Power Plant Cafe, Templestowe

Today I’m talking about eating out – something that I am no stranger to, and certainly enjoy. I have every second Friday off, and while I usually spend these days doing personal admin kind of stuff (seriously, how do people survive on full time employment?), I also like to enjoy the occasional brunch on these days as it’s so nice to be able to avoid the craziness of the weekend cafe rushes. I’d heard rumours of a recent menu change at Power Plant Cafe, so the Bear, one of our housemates and I decided to head out there and check it out. It was a cold, wet and miserable “spring” day, which once again meant that we didn’t get to sit in the outdoor area. Regardless, the indoor area was as bright, open and fresh as ever.

This particular day, our breakfast got pushed back to brunch, and brunch to lunch so by the time we got there I was starving. So while I knew from past experiences that options such as their macro bowls are delicious and nutritious, they were not appealing to me in that moment. I needed solid, carby goodness.

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With that in mind, the Bear and I agreed to split two dishes – choosing the Brekkie Burger from the specials board and the Reuben. My housemate went for the Brekkie Burger too. The Reuben consisted of corned tempeh, sweet onions, house made pink kraut, horseradish dressing and a side of crisps. The horseradish was a little overwhelming in the first bite, however I adjusted to it quite quickly and enjoyed the different spin on the sandwich. It was perhaps a bit sweeter than the other reubens I’ve tried, though I appreciated the tempeh as something different from usual mock meats. In saying that, the Smith and Deli Reubenstein is still number one in my heart, sorry Power Plant.

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I asked for carby and carby was what I got with the Brekkie Burger. Inside was a hash brown, a slice of a kind of eggy quichey thing, tomato, rocket and a cheesy sauce. I had thought that the tempeh bacon was going to be in there too, but it was probably a good thing it came as a side as I’m not sure I would have been able to get my mouth around it otherwise. The bun was perfectly soft and flour dusted, and on the whole this was just what I needed.

Not pictured are the bowl of fries and aioli we got for the table. I was a little disappointed to find they weren’t the smoked paprika coated fries of previous visits, but they were still delicious and the aioli so damn creamy. We also had coffees and remembered to request Bonsoy rather than the standard soy (Vitasoy?) they have on offer. We were far too full to have any cake afterwards, and racked with too much indecision to choose something to take home, though the Bear got a free mini cupcake with pink icing and hundreds and thousands to celebrate Plant Power’s 1st birthday which he was pleased with. It was very cute, though disappeared before I even got the chance to ask for a picture of it. With the first year under their belt, Power Plant have also decided to extend their opening hours to 7 days giving us plenty of time to treat ourselves with their goodies. Hoorah!

Power Plant Cafe
2-6 Swilk St, Templestowe
Open 7 days – 8am – 3.30pm

 

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Quick and Easy Spicy Noodle Soup

Today’s recipe fits in well with today’s theme of “your easy cook meal”. Last year there was a similar prompt of “quick, easy and delicious” for which I made these zucchini and sweet potato fritters with sumac yoghurt. This time I’m sharing an Asian inspired soup that is (in my opinion) equally quick, easy and delicious.

I always have various ingredients on hand to make a noodle soup of this nature, and it’s great as it’s a really flexible meal. You can easily mix up some of the flavours with different sauces and spices, and use whatever veggies you have – depending on how I’m feeling and what I’ve got I might use broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, spinach or bean sprouts. A squeeze of fresh lime never goes astray either. But the point is, it’s a satisfying meal that can be whipped up fairly quickly and without too much stress.

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Spicy Noodle Soup

(Serves 2)

2 tsp sesame oil
4 button mushrooms, sliced (approx 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 birds eye chillis, minced (or less, according to your taste)
3 cups veggie stock

200g firm tofu, sliced into small rectangles
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
2 instant noodle cakes (approx 150g)
1 carrot, sliced with julienne peeler
2 small bunches bok choy, ends removed

Optional garnishes:
Spring onion
Fresh coriander
Black sesame seeds
Garlic chilli sauce
Sriracha

Heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a pan over medium high heat and add tofu. Cook until golden brown on most sides, approx 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and pour 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce over. Set aside.

While this is happening, heat the other teaspoon of sesame oil in a decent sized pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute for approx 1 minute. Add garlic, ginger and chilli and saute for another 30 seconds, being careful not to let them stick. Add vegetable stock, the other 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and mirin, and bring to a boil. Turn down and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Prepare other veggies and garnishes while waiting.

