Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Recipe: Zucchini Soup

Zucchini Soup Ready To Be Eaten


I’ve been trying out the 5:2 diet since May last year. It’s pretty cool: I’ve lost ~9 kilos so far, slow and steady. I am enjoying fitting back into some of my clothes again, and look forward to more fitting in the near future 🙂 That’s one reason I went on my Great Pot Noodle Experiment of 2016.

So I am on the lookout for low calorie (VERY low calorie) recipes I can meal-prep and eat on the fast days. This Zucchini Soup is a bit of a winner: when you blend the zucchinis, the soup becomes thicker and creamy looking so you could be fooled into thinking it’s richer and higher calorie than it is. I’ve worked it out as about 66-86 calories per serve (but I am not a qualified nutritionist, and am relying on online calorie calculators for quantities), and I get about 6 serves out of this.

You will need a blender or stick mixer to blend at the end.


  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 tsp diced garlic (I used diced garlic in a jar for convenience)
  • 1-2 Zucchini, diced
  • 4 sticks of celery, diced
  • 1-2 tsp Vegeta Stock Powder
  • 1-2 tsp Olive Oil for frying
  • 6-8 cups of boiling water (put your kettle on when you start this recipe)

Pop the olive oil in your soup pan, and heat. Add the onions and start cooking until they are translucent. Add the garlic and fry, then add your celery and fry for a while. The onions should never turn brown at any point, we’re aiming for softened, translucent vegetables so you will need to keep an eye on your pan, and keep stirring. Add the zucchini and fry for a while, still making sure veggies are being stirred regularly and nothing is sticking to the pan.

When the Zucchini has softened, add your boiling water and stock powder. Stir to combine and then simmer for 20-30 minutes on the stove until the vegetables are completely soft.

Take off the heat, and leave to cool. Then blend and portion out into your storage containers.

When I take this to work for lunch, I will pour the soup into a bowl and add a little bit of water (1tbsp) to the jar, shake and pour into the soup bowl to get the very last dregs.

It’s pretty delicious, and I am not sick of eating this yet (although I do have something different for dinner to ensure it doesn’t wear out its welcome).

66 Calories of Lunch 🙂

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Behold the deliciousness

I got a little inspired when I found a Yumsugar article on How to Make Chocolate Salami, and went down a google-hole to discover a recipe for Chocolate Salame by my good friend who I have never met (GFWIHNM) Nigella. The Yumsugar article mentioned a recipe that used raisins for chewiness, while my GFWIHNM’s recipe revolved around different nuts and amaretti biscuits, but had nothing for fruity “chewiness”.

I idly considered what I could add to my GFWIHNM’s recipe that would give me “chewiness” but which didn’t involve raisins or sultanas. A recipe that maybe had slightly less varieties of nuts too. And what goes better with dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and natural almonds than…glacĂ© cherries!!!!??!!!!

I love, love, love glacĂ© cherries. I can’t keep them in my house because I will eat them from the packet, with a spoon. So any excuse to legitimately purchase a packet of glacĂ© cherries, where there is the possibility of leftovers to be eaten with a spoon is…appealing, to say the least.

Now before I get onto my recipe, there are a couple of stipulations about glacĂ© cherries: they have to be the luminescent red glacĂ© cherries in syrup. There can be no green glacĂ© cherries in syrup. Not in MY house, not in THIS recipe. I don’t care if they taste the same. They are not.

And they most definitely can’t be those sad little lumps of dried, candied cherries available in irridescent crimson or emerald green – that are often also called glacĂ© cherries and are mostly found in fruit cakes, or crying to themselves next to the currants and the dried peel in the baking aisle. Leave them on the shelf. THOSE cherries are an abomination, so don’t even…

I cannot emphasise this enough: you must, must, must use the luminescent red glacĂ© cherries in syrup. They provide the perfect balance of flavour, chewiness and moistness for this chocolate salami. Plus they really are the “only” glacĂ© cherries.

See the glorious luminescent red glacé cherries in syrup?


