WWFreshBox by Aussie Farmers Direct + a Recipe for Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms

‘So what do I cook tonight?’

How many times in a week do you ask yourself that question? I do…almost every single day. Friends often assume that meal planning is something I enjoy and ace at, being a food blogger. Definitely not, at least not most of the time because in addition to the everyday food, I have to plan ahead for the recipes that are to be created for the blog, clients etc…..

It takes me two days to get my meal plans and grocery shopping list in order and there are weeks when the whole exercise freaks me out. So you can imagine my excitement when I get a mail from Aussie Farmers Direct asking if I would like to review the new WWFresh Box that has been designed and created by Weight Watchers. Yes please….bring it on!

Aussie Farmers Direct and Weight Watchers – two brands that we are pretty familiar with and so I am not going into the details here. There’s plenty of information on their websites for the newcomers. Instead, I am going to talk about the WWFreshbox; this perfectly packed box full of absolutely gorgeous and fresh ingredients that has been sourced from local farms and food producers. And also, the printed recipes that got me really excited.

WWFreshbox from Aussie Farmers Direct - a review - thespiceadventuress.com

So my choice was the Family Freshbox which includes ingredients and fresh produce to serve 5 meals for 4 people. I have been testing out and cooking from the WWFreshbox for the past couple of days using the Weightwatchers recipes that was included. And here is what I think;

(Aussie Farmers Direct has also offered a generous discount for all the subscribers of The Spice Adventuress. More details at the end of the post)

Pros:

  • No more meal planning – You don’t have to break your head wondering what you are going to cook each day and then shop around for ingredients. You get the ingredients delivered straight to your door with the recipes included. Definitely a time saver!
  • Choose from different types of WWFreshbox – there are plenty of choices when it comes to the size of the WWFreshBox designed to serve 2 or 4 people for 3 or 5 meals. Ensures zero wastage.
  • High Quality Fresh Ingredients – that are packed to perfection in a special temperature controlled box. Aussie Farmers Direct does a brilliant job at sourcing all the produce from local farmers which means that you not only eat healthy and fresh but also support the local community.
  • Free Delivery – Yup, you heard it right….free delivery to your door.
  • Excellent Packaging – Since all the ingredients are packed in a temperature controlled box, everything stays fresh till you reach home and put it away. The vegetables are packed neatly, in sealed containers where necessary and all the protein is in a special cover with gel packs. The gel packs inside can be reused and if you do not wish to keep it, you may leave it inside the box and place it outside on the day your next delivery happens.
  • Delicious and Healthy Recipes – I mean it guys, really delicious recipes. All the recipes are designed by the nutrition experts at Weight Watchers and includes the Smart Points so that you can keep track. And even if you are not watching your weight, you still can eat healthy. The recipes change every week so it doesn’t get boring at all. Every week’s recipes are updated on the website so you can check out that before placing your order.What I really loved about the recipes is that there is no compromise on flavour and taste as you can see from the dish I will be sharing with you guys shortly.

Cons:

  • Delivery can be an issue for those who live in apartments with unit numbers; the box will need to be delivered to a friend’s place or your business address. Also, delivery is currently not available in certain suburbs. Do check if your suburb is covered on the website.
  • No dry ingredients provided.
  • No exclusively vegetarian WWFreshbox.

Getting to my favourite part; the recipe that I tried out from the WW Freshbox and absolutely loved – Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - delicious, healthy and ready in 30 minutes - thespiceadventuress.com

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - delicious, healthy and ready in 30 minutes - thespiceadventuress.com

We are not big on kale in our house. I don’t mind it but the boys are not very enthusiastic about it and the only way I have been able to make them eat it is in a lentil curry. So with this recipe, I was both excited and apprehensive. But went ahead anyway, hoping the bacon will work its magic even if the kale fails.

And let me tell you peeps, we loved it!

This pasta dish was a winner on all counts – it was light, refreshing, healthy, low on calories and super packed with flavour. From prep to finish, on the table in 30 minutes. All thanks to Weight Watchers, we have found our favourite kale dish.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - delicious, healthy and ready in 30 minutes - thespiceadventuress.com

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - delicious, healthy and ready in 30 minutes - thespiceadventuress.com

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms

Serves: 4

7 SmartPoints® value per serve

Ingredients:

  1. 200gms dried pasta
  2. 5 tsp olive oil
  3. 125gms lean bacon (fat trimmed); chopped
  4. 1 red capsicum; chopped
  5. 200gms button mushrooms; sliced
  6. 2 medium garlic cloves; crushed
  7. 2 small fresh red chilli; finely chopped
  8. 200gms kale; chopped
  9. 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  10. 2 tbsp lemon juice
  11. Salt; to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per packet instructions till al dente. Drain (reserve ½ cup liquid) and keep aside.
  2. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large pan and add the chopped bacon. Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes till the bacon pieces have turned golden and crisp. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. In the same pan, add 2 tsp olive oil and add the garlic, chillies and capsicum. Cook for 30 seconds and then add the mushrooms. Cook over high heat for another 2-3 minutes till the mushrooms have softened. Transfer to the same bowl as the bacon.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil and add the kale. Season with salt and cook covered for 2-3 minutes on low heat. Then add ¼ cup water to the kale, mix and continue to cook covered for another 2-3 minutes or till the kale has become tender.
  5. Increase heat and return the bacon and vegetables to the pan. Also add the lemon rind and juice; season with salt if necessary.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, half of the reserved liquid and toss on high flame for a few seconds.
  7. Serve warm

