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Creamy Tomato Soup

photo on Flickr

“Cream” of tomato soup with kalamata sourdough bread #whatimhavingfordinner

I’ve been making this soup for a few years after being inspired by my bestie’s Thermomix recipe, and it’s hands-down a family fave! I love that it’s vegan yet ends up with such a thick, creamy consistency usually only found by adding potato or cream.

 

Ingredients

  • 2T oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 800g tinned tomatoes
  • 1/3 C dried red lentils
  • 1T tomato paste
  • 1T stock powder (I use the vegan-friendly Massel Chicken Style Stock Powder)
  • 1t dried herbs (oregano, Italian herbs – take your pick)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1t castor sugar
  • 1T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh basil

Method

Sautée onion in oil until translucent then add garlic and cook briefly before adding the tomatoes and a full can of water. At this point I use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. Remove the bay leave and thyme sprigs before blending in a food processor (or blender) in batches. Serve with fresh basil, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

It really is that easy! I play around with the herbs I use, and vary the amount of lentils depending on whether I want a thicker or thiner consistency. You may prefer more (or less) salt, and adjust the sugar if the flavour is too tart.

Let me know how it turns out if you make it!

Beetroot Risotto

Beetroot Risotto

Beetroot Risotto

I bought Arborio rice a about a week ago as it’d been some years since I last made risotto, and I’d been craving that creamy, rich, full-flavoured taste that only risotto delivers. Then, while watching Masterchef on Wednesday night, I was inspired with the beetroot risotto being served to guests in the Qantas First Lounge, so I announced to Rich that we were having beetroot risotto for dinner the next night!

I scoured the Internet for a suitable recipe, and ended up using bits from several different recipes to put together my dish:

Ingredients

  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 T oil
  • 2 T butter (or replace with an extra T of oil if you’re vegan/lactose intolerant)
  • 3 large beetroot, peeled (1 grated, 2 diced into 1cm cubes)
  • 1.2L stock (I use Massel’s “Chicken” stock powder)
  • 2 C Arborio rice
  • 180mL red wine
  • 60g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • salt
  • pepper
To serve
  • handfull of baby spinach leaves (optional)
  • flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • extra Parmesan cheese
Method
  1. Put the diced beetroot into the prepared stock and simmer for approx. 15 minutes, or until beetroot is just tender. Keep this on a low heat while the risotto is cooking.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a large frypan, then gently sauté shallots over a low heat, until translucent and soft.
  3. Add the rice and stir to coat in the mixture, then toast for approx. 3 minutes or until you hear the rice pop.
  4. Turn up heat slightly, and add the wine. Let it cook off for about 2-3 minutes, or until absorbed into the rice.
  5. Add a ladle of hot stock and the grated beetroot. Once the stock has been absorbed, keep adding a ladle-full at a time, allowing it to be fully absorbed before adding the next.
  6. Try not to stir the risotto, but agitate the pan, or flip the mixture instead (see this video if you don’t know what I mean).
  7. Once most of the stock has been absorbed, test the rice to see if it’s cooked. The risotto should be al dente, but if you prefer your rice softer, add more stock until the desired consistency is achieved. Add the cooked beetroot with the final ladle of stock.
  8. Turn the heat off and add the freshly grated parmesan, then stir gently to mix in. Season with salt and pepper
  9. If serving with spinach, put it in the bottom of your bowl, then ladle the risotto on top. Garnish with extra grated Parmesan and parsley to taste. Serves 4.

You could roast the beetroot instead, which would deliver a more intense flavour. And next time I make it, I’ll serve it with goat’s cheese for a creamier result!

Let me know if this recipe works for you :)

Bon appétit!

Love is…

Love is...
How often does your significant other tell you they love you? Those of us in (loving) relationships would probably say, at least once a day, and sometimes more often.

But how often do they tell you why they love you? On your birthday or anniversary, if you’re lucky?

Imagine being told what your love meant to someone, every single day. For a year.

Because this is what happened to me.

Rich sent me a message of love, via text, every day for a whole year.