Makes a shedload. Or about 2 x 30cm logs of chocolate salami.

  • 250gm of dark cooking chocolate
  • 250gm amaretti biscuits (the chewy ones) (crushed: I used my mortar and pestle)
  • 100gm soft butter
  • 150gm caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100gm raw almond flakes (crushed roughly in mortar and pestle)
  • 100gm hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 150gm luminescent red glacĂ© cherries in syrup (roughly chopped)
  • Icing sugar (to serve)
  • You will need clingwrap and alfoil to wrap in.

Melt the chocolate  and 50gm of the butter (in the microwave, or on a double boiler) until smooth, then set aside to cool.

Cream the rest of the butter and sugar in large bowl, beat in the eggs one by one (can look a little curdled at this point, don’t worry).

Sieve the cocoa powder into the chocolate (I guess cocoa and chocolate makes it a double chocolate salami, really), then stir until combined.

Beat the chocolate-cocoa mix into the butter-sugar-eggs mix, and ensure they are combined. Once smooth, switch to a large spoon and incorporate in the amaretti biscuits, hazelnuts, almond flakes and glacĂ© cherries. Stir until combined, taste a spoonful and raise your eyes to the skies because it is g.l.o.r.i.o.u.s. (if you can’t see the skies, raising your eyes to the kitchen ceiling is also perfectly acceptable).

Pop your bowl into the fridge for about 20 minutes, NO LONGER. It needs to be malleable enough for you to form it into a roll.

While you are waiting, lay out about 45-50cm of clingwrap flat on your counter.

Once your mix is chilled, spoon a generous line of the mix onto one lengthwise edge of the clingwrap (start about 7cm from each short end), then roll the whole thing until it’s wrapped up in that first layer of clingwrap. Twist the ends of the clingwrap like a lolly until you have a vague log shape (each log will be about 4-5cm in diameter). Do the same with a second layer of clingwrap, then follow with a layer of alfoil. The alfoil will give your salami structure. Do the same for the second roll. Then pop them both on a flat space in your freezer. They will keep up to a month in the freezer like this, if you can leave them alone long enough.

When you want to serve, unwrap and slice in 1cm segments and serve with the rounds dusted with icing sugar.

Still life in danger of being eaten


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The horror and the glory

You may, or may not, know that I do like a retro cookbook. I have a vast and fantastic collection thanks to my mum’s collection, which I have posted about previously:

Marvel at the wonder, the glory…and the interesting food photos, people.

There are a couple of twitter accounts which celebrate the wonder and the horror that was the retro cookbook, and regular stories about them (when my friends find these stories, they often tag me in them so I can add to my collection):

Again: marvel at the wonder and the horror. I love it AAAAAALLLLLLLL.

My aunt also has (or shall I say “had”) a glorious cookbook collection, one that I explored when I lived at her house for a while. I have dropped hints over the year that they would find a good home in my collection…

…years passed, and the time came for her to rationalise her house in preparation for a new house. Yes, dear reader, she handed her amazing glorious cook book collection onto me. All of the wonder, all of the horror, all mine. My precious.

It’s a wide ranging collection, from classic Australian cookbooks, to celebrity chefs of the time, to curated cordon bleu cookbooks and more. I’ve taken photos of some of the more amazing recipes and books in the collection.

And I do plan to make recipes from this collection, even if they won’t visually be presented in the same way…or will they? Would you mess with the presentation of the Black Forest Bavarois?


The 80s called, it says there’s not enough piped cream on this.

On the other hand, not so sure I will make a stuffed cabbage:


Cabbage leaf rolls fine, stuff cabbage…not so fine?

The books are a fantastic document of food presentation and techniques of the time, including artful platters of fish with grapes on top (Sole Veronique) or piping (Fish in Spinach Sauce):


Savoury piping is a lost art.

Delia does Sole Veronique differently now. And these days Fish in Spinach sauce comes without the fancy piping and artfully placed toppings.

