Simple Celery Soup

I can’t stand waste… in all facets of life, but particularly food. I can usually find ways to use up leaves and stems (of broccoli and cauliflower for example) but the one plant I struggle with is celery.

You see, I’m definitely not the kind of person who buys the stalks pre-cut and packaged from shops: if it’s not the whole head, I won’t touch it. And FYI, it has to be organic because celery is one of those plants that too readily absorbs and holds toxic substances (like pesticides… here’s a link to the current (American) “Dirty Dozen”). Since the vast majority of recipes ask for only the stalks, more than half of a whole bunch of celery can go to waste.

Apart from veggie stock, there seem to be very, very few recipes on the net that help you to use up the whole plant (I’m trying to grow my own so that I may be able to harvest it directly as I need it in future) but I finally found a simple soup recipe that is now my Go-To. I’m not usually one for creating dishes with minimal veggies but because celery’s so good for you (super high fibre and water content – your liver loves it – and super low calories, for those who care) and this recipe is so easy, I figure it’s acceptable to chug down a lot of this (surprisingly tasty) soup. NB: it doesn’t actually include the leaves (they do tend to be bitter) but I’ll sometimes throw some in.Food Fervour

I’m providing directions for both manual cooks and Thermomixers, but manual cooks take note: celery fibre is tough to break down so you’ll have to blend more thoroughly at the end …please take great care with the hot liquid.

Food Fervour

300gm worth of celery offcuts.

All you’ll need is: 1 onion, 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 300gm celery offcuts (see pic) and 500mls (or a little less if you prefer a thicker soup) of your preferred stock – chicken or vegetable (Thermomixers can use 1 tablespoon of stock paste & 500ml water if preferred)

Thermomix:

Quarter the onion and add it to the bowl with the garlic clove/s, blending for 5 seconds at Speed 5. Add the EVOO and cook for 3½minutes at Varoma temp on Speed 1.

Add the roughly chopped celery, further breaking them down for 5 seconds at Speed 5, then add your choice of stock. Set to cook for 17 minutes Varoma temp, Speed 1.

Finally, blend for 60 seconds at Speed 9-10 (increasing speed slowly, for caution) and serve immediately.

Manual:

Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely diced onion and finely chopped garlic clove and cook for 2-3 mins

Add roughly chopped celery* and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Blend thoroughly (in batches if necessary)  and serve immediately.

*the finer you chop the celery, the easier the final blend should be 😉

 

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Cauliflower Pizza Bases

Food FervourI was skeptical about this notion when I first heard of it. Could cauliflower really imitate a dough base and hold together under the weight of all those toppings? I had to try for myself. And I was completely surprised (and smitten) when I made my first one. Now I can’t look back. Whilst they’re neither a thin crunchy base, nor a thick chewy, doughy one, they do manage to hold together well enough to support all your toppings (and I usually pile on way more than you’d get in your typical takeaway pizza). They are…. amazeballs.

Why opt for cauliflower over grain-dough bases? My primary reason is because it’s a vegetable. Whilst I prefer not to demonise foods, I would choose a vegetable over a grain in this case purely for its nutritional content. In general veggies provide more nutrient density and variety. And then there’s the fact that cauliflower’s pretty much starch (complex carbohydrate) -free compared to dough, which matters if you are ‘watching your weight’. Finally, there’s the gluten issue: this is perfect for coeliacs or the gluten intolerant.

Food Fervour

Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley features in this cauliflower pizza base

And best of all, you only need – at the very least – TWO ingredients: cauliflower and eggs. Many cauliflower pizza base recipes will include more than two, but they really are optional: the vegetable and eggs on their own will work just fine …but it is fun to play around with add-ins. I’ve experimented with a few of the following: obviously salt & pepper, but also chopped/dried herbs, grated cheese, tomato paste and I just LOVE nutritional yeast flakes (idea borrowed from Lee Holmes’ Supercharged Food).

