Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese

Is there something called ‘too many’ pasta recipes?

Well, not in our household. Pasta recipes are often like that almost one-pot meal that is so quick to put together which is what most of us are looking for on a daily basis. And the non-saucy ones make the perfect leftovers for the next day lunch boxes.

In fact, I make the heavy, sauce based pasta dishes only occasionally. I tend to make pesto a lot, several variations of it, depending on what the herb garden is producing in abundance. I also enjoy roasting tomatoes and bell peppers for a thick sauce which is used along with pasta and other veggies. I use cold cuts, sausages and prawns a lot too as these need much less time to cook when compared to other meats.

While I prefer most of my everyday pasta dishes to go easy on cheese, today’s dish intrigued me as I had never paired goat’s cheese with pasta before. I have had it plenty on a cheese board but never with pasta. And when I came across some delicious Yarra Valley goat’s cheese, I knew I just had to try this dish out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a fairly simple pasta dish with very few ingredients and hence the flavour depends on the quality of spinach and goat’s cheese used. I added some red chilli too, to add another dimension to the overall flavours.

The best type of pasta for a dish like this is the thin noodle like ones, usually referred to as spaghettini. Its light and the perfect shape and texture to absorb flavours especially when there is no sauce or too many ingredients vying for attention.

Let’s get on to the recipe then…and do share your feedback with me if you happen to try it out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gm dried spaghettini
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 3 garlic cloves; crushed and finely chopped
  4. 1-2 long red chilli (less heat variety; use less or omit depending on heat preferences)
  5. 150gm baby spinach leaves
  6. ¼ cup basil; torn
  7. 150gm goat’s cheese
  8. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per packet instructions; drain (reserving ½ cup water) and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and chillies; sauté on low heat for a minute.
  3. Then add the spinach leaves and cook on medium heat till just wilted.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with half of the reserved pasta water. Toss on high heat for about a minute.
  5. Remove from heat and fold in the basil and goat’s cheese
  6. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

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Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew

There is so much ‘noise’ in our lives these days.

An avalanche of incessant chatter that creeps into our everyday lives in the form of social media, Whatsapp groups, gimmicky news channels and tabloids. And it requires a conscious effort to stay amidst all this noise, yet be able to hear your ‘voice’ loud and clear!

My life revolves around the digital world and social media is one of the most effective tools I use on a daily basis for work. So it requires all the more effort to stay quiet, yet make sure my work gets seen and heard without adding to the noise.

I have no tips and strategies because I struggle with it too. And the only way I steer clear is by using the digital medium responsibly. Consume only what is relevant and speak only when I really have something to say. Not when others think I must speak…..

And of course, mute and log out are my favourite buttons.

On that note, let’s get to today’s recipe – a warm, comforting bowl of Indonesian style spicy braised fish stew.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Adapted from ‘smor ikang’, an Indonesian style fish stew, this dish is a hearty and comforting one. A one pot meal with succulent barramundi cubes in a flavourful broth and rice noodles to accompany. The key spice in this stew is mace, which lends a pungent yet sweet flavour that pairs well with the fish. You may also add a mix of seafood like squid, prawns etc….

The cooking time is considerably less as it is a seafood stew unlike the meat ones which take a fair bit of time. This fish stew almost feels like an Asian noodle soup and makes a great one pot meal for the whole family. Its light yet so flavourful…a huge pot of this on a cold, wintry night would be just amazing.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 3 barramundi fillets; cut into cubes
  2. 2 medium potatoes; cut into small cubes
  3. 5-6 Asian shallots/small onion; finely chopped

Find the full recipe here.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood. 

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil)

It’s a beautiful, bright and sunny day today!

I smile as I write this because it’s technically autumn but today feels like a perfect spring day. And I know the cold days are just round the corner so I am glad to soak in the sun while it lasts. (A quick look at the forecast tells me not to get excited as it’s all rain and chills the rest of the week).

Weather plays such an important role in my mood, especially after moving here. While in India, there was only the intense heat to battle but here, it’s all the different seasons and with Melbourne being a little crazy on the weather front; it has been a long journey learning how to deal with it from wearing the right clothes, eating the right food and planning our everyday life around it.