How could you not marvel at the glory of endives, radishes, and a starburst of white asparagus (probably canned white asparagus)? It is majestic:


Majestic or Bombastic, To-MAH-To To-May-To.

And then there’s the wonder of some sort of spinach mould, filled with baby potatoes:


If that was a chocolate cake, and those were chocolate easter eggs I would be like HELLS YEAH HAPPY EASTER. When it’s spinach mould and baby potatoes, my enthusiams are more moderated.

While we are still on the savouries, can I get a holler for the chicken and peanut butter stew…ye satay chicken from ye olden days:


I plan to make this. You’ve been warned.

And then there’s the variant on beef wellington, which involves stuffing a loin of lamb into a home-made loaf of brioche:


Note the cold veal pie to the right with the immaculate hard boiled egg in the middle of it. This cookbook is about stuffing foods, into other foods. And I applaud it.

If we leave aside the savouries, there’s always the desserts. Like the Nectarine Cream Mousse, which is now a life goal:


Who wouldn’t want a jelly mould that’s this fantastical? I ask you!

Then a confection of evaporated milk, lemon jelly and glace cherries, served on a bed of EVEN MORE glace cherries:


I do like a glace cherry.

While we’re on the subject of mousse, gin and lime mousse anyone?


An epic of piping.

Then from the Australian Women’s Weekly classics, there’s the children’s cake book. Featuring cakes in shapes and sizes to suit every child…as long as they still make the lollies and chocolates used for decoration. If not, find a suitable alternative or risk making a child cry on their birthday, and no one wants to do that, do they?

Cricket pitch (it’s summer in Australia after all):


The most boring game on earth, slightly more interesting in cake form. Sorry cricket lovers, I am at best a disinterested party, at worst (when it’s put on the tv in my workplace): a hater.

Soccer pitch (also called football, if you’re not Australian):


I particularly like the recycled netting used for the goals. Find that in your fruit & veggie compartment if you’re old skool.

Lest we forget, the covers and graphic design of these glorious tomes:


If the bubble print gets larger on each line, people will know this book is about PARTIES.

Another Australian Women’s Weekly classic, The Big Book Of Beautiful Biscuits:


Apparently Beauty is in the eye of AWW, and NOT the beholder. Someone tell Margaret Wolfe Hungerford.

I’ve now got two versions of this glorious Cordon Bleu cooking series, one from my mother and one from my aunt (one appears to be the abridged version):


They’re slightly different. So I can’t part with either.

And then lastly, the glorious recipe that started it all. Frosted Green Cheese Mould. This is the photo that was my epiphany about retro cookbooks and recipe. If you want to blame anything or anyone, blame Hudson and Halls and THIS:


Check out the milk glass goblets, the painting and the turquoise stoppered bottle. I have home decor envy.

If you’re getting a sense of deja vu, you’ve seen this shape earlier in this post: the spinach mould with baby potatoes. Apparently in the 80s everyone was big on the ring shape, with various fillings piled in artfully. And if that’s kale on the right, Hudson and Halls were well ahead of the kale trend of the 2010s. If it’s curly parsley…it’s bang on their era. Perhaps we could update the recipe with kale?

Let me introduce you to Hudson and Halls, TV chefs from New Zealand who made it big in the UK. FYI: They were actually a couple, and were known for the quote “are we gay – well we’re certainly merry”. Love ’em:


When I grow up, I want to have a trifle bowl that I fill with Iceberg Lettuce, just like Hudson and Halls.

There’s a documentary about them: Hudson and Halls: A Love Story.


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Good for breakfast, brunch or brinner.

I served these as part of a two-course brunch for Les Chicas. We also had fancy (but very easy to make) breakfast trifles to finish. And champagne. A lot of champagne.


  • 300gm grape tomatoes (approx 5-6 per person)
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 240gm ricotta (I accidentally picked up light ricotta)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 and 1/4 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 very thin slices of red onion
  • 250gm rocket

Serves 5 people (3 pancakes per person).

