Thai Spiced Nuts

Wow – six months since my last post! Apparently full time work and a baby do not a frequent blogger make. I have been cooking continuously but time to stop and photograph my food (what a modern affectation) has been hard to find. However, these nuts were too good to keep to myself: culinary crack.

As the weather has started to cool, I can’t help dreaming of Thailand: the beautiful beaches, the fabulous weather and the amazing food. I can’t believe how long its been since I was last there. I wish I could return and I hope everyone there stays safe. In honour of my home away from home I have come up with these nuts, full of all the flavours of Thailand: chilli, kaffir lime, coconut and perfect for a sunset cocktail on a beach – or in a hammock under the waning Melbourne sun in late May.

Thai Spiced Nuts

Thai Spiced Nuts
100 grams cashews
100 grams peanuts
50 grams almonds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut sugar*
10 kaffir lime leaves
2 birds eye chillies, finely sliced
1 large mild (green) chilli, finely sliced
1 teaspoon salt

De-vein the kaffir lime leaves, removing the stem that separates the leaf. The easiest way to do this is turn the leaf over (glossy side down) and slice it out with a sharp knife. Then finely slice 6 of the leaves and roughly chop the remaining four. Essentially, you want most of the leave sliced finely so they can be evenly distributed through the nuts, but its great to have a few larger pieces in the crisp up for big flavour bursts as well. Place in a mortar and pestle.

Thai Spiced Nuts Ingredients

Finely slice all the chillies. The birds eye chillies are for heat, so if you want to keep the nuts mild reduce it to one. The larger chilli is for decorative purposes. I use a jalapeno as we grow them in our garden. Add the sliced chillies to the mortar and pestle and sprinkle on the salt. Lightly pound to release the flavours without damaging the chillies too much.

Turn the oven on to 150 degrees.

Heat the wok and add the coconut oil. Working quickly throw the cashews, peanuts and almonds into the wok and toss. Then sprinkle the coconut sugar straight on top. You need to work quickly to combine the nuts with the sugar as it melts without it burning. Using a wooden spoon, stir the nuts quickly and continuously to get them coated with the sugar while they roast. The wok will start smoking (so have your exhaust on) but as long as you keep everything moving they won’t burn. Keep this going for about 3 minutes until the sugar has melted and coated the nuts fairly evenly. Then quickly toss in the kaffir lime leaves, chillies and salt. Continue to work in the wok for about two minutes until all the ingredients have combined and the kaffir lime leaves and chillies have started to crisp.

Thai Spiced Nuts

Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts to a baking tray covered in baking paper. Place in the oven and roast on a low heat for 15 minutes. This will help crisp everything up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Thai Spiced Nuts

This is one of the few dishes that doesn’t taste best straight from the oven. It takes about half an hour but once they have cooled the nuts crisp up and flavours really take hold. These nuts are amazing – totally addictive. Just add a Koh Samet Cup and you’re back in Bangkok!

Thai Spiced Nuts

* Coconut sugar can be found in most health food store (I even saw it in Woolworth’s the other week) but can be substituted with caster sugar.


May 27 / 2014
Author voraciousveg
Category Recipes, Sides, Starters, Vegan
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Edamame and Walnut Dip

Its that time of year again! I love the start of summer as we head into Christmas and all the parties begin. Is there nothing better than a glass of wine with friends in the sun? If there is I am yet to work out what it is.

When the parties commence I usually always bring along a selection of my homes made dips. The pumpkin hummus, pomegranate hummus and guacamole are always crowd pleasers but a new year calls for a new dip.

This edamame dip is a fusion of my favourite dip, guacamole, and my favourite cuisine, Japanese. The coriander, Tabasco and avocado give it that delicious guacamole base flavour but the edamame add a great protein punch and a zingy green colour. Best of all the addition of the edamame means you can make it the night before without worrying about it discolouring. I added walnuts to give it a bit of texture and crunch.

Edamame Dip

Edamame Dip
200 grams edamame
½ a bunch of coriander
½ avocado
juice of ½ a lemon
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon natural yogurt
Tabasco sauce, to taste
3 tablespoons walnuts, chopped

Blanch the edamame in boiling water then pulse in a food processor until minced.

Wash the coriander well, roughly chop (use the stem and the leaves) and add to the food processor, pulsing until combined.

Roughly chop the avocado and add to the food processor along with the lemon juice, yogurt, sesame oil, Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper. Pulse until combined.

