Crispy Cauliflower with Torn Basil and Lemon Dressing

Vegan, Gluten Free, Low Fat IMG_2309 Guys, where have I been the past few weeks?? I’ve been so slack! Holidays are only three weeks away though and assignments will be done and dusted so get ready for some very exciting posts coming up!! (Salted coconut gelato anyone?!) Also, it’s almost mango season. If you don’t know what that means for this space, perhaps consider checking out last years mango frenzy, when I went a little cray cray and made about ten mango desserts in two months. (Mango Honey Tart, Mango Froyo, Coconut Mango Tarts… I am obsessed.) But before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s time to have some salad appreciation. This salad is literally the best combination of flavours. See that platter of salad in the photo? I ate the entire thing over about two hours, no joke. And I have zero regrets too. IMG_2293 Also, you can spruce it up with all kinds of fun things like broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, some lettuce if you want. The dressing is so tasty you can just dip fresh vegetables in it and call it a day. If you’ve never tried roasting cauliflower before, you are living a half life. I was a roasted cauliflower sceptic until I had it at a restaurant one day and my mind was BLOWN. Such a simple vegetable, transformed! If you follow my Instagram you probably know I eat this salad all the time, in some form or another. But that’s because it only takes 30 minutes and it’s better than any other meal I can think of! I’m notoriously bad at making nice food when I’m going to uni and always end up spending $15 on random snacks because I convince myself it’s cheaper than just buying a sandwich. I made this salad last week though, and it tasted just as good a few hours later. Very impressed with myself 🙂 Have a great week guys! I will be back soon with ice cream. One Year Ago: Vegan Chocolate Fudge Jaffa Cupcakes (GF)IMG_2317 Cauliflower Salad with Basil and Lemon Dressing:

1 small cauliflower head, cut into florets

1 small butternut pumpkin, sliced in half long ways, de-seeded and sliced into 1cm strips

1 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp za’atar

1 large handful fresh basil

1 small handful fresh coriander

Dressing: 3 tbsp tahini juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp warm water  IMG_2306 Preheat the oven to 200C/390F and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Toss the cauliflower and pumpkin slices in a tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and spread out on the tray. Sprinkle all over with za’atar. Bake for about thirty minutes, until the vegetables are crispy. Tear up the herbs and toss with the vegetables. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and stir well. Spoon over the vegetables and serve either warm or at room temperature. Serves 4-6 IMG_2292

Orange and Garlic Humus

Vegan and Gluten Free
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When I was little I used to hate Middle Eastern food. I don’t think I even tried it before I had decided. Falafels and humus were just not for me. The only thing I liked was the greasy deep fried cauliflower, which I would steal from the rest of the table and eat by the bowlful. (Soooo good.)

Luckily times have changed! I think I realised how much I liked this kind of food when I was in Europe, which has amazing Middle Eastern food literally everywhere. You’re so lucky! I’ll never forget the humus plate I had in Munich. Swirled with baba ganoush, beetroot dip, and covered in dolmades, falafels, tabouli and fattoush it was the nicest thing I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. Oh my gosh! Just thinking about it makes me weep.

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Fast forward to now and I’m kind of obsessed. Like, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have some element of za’atar or humus or sumac at least once in the day. I realised it was probably time to give homemade humus a whirl, what with me wanting to have it at every meal.

I used the recipe from Jerusalem as a starting point, but halfway through realised I didn’t have any lemons! Oh no! But then I remembered a recipe in Moosewood Cookbook that had used orange juice instead. I don’t want to brag, but it turned out so amazing! I couldn’t stop eating it. I had it on sweet potato fries (the best kind of fries) but you could do so much with it!

I’m excited to experiment with all the different legumes. I’m also super excited to make homemade falafels now. I might just have to make an official falafel month! Who knows, it could be even more exciting than Dumpling Month.