But I think I can say that I seem to have adjusted well. While the changing seasons still has an effect on my overall mood, I don’t get too worked up about it instead learning to embrace and enjoy the beauty of each season.

And that brings us to today’s recipe.

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

Soups are one of my favourite categories of dishes to make during autumn and winter. It’s warm, hearty and comforting with minimal effort. It’s a really easy dinner, makes excellent leftovers and a great way to try out new veggies. Like parsnip, in my case.

I think the only reason why I have never cooked with parsnip before is unfamiliarity. It’s not a common one in South India, so I have never really tasted it before. Hence, it’s not a veggie I reached out for while shopping. In fact, as I pick up the carrots often placed nearby, I make a mental note to check out a recipe and then buy it; but that has never happened too.

This time I was determined to get parsnip and though there were many recipes that I had bookmarked, I wanted something familiar hence opted for this soup. This potato soup is one I make often so adding parsnip too seemed like a good idea, at least the first attempt wouldn’t be disastrous.

But this potato and parsnip soup turned out to be no disaster. Instead it quickly became one of our favourite soups for the season, especially with that really moreish, savoury addition of bacon and chilli oil.

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yes, you heard it right…chilli oil! Not just for dumplings, it’s one of my favourite toppings for soups, stews, just about anything. I love that spice hit, a depth of flavour that cannot be explained in words. Well I don’t make the chilli oil myself; it’s so easy to get at any Asian grocer or supermarket. And the crispy prawn ones are the best!

If you prefer to make a vegetarian version, skip the bacon and chilli oil; instead add bread croutons and a dash of Tabasco or sriracha if you like the spice kick.

I prefer not to use cream, instead always use a dash of milk to lend that sweet creaminess to the soup.

So let’s get cooking Potato and Parsnip Soup with bacon and chilli oil. I am sure you are going to make it plenty during the coming months….

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 2 large potatoes; skin peeled and diced
  2. 2 parsnips; skin peeled and diced
  3. 1 medium onion; chopped
  4. 1 garlic clove; crushed
  5. 2 tbsp butter
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 5 thyme sprigs (including garnish)
  8. 1 litre vegetable stock (chicken stock works great too)
  9. 150ml milk
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Black pepper; to season
  12. 150gms bacon; finely chopped
  13. Chilli oil (I used crispy prawn head chilli oil)

Method:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the oil and butter. Add the garlic and onions; sauté till the onions are softened.
  2. Then add the potatoes, parsnip and 3 thyme sprigs; mix well to combine and add the stock. Bring to boil, then lower heat and cook covered till the veggies are cooked well and mushy.
  3. Once the veggies are cooked, turn off heat and allow to cool lightly before blending the whole mixture.
  4. Return to heat and add the milk; taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. In another pan, add the chopped bacon and sauté on low heat till crispy. No extra oil is required as the bacon releases enough oil.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with bacon, chilli oil and thyme.
  7. Enjoy to your heart’s content.

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy)

Okra/bhindi/ladysfinger – my absolute favourite vegetable. In fact if you ask me what would I like my last meal on Earth to be, I would say chappathi, lentils and okra (just the way my mom makes).

I have loved every single okra preparation I have had till now in my life. Guess I love this veggie so much that even a bad dish wins approval from me. My love for okra is quite legendary at home that my siblings often tell my mom not to ask what I would like to eat (when on vacation) as I would say an okra dish.

While I enjoy every style of okra preparation, one of my all time favourites is the stir fried one with lots of onions, garlic and chillies. This okra/bhindi raita is another favourite of mine; pairs so well with a simple pilaf.

But today, I am sharing an okra dish that I have had only at restaurants till now. Dahi Bhindi or okra in creamy yoghurt based gravy is a popular dish in the Northern parts of India. Best paired with chappathis (Indian flatbread), this dish is an absolute winner if you love okra.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Most people are put off by the slimy texture of okra and there are a few tips by which you can prevent this. The first tip is to wash and dry the okra well. After draining the excess water, I use a kitchen towel to completely dry the okra before cutting it which greatly helps to reduce the slimy texture.