Stir through the walnuts and serve with rice crackers.

December 13 / 2013
Author voraciousveg
Category Dips, Recipes
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Total Goodness Toasted Muesli

I love toasted muesli for breakfast but I am constantly surprised at how unhealthy most pre-made mixes are. Not only are they packed with preservatives but they are loaded up with added sugar and fats. Even if you try and make your own most recipe sites recommend coating your oats in honey with butter and/or oil before baking as well as including sugar in the mix.

I have developed my own delicious toasted muesli recipe that contains no added sugar or fats, other that what occurs naturally in the fruit, nuts and honey. A perfect summer breakfast that tastes absolutely delicious and will keep you going all day. And best of all it’s super quick and easy to make. Yes it tastes like dessert but it is all good for you.

The recipe below is based on a single portion so multiply as required – you probably want to make at least 4 serves at a time. A batch will last at least 10 days in an airtight container so make as much as you are motivated to eat.

Total Goodness Toasted Muesli

Total Goodness Toasted Muesli
30 grams rolled oats
1 tablespoon honey
10 grams shredded coconut
10 grams sweetened cranberries
10 grams chopped hazelnuts
5 grams chia seeds
5 grams pepitas
1 tablespoon natural yogurt
Stewed fresh berries

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Heat the honey in a small saucepan on low and stir until it is runny, being careful not to let it boil.

Place the oats and coconut in a large bowl, pour over the honey and combine with a spatula. The smell at this point is amazing – like a big batch of fresh Anzac biscuits being baked. It will clump up a bit but persist with the spatula, boiling honey burns!

Muesli Mix

Spread the mixture evenly in a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Toss, then bake for a further 5 minutes until crisp and golden.

Muesli Mix Toasted

Allow to cool then stir through the cranberries, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and hazelnuts and store in an airtight container.

Muesli Mix Toasted

To serve top with yoghurt and stewed berries or whatever fresh summer fruits you have on hand.

Total Goodness Toasted Muesli

December 01 / 2013
Author voraciousveg
Category Breakfast, Recipes
Comments 2 Comments

Simple Soba Side Salad

When I told people we were moving west every single response seemed to focus on “the Japanese restaurant in Seddon”. Two options presented themselves: either there is only one decent restaurant in Seddon or Ajitoya was truly fabulous. Having finally made it there for dinner the other week, I am happy to report it is the latter.

Inspection of the menu revealed a cute sense of humour (dancing snowpeas) but only a smattering of veggie options. I wasn’t too excited about ordering the trio of salads to start, it sounded a little boring for a rare night out, but the only option other than the agedashi tofu (which we were also ordering). Luckily I needn’t have worried  – it was delicious. Three beautifully presented salads arrived in gorgeous bowls reminding me why I feel in love with Japanese food: because while everything is so simple it is utterly delicious.

A soba noodle salad was one of the three featured that evening and was the inspiration for this dish. It has become a welcome addition to our regular Japanese Banquets and even helped win over my carnivorous younger brother (I am pretty sure it was the kewpie mayonnaise that got him over the line).

The following recipe will produce a side dish for two to share – or a single serve if you fall in love with it.

Simple Soba Side Salad Simple Soba Side Salad
1 serve soba noodles (approx. 60 gms)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
¼ cucumber, julienned
1 tablespoon green onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon Japanese mayonnaise
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water, then drain and rinse in cold water. Place them in a bowl and combine with the sesame oil and the light soy sauce.

Dress the salad with the finely julienned cucumber, green onion, mayonnaise and sesame seeds.

A perfect dish in any Japanese Banquet, served along side steamed edamame, gyoza & sesame spinach.

November 25 / 2013
Author voraciousveg
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Goody Two-Shoes Tart

I haven’t written for ages. Apparently having a baby and moving house are not conducive to blogging. I have been cooking like crazy in my gorgeous new kitchen but have had no time to stop and photograph the results. However, finally the drought has broken and what better way to celebrate than with cake!

Since my son was born I have developed a crazy sweet tooth. I have always been a noodle and pasta kind of girl but I now find myself devouring sweets every evening. It started with a few squares of Lindt dark chocolate and has developed into a full scale nightly sweet fest. I tried turning to dried dates and figs in an effort to satisfy the craving in a healthy way but it was not enough. Then my friend Gen bought me some Planet Organic cocoa powder and eventually these ingredients combined to morph into this raw, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free superfood tart. Now you understand the name! But don’t be put off, not only is this tart full of goodness, its quick and easy to make and is truly delicious – I promise!

