22 Jan 2013

my favourite soup!

I first learnt how to make this soup three years ago in a large non-stick frying pan on top of an electric stove top in the school kitchen. With the only electric stove top oven (the other eleven were gas) in the kitchen assigned to my friend and I in year eight, I grew fond of it and it became my first oven choice throughout my high school years subsequent.

We made this soup during an early winter afternoon. The soup was ready with a batch of piping hot cheesy onion scones fresh from the oven (more about those next time!). Perfect for a lunch time meal in the dining room classroom with oversized baby blue gingham tablecloths spread across the tables. 

It's a very forgiving soup and I always rummage through the fridge for additional vegetables. This time I've added in a 3cm slice of pumpkin, but I've added diced zucchini, chopped string beans and spinach in earlier soups.

I like to eat this soup with lots (and lots) of freshly ground black pepper, but the soup is open to different flavours like ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, cayenne pepper and the likes. Just add them in small amounts with the salt.

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Red lentil soup     serves 4
adapted from a school recipe

50ml vegetable oil
1 large onion (or 2 small), peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
150g red lentils
700ml vegetable stock
400g canned diced tomatoes
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, chopped coriander and lemon wedge, to serve

Additional vegetables in sensible amounts (optional)
cubed root vegetables; pumpkin, sweet potato, etc.
chopped green vegetables; spinach, string beans, etc.

Rinse lentils in a bowl of water until water becomes almost clear. Remove foreign objects, if any. Drain.

Heat oil in a tall saucepan and saute onion and a pinch of salt until it becomes translucent. Add the carrot, celery and cubed root vegetables (if using) and gently saute for about 10 minutes. Add lentils and mix thoroughly with the vegetables. Add stock, canned tomatoes and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 - 20* minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom. Add green vegetables (if using) 3 - 5 minutes before soup is ready.

Season soup and serve with freshly ground black pepper, chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.

*I usually simmer it until the stock just covers the lentils and vegetables. It should be thickened.

19 Jan 2013

baristas at work

The coffee machines whizz, whir and shurrr non-stop. 
The baristas work so quick, it's like a blur. 

Freshly ground roasted coffee beans are pressed into a filter. With a little bang and a tap, it's popped back into the machine waiting for hot water to pass through into the cup. The cup is tilted slightly whilst frothed milk is poured in slowly to the brim, forming a delicate leaf in the process.

Pour over coffee on the other hand is a bit slower. Using the beautiful Hario Buono, a kettle with a long, slender spout, hot water is slowly poured round and round the ground coffee in a ceramic cup funnel lined with a paper filter. The liquid gold drips into a warmed jug below; to be poured into another cup. Would you like yours with a teaspoon of sugar?

The smell of coffee is quite intoxicating but, my taste buds haven't learnt to appreciate the taste of coffee just yet. Nevertheless, it was quite interesting observing the baristas do their thing up close. Looking back at these photos taken in May last year, maybe I'll try some coffee again when I'm ready. After all, it'll be a waste not to drink coffee in Melbourne. 

Until then, I'd like to go back and try their cascara tea.  

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Market Lane Coffee
Shop 13 Prahan Market
163 Commercial Road, South Yarra 3141
(03) 9804 7434

16 Jan 2013

snow capped

With a forecasted 39 degree day for tomorrow, these cookies offer me some form of escapism to the snow mountains. Heh.

Although I'm not much of a cookie eater, these small morsels are strangely addictive. With a lot of my favourite ingredients, it's not surprising I almost ate half the batch in one sitting(!)

My sister thinks they're made with Milo, nutella and chocolate, whilst my mother tells me not to snow cap them for next time.

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Chocolate & cranberry snowball cookies   makes 20
adapted from here, flavour combination inspired by my friend, Sarah

40g walnuts or pecans (or 20g each)
80g plain flour, sifted
5g dutch process cocoa, sifted
40g caster sugar
30g dark chocolate, chopped
20g dried cranberries
pinch of sea salt
65g unsalted butter, melted
pure icing sugar, as required (optional)

Roast nuts at 150 degrees celcius for 10 minutes, giving them a stir after 5 minutes. Cool completely, then blitz in a food processor until fine. It's okay to have small bits and pieces.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and preheat oven to 165 degrees celcius.

Combine nuts and everything except for the butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Add melted butter and stir forming a dough. Make 20 small balls and place on the baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes. 

When cool, dust with icing sugar just before serving (as it'll melt and make the cookies moist and sticky if you do it too early).

8 Jan 2013

prom country

A Happy New Year Folks!

Over the post-Christmas pre-New Year holiday, our family went on two road trips around the state. Glenrowan, home to the infamous Ned Kelly siege site and Wilsons Promontory. Too many road kill spotted on the way to Glenrowan and we nearly crashed into a jumping wallaby on our way back from WP. Phew. 

The weather forecast wasn't so great on the day we went to WP compared to the 30 degree weather we had going to Glenrowan. It was an overcast day with wind and it started to drizzle at around 7AM going on/off throughout the day.

A park ranger said it wasn't a good day to hike up Mt. Oberon (3.4 km), but we did anyway, walking back downhill after 20 minutes when it started to drizzle again. Maybe next time.

My favourite part of the WP trip was definitely passing through the dairy paddocks. I would've took more photos of them, but there was this one cow who was pretty aggressive and looked like it wanted to knock the fence down...

And I finally made a video (which was one of the things I wanted to do last year)!

Stops made along WP: 
Tidal River, Norman Beach, Mt. Oberon, Squeaky Beach (the sand really squeaks!), Picnic Bay, Sandy Point, various observation points along Promontory Road