Add noodle cakes and cook according to packet, until tender. Turn off heat and add bok choy to the pot, covering with a lid to allow to steam slightly.

Divide noodles and bok choy between two bowls and pour over liquid. Add tofu, carrot and desired garnishes.

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Rosemary Syrup & Rosemary Gin Fizz

Hello and welcome to Vegan MoFo 2016! Isn’t it great to be back here? For those who aren’t aware, MoFo stands for Month of Food, and it’s an annual event during which everyone talks about vegan food every damn day. Sound good?

From the Vegan MoFo website:
As the world catches on that vegan food really is the best choice for animals (suck it, humane meat!), the planet (bite me, melting ice caps!) and people (piss off, heart disease!) let’s show them what vegan eating is all about.

I wasn’t planning to participate this year, as we all know how time consuming it can be and frankly, I haven’t even been posting once a month let alone once a day since who knows when. But at the last minute I had a change of heart – probably a bit of FoMo to be honest – and signed myself up. HOWEVER, I am aiming low – I know I won’t be able to do a post a day this year, so am going for a couple a week instead. I’m just glad to be a part of it, as despite the stress it is always so much fun.

This year there are three options for participation – choose your own theme, go with the weekly themes provided or stick to the daily themes. I didn’t really give myself enough time to plan my own theme, so instead I’m following the weekly themes while sometimes touching on the daily prompts. The first week’s theme is “treat yourself”, and as we move into the warmer weather I thought what better way to treat myself with a refreshing cocktail, while giving a big cheers to all participating this month, in whatever capacity. Happy MoFo!

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A nice and easy one too! First I’ll hit you up with a recipe to make rosemary sugar syrup, after which you can make these babies until your heart’s content. For this recipe, I’ve used castor sugar to produce a nice clear syrup, but you can also use raw sugar for a golden brown syrup – this is lovely in cocktails with darker spirits.

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Rosemary Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 sprigs rosemary (approx 10cm)

Stir sugar and water together in a pot, then slowly bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Once sugar has dissolved, add rosemary sprigs and boil for a further minute. Turn off heat, cover, and allow to steep for 1-2 hours. Keep refrigerated.

Rosemary Gin Fizz
(makes 1)

60ml gin
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml rosemary syrup
Ice
Soda water (approx 90 – 120ml)

Pour gin, lemon juice and rosemary syrup into a cocktail shaker with some ice and shake.

Pour over ice in a glass, top up with soda water. Garnish with fresh lemon and rosemary.

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Something Raw, Mandurah W.A.

I was in Perth a couple of months ago, staying with family. Unfortunately it wasn’t a leisure trip – my wonderful Grandad who had been unwell passed away. This was a pretty devastating experience for our family, and for this reason it is not something that I want to talk about at length with the internet, except to say that we love him and miss him more than words can express.

While there, we were able to catch up with the rest of our family which happens far too irregularly since moving to Victoria. This included spending a few nights with my Granny down in Mandurah, which of course involved a few meals out. Since I was last there, a newer cafe called Something Raw has opened up, and with a menu full of vegan options it was definitely worth a look.

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My brother and Granny both went for the Jackfruit nachos, and although I was pretty jealous when they came out, they graciously shared some with me. As the name suggests, these were loaded up with pulled jackfruit along with fresh salsa, sour lime creme, cashew cheese, guac and a side of jalapenos. Boss nachos, I really enjoyed them. At $22, they may seem pretty pricey, but to be honest W.A prices are on the whole a lot higher than we over east are used to.

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My mum went for the toasted green wrap – $16. This was packed with spinach, avo, chickpeas and olives, along with what I think was Bio cheese. Mum gave it the thumbs up, and from the mouthful I tried I could only agree.

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I had the raw taco bowl for $19. This was loaded with lettuce, corn, salsa, guac, spring onions, sour lime creme and walnut mince, alongside some dehydrated crackers. It was a pretty decent serve, and tasty but I would have liked to see a bit more walnut mince – there wasn’t quite enough to spread through the bowl so I was left with a fair bit of lettuce at the end. I would also be keen for a side of jalapenos, but I was lucky enough to score some leftovers from the others’ nachos.

There are also have a bunch of desserts and drinks on offer, though we didn’t indulge as we were pretty full. I also find it a little hard to handover $12 for a smoothie, but as I said, I think this is pretty in line with W.A prices in general and I just need to suck it up when I’m there.