The dessert is built around some of my favourite superfoods:

Chia Seeds chia seeds;

Quinoa Flakes quinoa flakes; and

Dried Dates dried dates.

The tarts makes approximately 14 slices. Be careful – it might be healthy but its dense – start small!

Goody Two-Shoes Tart
1 2/3 cups quinoa flakes
100 grams walnuts
½ cup of desiccated coconut
¼ cup of chia seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
500 grams of dried dates, pitted

½ a teaspoon of allspice
1 tablespoon of agave syrup to sweeten (if you have a super sweet tooth)

Pit your dried dates, chop roughly and set aside.

Goody Two Shoes Tart Dry Ingredients Put all the ingredients except the dates in a food processor and blend until finely chopped.

Goody Two Shoes Tart Ingredients Blended If you are making this dessert around Christmas time add ½ a teaspoon of allspice for a bit of Christmas kick and transform this tart into a healthy alternative for those who can’t indulge in Christmas Pudding.

If you like your desserts extra sweet add a tablespoon of agave syrup. Note, the addition of agave syrup will mean the tart can no longer technically be classified as a raw dish.

Gradually add the dates until the mixture is combined and comes together resembles a thick, sticky cake mixture.
Goody Two Shoes Tart Ingredients Mixed Transfer the mixture to a bowl and combine fully with your hands.

Press the mixture into a cake tin lined with baking paper.
Goody Two Shoes Tart For Chilling Chill for at least an hour. I recommend slicing while its chilled but allowing it to come back up to room temperature before serving.

Goody Two Shoes Tart


October 08 / 2013
Author voraciousveg
Category Recipes, Sweets, Vegan
Comments No Comments

Tuscan Chickpea Soup (with Egg)

I spent part of my childhood in Italy, living just outside of Florence. Some of my strongest memories are of my school lunches, a three course extravaganza eaten at our desks. Every day we school stopped for a two hour lunch break. It sounds excessive but we started at 8am and went till 5! The first hour of lunch centred around the meal: we started with salad or soup followed by pasta or rice and then fruit. Afterwards we all washed our crockery and cutlery before brushing our teeth and heading out to play – so civilized!

So many of the dishes I was served are imprinted on my brain, they were so different from anything we ate in our meat and three veg home. One of the dishes that always amazed me was the minestrone with egg. My experience of eggs was limited to the scrambled or boiled variety and I was fascinated by the concept of cracking an egg directly into soup. I developed this soup based on my old school lunch and am still fascinated by the way the egg white and yolk separate and string their way through the soup.  Flavour-wise, the eggs add a great creaminess to the dish as well as a high protein boost.

This recipe calls for dry chickpeas that need to be soaked in advance. If you are making this on the fly and don’t have time to manage this you can substitute 1½ cans of chickpeas, just reduce the cooking time from 3 hours to 15 minutes. However, if you have the time, I recommend making the effort and using dry chickpeas – the texture and the flavour is much better. Like making your own stock, if you have the time it is worth it.

I use cavolo nero, also known as Tuscan Kale, as the green in this soup but it can easily be substituted for regular kale, silverbeet or English Spinach. However, if you decide to replace it with English Spinach, it cooks much faster so add it just prior to the eggs and cheese, there is no need to cook it for as long.

Cavalo Nero

This recipe serves two as a main course or four as a starter.

Italian Chickpea Soup

Tuscan Chickpea Soup (with Egg)
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium brown onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
2/3 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock
Parmesan rinds (optional)
1/4 bunch cavolo nero, chopped
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
Parmesan and fresh basil leaves for garnish

Wash the chickpeas and soak them in water to cover overnight. Alternatively you can soak them in boiled water for 4 hours.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, carrot and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent.

Add the tomato, bay leaf, thyme, drained chickpeas and wine. Stir the mixture until the chickpeas are coated and combined then and add the vegetable stock. The mixture, should be covered by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cook for about 3 hours, until the chickpeas are tender. Make sure to check the pot occasionally to ensure the mixture doesn’t dry out, and add extra water if necessary. If you have any left over rinds from your parmesan cheese throw them in to the pot as well, it will add a extra flavour and slight creaminess to the soup as it cooks.

Once the chickpeas are ready, season with salt, although careful if you have used a store bought stock, you may not need any.

Add the cavolo nero and cook for about 3 minutes, until it is tender.