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This week is the first week of uni holidays and I’m so excited. Hopefully I’ll be able to find time to post all the recipes I’ve been promising to make on Instagram for ages! Saying that I can already tell I’m going to spend most of my time at the beach sunbaking or watching Shrek and eating ice cream…(don’t judge me.) But I will try!

I’ve been dreaming of making some coconut ice cream with brownie chunks for a while now, if anyone is interested in that…have a great break every body! xx
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Orange and Garlic Hummus: Adapted from this book

250g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 tsp bicarb soda

270g tahini (hulled)
4 tbsp orange juice (or lemon)
1/2 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and ginger
100ml ice cold water

parsley and olive oil, to garnish
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Drain the chickpeas and put a pot of water on to boil. Add the bicarb soda, then the chickpeas, and boil for about 20 minutes, until the skins come off and the chickpeas can be easily crushed between your fingers. Drain and peel off any remaining skins. You can use canned chickpeas, but you will have to pick off all the skins yourself. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes. The final weight should be about 600g of chickpeas.

Add to your blender along with the tahini, spices, orange juice and a pinch of salt. blend until combined. Slowly pour in the ice water, blending as you go until the humus is completely smooth and of the desired consistency. Leave to settle for about half an hour before stirring in any crushed chickpeas and herbs for texture.

Top with fresh parsley and olive oil. Keep in a sealed container for up to a week in the fridge, although it’s best fresh.

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Green Salad with Garlic Mushrooms

Vegan
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Guys! Big news. I’ve decided that once a month I’m going to do a “fun things you should add to your salads post.” It’s going to be epic! I know, right now it sounds kind of boring. But trust me, lately I have been KILLING the salad game. My uni schedule this semester means most days I got home at 2.30pm, with half an hour before I go to work. What does that mean? Salad!!

The best lunch ever.

Salad can easily be the worst meal, or the best. It all depends what you put in it and how you make it. For me, the most important thing is the salad base. If you don’t have a strong base, the rest of your salad will never be able to shine like the star it should be.
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Take careful note of the photo above. Today I used two types of lettuce, washed and whizzed completely dry in my lettuce washer. It must be completely dry! Otherwise your salad will be sad. Two big handfuls for each person please. Next I added half a finely chopped shallot, for some zing. You could add finely sliced red onion if that’s your thing for this element.

Select two of your favourite herbs. Today I used basil (heaps of basil!) and coriander. You can add parsley, mint, dill (although I can’t be your friend anymore if you add dill because I HATE dill irrationally), or any other soft herb you like. Use a small palmful of leaves, and finely chop.
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Now it’s time to add your crunchy elements! I like to add a stalk of celery, half a chopped apple, half a chopped capsicum, and/or some cucumber for the crunchy part of the salad. Today I just used apple and capsicum because that’s all we had. Chop everything into 1cm chunks and throw into your salad bowl.

Next, time for some substantial greens. The best by far is broccoli, but today for the first time maybe forever we were out of broccoli, so I added steamed baby peas and zucchini. If you have time, you can roast the greens in the oven, but today this is an under half an hour salad so steaming will have to do! Chop in half an avocado for creaminess too.

And now for the secret: mushrooms!! Get out your pan, crush a garlic clove in there, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry up a huge handful of them. Mushrooms make an ordinary salad an extraordinary salad. Only add them at the last second because the heat might wilt the lettuce.
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For dressing mix 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp seedy mustard, and the juice of half a lime. Toss all the ingredients well. I drizzled over a tbsp of tahini as well for extra protein.

YUUUUM. There you have it. The best 20 minute salad in existence. Enjoy! And get excited for next months salad adventures!

One Year Ago: Coconut and Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Dumpling Month Part 4 – Pumpkin and Beetroot Dumplings

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Are you guys ready for the next instalment of dumpling month? Because it’s pretty darn exciting. I swear each new flavour I’ve tried has been better than the last ones. These are possibly, *dare I say it* the best so far!

