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

Easy chickpea and sweet potato curry

This is comfort food at its best kindkitcheners! Moreish, nutritious, warming and filling. Seriously, what more could you want? I use only organic produce and opt for bio-dynamic rice, which has both a flavour and texture that takes this dish to a whole other level. This curry can also be frozen. Yay.


What you’ll need: Serves 4-6
2 tablespoons of EV olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
A 2cm piece of fresh ginger, diced
4 teaspoons of ground cumin
3 teaspoons of ground ginger
2 teaspoons of hot chilli powder (this will give your curry a warm kick, if you like it HOT add 3 teaspoons)
15 small potatoes (I’m loving Nicolas), peeled and halved
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into chunks
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced into chunks
2 x cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 fresh medium tomatoes, topped then halved and diced
1 large glass of white wine
Vegetable stock (paste or cubes), diluted in 500 mls of water
(I use 2 x tablespoons of homemade vegetable stock made in the Thermomix)
4 tablespoons of quality tomato puree
4-6 cups of Bio-dynamic rice

How to prepare:
In a large pot sauté fresh onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil until translucent
Add ground cumin, ground ginger and chilli powder, cook for another 2 minutes
Add chopped vegetables, coat well with spices. This step is key, so take your time folding
Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes then add freshly chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, wine, stock and tomato puree
Add salt, cover and leave to gently simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally as the vegetables cook and the curry thickens
Taste and season with salt before serving
Serve on a bed of bio-dynamic rice and top with fresh herbs. I love using coriander and/or flat leaf parsley

What to drink?
If you like a white wine; I recommend a pinot gris
If you like red you cannot go wrong with a pinot noir for something more adventureous, a nebbiolo would work well too. Dig in!



Slow baked sweet potato stuffed with ancient grain salad

Baked sweet potato with grain saladWhat you’ll need:
Big organic sweet potatoes for 4-6 people
1 bunch coriander, washed and chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, washed and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 cup of your favourite grain: freekah, quinoa or cracked wheat
1/2 cup of Puy lentils
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in coconut oil
2 tablespoons of hazelnuts, lightly crushed in your mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, just use a clean a tea towel and a rolling pin
2 tablespoons of baby capers
1/2 cup organic black currants
Juice of one medium lemon
3 tablespoons of EVOO
Sea salt
1 pomegranate, halved and deseeded

Hot tip:
Having to deseed a pomegranate put me off readily using these incredible fruits laden with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fibre.  Then I discovered this video: How to deseed a pomegranate

For the dressing you’ll need:
1 cup of coconut yoghurt (available at all good health food stores)
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, crushed

How to prepare:
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees
Wash and pat dry your sweet potatoes
Place them in your preheated oven and turn heat down to 200 degrees to bake for 1 hour. Cooking time will vary due to size

Blanch your chosen grain and lentils separately in boiling water until al dente
Drain well and allow to completely cool
Mix your coconut yogurt and cumin and set side
In a medium bowl, place herbs, red onion, grain, lentils, nuts, seeds, capers, currants, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate and hand toss
Season with sea salt
Test your baked potatoes

Plating up + wine match:
Place a sweet potato on a plate
Slice open length ways and part
Spoon in your grain salad and lots of it
Top with yoghurt dressing
This dish goes beautifully with a Pinot Gris. I chose a 2014 Domaine de Belle Vue, from the Loire Valley France RRP $30AUD


Raw A+B+C Salad

Apple, beetroot and carrot… well, salads just don’t come any easier or fresher than this. The divine flavours of the fruit and vegetables are prefect as they are, so no dressing is needed. If you like, add a little white cabbage and this dish moonlights as a fantastic dairy free coleslaw. Either way, you are going to love this.