I made the pancakes before my guests arrived, then popped them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and covered with alfoil. Then I popped them back in the oven to heat up closer to brunch time.

In a largish mixing bowl, whisk ricotta and egg until combined. Whisk in milk, then flour. When everything’s combined, stir through basil and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt a bit of butter in a large fry pan, then pour in 1/4 cups of mix per pancake. I could fit about 3 pancakes in my largest fry pan (the pancakes will spread to 10-15cm wide, so allow for that). Cook until golden, then flip to cook on the other side.

When your first batch is done, do a second batch. I could do 2 batches before I needed to wipe out the pan and add more butter. It look 5 batches to get through all the mix. When you’ve finished each batch, stack them in servings (3 pancakes per person) in your baking paper lined baking tray. Don’t forget to cover the tray with alfoil when done.

Preheat your oven to 220°C, timing it so that when your guests arrive you can pop the tomatoes in to roast (they take 10-15 minutes). Pop the tomatoes in a baking dish with 1 tbsp of EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the skins have split.

At 10 minutes, pop in the baking tray with your covered pancakes into the oven. If you are taking the tomatoes out, dial down the oven to 160°C. The pancakes need about 5 minutes to warm again.

Add the rocket and red onion to a bowl, pour over the remaining olive oil and the apple cider vinegar. Toss thoroughly.

To serve: pop a pancake stack (3 pancakes) on the plate, put a pile of the rocket & red onion salad on top, then artfully place 5-6 roasted grape tomatoes on top.

I recommend serving with a french champagne to drink on the side 🙂



Artfully placed tomatoes.

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Recipe: Breakfast Trifle


Little pots of joy

Having made my toasted muesli, I swung on to making breakfast trifles for my brunch with Les Chicas. I made these trifles on the day, because I wanted the muesli to still have crunch.


  • 1 punnet of strawberries
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 125 mL ricotta (I used light ricotta, because I picked it up by accident)
  • 250 mL greek yoghurt (I used light greek yoghurt, mainly because there was no non-light greek yoghurt in stock)
  • 100 mL thick cream
  • Toasted muesli (if you make my recipe, you’ll have leftover muesli for breakfasts)

I made this for 4 people, in Bonne Maman jam jars. The jars are ~7.5cm in diameter, and ~9.5cm high, to give you an idea of portioning ingredients.

Hull and slice the strawberries, then pop in a bowl with the caster sugar and mix well. Leave to macerate for about an hour.

Whisk the ricotta, yoghurt and cream together until smooth, then add the agave syrup. Chill for about an hour.

Assembling the trifles happens in layers, and I discovered over the course of assembling that the perfect proportions for each layer is:

  • 3 soup spoons of the yoghurt mix
  • 2 soup spoons of the muesli
  • Strawberries in a layer

Order of the layers:

  • Yoghurt
  • Muesli
  • Yoghurt
  • Strawberry layer
  • Yoghurt
  • Muesli
  • Yoghurt
  • Strawberries to top

Pop back in the fridge to chill until needed. This is where making them in jars was so handy: I could pop the lid on and chuck them in the fridge.


Et voila!

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Recipe: Toasted Muesli


Toasted muesli, served traditional style.

I had Les Chicas over for brunch last week, so decided to kick it up a notch with a two course brunch of basil and ricotta pancakes (savoury) and then breakfast trifle (sweet). To make the breakfast trifle, I needed a toasted muesli. This recipe is pretty delish on its own (yes, you can eat it by the spoonful), with milk and in the breakfast trifle so I thought I would share.


Cooling in the pan


  • 1/3 cup rice malt syrup (finally a use for the remainder of the jar of “honey for sad people” that I bought for a recipe)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup golden flax flakes
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Makes enough toasted muesli for 6-7 days worth, or 4-5 days worth and 4 breakfast trifles. (NB: I only eat small rice bowls of it for breakfast, see picture at the head of this post. That’s what my serves are based on.)