I served this pasta dish with a fresh salad made from cherry tomatoes, red onion, coriander leaves, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - delicious, healthy and ready in 30 minutes - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you would like to make this delicious recipe or make several like these, all that you need to do is place an order with Aussie Farmers Direct for the all new WW Freshbox.

Thanks to Aussie Farmers Direct, a special discount code has been offered to all the subscribers of ‘The Spice Adventuress’ (make sure you subscribe to my blog). Enjoy $25 off* with your first WW Freshbox. Use promo code ‘FRESHSPICE’ on checkout – T&Cs below.  

(Offer open to new customers. Minimum spend $65. For full T&Cs visit AussieFarmers.com.au. Valid until 31/08/2016. Order must be placed by 12 noon 30/08/2016.)

So go ahead, place your order today and enjoy fresh ingredients with healthy recipes, delivered straight to your doorstep. And if you prepare the above recipe, make sure to tag me #thespiceadventuress so that I may see it too.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - delicious, healthy and ready in 30 minutes - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Disclaimer – This post has been bought to you in collaboration with Aussie Farmers Direct. All the opinions stated in this review are mine; hope it helps you make an informed choice. 

 

Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies)

I have a small balcony garden at home, not too many plants but I do grow most of the herbs and a few leafy greens. And the hailstorm that we experienced last week was not very complimentary to my gardening efforts. Since I do not have too much space inside my apartment to move all the plants, I decided to be selective and move in only the curry leaves and basil along with a few other ornamental ones. But with the wind raging all day, all my herbs took a real beating. And then the hail started!

Hailstorm in Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Since I wasn’t sure if the plants were going to survive, I cut off all the herbs and thus ended up with a huge amount of parsley and a bit of coriander, mint and some rosemary too.

I didn’t want the herbs to just wilt off in the fridge especially the parsley so decided I must do something delicious with it. Chimichurri came to my mind immediately especially since I have made it before. I had some chicken thigh fillets stocked too so the decision was made; I will grill the chicken and have it with the chimichurri. But tweaking is something I love to do and what I finally ended up with was these absolutely gorgeous Grilled Chicken Skewers with fresh herbs and chillies.

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

Veered away from the traditional chimichurri as I was thinking of a marinade and not a sauce. So I wanted more flavour which is why the fresh red chillies and ginger ended up in it. Along with the freshness from the parsley, coriander and basil, this marinade has the depth of flavour from the aromatics and that mild kick from the chillies. Long red chillies which are not very fiery are best for this style of marinade.

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

The chicken skewers turned out so good that I decided to share it with all of you. An extremely easy dish to make, hardly any prep work except for chopping up some herbs and a very affordable one too especially if you grow herbs. Perfect for an easy and healthy weekday dinner.

We had these grilled chicken skewers Middle Eastern style served up on my trusted wooden board. So pita bread, chicken skewers, garlic dip, tzatziki, olives and a green salad. Even better the next day to take to work….just put it all into the pita and roll it up for a delicious wrap for lunch. Winner, isn’t it!

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

Hope all of you enjoy these grilled chicken skewers (with fresh herbs and chillies). And if you make it, I would so love to see it so please tag me in all your pictures using #thespiceadventuress. Have a great weekend folks!

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms chicken; cubed into even sized pieces
  2. 2 heaped tbsps herb marinade
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Juice of half a lemon
  5. Bamboo skewers

Herb Marinade:

  • 1 cup parsley; finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil; finely chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves; grated
  • ½ inch ginger; grated
  • 1 ½ fresh red chillies (long variety); seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • Salt; to season

Method:

  • Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes to prevent burning.
  • To prepare the herb marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and add the olive oil. Season with salt.
  • Place the cubed chicken pieces in a bowl and add the marinade, salt and lemon juice. Mix well to combine.
  • Skewer the chicken pieces and allow to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Heat a grill pan (or frying pan) to high and place the skewers on top. Since olive oil is already added to the marinade, no extra oil is required.
  • When grilled on one side, turn over, baste with more marinade and cook. Repeat till you get good caramelization all over and then finish off in the oven (another 2-3 minutes). You can continue to baste with the marinade as required.
  • Serve warm with dips, salad and pita bread.

Note – The marinade can be prepared in bulk; stays well in the refrigerator for upto 3 days and upto a month if  frozen.

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review

If you have read my review on Al Rahimi Restaurant in Dandenong, then you will know how much I love the cuisine of Afghanistan. And living just 5 minutes away from Lonsdale Street, it was high time I had a review of Pamir up on the blog.

