Travel Diary: Triers and Wackernheim

In which our heroines investigate Roman ruins, discuss theology-based card games, and fail to see the wolf.

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Recipe: Arden Forest Salad

For too long has my Complete Works of Shakespeare languished, lonely and unloved, waiting in vain for our next reading to occur!  I do love our Shakespeare feasts, but they are quite fiendishly difficult to organise – as soon as I think I have a full cast, someone gets sick, or remembers a prior commitment, or moves overseas or interstate, and then everything has to be rearranged.

And then, of course, there is the cooking.  For reasons that even I do not entirely understand, I feel compelled not merely to drastically overcater, but to do so in a way that fits the theme or story of the play.  Which means sitting down with book in one hand and notepad in the other writing things like ‘fool.  Passionfruit?  Lots of hearts.  Venison!  Disguise. Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes’, and then trying to come up with a collection of recipes that both cover the most important keywords while actually producing a fairly balanced meal that covers this week’s collection of dietary restrictions…

This sounds like a big complaint, which it really isn’t – but it serves to explain why I have to be feeling pretty bold to plan one of these feasts, and why by the end of them, I feel both great satisfaction and as though I’ve been hit by a train.

Anyway.  Today’s play was As You Like It, which is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, clearly written at a point in his life when he had a lot of good musicians in his Company, because everyone sings, all the time.  He hasn’t quite written a musical, but you can see that he was seriously considering it.  As You Like It is notable for pretty much the entire cast running off to live, like Robin Hood, in the greenwood.  Half the characters start off in exile in the wood, more characters join them there as the play progresses, and at the very end, when everyone is set to return from exile, the villain of the piece puts himself into self-imposed exile – you guessed it, in the woods.

Clearly, the woods needed to be represented here, so I decided to create a salad forest, suitable for exile with random singing.  This is my excuse for making it quite so mildly psychedelic – I imagine most forests are not amply endowed with magenta rocks, but mine is.  This is, of course, a composed salad, and your dressing is essentially the layer that everything is standing on, so when serving, make sure you get a good scoop of the yoghurt layer and the nutty gravel to go with your vegetables.  It really is astonishingly delicious.

4 forest

 

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300 g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp tahini (unhulled is nice!)
100 g pistachios
100 g  slivered almonds
125 roasted chickpeas (sometimes called chick-nuts)65 g dried cranberries
6 small oranges (blood oranges or even mandarins would work – that’s about the size you are after.)
12 stems of broccolini
8 little bocconcini (ovalini are good)
4-6 spears of sage flowers or rosemary in bloom
8 small radishes in mixed colours
5 sprigs of thyme
a handful of dill
3-5 sprigs of mint
80 g fresh blueberries Continue reading

Travel Diary: Mont Saint Michel and the Two Tides

Oh, my poor readers.  You came here for a food blog.  And then I go AWOL for a week, and come back and rant about politics, and now I’m writing about my travels again, and to add insult to injury, this particular post is going to be incredibly picture-heavy, because Mont Saint Michel is so picturesque that I took something like 200 pictures in a 24 hour period, and while I have culled extensively, that still leaves a lot of pictures that are too exciting not to share.

So I apologise in advance for this.  I shall try to come up with a really good vegan cupcake over the next few days, to make amends.

But without further ado, let us return to the Travel Diary, in which our intrepid heroines climb an incredible number of stairs, get hypnotised by the tides, and then spend the evening at an incredibly sound and light show.

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Recipe: Green ‘couscous’

Oops, bit of a hiatus there, wasn’t there?  I really owe this blog another travel post, but basically, I got distracted by politics, and then I got angry about politics and then a woman in my suburb was beaten up on a train for wearing Hijab and I got absolutely furious about politics, joined Women in Solidarity with Hijabis, and put on a headscarf for a week.  Which I then felt compelled to blog about.  And it turns out that when you are writing political blogs nearly every day – and also fighting with scarves and pins every morning, though I seem to have finally mastered the art of getting my scarf to stay on – there isn’t much time left for food blogging.  Sorry.  I have a feeling that between the Islamophobia and the coming State Election, I’m going to be living on Cate Speaks rather a lot for the next little while.

Anyway, the recipe that follows is inspired by a recipe for cauliflower couscous in the Green Kitchen App, which I exhort you all to buy, because it’s awesome.  Also, it has this ribboned asparagus salad recipe with blueberries that I’ve made about four times in the last fortnight.  But, while I wanted to try the cauliflower couscous, my cauliflower was looking rather sad, and my broccoli cheerfully green. Then, couscous is supposed (in my book) to have fruit in it, and here I was with a bag of freeze-dried pomegranates.  Also, I didn’t have pumpkin seeds, but I did have a bag of mixed pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.  And so forth.