What’ you’ll need: serves 4-6
3 fresh beetroots (440g) peeled and quartered
3 small carrots (100g) peeled and chopped into fours
½ a red onion, peeled and quartered
1 granny smith apple peeled, cored and quartered
¼ of a cup of fresh coriander, washed and chopped
½ cup of walnuts (optional)


How to prepare:
Place apple, beetroot, carrot and onion into the TM bowl of your Thermomix
Chop on speed 4 for 7 seconds, then transfer salad into a serving bowl and garnish with walnuts (optional) and fresh coriander
If you don’t have a Thermomix, you can use a blender but will have to prepare the salad in batches
With no dressing this salad remains equally tasty day two. Any left overs are delicious in a toasted wrap with smashed white beans (stay tuned, that recipe is on its way).

Pesto Pasta with baby spinach, kalamata olives & perino tomatoes

2014 is going to be all about delicious, family friendly main meals straight from my kind kitchen. Dishes with substance that you can serve as a weekly staple, or  ‘jazz’ up for special get togethers with friends and a good glass of wine.
pesto pasta

This dish is one of my husband’s all time favourites. A simple pesto pasta that is both substantial and bloody tasty.

If I’m having a busy week I’ll skip making my pesto from scratch and buy Roza’s dairy free pesto, the best ready-made pesto I’ve ever come across. Now available at Aunt Maggies, Thomas Dux, Leo’s Fine Food, Toscano’s and select IGA stores. You can find a full list of their Australia-wide stockists here. But when the weekend comes, I always make my fresh, home-made pesto which will last in the fridge for two weeks.

For the pesto you’ll need: serves 4-6
4 cloves of Australian garlic, peeled
100g of pine nuts
60g of smoked almonds
250g of fresh basil, washed
200g of fresh spinach leaves, washed
120g of Australian olive oil


Did you know?
Basil is rich in antioxidants, contains vitamins A, K and C, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. And pine nuts are a really good source of plant based iron and zinc, also containing niacin which is very good for your nervous system.

For the rest of the dish you’ll need:
1 packet of spaghetti pasta
Two handfuls of baby spinach leaves
4 tablespoons of whole kalamata olives
16 perino tomatoes, washed and halved
Savoury yeast flakes
2 fresh chillies, sliced

How to prepare pesto in a blender:
Add nuts and blitz, scrape down the sizes and blitz again until nuts are well ground
Add spinach and basil and blitz, stopping to turn the mixture with a spoon, then pulsing
Once ingredients are well mixed, begin adding olive oil slowly through lid pulsing as you go to form a smooth paste
Store in an airtight glass jar

How to prepare pesto in your Thermomix:
Place pine nuts in the bowl and grind for 3 seconds on speed 7
Add almonds and grind for 3 seconds on speed 7
Scrape down the sides
Add basil and spinach into the bowl and process until smooth (using your spatula to assist) turning dial from 1 to 6
Once smooth, reduce speed to 4 and add the olive oil in a slow stream through the lid, until your pesto is well combined
Store in an airtight glass jar

Putting this dish together:
Fill a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt and some olive oil, then bring to the boil
Cook your spaghetti as per instructions and once al dente drain
Place spaghetti back into pot
Stir through 3-4 tablespoons of pesto (I use one tablespoon per person)
Stir through tomatoes and whole olives
Finally add spinach and gently fold, so it wilts
Split ingredients evenly into serving bowls and serve with savoury yeast flakes and fresh chilli for some heat

Reuse and recycle: I love this… last night’s dairy free pesto became this morning’s smoothie jar.Roza's pesto

Vegan gravy and roasted veggies

Gravy is one thing I do miss. So having it as part of this year’s cruelty free Christmas is pretty exciting. I’m really looking forward to your photographs and feedback. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/2 cup arrowroot (I used Bob’s Red Mill, which I found at a specialty green grocer)
4 teaspoons of savoury yeast flakes
1/4 cup salt reduced soy sauce
2 cups organic vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