Italian Chickpea Soup Then crack the eggs into a bowl and transfer whole into the pot. Its best not to crack them directly into the pot in case one is bad and also to keep any shell from accidentally going in too.

Italian Chickpea Soup Stir the eggs through.

Italian Chickpea soup Grate in a couple of tablespoons of parmesan and stir through the chopped basil.

Serve and season with extra parmesan and chilli flakes.

Italian Chickpea soup

July 30 / 2013
Author voraciousveg
Category Mains, Recipes, Soup, Starters
Comments No Comments

Gingerbread Pear Muffins

After a few disastrous vegan baking experiments I decided to have a break, but the recent Baking Ours Blues Away event reawakened my desire to create baked goods that could be enjoyed by all.

I love ginger and am always looking for an excuse to incorporate it into any meal. These muffins require both fresh and powdered ginger, which gives them a nice ginger punch. The combination of brown sugar and golden syrup helps achieve that nice rich colour that is synonymous with gingerbread, but I kept the quantities reasonably reduced so the muffins are not too sweet. If you want to sweeten them up a bit I recommend sprinkling some brown sugar over the top prior to baking to caramelise the exposed pear pieces and create a crunchy crust.

Gingerbread Pear Loaf w Caremelised Crust

This recipe makes 6 large café style muffins, or you can bake it as a loaf, just increase the baking time to 40 minutes.

Gingerbread Pear Muffins

Vegan Gingerbread Muffins with Pear
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
100 gms (½ cup) vegan butter (Nuttlex)
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
½ cup of pureed pear (about 1 large pear)
¼ cup soy milk
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 pear, cored and diced

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

To make the stewed pear, peel your pears and cut them into big chunks. To make ½ a cup you probably only need 1 pear, but I always use two to be sure and use the extra on my cereal or as dessert throughout the week.

Place the pears in a pot with a little bit of water and stew slowly on a medium heat. You don’t want them to be swimming, you need just enough to help them stew and prevent them from burning. It should take about 10 minutes for the pears to cook down but check them regularly and add extra water as necessary.They will mash up easily with a potato masher when they are done. Set the pear aside to cool.

If you can’t be bothered to stew fresh pears you can always mash some tinned pears for the same effect. Just be careful not to leave any core bits in the mix.

Combine the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice and salt.

Beat together the brown sugar and golden syrup with an electric mixer until combined. Add the soy milk and pureed pears, beating well. Beat in flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

Add the melted butter mixture and ginger, beating just until smooth.

Stir the diced pear through the mixture. Spray a large café style muffin pan with oil and fill each ramekin about 2/3 of the way up. Press two small pieces of pear into the top of each muffin. Bake for 25 minutes.

Gingerbread Pear Muffins

As noted above, this recipe also works well as a loaf, however, you will need to increase the baking time to 40 minutes. I sprinkled the loaf with brown sugar for a caramelised crust and it was a big hit.

Gingerbread Pear Loaf


July 18 / 2013
Author voraciousveg
Comments No Comments

Sesame Spinach

Japanese Banquet is a Saturday night staple in our house. There’s nothing I love more than a table full of little dishes, some warm sake and a bottle of champagne, and we invariably get our banquet on at least twice a month.

While I love to use it as an opportunity to experiment with new recipes, there are three dishes that always feature on the menu: steamed edamame, gyoza and sesame spinach, also known as Horenso No Goma Ae.

We love ordering this dish when we go out for Japanese and this recipe is one I devised in an attempt to replicate the declicious spinach of our favourite Japanese restaurants (I think Yamato in Corrs Lane, Melbourne does it the best).

This is a super quick and easy recipe to prepare and so healthy you are doing your body a favour by eating it.

Sesame Spinach

Sesame Spinach
½ bunch english spinach
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon miso paste
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon agave syrup*
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Put the tahini, miso, sake and agave syrup into a small bowl and mix well.

Cut the spinach into large chunks (about thirds) and wash well. Place the spinach in a large pot of boiling water for one minute. Pour the spinach out into a colander and then, working quickly, squeeze out the excess water and stir through the sauce. Transfer to a bowl and dress with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.

*If you don’t have agave syrup you can use 1 teaspoon of sugar dissolved in boiling water.

Sesame Spinach

Thank you to the fabulous Raymond for taking the photos for this post. Looking forward to another fun collaboration!

July 07 / 2013
Author voraciousveg
Category Recipes, Sides, Vegan
Comments No Comments

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