Dandenong is quite an interesting suburb in terms of culture and food. It’s diverse and colourful; we truly practice ‘live and let live’ down here. Afghan food has a huge presence here, with plenty of restaurants and takeaways lining the Afghan precinct and also on Lonsdale Street.

Owned by the husband and wife team, Uzbekistani Chef Alisher Azizullaev and Shahini Ahad, Pamir is situated on the busy and vibrant Lonsdale Street. The exterior is rather unassuming, a small door which leads to a flight of stairs. The restaurant is situated on the second floor and if you are not familiar with traditional Afghan décor, you will be surprised by the ornate interiors and rich, dark woodwork. On the walls, you will find plenty of references to Afghanistan like pictures, maps, traditional outfits etc….

Pamir has a very warm and comforting ambience. There is plenty of seating space so bookings are only essential on weekends but you are likely to find a place even without one. But do make a call beforehand as the restaurant is often booked out for events and social gatherings.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Within seconds, we were greeted by the hostess and seated at a comfortable table. Pamir does not have a bar but its BYO so remember that when you visit. The food mainly revolves around traditional Afghan and Uzbek cuisine. The menu is pretty self explanatory but if you do need suggestions or help to understand the flavours of a dish, the staff is always there to help you out.

If you are eating at Pamir for the first time or want to experience many dishes from the cuisine, then the banquets are the best choice. There are different types depending on the number of courses and also a vegetarian version. Since we were familiar with the dishes and have had the food before, we decided to go a la carte for the day.

The first to arrive at the table are the dips (also referred to as chatnis) followed by the salad and flatbreads. Three different types of dips or chatnis are served and these are the minty cucumber yoghurt dip, tomato chilli chatni and the carrot dip. The salad is a simple one with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and leaves drizzled with vinaigrette. And the flatbreads, one of the best I have had; soft and pillowy and perfect to scoop the chatnis.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Fresh Green Salad at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Freshly baked Afghan flatbreads at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we ordered was the Chapli Kebab which is basically grilled lamb mince patties flavoured with coriander seeds, chilli, herbs and onion. Chapli Kebabs are quite famous in northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Chapli kebabs at Pamir were just perfect, so full of flavour especially that hit of coriander which warms your tastebuds yet allows you to taste the meat. The kebabs were tender with the mince cooked just perfectly. Highly suggested!

Chapli Kebabs at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There was no way we weren’t going to order to a plate of Mantu, one of our absolute favourite things to eat from this cuisine. Basically, these are steamed dumplings with mince and onions; then topped with a chilli chatni and a yoghurt sauce. An absolutely delicious experience! If you are a dumpling fan, then make sure you try the Mantu; you might not want to eat dumplings any other way. Another must try here.

Mantu (steamed dumplings) at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu and the next dish we tried was Potato Borani – finely sliced potatoes which are pan fried, flavoured with spices and herbs and finished off with tomato and yoghurt sauce. Nothing more to add except that it was really delicious and makes a great vegetarian dish.

Potato Borani at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And we finished the meal with the traditional Uzbek Pallow, a rice dish with lamb. The menu calls it as lamb biryani but that name is rather misleading as biryani takes on different avatars in different cuisines; this one’s more of a pilaf. Long grained rice that has been flavoured with whole spices and has a generous portion of carrots and sliced lamb through it. Just this rice and the yoghurt dip can make me a very happy girl. Absolutely delicious.

Uzbek Pallow at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There isn’t much choice when it comes to desserts so we decided to skip it. But I would love to see a few traditional sweets or desserts on the menu apart from the lassi, gulab jamun and icecream. You can finish off the meal with the traditional black tea which is great for digestion too.

In a nutshell, a restaurant you do not want to miss if you are looking for delicious, high quality, traditional Uzbek and Afghan cuisine. Make it your weekend priority!

Pamir Restaurant

195 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 03 9792 0197
Website: http://www.pamirrestaurant.com.au/

Timings:

Monday: closed (open some days, check website)
Tuesday – Thursday: 4pm-10pm
Friday – Sunday: 12pm-10pm

Pamir Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) – Launch of New Menu + a Review

Woodstock Pizzicheria has definitely carved a name for itself in the wood fired pizza scene of Melbourne. This award winning restaurant chain, built by the pizza champion, Tony Cannata is one of the best places in town to enjoy traditional Roman style pizzas.

I was invited a few weeks ago to the launch of their new menu and must admit, that this was my first time at the pizzicheria. The event was a brilliant and delicious one with an array of Sicilian style starters, cold cuts, cheese boards, pizza platters and of course a very impressive dessert platter.

Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) – Launch of New Menu

I loved everything at the event; the ambience, food and service; so I decided to do a proper review for all of you by visiting Woodstock once again just like any other customer so that you have an idea of what to expect when you walk in.

The ambience and décor at Woodstock Pizzicheria can be best described as rustic Sicilian with a lot of fun elements and hints of contemporary thrown in. While the furniture and interiors have a very traditional feel, the bar is a contemporary addition to the space. The open kitchen is a hub of activity that adds to the appeal of the restaurant. It’s a place where you can spend good quality time with friends and family even when it’s packed to the brim.

Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) – Launch of New Menu + a Review

And they seem to love Nutella quite a bit, there’s plenty of references to that as soon as you walk in!

Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) – Launch of New Menu + a Review

The service at Woodstock will remind you of Italian hospitality. The staff are attentive, warm and friendly; quite happy to help you out with suggestions from the menu and also help out in choosing the right wine for your meal. The wine list is good and features many Italian wines, which you might need help with unless you are familiar. The cocktail list was basic but I loved the choices they had.

The menu is a small one and I am beginning to enjoy restaurants which do that because it means that they focus on producing high quality dishes. Pizzas rule the roost and is made the classic Roman way; the rest of the menu is more Sicilian inspired.

Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) – Launch of New Menu + a Review

So my friends went for the 2013 Majella Shiraz (Coonawarra, South Australia) and I chose their signature Nonno è Vivo (Disaronno, vodka and Kahlua. Topped with soda water, lime juice and crushed ice). Both the choices were perfect for our meal. I loved the cocktail especially with that Kahlua which gave it that warm bittery notes.

2013 Majella Shiraz (Coonawarra, South Australia) - Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) – Launch of New Menu + a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Nonno è Vivo (Disaronno, vodka and Kahlua. Topped with soda water, lime juice and crushed ice) - Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) - thespiceadventuress.com

We started the meal with Calamari fritti – calamari rings dusted in semolina with lime and black pepper, served with aioli. It was amazing; the calamari was so perfectly cooked, soft and melt in the mouth. The spices were subtle and the lime added a very refreshing flavour to the calamari. The perfect thing to munch on with the drinks.

Calamari fritti – calamari rings dusted in semolina with lime and black pepper, served with aioli - Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next starter we tried was the Polpette della Nonna – traditional Sicilian style meatballs made from lamb and pork mince simmered in a Napoli sauce. I am a huge fan of meatballs especially the Italian ones and this didn’t disappoint at all. The meatballs were soft and flavourful and that sauce was delicious, very tomatoey but with the right balance.

Polpette della Nonna – traditional Sicilian style meatballs made from lamb and pork mince simmered in a Napoli sauce - Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) - thespiceadventuress.com

I will also recommend the Crocché di Patate – potato croquettes with Provolone cheese and Salsicce alla griglia – homemade pure pork sausages, both of which I had at the launch event. The sausages were just divine so if you eat pork, do try it out for sure.

Time for the pizzas! We tried out the Woodstock with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, caramelized onion, potatoes, zucchini, grilled eggplant, oregano and Pecorino cheese. It’s quite unusual for me to order a vegetarian pizza (I am quite partial to the meats when it comes to pizza) but I am so happy I did. The Woodstock had beautiful flavours; the base was light, thin and crisp and the smoky caramelized flavours of the onion was awesome. Mixed opinions about the eggplant but that’s because I am not fond of it but overall, a brilliant vegetarian pizza that I wouldn’t hesitate to order again.

Woodstock with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, caramelized onion, potatoes, zucchini, grilled eggplant, oregano and Pecorino cheese - Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next one we tried was the Gamberi Piccante with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, tiger prawns, cherry tomatoes, fresh chilli and basil. The clear winner and highlight of the dinner was this beauty. Simplicity is best and this one is a clear example of that. Perfectly cooked prawns on a thin crispy base, with that beautifully flavoured tomato sauce, a mild kick from the chillies and the freshness of the tomatoes and basil. Spot on and highly recommended!

Gamberi Piccante with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, tiger prawns, cherry tomatoes, fresh chilli and basil - Woodstock Pizzicheria (Lygon St, Brunswick) - thespiceadventuress.com

Since I was out with friends, couldn’t do dessert as they wanted to check out another dessert bar nearby. But I would definitely go back for it since I ate some awesome stuff during the launch event.

In short, Woodstock Pizzicheria is a place you must visit if you love traditional Italian thin crust pizzas with really good quality ingredients. A beautiful ambience and excellent service completes the dining experience. Make sure to make a booking ahead!

Woodstock Pizzicheria
63-67 Lygon Street, Brunswick
Melbourne, Victoria
Phone no:03 9387 7770
http://www.woodstockpizza.com.au/

Timings:
Sunday to Thursday: 12pm-3pm / 5pm-10.30pm
Friday, Saturday: 12pm-3pm / 5pm-midnight

Woodstock Pizzicheria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I was given a $50 voucher, the rest of the bill was paid for by me and my friends.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce)

Yes, I am back with yet another seafood dish. And it’s one that I thoroughly enjoyed cooking and eating. Not that I don’t enjoy the other recipes here, but this one’s special because this is our favourite way to eat salmon.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

The term holidays are still on and we aren’t doing much this time. My little champ was sick for a couple of days and coupled with our house hunting in full spree, there has hardly been time for any activities or fun stuff. Guess we will take a proper vacation once we are settled in the new home.