It’s such a simple procedure, however the success of your base will be largely determined during one specific step. Here’s the method, based on 500gm cauliflower and 2 eggs:

Pre-heat Oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.

Steam Cauliflower florets:

Manually: In a medium/large saucepan, bring add approx 2-3cm of water to the boil over high heat (cover with the lid to expediate this or better still, add boiling water from a freshly boiled electric jug to a large saucepan on the stovetop, on high heat). Add the florets, drop the heat back to simmer and keep the lid on the saucepan. Your cauliflower should cook in 4-5 minutes (check softness with a utensil). Thermomixers: Add 500gm of water to bowl then place cauliflower florets in basket. Programme 14 minutes, Varoma, speed 1-1.5.

Remove Excess fluid from the Cauliflower (this is the crucial step):

Allow cauliflower to cool (you can rinse under cold water to expediate this). Drain all excess water from the florets then roughly chop or mash the cauliflower (in the same saucepan …to save on dish-washing). Thermomixers can simply chop at Speed 5 or Turbo for a few seconds). Empty it all into the centre of a clean cotton tea towel, then, pulling the sides up, begin to squeeze out as much excess water as possible …into the sink for drainage (or over a bowl if you like to conserve your veggie water). The volume of cauliflower will pretty much halve in size. The more fluid you extract, the firmer your pizza base will be.

The Ingredient Mix:

Food Fervour

Tomato (paste) pizza base spread with fresh basil pesto, ready for toppings…

Manually: Return the mashed cauliflower to a bowl (scraping the veggie fibre from the tea towel – waste not, want not!) add the eggs and whatever else you’d like to add to the base, and mix thoroughly. Thermomixers: pop it all into the bowl and blend up to Speed 5 for about 10 seconds (you may want to scrape down the bowl down in between?)

Shape & Cook:

Tip the mixture into the centre of the paper-lined tray, and use a spatula to shape your pizza base. Aim for about ½-cm in thickness.

Pop into the oven and cook for 20 minutes, earmarking to turn the base over at about the halfway mark if possible.

Toppings:

Use the 20 minutes base cooking time to prepare your toppings. I’ll often fry up some mushrooms, preservative free bacon, capsicum and/or zucchini… I’ll boil the electric jug again and blanche some asparagus or broccoli… or make some basil pesto to use as the pizza base spread. You can grate your cheese now as well, so that you’re one hundred percent ready to dress the base.

Food Fervour

Leftover lunch slice of bacon & mushroom pizza

Once the base is done, and your toppings are spread, pop the pizza back in the oven for 7-10 minutes. It goes without saying, you need to serve immediately …but I have successfully refrigerated uneaten portions to enjoy for lunch the next day, just as you might do with a commercial pizza.

These really are the Bomb! If you are in the Gold Coast region, you can book a FoodPT with me to watch me demonstrate this procedure (it’s one of my most popular classes) and you get to eat the results. Find my contact details on the ‘Menu’ Page.

 

Bulletproof Turmeric

You’re probably thinking “What the..?” But I didn’t know what else to call this amazing warm bevvy. It’s possibly an acquired taste, but given it is loaded to the hilt with health-giving properties, I’ve fallen in love with it…

Food FervourMost people know by now how good turmeric is for you. It’s classified as a “Superfood” (if there is such a thing) because its active ingredient, curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant and has highly effective anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve often wondered how to get more of it into my diet …without having to eat curries …daily. This drink is my answer.

I’ve seen many references to hot turmeric drink recipes, but most of them involve milk of some kind (which kind of stands to reason if they happen to be named ‘Golden Milk’). Now, whilst I don’t have an issue with milk per se, I definitely find heating water much quicker, easier & cleaner than heating milk. (And what the heck; there’s also the calorie argument if it really matters to you!)

So when I read the recipe for ‘Turmeric Tea’ on Russell James’ website the Raw Chef I was keen to try it, and then I realised its similarity to the Bulletproof coffee phenomenon: black coffee blended with ‘healthy’ fat is supposed to increase satiety, reduce caffeine reactions (like jitters) and improve mental clarity. But when I tried it, I just liked the way it made the coffee creamy. And this is pretty much what happens in this drink. But the oil also, more importantly, aids in the absorption of the star ingredient, as curcumin is fat soluble.

