat ice-cream out of the box! How unladylike!

If you generally love Japanese desserts and can never get enough of the red bean and matcha (green tea) combination, I think you might totally adore this...even on a cold winter's day :)

Fruit Cream Anmitsu
Serves 3
  • 4g/0.141 oz Agar Powder
  • 500ml Water (2.11 us cup)
  • 1 tbsp Mizuame - Thick Starch Syrup (I used light corn syrup)
  • 100g Kurozato - Muscovado or Unrefined Brown Sugar (3.53 oz)
  • 70ml Water (2.37 fl oz)
  • 30g Shiratamako - Glutinous Rice Flour (1.06 oz)
  • 50g Sugar (1.76 oz)
  • 60ml Water
  • Potato Starch
  • 3 Strawberries
  • 3 Navel Orange wedges
  • 3 tbsp Anko - Sweet Red Bean Paste (buy canned or recipe here.)
  • 3 scoops of Matcha Ice Cream (I bought mine but you can make it using this recipe)
  • 20-30 Boiled Aka Endomame - Red Endo Beans (I omitted this).

The simple instructions for the recipe can be found from the linked videos! :)

Watch them! They're kinda...cute?! 

Might also make you want to get a dog to cook with too!

Have a blessed week ahead :)


Heidi's Oat Cakes

>> Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dear sweet old elegant lady at the park,

I'm glad our paths crossed today. 

You were on your afternoon stroll when you saw me taking photos of flowers (roses, specifically), because that's what I do when I need to clear my head.

You must've been intrigued as you walked over and struck up a conversation with me. Am I a high school student, you asked. I didn't know whether to take that as a compliment or as a sign to consider a wardrobe makeover. For the sake of my wallet, I picked the former.

You adore roses, you said. Especially ones so dark, rich and deep in colour, because they have the best smelling perfume in the world. You walked over to a naked patch of the garden where only 1 red rose still stands, the rest all stems and thorns - a consequence of this unforgiving winter. This is undoubtedly the best patch during blooming seasons and you said you could never walk past without dipping your nose into them all. Your eyes twinkled then!

Store bought roses are just not the same, they lack in real rose scents. I nodded in agreement.

So it turned out we have a few things in common. Well, for one, we are both terrible gardeners but we love strolling in the park to appreciate the hard work of other gardeners!

Then you told me to wait. What for?

Wait until the summertime when everything will be back to normal again. The richly perfumed flowers will fill the entire garden and it'll be so fragrant that just one sniff is like drowning in a glass of red wine, in your own words.

(I will remember to check there are no insects/bees hiding inside the roses before I smell - thanks for the heads up.)

It seems a long way away, summer, doesn't it? Especially on days when we're bundled up from head to toes and still feeling like popsicles. But experiences from previous years comfort us - it'll come before we know it.

So I told you that I will wait with happy anticipation.

I don't know if our paths will cross again. If they do, I will definitely bring you a tray of these flaxseed oat cakes one day. I just have a strong feeling that you'd totally dig this wonderfully fragrant and healthy (bonus!) treat as I have! 

Thanks for being part of my life today.

Yours sincerely,

The 'high-schooler' with the camera.

This recipe is from Heidi's new cookbook Super Natural Everyday (I've doggy-eared so many pages!). These oat cakes are on the dense/heavy side, really moist and filled with chunky bits of walnuts and deliciously scented by the coconut oil and maple syrup. They are filling too, in a good way of course :) These will be making many many more appearances in my kitchen for sure, and I hope yours too.

Oat Cakes (oats, flax seeds, walnuts)
From Super Natural Everyday via 5 Second Rule
Makes 12 oat cakes
  • 3 cups / 10.5 oz / 300 g rolled oats
  • 2 cups / 8 oz / 225 g spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup / 1.5 oz / 45 g flax seeds
  • 3/4 cup / 3 oz / 85 g chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup / 3 oz / 85 g unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g natural cane sugar (I omitted this as the maple syrup is already really sweet)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F / 160°C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.

2. Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, flax seeds, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.

3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut oil, butter, maple syrup, and sugar and slowly melt together. Stir just until the butter melts and sugar has dissolved, but don’t let the mixture get too hot. You don’t want it to cook the eggs on contact in the next step.

4. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture. Stir a bit with a fork, add the eggs, and stir again until everything comes together into a wet dough. Spoon the dough into the muffin cups, nearly filling them.

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges of each oatcake are deeply golden. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes. Then, run a knife around the edges of the cakes and tip them out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


I've finally gotten around to numbering each of the eligible entries for the Baker's Delight Challenge!

(Terribly late I know!)

The 3 winners are:

2 fit and fun gals

Will email you all soon :)


Hope you smile today and come across nice people in your path too this week!


Coriander (Cilantro) Meatballs

>> Thursday, July 7, 2011

Before anything else, I just want to say this was the reason why I gave up eating lamb for a long period in my life:

We were on a family trip in Rotorua (New Zealand!) at some sheep farm and there happened to be a  bottle feeding session for the lambs.

The moment my lamb latched on to the milk bottle, my maternal instinct (can you be too young to have these instincts?) kicked in and I wanted to take Mary it home and look after the lamb for the rest of its life. After I was told that this was not a possibility, I swore that I'd never eat lamb ever again right there and then as my parents dragged me out of the farm.

Well today...this may sound terrible after that story but I now eat lamb (that's another story...) I especially love lamb cutlets! Hmmmm. But I'd never cooked it at home...until now.

What made me take this umm 'brave' step forward?