Preheat your oven to 160C and line a large roasting pan with baking paper (hot tip for making sure the paper doesn’t slip: spray a little oil in the pan, then put the paper in. It’s a lifechanger).

In a bowl mix together the rolled oats, coconut, pepitas, flax and chia seeds. Pour in the rice malt syrup and maple syrup and mix to coat everything well.

Spread mixture in roasting pan, make sure it’s an even layer, then pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out, stir well and then make sure it’s all laying evenly before popping back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then pour into a bowl and stir in the cranberries. Then transfer to the jar you’re going to keep in. Will keep in an airtight container for ~1 month.



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All lined up…DIY Pot Noodle Experiment 3: zucchini noodles, tofu, carrots, celery, brussel sprouts, radishes, carrots, spring onions, green capsicum.

I’ve finally got around to experimenting with DIY Pot Noodles, something I’ve been keen to do for about a year! This post summarises my learnings and some of the variants I’ve concocted along the way.

There are a couple of good articles that break down DIY pot noodles into flavours, base, veggies and other things to include. I found these very useful:

Having been inspired, I started creating and – as if often the way – started my learnings…

Learning #1: If you are using spring onions, quantities matter.

Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of my very first DIY Pot Noodle experiment (aka DIY Pot Noodles Experiment 1). The first output used spring onion, carrot noodles (having fun with the spiraliser #1), zucchini noodles (having fun with the spiraliser #2), halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced radish and celery. And I flavoured them with some left over sachets of Pot Noodle flavourings (Duck and Maggi Salt Reduced Chicken).

The biggest learning from this was: only use about 1/3 of a spring onion per jar, and not a whole spring onion. About a third of a spring onion will do…and include only the green parts, save the white parts for something else.

Include a whole spring onion, and it will stay with you for hours…and onion breath is not a nice feeling. Especially if you have meetings after lunch.


DIY Pot Noodle Experiment 3: Zucchini noodles, tofu, carrots, brussel sprouts, celery, green capsicum.

Learning #2: A flavour base is important

Another learning from the first DIY Pot Noodle experiment: flavour is important. I’d split up 1 x sachet of duck noodle flavouring (left over from a previous non-DIY pot noodle fest) between 3 jars, that wasn’t enough flavour. So I ended also divvying up a sachet of Maggi Chicken Noodles between the 3 jars, that made it more flavoursome and emphasised the importance of flavour, flavor and flava.

If you don’t have enough flavour, then you have a bunch of vegetables in hot water…which isn’t the most appealing thing to eat.

Stock isn’t great in DIY pot noodles, and buying a soup sachet would make them uneconomical.

The Food Lab recommends Better Than Bouillon in their post Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous) but I couldn’t source that in any of the shops I visited near me.

I ended up finding Osem’s Chicken Soup powder in my local Woolworths (they also do a Vegetable Soup Powder). About 2 small teaspoons of the powder is perfect to add flavouring to my DIY Pot Noodles.

Learning #3: I am not convinced about adding leftover tomato pasta sauce

Inspired by the Italian Style Quinoa Noodles on GOOP, I created a version using quinoa, noodles and left over tomato sauce (DIY Pot Noodles Experiment 2). Even though the sauce was very reduced and the quinoa and pasta were well drained, there was too much additional liquid in the noodle jars.

That meant, when I added my hot water…I couldn’t add enough hot water for the DIY Pot Noodles to be properly warmed. Meaning a slightly disappointing pot noodle experience…plus the left-over tomato sauce ended up being quite oily, also a negative.


DIY Pot Noodles Experiment 2: Zucchni noodles, left over pasta sauce, spring onions and quinoa.

Learning #4: Placement is important

Apart from layering your ingredients so anything that could potentially get soggy is not at the bottom of the jar, you also need to think about how flavours could infuse surrounding ingredients. Otherwise, you could have all the right components for a great pot noodle, but still achieve less than optimal results.