So vegans, lactose-intolerants and lazy people rejoice: this is a super-easy, delicious, caffeine-free health-giving concoction! Just a few words of warning, however: turmeric stains. I haven’t really had a huge issue with this (maybe I’m lucky) but be prepared for some yellowing of your equipment. Secondly, and more importantly, blending warm or hot liquids can be dangerous. Never use boiling water in an airtight blender: pressure build up can cause serious injury. Thermomixes are designed to handle this kind of use so they are the best option. Hand-held (stick) blenders obviously allow airflow, but I’m not sure how effective they will be for the entire process (the first step involves pulverising the turmeric). I have made the tea successfully in my Magic Bullet, but I ensured the water temperature was below 70º and opened the container slowly (there was still the hiss of a pressure release). Whatever you opt for, please take care.

Food FervourYou only need five ingredients for this brilliant beverage: water, turmeric, coconut oil, honey or maple and black pepper (apparently a substance in this called ‘piperine’ aids curcumin absorption by 2000% Reference: Authority Nutrition)

1 cup hot water (I used ½ cup boiling water + ½ room temp, but vary according to your blender option)

1 finger fresh turmeric, (approx 4-5cm long) peeled and roughly chopped (apparently ½ teaspoon of powdered turmeric is an acceptable substitute but I’d urge you to avoid processed foods where possible!)

1-2 teaspoons honey (or maple syrup for vegans)

1 tablespoon coconut oil (my aim is to try butter and even macadamia oil myself, in future. Let me know if you do and how it goes!)

a good pinch of black pepper

and perhaps ground cinnamon for dusting

Simply add the turmeric to the hot water and blend at high speed for approximately one minute. If you’re particular about ‘bits’ in the bottom of your cup, you could strain the fluid through a fine sieve (like a tea strainer or infuser) but I actually didn’t find there was much left …so save on your washing up and just consume the ‘wholefood’.

Add the honey, oil, pepper and wazz it up again for anywhere between 15-30 seconds. Pour into your teacup or mug immediately and watch the ‘froth’ form as you dust with cinnamon. Enjoy every golden sip.

 

 

Dirty Mango Daiquiri

Why Dirty? Because we all know that daiquiris are normally made on the fresh ‘clean’ spirit, white rum. The stuff that costs that little bit more than white wine, relatively speaking…

This cost-effective, “dirty”, but surprisingly palatable little daiquiri was born of a bottle of riesling I had sitting in my fridge. I’m not really a fan of white wine, and particularly not sweet whites, but rather than throw it out or waste time trying to find something to cook with it (there’s that theme about wastage again…) I decided to celebrate Friday afternoon/evening in a way that is slightly out of character for me…food fervour

And it was only possible thanks to the store of mango cheeks I have in my freezer. White wine + mango = surely a winning combination?

Yup. Well, so I am thinking after downing one. And might I add, I certainly didn’t measure anything so… you may need to ‘tweak’ to your liking…

All you need is a high powered blender, the frozen flesh of 1 or 2 mangoes and however much white wine you’d like to polish off…?!?! (Dry or sweet – I’m sure it wouldn’t matter. Much?)  Okay, okay, I think I used about 400mls. Put it this way: the less wine, the more viscous the cocktail. And if your mango doesn’t happen to be frozen, well, sheesh, it makes sense doesn’t it? It’ll be more fluid and slightly less brain-freezy.

Chuck it all in the blender and ….blend well. (Thermies, I think I had it on speed 9 for about a minute, but then added more wine and dropped it back to speed 5 for about 20 seconds) Imbibe immediately and follow up with food and/or lots of water….

The Hardcore Green

I’ve mentioned quite a few times how great watercress is for you: it’s the most nutrient-dense plant food you can get. Yes, it beats kale and spinach.