Coming back to the dish, simplicity is key when cooking with salmon. Do not get tempted to add too many flavours or spices to the fish itself which takes away from its real flavour. Instead, add flavour to the remaining components on the plate like this deliciously spicy green salad and a simple tomato butter sauce. Not much of a sauce actually, it’s more like a quick sauté and butter makes everything delicious right.

The spicy green salad is an awesome way to eat your greens especially if you think green salads are bland and boring. And isn’t it just gorgeous! Love how those purple carrots add that pop of colour to the greens. Use whatever seasonal greens are available in your area; you can even use the dressing for any sort of salad you like to have.

Spicy green salad - a very interesting spicy kick to make your greens interesting - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

Even with 3 components, this is a dish that comes together in no time at all which makes it perfect for weekday dinners. A light yet healthy and filling meal for the whole family. And if you make it, please tag me on the post #thespiceadventuress so that I could see it too. Enjoy peeps!

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

  1. 3 salmon fillets (with skin)
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Find the full recipe here.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

June Favourites

The weather’s been pretty rough lately…..cold, dark and dull but otherwise, it’s been a lovely month so far.

And to keep ourselves warm, we have been a drinking a lot of this chicken soup lately.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Brown Mushrooms - a bowl of comfort for a cold, wintry night - thespiceadventuress.com

This is my favourite quote for the month (my boys at the Lysterfield Lake, Melbourne)

Quote - thespiceadventuress.com

And these posts kept me inspired and entertained the whole month, so time to share it with you. Enjoy!

Spicy and cheesy….the dip of the month!

Lol…..would love to start my mornings with this milkshake.

Jackfruit has been a hot ingredient this season for chefs and homecooks alike. And now in icecream form too.

This salad is going to be my dinner next week.

The original Egyptian falafel; this is what I grew up eating and no other versions measure up to it.

Cocktail popsicles are trending and my current favourite is this.

Simple food is the best; do you agree? If yes, check out this delicious Indian style potato okra stir fry.

The latest slushy to hit the market!

This one’s for the gochujang lover in me.

The golden rules of writing.

Processed food is the biggest poison for our bodies; read this. Cook simple meals from scratch with good quality ingredients – there is no other short cut to good health.

I can get quite anxious and worried at times, feeling it arise from the pit of my stomach. Do you tend to worry a lot? Then this can be an insightful read.

And finally, join me in drooling over this bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massaman Curry

It’s Friday guys! Time to put up the tired feet and get some much needed rest or catch up time with family and friends. Not so much for me as we are currently house hunting and the whole thing is slowly beginning to get on my nerves. We just can’t seem to find a decent place especially with the zillion demands we have. Hopefully something comes up soon and then the herculean task of moving houses will begin. Telling you guys, I have amassed a ton of props and I know I am going to freak out during the packing and shifting process.

I am sure you will hear me whining more about that later but for now, let’s just feast on this deliciously comforting Beef Massaman Curry.

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are familiar with Thai food, then you would have definitely heard of Massaman curry. It’s a staple curry from the region and often made with chicken, with beef and lamb not being far behind.

Massaman curry has a very interesting history to it. Also known as Matasaman curry, it is believed that this dish was introduced to Thailand by Persian merchants and soon became an integral part of the Thai Muslim cuisine. Infact, historical writers believe that the name Massaman could also have been originated from the word ‘Mussulman’ which is another word for Muslim. But there are many others who believe that it is more of a Southern Thai dish with influences of Malay and Indian cooking since the curry relies heavily on the use of spices and coconut.

Traditionally, this curry was always made using chicken given the Islamic dietary laws. Beef and mutton were also popular but hardly ever made with pork. But in the West, you can find all sorts of protein being used including pork. Personally, I prefer lamb or beef; hence I have made a Beef Massaman Curry today.

The recipe I have used today has been adapted from the Chin Chin cookbook (remember the copy I won for last year’s Social Feeds competition). The recipe is not just detailed out well but more importantly; there is also a recipe for making the Massaman curry paste from scratch. Now this paste is where the magic lies – a medley of spices and aromatics blended together to create a spicy, sweet and heavily aromatic blend.

Massaman Curry Paste - a spicy and highly aromatic curry paste from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Let me tell you straight ahead, this is not your ordinary quick fix weekday dinner. The Massaman Curry takes time, effort and a whole lotta love to make it from scratch. But believe me guys, it’s so worth it. And when you make the curry paste, make sure you prepare a larger quantity and freeze in small batches.

Coconut cream is another main component of the Massaman curry. Though I generally prefer to use homemade coconut milk, the weather at the moment made me quite lazy so I used store bought ones. Also look out for coconut cream rather than milk when you are buying for that thicker and creamier consistency.

The braising liquid for the beef is another crucial step for this dish. The meat is just so tender and once strained, this flavourful liquid becomes the stock for the curry. The whole recipe is about adding layer after layer of flavour to yield that rich, sweet and spicy curry that warms your souls and tummies.