Messages varied from simple things like:

Love is being fed pistachio nuts by my girlfriend.

to more meaningful messages such as:

Love is knowing one thing for sure in the middle of confusion: that I want to be with my girlfriend forever.

and an invaluable record of my time in Japan:

9 December 2009

Plus a plethora of haikus, which brought me endless pleasure:

14 November 2009

I’m not sure what made Rich start sending those messages, but it was the single most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me!

And even on those days when we’d been angry or upset with each other, these messages of love were a reminder of exactly what we meant to each other.

It was especially important to me when I moved to Japan. The daily message gave both Rich and me something positive to focus on when it felt like the distance was too great. Having that continuity and connection was amazing!

And not only did he send me 365 beautiful messages, but he put them all together and made them into a book! So now we have a fabulous memento of the first year of our relationship. Well, almost the first year – we got together in February and he started sending messages in June.

I know I’ve said it before, but I honestly believe I am the luckiest woman alive.

Pummelvision

My amazing boyfriend, Rich, told me about a new video generating site the other day, so I thought I’d give it a go.

It’s called Pummelvision, and utilises your Facebook, Flickr, or Tumblr photos to create a video montage of your life! It’s in the early stages, so there will be more features added soon (like being able to select a specific set/group to create the video from), but I love the idea.

Here’s my first Pummelvision:

Awesome, no?

Follow them on Twitter for regular updates.

Create your own, and share the link below!

On the Right Track

I hate exercise. I pretty much always have. I’m inherently lazy, and I know I’m not alone given the latest figures indicate that more than 60% of the Australian adult population are overweight or obese. But I know it’s not good to be complacent in my slovenly ways, so I’ll occasionally find something to give me the encouragement to get myself off THE couch

Case in point: I’ve put on a little weight recently. It’s not a lot compared to most standards, but because we all have different limits about what’s acceptable and what’s not, it’s more than I’m comfortable with. Plus my clothes are getting tight, so that’s enough of a sign that I need to act NOW! If I had to choose, my preferred exercise would be pole dancing. I took a beginners’ course back in 2007 and fell in love with the results I achieved. Hands down, it’s the best exercise I’ve ever done. It gave me an all-over body workout plus helped me shed a few kilos while having fun. And that was the key: fun! Since then, I’ve completed the intermediate and advanced courses, too, and try to go whenever time permits. Continue Reading »

Wax on, Wax off

A few months ago, I signed up to an exciting project by a fellow Perth woman, Kacy. She decided to embark on a 365 adventure of different proportions. Instead of taking a photo of herself/something/food every day for a year, she decided to send a personalised postcard to a potential stranger every day for one whole year! I loved the idea of receiving a real life piece of mail with a handwritten note, albeit from some random woman, so I passed on my contact details and waited for the fun to happen.

Lo and behold, my postcard arrived at the beginning of last week! And after consulting the 365postcards blog, I discovered that my postcard was the 100th one sent! And what was the topic for such a tremendous milestone? None other than Kacy’s thoughts on waxing fads through the ages.

The Postcard

The Postcard

The Postcard

Continue Reading »

Not Amused

I love food. I love eating even more. And on the odd occasion, I like to indulge my love affair and go all out with a dégustation dining experience.

Last year, Rich and I went to three of these Perth restaurants with varying, but generally pleasant, experiences. By far, our unanimous favourite was Jackson’s Restaurant in Highgate. Jackson’s managed to perfectly match their exquisite food with an amazing selection of wines. And when you’re going for the full experience, wine plays a big part. Coming a very close second was Restaurant Amusé, in East Perth, for one reason: cheese trolley. Yes, their food was very nice, and they served generous tastes of wine, but we were totally blown away by their amazing selection of cheeses! And coming in third place was Little Cloud in Peppermint Grove. Now, Little Cloud actually had better food. Their chef was young, and really pushed the envelope as far as experimental food goes. But their waitstaff were inexperienced, and their wine selection did not match the food in the slightest. Sadly, Little Cloud has since closed.

Fast forward 8 months, following my adventure in Japan, and Rich and I are back on the gastronomy warpath once more. After chancing upon a tweet from someone I follow, we were prompted to give Star Anise a go. I was really excited; it had been a long time since we’d done something this extravagant, and we were treating it as a Rich’s belated birthday dinner-for-two :) So, with a new haircut apiece, we got dolled up and headed to Shenton Park. Continue Reading »

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