Something Raw Cafe is a welcome addition to Mandurah, and I hope to see them stick around as there was a serious lack of good veg options in town last time I was there. The only bummer is that it’s not on the foreshore – cos who doesn’t like having a meal overlooking the water? Small complaint though. Check this place out!

Something Raw Cafe
6/26 George St, Mandurah
Tues – Sat – 8.30am – 4pm

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Some eats of late (and not so late)

Yes, I’ve done it again. It seems my posts are running on somewhat of a bi-monthly schedule at the moment, even with the best of intentions. Shout out to those of you who are still here reading, thanks for sticking around!

Today is just a jumble of recent and not so recent eats…photos that have been sitting unlabelled (‘cos I like to test my memory) on my lappy, waiting for their time to shine.

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First up – some sweet treats from Cupcake Central. The Bear sat in on a seminar through his uni with the lady who started Cupcake Central as a guest speaker. He came home raving about what an entrepreneur she is, and so I felt particularly inclined to taste some of her goods, having been aware that they offer vegan options.

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Cupcake Central run one or two vegan flavours per day, as well as a GF option. You can check their baking schedule online and look up which flavours will feature on each day. These also change seasonally so you will never get tired of eating the cupcakes (as if you ever would, eye roll). These were chocolate peanut butter bad boys, and they were freakin’ tasty.

WARNING: The rest of the photos in this post will be from my on it’s last legs phone’s camera, as I do not frequently have my camera with me. Apologies for quality, but I want to share the eats with you anyway, ’cause that’s what it’s all about.

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This is Power Plant Cafe’s avocado on toast with lemon, coriander, chili, tomatoes and walnut and truffle spread. It is highly recommended. The presentation was on point and while at first I was worried that there wasn’t going to be enough avo to cover my two delicious pieces of toast, I needn’t have worried. I try to avoid avo on toast when I go to places where I have lots of options, but I couldn’t look past it with the twist of walnut truffle spread. Just too good. I also had a coffee, a strawberry milkshake, and a raw PB cup.  Not to mention our table got some chips to share – the chips here are on form – covered in smoked paprika and with a thick and creamy aioli, though unfortunately the milkshake was far too sweet for me.

This was my second visit to Power Plant, the first I enjoyed an equally well presented and delicious macro bowl and took some cupcakes home with me. The menu is fairly small but I’m keen to work my way through it. The cafe itself is light, spacious and calm, with two outdoor sitting areas for those sunny days.

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My housemate and I finally checked out the Glass Den after rave reviews. We were not disappointed. I got the breakfast soba noodle salad with polenta crumbed mushrooms, pine nuts, smoked coconut, kale sesame crumble and a side of almond feta. I kid you not, this was so good that a lady from another table came over and asked what I was eating. “I’ll have what she’s having”

I’m so keen to go back and try the Tiramisu Hotcakes I’ve been seeing pop up all over Instagram. I’m not usually a sweet breakfast kind of girl when I’m eating out, but I need to have them…they are a work of art.

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We were heading past the Prahran Market a while back and I was ravenous, so we stopped at Beangreen Cafe for a quick bite. I got some chickpea fritters, three salads and some hummus. Everything at Beangreen is super reasonable in price – I think I paid around $9 for this plate. Simple, wholesome and tasty.

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The Bear got this giant cookie – we can’t remember now what it was. I want to say it was ginger, the Bear thinks it may have been macadamia.

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A colleague and I recently popped up around the corner to the relatively newly opened Neko Neko near the corner of Gertrude and Smith streets. I ordered the Agedashi tofu. This delicious plate of red rice and various veggies and pickles is just what comes with most of the main dishes. AMAZING. How did they know I love lots of little individual piles of things to enjoy?!

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This is the Agedashi tofu itself. Full of little goodies like pepitas and hemp seeds (I think? I can’t remember now – am just assuming from the picture).

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My colleague and I shared the tofu as well as this raw okonomiyaki. Now this didn’t have a huge resemblance to the traditional okonomiyaki, but it was certainly delicious – dense and creamy. It came with it’s own little piles of veggies and some miso eggplant macadamia sushi. At $18, it’s more than I’d usually spend on a work day lunch, but we wanted to treat ourselves and we felt we got our money’s worth with these delightfully presented, healthy meals. They do have sushi rolls and mini bento boxes ready to go if you prefer a cheaper and faster lunch – I will be back to investigate this further.