Also, lightly frying the okra before adding it to the gravy helps to prevent it getting slimy. In a non stick or cast iron pan, add the okra pieces and lightly fry with no oil (or with just a tsp of oil) on low heat. I always follow this method if I am using the okra especially for curries or gravies.

Another tip is not to stir the okra around too much while cooking. Always cook on medium heat and stir only occasionally.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms okra/bhindi/ladysfinger, remove head and cut into half
  2. 1 Spanish onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  4. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 1 cup thick yoghurt
  7. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  8. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  9. Ground masala
  • ¾ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 3-4 green chillies (adjust according to heat preferences)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 5 shallots/small onion or 1 small red onion; chopped 

Method:

  1. In a non stick pan/kadai, heat 1 tbsp oil and lightly fry the okra till half done. Remove and keep aside.
  2. Grind all the ingredients given under the ground masala to a fine paste like consistency and keep aside.
  3. In the same pan that the okra was fried, heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it begins to crackle, add the chopped onions. Sauté till softened and translucent.
  4. Then add the ground masala, turmeric powder and season with salt. Cook on low heat till the rawness of the ingredients has gone away and oil begins to appear at the sides.
  5. Beat the curd well and add this to the masala; mix well and add enough water to get thick gravy.
  6. Then add the okra and cook on low heat till done.
  7. Remove from heat and add the coriander leaves; mix well.
  8. Keep for atleast 15 minutes for the flavours to develop.

Note – The gravy can thicken on standing or when refrigerated. Add a little water while reheating to get the desired consistency.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

March Favourites + Win Five Double Passes to the Tesselaar KaBloom Flower Festival

It’s been such a fantastic month. With two birthdays in the house and the countdown to Easter, it’s been a month of blessings and celebrations in our home.

Our little boy turned nine, and we celebrated with a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Yarra Valley. I am sure most of you have seen the photographs or read my blog post by now. It was such a magical experience and another item ticked off our bucket list.

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

My birthday celebrations are almost always revolved around food, and this time we celebrated with a fabulous dining experience at Grossi Florentino (Grill). A delicious Tuscan experience at an iconic Melbourne restaurant!

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Easter celebrations were rather low key, just catching up with some friends over the long weekend. But we also had a fun time at the Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival in the Dandenong Ranges.

Everyone’s familiar with the annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival, but for the first time this year, the farm fields have been opened out to the public for more than just tulips. Imagine rows and rows of so many different types of colourful flowers in bloom. The festival is on only for a short period; March 30 – April 15, 2018.

A stunning display of colour and spectacular views abound with fields filled with blossoming Begonias, Petunias, Sunflowers, Hollyhocks, Dahlias, Snap Dragons, Delphiniums and many many more….

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s plenty of activities lined up for the children, with each week taking on a different theme. We attended the Chocomania weekend, but there’s also the upcoming family fun days, music concert days, flower expo etc…..

Lots of great food options too which makes it a great space for a day trip with friends and family. And especially with the school holidays on, it’s perfect for a relaxing fun day with the kids.

The folks at Tesselaar have been very generous to giveaway 5 x double passes to 5 lucky readers. Isn’t that simply great!

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

To take part;

  1. Subscribe to the blog using your email address
  2. Comment below which is your favourite flower along with your email id (to get in touch with you if you win)

Terms and Conditions:

  • Competition open to all living in Victoria, Australia and 18+ years of age.
  • The competition will run from Apr 3rd to Apr 4th The winners will be notified by email and direct messaging and if I do not hear back within 24 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Do share the competition details with your friends too. All the best!

Getting onto the other favourites now;

It’s also been a month of easy cooking and more packed lunch boxes. And two recipes that I cooked often and also shared on my social media was this delicious, tangy lemon rice and a spicy scrambled cottage cheese dish, fondly called paneer bhurji in India.

Lemon Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Paneer bhurji - thespiceadventuress.com

Some of the other recipes I intend to try out soon are these;

I am just a huge fan of devilled eggs!

We go to IKEA just to feast on these meatballs, and now I have a recipe to make it at home itself.

This garlic capsicum chicken is just perfect with my veggie fried rice

This risotto has my name written all over it.

And this pasta can be my alter ego.

I think I am more in love with the photograph than the actual cake.