Also, my quantities are different.

What this is is a lovely, fresh-tasting recipe that can be made quite fast, and makes a lovely accompaniment to anything rich or protein-ish you were having for dinner.  And one can never have too many recipes like that, in my book.

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1 head of broccoli
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1/3 cup freeze-dried pomegranate seeds (or, of course, you could use the seeds from 1 actual pomegranate)
half a bunch of basil
a small bunch of parsley
80 g goats feta cheese
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup pumpkin seed oil

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Recipe: Six-ingredient Chilli

I’m afraid there are no photos to go with this recipe, because I made it when I was very, very tired and couldn’t face cooking – and so I didn’t think to photograph it.  Which is a pity, because it’s a nice, tasty recipe for a tired night.  And vegan, too!  (Until you cover it with cheese, like I did…)

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1 brown onion
1-2 tbsp chilli con carne, guacamole, mole, or other similar Mexican spice mix.  This is a recipe for a tired night, you don’t have to come up with your own mix, but do make sure this contains both cumin and chilli.
2 chipotle chillis in adobo
1 -2 large sweet potatoes (around 800 g in total)
2 x 400 g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400 g tins black beans

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Travel Diary: Paris part 3 – Chateau de Vincennes, and farewell Paris!

In which our heroines are reunited, and discover the most perfect castle that Catherine has ever seen.  And then they go on a Ferris wheel!

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Review: Cake, Bake and Sweets Show, Melbourne

I’ve spent the last couple of days at the Cake, Bake and Sweets Show in Melbourne.  So, judging by the crowds, has most of the rest of Melbourne, but just in case anyone missed it, I thought I’d write a bit about it.

I first heard about the show about a month ago, when my Entertainment subscription offered me two for one tickets.  Of course, I took one look at the program and decided that what I really wanted was a three day ticket, but I also took the two for one deal so that I could invite a couple of friends along to hang out with me.  The show promised to be a mixture of baking and decorating demonstrations, classes, and stalls, with a few competitions thrown in.  Sort of like the Royal Melbourne Show, only all sugar, all the time.

I was a pretty easy sell, I have to say.

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Travel Diary: Paris Part 2, with Farmers’ Markets and the Bois de Vincennes

In which our heroine actually has the day she envisaged when she first thought about going to Paris.

(This almost never happens)

And then she goes to Versailles, and finds beautiful gardens and too many tourists, but not the exit…

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Recipe: Asparagus and Carrot Pastries

My blog has gone a bit quiet over the last few days for several reasons. The first is that I bought an iPad, and succumbed to the excitement of cookbook apps and also interactive biology and chemistry textbooks, to the exclusion of all else. The second is that I got really cranky about politics, which meant that I started writing in my politics blog again, and there’s only so much writing I can do in one day. And the third is that… downloading interactive biology and chemistry textbooks (not to mention cookbook apps) kind of used up the last remaining shreds of our broadband for the month. I am currently writing this offline, while waiting for Cate’s Cates to load. It’s been ten minutes so far.   God only knows what it will be like when I have to upload pictures.

So you can expect a few more quiet days around here, until we get our broadband connection back.

Anyway, today is Grand Finals Day, and my team is in it. Very exciting stuff, and probably an apt occasion on which to post the delicious vegetarian goodies I made for last Grand Finals Day and inexplicably never found time to post about.

This is more of an idea than a recipe, but it’s a very good idea, and very easy to make, which works for me. I had bought a packet of puff pastry from the Fairfield Farmers’ Market, and was full of plans to make vegan sausage rolls, but then I was seduced by the simplicity (and cuteness) of asparagus and baby carrots in little puff pastry waistcoats (or more probably straitjackets, now that I look at them, but you probably shouldn’t tell your guests that while you are serving these).

And they were delicious, so everyone was happy. Especially me, because Hawthorn won.

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1 packet of puff pastry – I think mine was about 250 g
1-2 tablespoons of basil paste or pesto
1 bunch of asparagus (pick relatively slim asparagus, not the gigantically thick kind)
1 bunch of carrots
salt, pepper, lavender salt, chilli, parmesan – all optional

 

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Travel Diary: Paris Part 1

In which I manage to totally avoid tourists, mostly by staying in parts of Paris that are completely un-picturesque…

Also, I buy a lot of chocolate.  And a cookbook.  Nobody is surprised. Continue reading