Unlike spinach however, watercress (and kale for that matter) don’t rate highly on a palatability scale. Well, not mine anyway. But I will give watercress the time of day because of its nutrient status.

So finding things to do with it is pretty difficult. It’s quite peppery so you usually wouldn’t want to use much. Food FervourA little in salads, sometimes soups, but I usually always revert to smoothies. They’re easy, and I can tolerate a larger ‘dose’ …Sorry, I’m really making it sound like medicine, huh? But according to Hippocrates it is, so give me this over a pill anyday…

Today however, I went overboard. I’ll blame the seller at the farmer’s market: the bunch of watercress I got for just $2.50 was so huge I wasn’t able to fit it in my fridge. I typically resolve this kind of issue by using some immediately. Hello, breakfast!

Food FervourThe problem was I had to chop one helluva lot off it to fit it in the placcy bag, in the fridge …see the pic: that’s the ‘handful’ in relation to my not-too-small (2 litre) Thermomix. If you are going to give this smoothie a go, I’d suggest you halve what I used. Unless you’re Hardcore. Like me. (Pffft!)

Simply blend a handful of watercress with the flesh of one mango, 200-300gm fresh pineapple (more or less, to taste: this is fruit that best ‘tempers’ the watercress) and 200mls of cold or coconut water. (Thermies, I blended it on speed 9 for 1 minute). Fresh mint may help to somewhat disguise the fiery watercress and will complement the tropical fruits as well.Food Fervour

Check out the rich green of my ‘hardcore’ (OD) watercress smoothie. Pretty colour but talk about a fire in my (throat and) belly!

Latte Cocktail

Alright, so every now and then I don’t mind a drink. Since espresso martinis are the ‘In Thing’ at the moment ….and I happen to like ’em ….and I happen to have a bit of Kahlua and vodka in the house (the vodka was an intentional purchase to make vanilla essence; the Kahlua ….not so) I figured …Why Not?!

Since I don’t actually buy coffee (the essential ingredient) concocting the authentic martini wasn’t possible. Besides, it’s winter. I wanted something warm.

My usual Google search didn’t bring up much other than actual coffee – or chocolate – based warm drinks, so I just had to go it alone. It really wasn’t hard. And wow, it tasted goooood.

food fervourWhat’d I do? Well, I chucked 30gms (one shot) of Kahlua, one shot (30gms) vodka and 150gms milk in my Thermomix and set it to cook for 6 minutes at 80º on Speed 3. Once it was done, I aerated it for 30 seconds on Speed 8. That’s IT.

I poured it immediately into a latte glass, sprinkled it with cinnamon, and downed it with much pleasure (after taking a pic, of course). Deeelish!

Caffeine-Free Spicy Chai Latte

I am totally addicted to the Chai I’ve begun making since owning a Thermomix.  I hesitate to say, I crave it more than coffee now! The problem is, it’s still relatively similar to espresso in terms of caffeine content and I’m not keen on consuming too much of that stuff. Why? Well, apart from a ‘negative’ genetic predisposition to it, I’m not fussed on the idea of ingesting too many stimulants on a regular basis.food fervour

So what to do when you’re craving a chai – or at least, a hot drink – late in the day?

Simply… leave out the black tea.

I didn’t know how it’d turn out, but… it certainly satisfied me. And being a little heavy-handed with particular spices, there was no question that it set a fire in my belly (and mouth!) and warmed me right up.

To give it a red hot go, gather together the following:

4-5 black peppercorns, 5-6 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, 1 heaped teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence), 1 heaped teaspoon raw honey, 300gm milk of choice (I used rice milk)

Place the peppercorns & cloves in the bowl and mill 6 seconds, Speed 9. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 7 minutes @ 70 degrees, Speed 4.

Strain and enjoy immediately. It will warm you to your toes and you’ll still get to sleep later on!

Can you guess which spices I went too hard with? Please feel free to share any variations you might stumble upon as well.  🙂