Do not get put off by the long list of ingredients or steps involved. Prepare the curry paste one day ahead so that you have enough time on the day of cooking the curry. Substitute with lamb shanks or chicken or even mixed vegetables with tofu for a vegetarian version. Make it folks, I promise you will love it.

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

Massaman Curry Paste

(yields more than 2 cups)

  1. 60gms large dried red chillies, seeded; soaked in warm water and roughly chopped
  2. 1 medium red onion
  3. 1 ½ heads garlic
  4. 1 large galangal knob
  5. 3 stalks lemongrass (only the pale part)
  6. 4-5 coriander roots with a bit of stalk
  7. 60gms roasted peanuts
  8. 1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
  9. ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  10. ½ tbsp cloves
  11. ½ nutmeg
  12. 3/4th tbsp mace powder
  13. 1 large cassia/cinnamon bark
  14. 3 green cardamom

For the braising liquid:

  1. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 large knob galangal; roughly chopped
  3. 1 stalk lemongrass (pale part); roughly chopped
  4. 2 large red chillies; seeded and sliced
  5. ½ red onion; chopped
  6. 300ml coconut cream
  7. 2 cups water
  8. 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  9. 1/3 cup fish sauce
  10. 100gms palm sugar

For the curry:

  1. 1 kg beef (chuck steak); cut into 5-6 large pieces
  2. 1 cup kecap manis
  3. 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  4. 200ml coconut cream
  5. 5-6 tbsp massaman curry paste
  6. 2 shallots; diced
  7. 70gms pineapple; diced
  8. 1 tbsp palm sugar
  9. 2 tbsp fish sauce
  10. 2 large potatoes; boiled and cubed
  11. 1-2 tbsp tamarind water
  12. ½ cup toasted peanuts; crushed
  13. Crispy shallots; for garnish
  14. Coriander leaves; for garnish

Method:

Massaman curry paste:

  • Blitz the chillies, onion, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, roasted peanuts and coriander root to a coarse paste.
  • Grind the spices and add this to the paste along with a good pinch of salt.
  • Blitz again to get a smooth paste (you may need to add water).
  • Freeze in small batches.

To make the curry:

  • Marinate the beef pieces in kecap manis for a few hours or overnight.
  • Wipe off the excess sauce and keep aside to be braised.
  • To get the braising liquid going, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large vessel and add the onions, chilli, lemongrass and galangal. Cook to release the aromas for a couple of minutes and then coconut cream, water, stock, fish sauce and palm sugar.
  • Bring to boil and add the beef pieces to this. Cover and slow cook on the lowest heat possible till the beef has become really tender (took me about 1 ½ hours). Alternately, braise in the oven at 150°C till the meat is tender.
  • Meanwhile, 2 tbsp oil and coconut cream along with a good pinch of salt in another heavy based pan. As the cream separates and the oil starts to split, add the massaman curry paste and cook on high (with frequent stirring) for about 10 minutes. The aroma as the paste starts to cook is so aromatic. Reduce heat a bit and continue to cook the curry paste with frequent stirring till the oil starts to separate. Takes a fair bit of time so be patient.
  • Once the meat has cooked, allow the pieces to cool in the liquid, remove and cut into bite sized pieces. Strain the braising liquid and reserve the stock.
  • In another pan, heat the remaining oil and cook the shallots till golden. Add the pineapple pieces and continue to cook until it has softened and cooked out. Then add the palm sugar to get a caramel like mixture.
  • Add this to the curry paste and continue to cook till the oil starts to separate again. At this stage, add half of the strained braising liquid along with the fish sauce and tamarind water. Taste and season with salt if necessary; also balance out seasoning with fish sauce, tamarind water etc….
  • Add the boiled potatoes and the beef pieces and simmer on low heat. Add the remaining braising liquid and simmer till the meat and potatoes have warmed through.
  • To serve, spoon into a large bowl and garnish with crushed peanuts, crispy shallots and coriander leaves.

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs)

Kashmir – a mysterious, beautiful land that always evokes a deep sense of calmness and peace within me.

Ironic, isn’t it…especially given its turbulent geo-political issues. I have never visited Kashmir except through the thousands of breathtaking photographs of the place but everytime I think of the land, it’s ‘Garden of Eden’ that I remember. And everytime I visualize Adam and Eve eating that apple, its pictures of Kashmir that flash through my mind.

Travelling through Kashmir remains one of the top wishes on my bucket list, and particularly visiting the saffron fields and picking out the flowers; I want to experience that at least once in my life. Though today’s dish has nothing to do with saffron, it has all to do with the cuisine of the region. Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs!

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

A very traditional preparation of the region, Tabakh Maaz is one of the integral dishes of a wazwan. (You can check out more about wazwan on the Internet or read my mutton roganjosh post). And I learnt this recipe too from my dear friend, Supriya who remains my expert on Kashmiri cuisine. I am a lucky gal indeed!

Making Tabakh Maaz is rather simple but one which takes a bit of time and some good quality ingredients. It is a brilliant example of how spices flavour a fish without adding any heat. The lamb ribs are slow cooked in a broth flavoured with whole spices and then fried off in ghee. It is rich and indulgent, a dish that warms you from within and definitely not one if you are calorie-conscious.