A few months ago I became involved in the Stephane Reynaud's 365 challenge initiated by publisher Murdoch books. The aim of the challenge is invite all keen cooks to help them cook through the book: 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat  (one recipe for each day of the year!)

(On a side note, I got to say I quite like this cookbook. There are photos for every single recipe - yes all 365 of them, and I have cooked through several other recipes in there which turned out great.)

For my involvement I picked to cook Coriander (Cilantro) Meatballs - just because it would be nice to finally feature the ingredient my blog is named after in this space!

Hey look, say hi to green cilantro everyone:

However it only occurred to me as I setting out the ingredients for this dish that these meatballs are actually made of leftover leg of lamb! And I had thought they were ordinary meatballs! Since in my home we hardly ever have lamb of any sorts leftover so I got to roast a leg of lamb for the first time in my life too :) 

After the leg is roasted, the rest is super simple - just blitzing together the lamb leg, a bunch of coriander, eschalots, chives, bread (I didn't have white sandwich bread so I had to use seeded wholemeal), cream, eggs, and some cumin. And you're pretty much set.

Oh and after you roll the mixture into balls with your palms, you then need to greet your guests with unwashed hands (as instructed in the recipe by cheeky St├ęphane!)

The sauce around the meatballs is a simple combination of tomatoes (I used canned), capsicums and white wine.

Couldn't resist eating one...

The verdict? These meatballs are so tender and as you bite into it the flavours of the coriander and cumin comes through beautifully complimented (but not overpowered) by the simple tomato sauce. It is a bit like a warm and comforting hug on a cold (and sick) day.

I can't wait to try more of St├ęphane's recipes - I find that they're easy to follow and whip up, and so tasty too! You'll be seeing more of them in this space, that's for sure!

Coriander Meatballs
Serves 6 (I halved the recipe)
  • 3 French shallots (eschalots)
  • 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro!)
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) left over roast lamb leg
  • 200mL (7fl oz) pouring (whipping) cream
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) soft white sandwich bread (I used seeded wholewheat)
  • 1 tbsl cumin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 bunch of chives, snipped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper)
  • 1 green capsicum (pepper)
  •  2 tomatoes (I used 1 canned diced tomatoes)
  • 250mL (9 fl oz/1cup) white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 160C (315 F)

2. Peel and slice the shallots.

3. Pick the coriander leaves. Process the leftover lamb with the cream, bread, coriander and cumin. Add the eggs, shallots and chives, then season.

4. Make meatballs (by rubbing dry hands with flour, take a tbsp of mixture and roll it between the palms of your hands), place them into a gratin dish.

5. Dice the capsicums and tomatoes, place them around the meatballs, add the wine.

6. Bake for 30 minutes.

And in case you're wondering, I still find lambs very cute and wouldn't mind having one as a pet.

I hope you have a blessed day :)


Black Rice with Edamame Beans

>> Friday, July 1, 2011

In the past 48 hours I...

...went through a whole packet of lemsip and strepsils.

...probably looked like a crazy lady with dirty hair sticking out in every directions, 2 pairs of socks (at least they were matching!), and layers of baggy clothes that somehow stretch bigger year after year. Oh and a red nose + a box of tissue tucked under my arms where ever I went.

...wondered when I would feel like a functional and useful human being again.

...browsed through every top 20s of each genre on iTune in bed.

...captured the amazing colours of the sky outside my window.

...received 2 cards from 2 special friends - both have sent me birthday cards every year without fail since we were 9 - definitely brightened up this bedridden girl's day!

...tried to entertain myself at home:

...was sad to have to have to drop out of lunch (at Quay!) - something I've looked forward to for so long.

...hoped that somebody would cook something delicious for me and feed it to me in bed while I watch a movie but realised that's not going to happen ;)

...discovered the only vegetable supply I have at home is in the frozen form. 

At times of sickness, it's only appropriate to load your body up with something, black rice! And yes, my frozen vege supply - edamame beans.

So have you tried cooking black rice before?

Things I found out:

- It stains (lucky I had my baggy sick clothes on)! Once cooked, it turns into a dark burgundy colour. Prettty!

- It hold its shape well after cooked and is pleasantly chewy

- It's packed with nutrition - low in sugar, high in fibre and plant compounds. 

- It's is also known as 'forbidden rice' because originally in China, only the nobles were allowed to eat it! I'm glad I'm a woman of today.

- Apparently, "just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, and more fibre and vitamin E antioxidants." Source here.

Anyways, I decided to cook the black rice with loads of onions and garlic in chicken stock, topped generously with those healthful edamame beans. I've made this a few times in the past (the photos are from my previous attempts) and I love how a simple bowl like this never fails to make me feel good afterwards.

While I'm still a sick mess (and quite a sight too) at the moment, but I have a feeling the next 48 hours might just turn for the better :)

Black Rice with Edamame Beans
  • 1 cup black rice
  • ~2 cups homemade chicken stock (or you can use water or vegetable stock)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, whole (if you don't like garlic, don't add it!)
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1/2 cup edamame beans
1. Rinse the rice.

2. Heat a bit of of oil in a pan and cook the garlic and onion until almost translucent.

3. Add the rinsed rice and cook for around 1 minute.

4. Add the chicken stock as well as the soy sauce and bring to boil. 

5. At this stage, I transfer the rice into my rice cooker and let it cook. But you can also reduce heat to a simmer and cover - cook for 30 minutes.

6. Finally, take the beans out of the defrosted pods and add generously over a bed of flavoursome black rice!

I wish you a lovely weekend ahead :) 

Stay warm (or cool if you're on the other hemisphere).

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