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And last, but not least – my housemates surprised me by splitting two vegan donuts from Doughnut Time – one was chocolate with strawberries and pistachios on top, and the other was matcha. The latter was my favourite, while it didn’t taste particularly strongly of matcha, I enjoyed the tanginess of what I assume is freeze-dried raspberry on top. Delicious.

Cupcake Central
7/672 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn
Mon – Fri – 7.30am – 6.30pm
Sat – 10.30am – 5.30pm
Sun – CLOSED
(Check other locations for their hours)

Power Plant Cafe
2-6 Swilk St, Templestowe
Mon & Tues – CLOSED
Wed – Sun – 8am – 3.30pm

The Glass Den
15 Urquhart St, Coburg
Open 7 days, 8am – 4pm

Beangreen Vegetarian Cafe
Prahran Market
163 Commercial Rd, Sth Yarra
Mon & Wed – CLOSED
Tues & Thurs – 7am – 5pm
Fri – 7am – 6pm
Sat – 7am – 5pm
Sun – 10am – 3pm
CASH ONLY

Neko Neko83 Smith St, Fitzroy
Mon – Fri – 12pm – 3pm & 5.30pm – 10pm
Sat – 5.30 – 10pm
Sun – CLOSED

Doughnut Time
5 Degraves St, Melbourne
Mon – Fri – 7am – 11pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 11pm
And various locations in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast (check each for opening hours)

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Almost Raw Lamington Balls

So much for “I’m back!” It’s only taken me another two and a half months to back it up with another post. Ahhh well. Rather than give you a big spiel, I’m going to give you a recipe. Hallelujah!

The Bear and I have never much celebrated Valentines day – perhaps we would have a picnic if it fell on a weekend but there was no going out of our way to make the day particularly special. That was until a few years ago, when we dubbed the day ‘Lamingtons Day’. On this day – February 14th – we make lamingtons in one form or another. Over the years we’ve had lamington cupcakes, a whole lamington cake, lamington ice-cream and of course your stock standard lamingtons. The Bear has one rule – it’s not a real lamington unless it has jam.

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This year Lamingtons day kinda snuck up on us, and I had little inspiration for building epic lamington glory. When I say glory, I’m referring to the likes of the Bear’s two (or was it three?) tiered cake that instead of icing, he covered  with three blocks of melted dark chocolate. After it had set, the shell was so thick we had to hack away at it with our biggest kitchen knife to get a piece.

On the auspicious day itself I was also in the process of preparing some food for the working week. I often make variations of bliss balls to take with as a morning/afternoon snack, so with that in mind, I threw together these dudes and I have to say, was pretty pleased with how they turned out.

Before I give you the recipe, I just want to give a shout out to fellow Australian vegan blogger Kyra at Vie de la Vegan. I was doing a quick image search before the photo shoot to get an idea of how I might present the balls (how hard is it to make balls look good?! Eeeep!) In the process, I came across her very own recipe for Raw Lamington Balls as well. Slightly different, but I’m sure equally as delicious. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!

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Almost Raw Lamington Balls
(can’t remember how many this makes, eep, will edit after making them again….amateur!)

1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
3 Tbsp rice bran syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla paste
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
80g raw chocolate (I used Loving Earth choc-raspberry block)
3/4 cup dessicated coconut

Jam:
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 Tbsp rice bran syrup
1 Tbsp chia seeds

Firstly make the jam – place raspberries and rice bran syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow the berries to cook down slowly, gently stirring and squashing them with the back of a spoon every now and then. Cook until berries have broken down, about 5-10 minutes. Take off heat and stir in chia seeds. Set aside.

Place cashews and shredded coconut in a food processor and process until it resembles crumbs. Add rice bran syrup, vanilla and milk and process until mixture comes together and gets a bit sticky. Transfer to a bowl and add chia jam, stir until it is swirled through. Take heaped teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls.

Prepare a tray by lining it with baking paper. Using a double boiler, heat raw chocolate until melted. Pour dessicated coconut out onto a plate. One by one, cover each ball in chocolate before rolling in coconut and setting on the tray to dry. Store in the fridge.

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I’m back! V Series Kew, Fritz Gelato and Gelato Messina

Oh hello (queue tumbleweed)

That seems as good a way as any to start the post after the impromptu hiatus I have been on. It was never intended, but after having a post-MoFo breather, a couple of short holidays and just general life happenings, suddenly it is three months later. And helllloooo 2016.