These chocolate sprinkle cookies are just stunning.

 

Hot Cross Bun Sliders (with Sausage, Fried Egg and Garlic Aioli)

Hot Cross Buns are everywhere!

I mean, it’s practically impossible to walk into any supermarket, bakery or fresh food store without catching a glimpse of beautifully arranged packets of these, right at the counter. And to think, ‘hot cross buns’ was only a childhood nursery rhyme for me till five years ago.

Hot Cross Bun Sliders (with Sausage, Fried Egg and Garlic Aioli) - thespiceadventuress.com

That’s true. I have never seen or eaten a hot cross bun in my life till I moved to Australia. And I clearly didn’t like it the first time I ever tasted it. It was too sweet for me and I didn’t really enjoy the idea of intensely sweet bread with hints of spice.

Fortunately, the dislike didn’t last too long as I discovered better tasting hot cross buns. But still, it was not my favourite and not something I bought to celebrate Easter.

But this year, I was challenged with the task of creating a hot cross bun recipe for another website. I wanted to do something interesting and if possible savoury since there were so many baked/dessert recipes using hot cross buns that were all over the internet.

Quite a bit of research later, I decided to take inspiration from NoshOn.It and came up with these utterly delicious Hot Cross Bun Sliders!

Hot Cross Bun Sliders (with Sausage, Fried Egg and Garlic Aioli) - thespiceadventuress.com

In the process of creating this recipe, I must say that I fell in love with the brioche style hot cross buns from Woolworths. So much lighter in texture than the regular buns, these were not excessively sweet, more buttery which made it absolutely delicious when toasted.

So getting on to the recipe today, I was looking for a recipe that is an answer to the hot cross bun leftover situation that will happen in many households around the world. And these sliders are just perfect for that. Savoury, so that you have a respite from all the sweet treats and also works great as a brunch or Easter morning breakfast.

Using sausage meat to create the burger like patty is a brilliant idea because it is often so flavourful especially if you buy the varieties which have herbs and spices in them. I picked up some Angus beef sausages which were absolutely perfect. All that you need to do is remove the skin, roll and shape the stuffing into patties.

You can use just toasted hot cross buns for making these sliders or make it extra indulgent by going the French toast route. Dip the buns in French toast batter (minus the sugar and spice) and toast to perfection. Believe me, this step changes the game altogether….you will know how delicious only if you make it guys.

Add a fried or poached egg and a drizzle of garlic aioli to finish this absolutely divine rendition of Hot Cross Bun Sliders. Happy Easter folks!

Hot Cross Bun Sliders (with Sausage, Fried Egg and Garlic Aioli) - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Stuff Mums Like, so head over to the website for the full recipe.

 

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios

This dessert recipe is dedicated to all my readers who are constantly asking me to post more sweet and baked treats on my blog.

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios - thespiceadventuress.com

Honestly guys, you know how much I shy away from desserts here. It’s not my biggest strength nor do I have a sweet tooth. So when I finally decide to make one, it must be simple, easy to comprehend and one of those no-fail recipes. And that’s exactly what we are making today – Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Cream Chantilly, Pistachios. Cannot get easier than this!

Easter is almost here, so I thought there would be so many people out there like me who can’t whip up complicated sweet treats. This recipe is a breeze to follow, one that anyone can put together. Good quality strawberries and a great tasting Sparkling is all that you really need to take care of.

As the name suggests, the dessert is just a happy marriage between all the four ingredients.

I used the Yellowglen Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Prosecco blend Sparkling; it has really refreshing, sweet, fruity flavours that is perfect for a dessert like this. Don’t worry about the alcohol bit if you are serving it to children as the quantity is really less. But if you prefer to keep it alcohol free, then use a great tasting non alcoholic sparkling that is easily available at all supermarkets instead.

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios - thespiceadventuress.com

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios - thespiceadventuress.com

Pistachios are for the crunch, adds a savoury, nutty texture that is required to complete the dessert. But you can also use wafers, sweet crisps, biscotti etc……anything that adds a crunch.