I left the fat layer on the ribs for that extra flavour but you can choose to trim it off. Traditionally it is served as 2-3 ribs together on the bone but I have kept it 1-2. Tabakh Maaz is usually a starter type dish of the wazwan but I had it as the main protein for dinner, so served it with Afghan style bread, cucumber yoghurt dip with sumac and a fresh green salad. One of the ways of adapting a traditional recipe to your family’s needs.

Whole spices to make Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style lamb ribs - thespiceadventuress.com

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

So here we have a very traditional lamb dish from Kashmir – Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs.

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gms lamb ribs; cut into 2-3 pieces
  2. 2 inch cinnamon bark
  3. 3 black cardamom
  4. 5 green cardamom
  5. 2 dried bay leaf
  6. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  7. 1 tbsp crushed fennel seeds
  8. ½ tbsp dried ginger powder
  9. A pinch of asafoetida/hing
  10. 2 large garlic cloves; crushed
  11. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  12. Salt, to season
  13. 1 cup milk
  14. 2-3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter

Method:

  1. In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the lamb ribs and fill with water, enough to just cover the ribs.
  2. Bring to boil and remove the scum that floats on the surface.
  3. Then add all the spices, garlic and season generously with salt. Also add 1 cup milk and stir well to combine.
  4. Cover the vessel, reduce the flame and slow cook the ribs for 1 hour or till the meat has become tender and almost fall off the bone.
  5. Remove from heat and take out the ribs slowly and keep aside. You can either keep the ribs in large chunks or cut into smaller pieces.
  6. Heat another flat pan, add the ghee and add the ribs one by one. Fry on medium to high heat till one side has caramelized before turning over. Remove when the other side has also caramelized well.
  7. Serve warm.

Though the basic recipe for making Tabakh Maaz is the same across the state, there can be variations from region to region. For eg: Kashmiri Pandits soak the ribs in plain yoghurt before frying it off in the ghee.

Note – The broth in which the ribs were cooked has a beautiful flavour. It can be strained and use as a stock for making soups and risottos.

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake (with Macadamia crumble)

Every recipe has a story and today’s Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake (with Macadamia crumble) has quite a few.

To start with, I didn’t like cheesecake much till I got to attend this year’s In One Voice Jewish festival and experienced the cheesecake competition. That’s when I realized that I have been eating bad cheesecakes all this while and the real deal is delicious.

Those who follow me on Facebook or Instagram would have seen the pictures from this event, especially the one where I got to have a small chat with Alice Zaslavsky, popularly known as ‘Alice in Frames’ (Masterchef fame). Alice was the judge at the cheesecake competition which saw a delicious array of sweet and savoury cheesecakes. Once the cheesecakes were judged, slices were sold to the public to raise money for Caring Mums, a charity program run by National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic).

Alice Zaslavsky, popularly known as ‘Alice in Frames’ (Masterchef fame) judging the cheesecake competition at In One Voice Jewish Festival, 2016 - thespiceadventuress.com

Alice Zaslavsky, popularly known as ‘Alice in Frames’ (Masterchef fame) with The Spice Adventuress at the In One Voice Jewish Festival, 2016 - thespiceadventuress.com

I decided to try out the winner’s cheesecake and much to my surprise found that it was nothing like the ones I had tasted before that. This one was smooth, creamy with a delicious balance of flavours and that was the moment I decided that I am going to bake one myself.

But that plan didn’t work out for a long time till now which brings us to the second story.

Just like thousands around the globe, I am a huge huge fan of Masterchef Australia. I have not missed a single episode since its inception 8 years ago. For me, this show is not about reality TV, gourmet food, complex recipes, outstanding chefs, creative homecooks or even the amazing hosts. I mean, it’s all of that but for me; it’s all about the basics. It’s all about the Master classes and learning the basics and fundamentals of cooking, be it an ingredient, technique, dish or cuisine. The knowledge that I have acquired from this show over the years has been immense.

And much to my surprise, one of the Masterclasses by Matt Preston turns out to be cheesecake. For me, this was a sign from the culinary God to try my hand at making a cheesecake. As always Matt made it super simple and taught us the secret to a deliciously creamy and simple vanilla cheesecake.

I, ofcourse, had to fiddle with the recipe and make it my own but the recipe is quite similar to his. For that hint of spice, I added crushed green cardamoms to the cream cheese and for the base, I used a mix of macadamias and digestive biscuit crumble for that nutty buttery and toasty flavour.

So, here’s presenting my Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble.

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

If it was summer, I would have garnished with some fresh berries but for the chilling weather here, all I could think of was some sort of a caramel sauce. But that would have made it very heavy and I was looking for a light dessert. So I kept it plain and paired it with a glass of sparkling Pinot instead.

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

If you notice the photographs, you will see a crack on the surface. Well, that’s nothing to do with the recipe but rather my clumsiness while moving the cheesecake to a platter. I had two choices; to photograph the cake with that crack showing or to make another one from scratch just for the photographs. I chose the former, because beautiful and delicious food does not have to look perfect and this is no commercial photography assignment. So enjoy the cake guys, with the imperfections.