Helpful hints:
There is no need to add salt because the savoury yeast flakes have quite a salty flavour already
I also found I needed to use salt-reduced soy sauce because of this
If you can’t find arrowroot you could use corn flour. Arrowroot is preferable because it has no residual flavour and is a better thickener
If you’d like to make a mushroom gravy, simply take 150grams of button. Wash, slice and sauté them. Then add to the gravy before bringing to the boil
Taste, taste and taste to adjust seasoning

How to prepare:
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat
Add onion and garlic
Cook, stirring frequently for 3 to 5 minutes
Add arrowroot, yeast flakes and soy sauce; mix well to form a smooth paste
Slowly add broth, whisking constantly to blend. Season with pepper
Add sautéed mushrooms now, if making a mushroom gravy
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, gently simmer, stirring frequently for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened

Nut & Spinach Christmas Roast

In the true spirit of Christmas, I have been gifted this magnificent nut roast from the Executive Chef of La Résidence d’Angkor, in Cambodia. It was presented to me on a bed of chickpeas and steamed greens with a fresh salsa verde.

With Christmas fast approaching I wanted to see the year out giving my readers the opportunity to make, present and photograph this dish from your kind kitchen. I’ve provided a modern-spin on the Chef’s creation with my warm, rustic chickpea salad and I’m working on a vegan gravy, which I will post in the next few days. The rest is up to you for interpretation. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

What you’ll need: (serves 4)
200g fresh spinach leaves
100g macadamia nuts
100g hazel nuts
50g walnuts
25g of unsalted cashew nuts
½ onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
200g tomatoes, blanched, peeled, chopped
25g tomato confit an alternative is sun-dried tomatoes, but given it’s Christmas home-made confit makes the dish all that more special
½ teaspoon chopped coriander
½ teaspoon chopped sage
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint
1½ teaspoon freshly chopped curly parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon vegetable stock concentrate
Sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Loaf tin, grease proof paper, food processor

Nut and Spinach roast

How to prepare:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4

Blanch the spinach in boiling water, then drain it well and squeeze out all the water. Chop the spinach finely and set aside

Put the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but take care not to reduce them to a powder

Tip the nuts into a large mixing bowl and add the onion, carrot, fresh tomatoes, tomato confit, herbs, spinach, garlic, stock and seasoning, then mix and combine everything together well

Grease a loaf tin with olive oil and pour in the mixture. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit the loaf tin, grease it and lay it over the top to stop it burning. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until the nut roast is cooked through. Turn it out onto a plate for slicing

Warm, rustic chickpea and green bean salad

I am so excited I can hardly sit still to type. Following my cauliflower and butter bean soup post I had a tonne of mail requesting more Christmas day menu ideas. So, over the next few days I will have a complete cruelty free Christmas day menu, ready for you to road test this festive season. To get things rolling, this sublimely fresh and rather substantial warm chickpea salad is the perfect accompaniment to the nut roast, which will be this year’s ‘main event’ at our place. Stay tuned…

Rustic chickpea salad

What you’ll need: (serves 4)
300g of green beans, topped and tailed, then halved
10 grape or cherry tomatoes washed, then halved
Olive oil
1 x garlic clove, peeled then sliced
1 x 400g can of organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 x lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of coarsely cut fresh mint
2 tablespoons of coarsely cut fresh basil

How to prepare:
Zest lemon into a bowl. Cut lemon and juice into the same bowl trying to avoid any pips, set aside
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a simmer, then add beans
Cook beans for three minutes. Drain and set aside
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, over medium heat and cook garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant
Add drained chickpeas, stir and warm through for no more than two minutes
Stir in lemon juice and zest, then remove from heat
Add beans to a mixing bowl, then tomatoes, sea salt and pepper and herbs, then lightly toss
Add chickpeas and lightly toss again
Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy!

Chilli Non-Carne

If you’ve noticed a brief break in my blogging, it’s because my kitchen is currently being renovated and I’ve had nowhere to work or play. The good news… my new creative space is soon to be unveiled, along with plenty of exciting new recipe ideas for you.