And before we get to the recipe, here’s another sweet treat that I made last Easter; a fun project if you have kids at home.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms strawberries; hulled and thinly sliced
  2. 100ml Sparkling wine
  3. Juice of ½ orange
  4. 3-4 tbsp icing sugar (sieved)
  5. ½ cup pistachios; coarsely crushed
  6. Crème Chantilly
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 35 gms icing sugar (sieved)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or vanilla bean paste)

Method:

  1. In a non reactive bowl, combine the strawberries, sparkling wine and orange juice. Add 2 tbsp icing sugar (sieved), mix well to combine and taste. Add more icing sugar if needed. Refrigerate for atleast 15 minutes to macerate or until required.
  2. To prepare the crème Chantilly, whisk the thickened cream, scraped seeds from the vanilla bean and icing sugar in a bowl till soft peaks form (take care not to over whip). Refrigerate until required.
  3. To assemble the dessert, add the macerated strawberries to 1/4th of the dessert glass/bowl; top with the cream and garnish with crushed pistachios.
  4. Serve immediately.

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios - thespiceadventuress.com

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios - thespiceadventuress.com

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience

Grossi Florentino, the restaurant, needs very little introduction and Guy Grossi, the Chef, needs no introduction at all.

Situated on the iconic Bourke Street, Grossi Florentino is the brainchild of Guy Grossi, a much celebrated Chef both at home and internationally. His cuisine and restaurants are inspired by his Italian heritage. Grossi Florentino has three different areas to dine in – Cellar Door, Grill and Florentino; all three integrated by Italian food and hospitality yet all three exploring the varied nuances of the cuisine.

This was our first experience at Grossi, and we had chosen to dine at Grill as a special birthday dinner.

Reservations are always necessary, especially for dinner as it’s a small space and it is definitely not a place to stop by for a quick dinner. Grill is open for lunch too, and offers a set menu; a more affordable quick option for the office goers or those catching up in the CBD for a quick lunch.

An open kitchen, dark wood paneling with gold accents, leather seating, Grill has a very relaxed yet sophisticated ambience. It’s an eclectic mix of tradition meets modern which reflects on the menu too.

The wine list at Grill is extensive, so unless you are sure of what you like to drink, asking recommendations is a great idea. The staff are extremely cordial and take care of your needs really well.

We decided to start with a glass of Domaine Simha ‘Simla Field Blend’ 2016 , a Riesling blend from Derwent Valley, Tasmania. I have wanted to try out the Domaine Simha wines for a while now, especially having written this article on Indian origin wine makers in Australia for Indian Link. Very refreshing on the palate and beautifully balanced, I would strongly recommend you to try this one out.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

We began the meal with a plate of freshly shucked oysters with Chardonnay Vinegar followed by Kingfish Crudo, Capers, Horseradish. Both were excellent especially the kingfish, really fresh and beautiful light flavours to start off the meal.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

The next two dishes we tried from the Antipasti section was the Zucchini flowers, Ricotta, Eggplant Caponata and Pickled Tongue, Salsa Verde, Radish. The stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta is an Italian classic, one that we love ordering always. The crunchy deep fried zucchini flowers with a creamy ricotta filling is a match made in heaven; the addition of the caponata was new for me, but paired well.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Sam was a bit hesitant ordering the pickled tongue; it was the first time we were going to taste it but the staff assured it was gonna be delicious. And we were so happy we did, because for me, it was dish of the day. Perfectly chargrilled cubes of beef tongue with onions, radish and a delicious Salsa Verde to accompany, it was really amazing and highly recommended.

For the sides, we chose Italian Flat Beans with Tomato; delicious and different to the regular salads and potato wedges. And it paired well with the mains we had chosen.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, my son chose an entrée sized portion of Taglierini, Prawns, Zucchini. The best out of the three mains we had, the pasta was perfect al dente tossed through the most flavourful combination of prawns, zucchini and herbs. Definitely a must try.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

We went for a second glass of wine, this time a glass of Montesecondo Sangiovese, 2014 from the Tuscan region. Full bodied and rich, yet balanced, this was recommended by the staff and it was a great choice indeed.

