It’s hard to believe it’s November already. For me, November heralds the start of the party season and the count-down to Christmas. As your calendar starts to fill up, it’s handy to have some tasty recipes for entertaining.
I actually “borrowed” this recipe from a friend who recently purchased a thermomix. Now I love my kitchen gadgets, but haven’t been able to make the commitment to purchase one, but I’ve heard they are fantastic and she was excited to be experimenting with new recipes. I’ve added my own twist to the ingredients and come up with the below version (no thermomix required). I used a store-cupboard standby with the roasted peppers, but you could roast your own fresh red capsicum if you desire. If you would like a chunkier version of this dip, process the ingredients without the cashews first, then add the cashews and pulse the food processor until you achieve your desired texture. If your dip is a little to thick, you could add a bit of the drained oil that the tomatoes came in to help in getting the desired texture.
Serve your dip with your favourite accompaniments – crackers or vegetable crudités.
What I was cooking this time last year: Passionfruit and Strawberry Gum Bavarian
Cashew and Tomato Dip
- 100g semi-sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 birds eye chilli
- 50g roasted red peppers or roasted red capsicum, drained
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 120g raw unsalted cashews
- 30g parmesan cheese
- Add the tomatoes, peppers, cashews, garlic, chilli, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to your food processor or thermomix bowl.
- Blend until you have achieved your desired texture.
- Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.
What is your favourite stand-by recipe when friends drop by? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
With my New Year resolution to lead a wholesome life well and truly broken, I thought it was time I spent some time at the healthy end of the cooking spectrum. The warm weather is continuing to hang around in Sydney at the moment, and the last of the summer veggies are still plentiful and delicious.
If you are getting a bit sick of pasta, try risotto as an alternative. This is one of my favourite recipes, and can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes or what you have available in the cupboards and fridge. If you don’t like chilli, leave it out; if you’re coming down with a bug, pimp up the garlic; if you have some fresh tomatoes to use up, throw them in; if it is the middle of winter or you simply haven’t been shopping and tinned tomatoes or dried herbs are all you have access to, throw them in.
If capsicums are a good price at your green grocer, they are easy to roast; refer to one of my earlier posts for instructions on how to roast capsicums. If capsicums are out of season or too pricey, there are plenty of pre-prepared roast capsicums (sometimes labeled as roast peppers) you can buy from your deli counter or in a jar.
I prefer to use large mushrooms (called portobello mushrooms in the UK) rather than the small button mushrooms, as the large mushrooms have more flavour. If you want an extra rich risotto, you could add a little pesto or olive tapenade at the end of the cooking instead of, or as well as, the cheese.
I tend to eat this risotto with my favourite piece of cutlery, the splayd. A splayd is part fork, part spoon.
Summer Vegetable Risotto
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 shallot or 1/2 an onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 small chillies
- 1/2 cup of arborio rice
- 250ml carton of V8 vegetable juice
- 1 large mushroom
- 1 zucchini
- 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
- 1 roast capsicum
- 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
- hot water from the kettle
- 50g grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Finely chop the shallot.
- Finely chop or crush the garlic.
- Finely chop the chillies.
- Chop the mushroom into dice size pieces.
- Heat the pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil, the chopped shallot, garlic, chilli and rice.
- Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the rice is coated in oil and the onions are slightly softened.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until the mushrooms start to wilt.
- Add the vegetable juice to the fry pan and stir occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.
- Meanwhile, grate the zucchini, chop the roast capsicum, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and pick the oregano leaves from the stem.
- Add a little hot water at a time to the fry pan and stir until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost cooked. Taste to test the rice, it should be slightly too firm but almost ready.
- Add the zucchini, roast capsicum, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach and oregano to the fry pan, continue cooking until the vegetables wilt and the rice is cooked, then turn off the heat.
- Add the cheese and stir to combine.
- Add the salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Your risotto is ready to serve. Enjoy.
What is your favourite risotto recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
The winter chills are definitely here in Sydney at the moment, and in this sort of weather I enjoy a bowl of soup to warm me from the inside.
The flavours of this soup are inspired by Mexican influences, but I don’t claim that this is authentically Mexican. A lot of the “Mexican” we are familiar with in Australia like nachos is actually Tex-Mex, American with Mexican influences that originated from the southern states of the US. You could use a Mexican chilli like a jalapeño in the soup or as a garnish.
How to Roast Capsicums
Red capsicums give the best flavour after roasting, you can roast green, yellow or orange capsicums but I prefer the flavour of the red capsicums.
Place your red capsicums on a baking tray and place into a 200°C oven. Cook until the skins blacken and blister. Once the skins are blackened, remove the capsicums from the oven and place in a heat-proof bowl, cover with plastic-wrap and allow to cool [this allows the capsicums to sweat and makes the skin easier to peel off]. When the capsicums are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, and discard the stalk, inside core and seeds. Reserve any liquid that may be inside – I tend to do this separation procedure over a sieve to capture the liquid without any seeds otherwise I find I am there all day fishing out seeds.
Spicy Bean Soup
- 1 litre of tomato based vegetable juice
- 2 red capsicums, roasted, skins and seeds removed
- 2 x 400g tins of red kidney beans
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 1 stick of celery, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 3 chillies [or more, to taste]
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Sour cream, to serve
- Chopped parsley or coriander, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and celery and cook until the onion is soft.
- Add the ground cumin & coriander, oregano, paprika, garlic and chillies and cook for a minute or two. Remove from the heat.
- Drain one tin of kidney beans, rinse and put the beans into a blender jug. Add the roast capsicums and any capsicum juice you may have to the blender. Add the onion spice mix to the blender and approximately half of the juice. Blend until smooth.
- Transfer the blended liquid back to the pan, add the remaining juice and bay leaves.
- Drain the remaining tin of kidney beans, rinse and add to the pan.
- Heat the soup until bubbling, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the lime juice, give everything a final stir and remove from the heat. Remove the bay leaves.
- Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped parsley or coriander. Enjoy.
What recipes do you like to cook to help keep you warm in the colder weather? Has this post inspired any new ideas?