They kind of happened by accident. The other day I was roasting a pan of vegetables with vague plans of eating them for lunch/dinner/as a random morning snack, and I had a lightbulb moment. How good would these be in a dumpling?! Maybe dumpling month has got to me and sent me a little bit crazy. Maybe you’ll see me trying to squeeze all kinds of terrible things in dumplings from now on (is it just me or is nutella a fantastic idea) but luckily this time I was right!

I made a little soy dipping sauce to go along with them and they were so perfect. I had a pack of wonton wrappers in the fridge as I am still experimenting with different brands, but you could easily make your own dumpling dough from my first post.
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These are super easy to make even for dumpling amateurs like me. As long as you can use an oven and do some simple folding you’re sweet. When I was making these I had a little realisation that so many cuisines have some form of dumpling. If you rolled the dough slightly thicker and replaced the ginger and chilli with ricotta, these would be undeniably Italian tortellini. I guess great minds just think alike!

You can mix up the vegetables you put in there, and even just use pumpkin. I made these planning on putting them in a miso soup but ended up eating them all prematurely. If you wanted to do that though I bet they would be delicious! Have a great week everyone 🙂

One Year Ago: Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate and Berry Ice Cream Cake
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Roast Vegetable Dumplings (vegan)
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into big pieces
2 beetroots, peeled and chopped
1 cup pumpkin, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil, to drizzle

1 packet wonton wrappers (30-40)
soy sauce
1/2 red chilli
1 shallot, chopped
ponzu vinegar
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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Put the chopped vegetables on a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Mash them with the ginger, shallot and chilli and allot to cool.

Put a small spoonful of the mashed vegetables on a wonton wrapper and lightly wet the edges. Pull the top half over the bottom half like you’re folding a piece of paper, and seal all the way around. Pull one side over the other side and slightly wetting one edge, crimp it closed in a circle to make a round shape. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.

Mix the soy, chilli, shallots and vinegar to make a dipping sauce. Steam the dumplings from fresh for about 8 minutes, or from frozen for about 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Makes about 35 dumplings.
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Dumpling Month Part 3 – Spicy Eggplant Dumplings

Vegan

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Brace yourselves for the most amazing dumplings so far! (Possibly the best dumplings…I’ve ever eaten!) Seriously. I made these, I ate one, I died. They are so. yummy. I made thirty that first day, I very nearly ate thirty in that same day.

The filling is just spicy eggplant fried until soft. There’s a dumpling place near my uni that has eggplant dumplings as one of the vegetarian options, and they’re so awesome. I have a theory that eggplant is kind of a magical vegetable. How does it become so good when you cook it? Have you ever tried to eat raw eggplant? It’s disgusting. But cooked eggplant is like a whole different universe.

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Apologies for the horrendous photos today! I’ve been trying to not get so hung up on photos recently because that’s the major blocking point for so many of my posts. I always feel like if the photos aren’t up to scratch I can’t post it at all, but that’s silly right?! RIGHT?! (You’re all looking at your screen and these horrendous pictures thinking no Lilli…just no…)

Regardless what they look like, these are definitely the favourite dumplings so far. They are also basically the easiest, with hardly any ingredients. You can buy pre-made dumpling wrappers, or you can make your own. Pick your own adventure. Just make sure your eggplant is 100% cooked before you fill the dumplings because it won’t cook anymore when you’re steaming them. Enjoy!!!

One Year Ago: Lavender and Lemon Tarts (gluten free)
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Eggplant Dumplings:
Makes 30
Filling inspired from this recipe
1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch wide strips and salted liberally
2 tbsp chilli oil (or 2 tbsp vegetable oil mixed with 1 tsp fresh chopped chilli
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp black vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp raw sugar

1 quantity dumpling dough or bought wrappers
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After salting the eggplant slices, wash the salt off and pat dry. Slice the eggplant into 1 cm strips and then 1cm squares.