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

(Psst….this has nothing to do with the recipe but this year, I also got to attend the shooting of one of the Masterchef episodes. For those who are following the show, it was the carnival one where I got to meet Nigella Lawson. Yes!)

At the shooting of Masterchef Australia Season 8 with Matt Preston and Nigella Lawson - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

Crumble Base:

  1. 175gms digestive biscuits
  2. 175gms raw macadamias
  3. 60gms caster sugar
  4. 60gms melted unsalted butter

Cream cheese filling:

  1. 750gms cream cheese (room temperature)
  2. ½ tsp powdered green cardamom seeds
  3. 230gms caster sugar
  4. A good pinch of salt
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  7. 1 tsp vanilla essence
  8. 300ml double cream

Others:

  1. 23cm spring form cake tin
  2. Aluminium foil
  3. Roasting tray (ensure that the cake tin fits in snugly)

Method:

For the crumb base:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. Line the cake tin with baking paper (bottom and sides). I first coat the base and sides with a thin layer of butter and then place the baking paper so that it sticks properly. Take 3-4 sheets of aluminium foil and double wrap the outside of the cake tin like a jacket of sorts. (This is to prevent water from getting in and also add to the bain marie effect while baking the cheesecake).
  3. Blitz the biscuits and macadamias in a processor to a fine crumb and then add the caster sugar. Blitz again to combine and then add the melted butter. Blitz for a few more seconds to combine.
  4. Transfer this crumble to the cake tin and spread evenly. Using a spoon, pat down tightly especially evening out at the edges. (If you prefer a thinner base, use lesser quantity of the crumb).
  5. Bake this for 10 minutes; remove and set aside to cool well.

For the cheesecake filling:

  1. Put on the kettle water for hot water to pour in the roasting tray.
  2. To make the cream cheese filling, add the softened cream cheese to a cake mixer and beat for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy.
  3. Then add the caster sugar and beat well till the sugar has combined and dissolved well.
  4. Add one egg at a time, making sure each has dissolved well before adding the next one.
  5. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the lemon juice, vanilla essence, cardamom powder and salt. Beat till combined and add the double cream. Beat again just for a few seconds till the cream has combined well.
  6. Pour into the cake tin with the cooled crumb base. Tap to even the surface and place the tin inside the roasting tray.

To bake:

  1. Place the roasting tray inside the oven and carefully pour the hot water into the tray to atleast half the height of the cake tin (around 2 cm).
  2. Bake for 65 minutes or till golden and cooked through at 175°C.
  3. Once baked, turn off the oven and allow the cake to cook down for at least 1 hour inside the oven (with the door closed).
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the cake tin.
  5. Enjoy!

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing

It’s been a pretty ‘meh’ week so far and I can’t wait for it to get over. My health took a beating and what followed were days of extreme fatigue and tiredness. And I think when women fall sick, we tend to suffer more emotionally than physically.

The week actually started off on a really good note. On Monday, I went on an impromptu lunch date with two of my girlfriends and we had a really good time. Those stolen couple of hours for ourselves were a blessing in our otherwise harried lives. But the euphoria didn’t last long because by the end of the day, I started feeling weak and terrible.

I hardly got any cooking done, surviving on takeaways and basics the whole week. I am quite behind on deadlines but I really couldn’t care less. A big lesson I have learnt is to listen to your body and slow down when it tells you to and I am doing just that. And since I hadn’t tried out anything new, I decided to share with you guys a gorgeous salad that I did a while ago for a client – a Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

If you like delicate flavours, then you will love this crab salad. It’s light and summery with a hint of heat from the chillies and aromatics. And that fresh herb dressing only adds to the sweetness of the crab meat.

Purchasing crab meat can be an expensive affair and I would recommend getting those huge mud crabs and taking the meat out yourself. A bit time consuming but way more affordable. And if you have kids, get them onto it…will keep them silent for a while though you might end up with shells all around.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Excellent as a refreshing salad on its own, but it can become the most gorgeous looking party canapé just as easily. I used fried Indian pappads to become a crunchy vehicle for this beautiful salad. You can find all sorts of small sized pappads in Indian stores (sometimes in major supermarkets too). I used the masala pappads for that extra dash of flavour but you can use plain/pepper or cumin studded ones. Generally as an accompaniment, I tend to roast the pappads but for a canapé, I prefer fried as it stays crisp for longer.

You could also opt for crackers or mild flavoured potato crisps….anything crispy that doesn’t overtake the sweet freshness of the salad. A glass of sparkling and this pretty canapé is bound to get conversation flowing….

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

And as always, I love to hear from you when you have tried any of my recipes. Feel free to drop a comment, mail or share on social media (remember #thespiceadventuress so that I will not miss it). Have a great weekend folks!

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms white crab meat
  2. 1 small Lebanese cucumber; chopped finely

Read the full recipe here…..

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

 

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