Time without a kitchen has given me a chance to enjoy and now share in some tasty recipes courtesy of a few creative and kind friends. This hearty dish comes from Emma Sanguinetti and is a stand-out from the very first bite. It’s one of those dishes that truly warms you on a cold winter’s night and will help you blissfuly while away a rainy spring afternoon.

Chillie Non CarneWhat you need: serves 2-3
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red (or brown) onion, sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of either fresh or dry tarragon
2 good pinches of pink salt
One 400g can of chopped organic tomatoes
2 cups of medium dry Rosé (it must be Rosé and my favourite is the 2012 Cotes de Provence by Marius Peyol, which will set you back $9 at Dan Murphys)
One 400g tin of organic red kidney beans, drained
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
1 cup of uncooked organic brown short grain rice
80-100g of black kalamata olives, pitted, then sliced
To plate up with: 1-2 fresh lemons, fresh or dried chilli flakes (if you like more heat) and flat leafed parsley

Chillie Non Carne Table shot 2

How to prepare:
Cook brown rice in a pot until al dente

Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-based saucepan add finely sliced onion to olive oil and sauté on medium heat, until soft

Add finely chopped garlic, tarragon, canned tomatoes and olives

Add salt and cook for approx 10 mins on a high simmer

Next add the wine and cook for another 10 mins on a high simmer to evaporate off the alcohol

Now add kidney beans and chilli and stir through for 5 mins

Finally add the cooked rice and warm all ingredients through

Serving suggestions:
If you’d like to serve this dish for 4 guests, as a main, simply double the ingredients

Serve with a crisp green-leaf salad, fresh lemon wedges, extra chilli and plenty of crusty bread to mop up the yummy juices

Killer salad sandwich with avocado mousse and lemon and dill ‘cheese’

The humble sandwich has definitely become one of life’s simple forgotten pleasures. Fresh, light, cleansing and so damn tasty. These have become an all-year-round, weekly staple in our home… but as I’ve learnt, there’s a few tricks to making a ‘killer’ sandwich.

Sandwich 3

What you’ll need (serves 4-6):
Naturally, I buy organic wherever possible…
2 carrots grated
2 large beetroots boiled and sliced (allow an hour) see how to prepare beetroot here
1 cucumber sliced
2 tomatoes sliced
Lettuce leaves
1/2 red onion finely sliced
2 lemons
2 ripe avocados
Sea salt and cracker pepper
Wholegrain mustard
Good quality, soft bread with no nasties (I’m loving Ancient Grains organic kamut ‘giza’ sourdough loaf)
Botanical Cuisines’s lemon and dill raw, organic vegan cheese. You’ll find your local stockist here

Vegan Cheese
Avocado Mousse:
Halve, deseed and scoop out avocado into your blender
Add juice of one lemon and a generous pinch of sea salt
Blitz, scrape down the sides and blitz again, until light and fluffy
You may require the juice of your second lemon. Taste and adjust seasoning
For those of you with a Thermomix blitz for 15 seconds from speed 6 to 10. Scrape down the sizes and repeat 3 times until you have a light, mousse-like consistency

Avocado Mousse

How to make the perfect sandwich:
Organic and fresh is always best. And if you can’t find vegan cheese, just leave it out

There is a trick to layering, so your sandwich doesn’t fall apart and so that every bite has all the ingredients

Spread one slice with Nuttelex
The other with lemon and dill raw, organic vegan cheese, then some wholegrain mustard. Don’t be shy, a generous spread is best
Go back to the first slice and add lashings of avocado mousse then add tomato (4 slices), cracked pepper, cucumber (4 slices), beetroot (4 slices), grated carrot, red onion and lettuce
Pop the wholegrain mustard bread slice on top, press down firmly and slice
As you cut you can literally smell the the fresh, wholesome goodness

One more thing… never pack up your ingredients after just one sandwich because everyone always wants a another one

Have you tried my busy burritos?