Heat the oil and chilli in a wok and fry the garlic, onion and shallots until soft and slightly brown. Add the eggplant, soy and vinegar and fry until the eggplant becomes soft. Add the sugar and season well with pepper (no more salt) to desired taste. Set aside and let cool completely.

Take a small dessert spoon of filling and place on a dumpling wrapper. Slightly wet the edges with your finger and fold the wrapper towards you, pressing down the edges to seal in the eggplant. Either bring the edges together and join to make a round shape, or leave as pillows. Can be frozen and steamed for fifteen minutes, or cooked straight away until wrappers are soft. Serve with vinegar and chilli oil.
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Dumpling Month Part 2 – spring vegetable and mushroom

Vegan

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Are you guys ready for the second instalment of dumpling month?! I know I’m ready. This time round I tried to channel my absolute favourite dumplings from a local Chinese restaurant. Every time we go there I go a little bit cray cray over them. They’re full of vegetables and mushrooms, which makes them kind of…meaty? That sounds gross, but you know what I mean. They’re hearty!

This time did the moneybag shape, which worked well and was super easy to store and steam. Plus it was faster than the crimping method in last week’s spinach and tofu dumplings, which was helpful. I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe to use a mix of seasonal vegetables, so you can kind of add what you like to these. I used a mix of fresh pea, cabbage, spinach, mushroom and tofu. This time round I lightly stir-fried the vegetables first before putting them in the dumplings. This made the flavours much more intense and tasty so I will definitely keep doing this step.

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For the sake of experiment (code for laziness) this time round I didn’t make my own dough, I bought some pre-made dim sum squares from the local Asian grocer. It did save a lot of time, but the dough was really hard to work with. Any moisture that got on them would disintegrate it into pieces. They did steam fine, but I think they would be too delicate for pot stickers. If you know any good brands for dumpling wrappers let me know in the comments!

This week I’m going to Splendour in The Grass music festival, so I may be a little slow with comments and questions. My third dumpling recipe will be going up some time in the week though and it’s my favourite by far! So make sure you check it out 🙂 I’m loving all the dumpling suggestions I’ve been getting so keep telling me your favourite flavours! May dumpling month never end!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Poppyseed Cake (gluten free)
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Spring Vegetable and Mushroom Dumplings: Inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 30 dumplings
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup finely shredded wombok (Chinese cabbage)
1 cup finely shredded English Spinach
1/2 cup baby peas (frozen ok)
3 large flat mushrooms, chopped finely
100g (3.5 ounces) firm tofu, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp black vinegar

1 quantity dumpling dough or 30 bought wrappers
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In a hot wok, fry the shallots, garlic and ginger in the oils until transparent. Add in the mushrooms and tofu and stir fry until slightly brown. Throw in the greens and just slightly cook. Pour off any excess liquid that comes out in the cooking process and discard.

Once the mix has cooled a little, use a spoon to put a small amount (about 3cm, 2 inches) of mixture in the centre of the wrapper. slightly wet (not too much!) the edges with a bit of water and fold the dumpling over towards you, in half. Press down the edges. Slightly wet one edge of the dumpling and fold over the front, pressing it together with the other side. Keep on a plate with baking paper whilst you make the rest of the dumplings.

To cook, place each dumpling about 1cm apart from each other in a steamer. Steam for about 5 minutes, until the skin is shiny and translucent in places. If you freeze them first you will need to cook them for longer. Enjoy! Serve with chilli and vinegar
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Dumpling Month part 1 – spinach and tofu (vegan)

Vegan
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You may or may not already know this, but I have a mild (to moderate) obsession with dumplings. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would probably be some form of dumpling. And when I say probably, I mean definitely. The challenge would be what type of dumpling. Preferably a selection. A ‘mezze’ of dumplings, covering all the best flavours.