To be honest, I also lost a bit of my blogging enthusiasm. It’s not that I’ve got nothing to post, on the contrary there’s still recipes that I didn’t get around to posting during MoFo as well as a million other eateries. Yes, a million. But the longer I went without posting, the harder it seemed to make the time to sit down and come back to it. I’ve also been battling with technology a bit – I’m no photo editing pro – I just make it up as I go. However I’ve had some photos that I wanted to share that got drowned in a coloured light and I’ve been trying, failing, cussing at my computer and trying again to fix them but I’m just not getting anywhere. Unfortunately these photos, chronologically speaking, should be posted first as they were from my trip to Perth back in October, but as I haven’t been able to get them right I’ve just been really stuck instead of moving on and coming back to it later. Anyway, I’ve finally moved on and I’ll come back and tinker with them and hopefully share them with you all later. At least I’m back tap tap tapping away at these here keys again – it’s a start.

So today I’m going to share a bit of a riff-raff account of a few things that I have eaten around the place. Starting with an impromptu brekkie at V Series in Kew the other day.

V Series is the evolution of A Caterpillar’s Dream (which I visited once previously) – the place has had a makeover with some noticeable improvements on decor and dining ware. I particularly liked the little pots of fresh herbs decorating the tables. The menu we were given on the day had a breakfast page, drinks page as well as a 3-course lunch deal with a selection of dishes to choose from, however this differs to that available on their website where it appears you can order an individual item from the lunch menu and there are more items on offer.

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The bear and I both ordered the same dish – the crispy tofu benedict, although he added an optional egg to his. I had not been feeling particularly hungry before spontaneously deciding to stop by for breakfast, so I probably could have done with just one of these stacks. That’s not to say I didn’t finish them both of course…

I was pleased with the generous amounts of mushroom, spinach and avocado layered atop the english muffins, the crispiness of the tofu was also satisfying although most likely deep fried. I appreciated the effort of the hollandaise but this was not quite on point – it tasted too sweet and heavily reliant on mustard for flavour, I had to add plenty of salt and pepper to combat the sweetness. If V Series could perfect the sauce it would take this to the next level.

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I also ordered an iced coffee to share because you know, iced coffee is delicious, albeit filling alongside the massive brekkie.

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As if we could walk out without taking some cupcakes from the cabinet – all of which are vegan. After far too much deliberation, we selected the classic cheesecake and the salted caramel cupcakes. Both were delicious – I’m a sucker for cheesecake so this went down well, but the salted caramel sauce and toffee flake were also impressive. I’m pleased with the evolution of V Series, and will definitely be back again, particularly after realising that our energy company had sent out a card giving discounts at certain eateries with V Series included. Excellent.

I was on Bridge Road recently on a hot summer’s day and stopped in to Fritz Gelato. Fritz have a sign on the wall indicating that all their sorbets are vegan.

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The entire bottom row here, aside from the yoghurt flavour on the far left, are sorbets. Unfortunately I forgot to actually get a photo of the gelato I ordered, but I got strawberry and bounty – delicious!

Speaking of gelato, I stopped by Gelato Messina on Smith Street a while back and was pleased to find this vegan coffee sorbet with hazelnut praline, which I paired with the classic chocolate sorbet. I need to go back and see if they are still serving it, as this was divine – the crunchy praline just made it next level goodness.

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When I started this post, I thought I would share some Smith & Deli treats I have enjoyed, but after sifting through my photos I think there is enough for a post of it’s own so I will just end this now before I have any more reasons to put this post off. Yeeehah!

V Series
Shop 4/26 Princess St, Kew
Mon – Fri – 8am – 4.30pm
Sat – Sun – 9am – 4.30pm

Fritz Gelato
334 Bridge Rd, Richmond
Open 7 days – noon until late

Gelato Messina
237 Smith St, Fitzroy
Sun – Thurs – 12pm – 11pm
Fri – Sat – 12pm – 11.30pm

Spicy Chickpea and Coleslaw Tacos

Duuuudes! I can’t believe it’s the last day of MoFo and I didn’t even catch up on my posts! I’m going to be defiant and keep posting my ones that were meant for the last days as they are done and I do want to share them with you. The last week or so I’ve found myself with very little time to post, and even less to read other peoples’ blogs so I do apologise for that, and hope that once MoFo is done I can belatedly catch up on some of the action.

Tacos VS Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

Truth be told, I love them both. But as last MoFo I shared a burrito so this time I thought it was only fair to give tacos some time. I do like tacos because I feel that I can eat more of them in one sitting, whereas I can only stuff one burrito down without feeling like I’m going to puke. Plus they always look so fresh and colourful, and you get to see everything that’s in them straight off the bat.