I discovered the hard way that sprinkling the chicken soup powder on top of the diced Tofu was not the best idea in the world: it left the Tofu tasting salty and unpleasant. And when I sprinkled it on top of some halved cherry tomatoes in one batch, the soup powder caked and was really hard to dissolve in the hot water.


It’s at about this point that I learnt to add the chicken soup powder just before adding the hot water. Chick peas, brown lentils, tofu, cherry tomatoes, radishes, carros, celery and spring onions.


Now I keep the chicken soup powder in a container, and only add it at the last minute…otherwise it renders some of the other ingredients unpalatable.

Learning #5: Some vegetables work, some don’t

Vegetables that work: radishes, tomatoes, broccolini, spinach, carrots, zucchini, kale, celery, snow peas, spring onions (in sensible quantities), roasted pumpkin, roasted sweet potato, roasted onion, frozen peas, frozen corn

Vegetables that don’t work: raw mushrooms


Raw mushroom learning curve…coming up. Cooked white rice, mushrooms, frozen corn, carrots, celery, broccolini and spring onions.

Learning #6: If you want something more filling, add legumes or rice

Sometimes you need something a little more filling: my first experiments were basically vegetables and tofu…which is fine until you intend to do an hour long Garuda class straight after work (Garuda was developed by a dancer, and is a mix of yoga, pilates and tai chi). On those days, if I didn’t include something more filling then about 10 minutes into the workout I would start fantasising about dinner instead of focusing on the moves.

Canned chick peas, black beans, lentils and kidney beans are all good additions if you want a more filling experience.


Cherry tomatoes, tofu, zucchini, celery, carrot, radishes, spring onions, chick peas and brown lentils.

So is cooked brown rice or cooked white rice, or cooked soba noodles or ramen noodles.


Cooked soba noodles, spinach, tofu, spring onions, carrots and sesame seeds. I will never include sesame seeds again: I almost choked on one.

Learning #7: If you are fantasising about dinner during exercise class, add a topper to your pot noodles

A quartered hard boiled egg is always good, so is some left over roast beef. The hard boiled egg is more filling, I have to say.


Roast beef, broccolini, brussels sprouts, spring onions, roast sweet potato, roast carrot, roast pumpkin and roast onion.

If you can get the lid closed over the quartered egg, give the jar a shake and the yolk will thicken and enrich the sauce a bit too.

Learning #8: Mix it up a bit in terms of flavours and umami

I make up 4 of these pot noodles on Sundays, and I eat them Monday Lunch and Dinner and Tuesday Lunch and Dinner. It’s important to include variety otherwise it does get a bit boring. I normally make 2 different types, so I can have something different between lunch and dinner.

Where I have made the same thing, dependent on ingredients I can create variety by different flavourings:

  • Some sesame oil and a dash of soy if I want something more asian-inspired
  • Basil pesto if I want something more italian
  • An anchovy (hear me out): it adds a richness and umami and the fish itself melts away into the stock when you pour hot water on it
  • Chopped parsley



Adding parsley, basic pesto and anchovy for more flavour. Cherry tomatoes, spring onion, carrots, zucchini and celery.

You will still want to include the 2 teaspoons of chicken soup powder.

Learning #9: If you want a thicker soup, do a little pre-prep

A good fallback to make a thicker and richer soup, is to add pre-cooked cannelini beans.

How to:

  • Heat a splash of olive oil in a saucepan
  • Add chopped fresh rosemary and a crushed clove of garlic and heat through until fragrant
  • Add a tin of drained and rinsed cannelini beans and 1/2 cup of water
  • Heat while stirring, some of the cannellini beans will break down to make  rich and thick sauce. You can help this process by getting in there with a potato masher
  • If you’d like some greens: add a handful of chopped kale, and a little more water. Stir until the kale is wilted and serve

This is basically a Jamie Oliver recipe that you use as a base for filet steak. It is delicious, but you can also use it to thicken your pot noodles.


Kale, Zucchni and the pre-prepped Cannellini beans


I haven’t shaken this yet. If you shake the container to mix the ingredients, the beans will start to thicken the soup.


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