I think 50% of why I like dumplings is the fact that I drown them in vinegar and chilli oil. Sometimes the dumpling is more a doughy, vegetable filled vehicle transporting dumpling condiments to my mouth. When my friend told me she only ever used soy sauce as a dipping sauce, I literally stopped eating mid-bite. What?! What are dumplings without vinegar and chilli?! I shudder at the thought.
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Considering my healthy love for dumplings, recently I felt a building pressure to make my own. But I was so nervous! For some reason I thought dumplings were one of the hardest things to make, ever. reserved for the realm of highly talented chefs working in restaurants.

But when I saw these beautiful dumplings and these I felt slightly reassured that it could indeed be done at home. Commence the Sugar and Cinnamon dumpling month. That’s right, this whole month I’m going to explore the impossible, magical world of dumpling making and hopefully come out with some life-time skills and a whole freezer-full of dumplings, ready to get in my belly.
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To kick off I made the simplest dumplings, that also happen to be my favourite. I made the classic flour and boiling water dumpling dough, with a classic mixed veggie and tofu filling. I actually managed to crimp my dumplings. Yes, they look a little funky. I didn’t have to worry about finding which ones were perfect for my photos, because not a single one came out perfect. They each had their own lopsided, floury charm that just could not be tamed.

I definitely recommend making these with a friend. Otherwise the rolling and cutting of the dough can take a really long time and it may even dry out a little before you finish filling them all. I watched this video before I started and it was really helpful seeing how to actually do it in action. I definitely did not make a video of myself shaping dumplings because I am highly uncoordinated and my dumplings came out looking like little trolls, but maybe one day I will be dumpling GIF quality.

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I’m so excited about how these turned out! They were so yummy. Just as I went to cook them I realised our steamer has mysteriously gone missing, so I had to make do with boiling a few and pan-frying a few. Both worked well, but I think steaming would be the ultimate here. Post-stickers are always lots of fun, but I might save that challenge for the next instalment of dumpling fun.

You can always buy wonton wrappers as well, but the dough is super easy to make. And the dumplings come out tasting so fresh and soft and just uuugh. Amazing. If you don’t have vinegar and chilli, go out and buy some. Seriously! You will not regret it 🙂

One Year Ago: Hummingbird Maple Cake
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Vegetarian Dumplings: Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 30
For the dough:
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup boiling water (plus a few teaspoons extra, in case)

Put the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk well to get out any lumps. Boil the water (measuring it after in case some is lost as steam) and pour in a trickling, continuous stream into the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go until a crumbly dough forms.

Turn the dough out on to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough comes together. You may need to add a pinch more of water or flour to reach a soft, usable consistency. Put the dough into a sealed container for at least fifteen minutes (no longer than 2 hours) to let is rest before filling.

Cut the dough into four even pieces, and place all but one back in the container. Roll out with a rolling pin to 1/8 inch thickness (not too thin or they will fall apart as they cook) and cut with a cookie cutter into rounds. Lightly flour the rounds and keep on a plate covered in baking paper until ready to use.
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For the filling:
1 cup shredded English spinach
0.5 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/2 a carrot, grated
175g (6 oz) firm tofu, chopped into tiny pieces
60g mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 stalk green onion, finely diced

To make the filling, mix all the ingredients well until combined. Holding a dumpling wrapper in your hand, use a dessert spoon to put about half a spoonful of filling into the middle of the wrapper. Use your fingers to hold up the sides kind of like you are holding a taco. Use your thumb and other hand to crimp the side closest to you against the opposite side, closing the end. Push the filling in a little further to get in as much as possible (this gets easier as you get a feel for it. No one likes an under-filled dumpling!)

Continue to crimp the side closest to you against the other half of the dumpling, completely enclosing the filling and sealing off the end. Complete the rest of the dumplings. Store on a plate covered with baking paper and try to stop them touching, to prevent sticking. You can either freeze them straight away on the plate and then store them in a ziplock bag, or steam/boil them for about 5 minutes until tender and cooked through. Serve with vinegar and chilli oil.
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