Mushroom & Chestnut Martini Soup

Every time I make this soup, I ask myself ‘why don’t I make this more often?’ Chestnuts contain no cholesterol and are low in sodium and fat. They are also rich in mineral salts and an excellent source for vitamins C, B1, B2 and folates.  Guests always love how it plates up as a savoury martini. I love it more, because it screams SCREW YOU winter!

Mushroom and Chestnut Martini Soup

What you’ll need: serves 6
400g peeled chestnuts (I buy mine frozen from either the markets or good health food stores)
400g mushrooms finely sliced (I like to use organic portobellos)
1 tablespoon of EV olive oil
1 medium organic potato, peeled and diced
1 medium brown onion, peeled and diced
1 glove of garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon of organic dried thyme
1 litre of vegetable stock (I use 2-3 tablespoons of my Thermomix veggie stock, diluted in a litre of filtered water)
Freshly ground pepper top taste
Sea salt to taste and fresh herbs to garnish (basil and parsley are my favs, but you could use thyme or chives too)
Tub of Butter Me Up; the first Australian-made real butter alternative. If you haven’t tried this yet, you must

How to prepare:
In a pan bring vegetable stock to a gentle simmer
In a separate deep, heavy based saucepan sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent
Add chestnuts, potato and mushrooms to sautéed onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes until the ingredients begin to stick to the base of your pot, then add thyme and stir through well, followed by 3/4 of your hot stock
Simmer for 25-30 minutes
Remove from heat, transfer to blender and blitz until smooth, using the remaining stock to adjust the consistency if need be, blitz again
Taste and adjust seasoning if required
Ladle into your martini glasses, top with fresh herbs, salt and or pepper and serve with fresh bread and generous lashings of vegan butter

Holiday Hors d’oeuvres – part II

Taking no time to prepare, these mini vol-au-vents are a good recipe to have up your sleeve for the festive season. All the ingredients can be stored in your pantry and pulled out at the very last minute. They also make a great snack for the kids and are a bit of fun if you’re off to the moonlight cinema and are looking for some inspiration for your picnic hamper.

vol-au-vent

What you’ll need: (makes 24)
1-2 packets of ready made mini vol-au-vents. Vegan vol-au-vents aren’t always easy to find so you can use melba toasts instead
A can of creamed corn
Kale chips – I’m loving these handmade, raw, organic, Australian grown chips from Komarov foods who launched at World Vegan Day 2013
Savoury yeast flakes

How to prepare:
Heat the creamed corn in a pot on the stove, or if you are super busy, in the microwave
Set out your vol-au-vents
Spoon creamed corn into each vol-au-vent using a teaspoon
Top with crumbled kale chips and savoury yeast flakes
Serve immediately
These can also be eaten cold
If there is any creamed corn left over, it is yummy on toast with finely diced red onion, cracked pepper and some herbs

A litte about savoury yeast flakes
These flakes are loaded with B Vitamins including B1, B6, B3, B2 and B12
They are a great cheese substitute, in particular a parmesan cheese substitute
Try them on: salads, baked potatoes, in béchamel sauce and a top my famous vegetarian spaghetti bolognese
You’ll find them in any good health food store

Savoury yeast flakes

Holiday Hors d’oeuvres – part I

Just off the plane from the magical islands of Hawaii, I’m feeling rested, refreshed and am buzzing with loads of easy, Hawaiian-inspired recipes to share with you. It’s perfect timing really, with the party season already underway and everyone in their kitchens cooking up a storm.

These ‘miniature tacos’ are a huge hit if you’re asked to bring a plate over the holiday season, they are also the perfect appetiser for any dinner party, or BBQ and have to be one of my all-time favourite snacks. if you liked my avocado magic recipe you’ll enjoy these…
corn chip tacos

What you’ll need:
1-2 Avocados
1 Lemon
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Your choice or herbs to garnish with: coriander, parsley, spring onion
2 Fresh red chillies (the hotter the better)
Quality corn chips: I’m loving anything stone-groundHawaii

How to prepare:
Halve, then de-seed avocados and place into a mixing bowl
Add the juice of half a lemon being careful to omit the pips (an easy trick is to put cheese cloth over the lemon)
Season with salt and pepper, then mash with a fork, leaving some yummy chunks
Chop your chosen herbs and the chillies
Set out your corn chips. I found they look the best on a chopping board
Using a teaspoon spoon the avocado mixture onto each chip
Decorate with herbs, then fresh chilli
Serve immediately

Tips:
Naturally the more hors d’oeuvres you intend to make the more of the ingredients you’ll need. Meaning 1 avocado for 2-4 guests. 3 avocados for 10-15 guests
My favourite combination is coriander and chilli but the fun of these is you can mix them up or just make whatever is in the fridge
If I take these to a party, I prepare everything in advance and just plate them up when I get there