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I have to stress to you how easy these are to make. Most of it is down time, waiting for the chickpeas to cook – the rest is just throw it together. My kind of meal. And I’m so excited with the weather being the way it has been – warm nights just screams tacos and beers in evening sun.

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I am also loving the colour of these – the chickpeas are so vibrant, particularly alongside purple cabbage and some fresh greenery. It’s a rainbow eater’s dream!

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Spicy Chickpea and Coleslaw Tacos
(makes 10)

10 tortillas
Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Fresh lime wedges for serving
Hot sauce for serving (optional)
2 avocados, diced

Chickpeas
3 cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander

3 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

Coleslaw
3½ cups purple cabbage, shredded
2½ cups grated carrot
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp water
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 220C and line a baking tray with paper.

Place chickpeas in a bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients for the chickpeas, then pour into the bowl and stir until all combined. Pour out chickpeas onto the tray and spread into a single layer. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring with a spatula a couple of times along the way.

Meanwhile, prepare the coleslaw. In a small bowl, combine mayo, lime juice, water, salt and pepper. Mix up cabbage and carrot in a large bowl, then pour dressing over it and mix well to combine.

Cook tortillas according to directions – we used white corn tortillas and lightly pan fried them on either side. To assemble, place some chickpeas, coleslaw and avocado on each tortilla, then top with fresh coriander, a squeeze of lime juice and hot sauce.

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Strawberry Watermelon and Basil Icy Poles

Another belated post, lets pretend that this was shared on Sunday okay?

Favourite herb or spice.

This was hard because I love lots of herbs and spices, but ultimately I decided to go with my original favourite herb. By original, I mean I think that basil was the first herb I ever became quite enamoured with in cooking. The smell of a fresh bunch is like nothing else! But what to share with you? I’ve already done multiple pesto recipes, so it was time to go down a different path. I’ve also made strawberry basil dehydrated fruit leather in the past, but with the warm weather coming back I thought it more appropriate to share something a little more suitable.

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It’s been so exciting to see berries and watermelon start making more frequent appearances around the place. Oh yes, summer is coming! I am a big fan of the combination of strawberry and basil, and of watermelon and basil, so how could this go wrong? If it ain’t your jam though, mint makes a great substitute as well.

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Strawberry, Watermelon and Basil Icy Poles
(makes 6)

1 punnet strawberries (250g), stems removed
450g watermelon, chopped into chunks
Approx 10 large basil leaves
2 Tbsp agave (optional)

Place strawberries, watermelon and agave (if using) in a blender and blend until smooth. Add basil leaves and pulse a few times. Pour evenly among icy pole moulds and place in freezer overnight.

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Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach

After a bit of a crazy weekend I didn’t get a chance to post the last few days, but had already prepared posts. I’m going to go ahead and share one tonight and hopefully a few tomorrow to catch up, as I’d like to get back on track for the last few days of MoFo.

It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?

For a long time, pearl barley was one of those things I would buy and it would sit at the back of the cupboard forever, until that first time I tried it. The nutty, chewiness is what I love, and the reason I think it makes a perfect risotto. We also pretty much always have spinach and mushrooms, as they are boyfriend bear’s favourite breakfast constituents and we seem to have an abundance of lemons always from housemates’ parents or workmates or even the yard down the road that we sometimes sneak into.

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So even though we’re edging away from the cold, snow-at-your-door weather (okay, so we never get snow at the door), this is the perfect thing to cook in that kind of weather. Also great about risotto is that you can pretty much cook it using anything you’ve got on hand – veggies, herbs, spices. It always seems to work out filling, hearty and generally delicious.

Also, I took the ingredients over to my parents’ house to cook and even my dog wanted in on the action –

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She knows what’s good!

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach
(serves 4-6)

1 Tbsp oil
1 brown onion, diced finely
1 leek, sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
3 cups baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups pearl barley
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups hot vegetable stock
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a pot over medium and add onion and leek, cooking for about five minutes until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook a further couple of minutes. Add pearl barley and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in white wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, a couple of minutes. Now start to add stock, one ladle at a time, and allow to gently simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladle full. Continue to cook like this, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed.

Add lemon zest, juice, parsley, nutritional yeast and spinach and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with extra parsley.

barleyrisotto3b

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