I chose the day’s special which was a whole baby snapper with radicchio and tomatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection but somehow the combination with radicchio didn’t really work for me. Perhaps I didn’t enjoy the combination of the bitterness from the radicchio with the tomatoes, not really sure but definitely not impressed with the flavours.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, Sam chose the O’Connor, Flat Iron,  Angus which was served with horseradish and Dijon mustard. The meat was definitely flavourful but not as tender as he had hoped it to be. Not a letdown, but not to the expected standards of the place.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

And since we had clearly overeaten, we decided to share one dessert amongst us so we went for the Beurre Bosc Pear, Honey Crunch Ice Cream. It was light and delicious, a great way to end the meal. But not before some coffee and Italian biscotti.

11

To summarize, the mains didn’t excite us as much as the antipasti but there were clearly many dishes that stood out in taste and quality from the night. Service is excellent and definitely a place we would love to go back.

Grossi Florentino (Grill)

80 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone. 03 9662 1811

http://www.florentino.com.au/grill

Timings:

Monday to Saturday
Lunch from 12pm
Dinner from 5.30pm

Grossi Florentino Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties)

Snacks are a big thing in our home, not store bought but homemade ones that are devoured with much gusto after the boys get back home from school and work.

Snacks are also an important part of every party we hold at home, because we really love the sit down, relaxed, course by course dinner over the buffet style anyday. Hence there are plenty of recipes on my blog for this category but I realised that somehow there aren’t many vegetarian options in the list.

And I often get requests from friends asking for vegetarian snack or appetizer recipes which got me thinking that I need to make more of these. And that’s how these chickpea tikkis happened.

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chickpea is a popular ingredient worldwide, amongst all cuisines, vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike. We also know that it is a really good source of protein which makes it a pretty healthy option too. I love using chickpeas in curries, rice dishes, salads, dips etc…. but this is the first time I have tried out a tikki using it.

This recipe is actually an adaptation of several kebab and tikki recipes that I have made before or read in books. I didn’t want to use potatoes as the binding agent, so instead used soft white bread and flour. Since the latter are in small amounts, the taste and texture of the chickpeas really shines through. And these are grilled with very less oil on a flat nonstick or cast iron pan because it has a crumbly texture.

So let’s get on to making these delicious, super moreish chickpea or chana tikkis/patties, best paired with this mint coriander chutney. And if you try it out, do tag me in your photograph (#thespiceadventuress) so that I can see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups chickpeas; cooked in salted boiling water till mushy
  2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 2-3 medium garlic cloves; grated
  4. ½ inch ginger; grated
  5. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  6. 1 tsp chaat masala
  7. 1 tsp coriander powder
  8. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  9. A pinch of asafoetida/hing
  10. 2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (more if necessary)
  11. 1-2 tbsp white flour
  12. Vegetable oil
  13. 1 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  14. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight; cook in salted boiling water till soft and mushy. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and allow to crackle. Then add the chopped onions, garlic paste and ginger paste. Sauté till the onions are softened and light brown.
  3. Next add the cooked chickpeas, coriander powder, red chilli powder, chaat masala and asafoetida. Season with salt (remember the chickpeas already has salt) and cook on low heat for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped coriander leaves and remove from heat. Allow to cool well before grinding.
  5. Once cooled, grind the chickpea mixture without water. Then add the flour and breadcrumbs and knead to dough like consistency. Add more breadcrumbs till you get the desired consistency.
  6. Slightly grease your palms using oil and shape the chickpea mixture into round patties/tikkis. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes just to firm up but bring back to room temperature before grilling.
  7. Heat oil in a nonstick pan, just enough to coat the surface as we need to lightly grill the patties and not shallow fry. Place the tikkis on the pan and cook well on one side before flipping over. Take care as you flip over as the tikkis have a crumbly texture or it will break.
  8. Serve warm with mint coriander chutney.

Note – Another way of enjoying these tikkis or patties is by crushing it between a pav; add a dollop of chutney and you have another version of your favourite vada pav. Or go Western by crushing it lightly between a slider bun and add some greens and your favourite mayo for a vegetarian slider.

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

We have a tradition that we follow for Adi’s birthday; it began 2 years back when he turned 7. We decided that instead of having a regular birthday party every year, we would try and do an activity/experience/travel etc…. something off our bucket list every alternate year.

So it all began with a helicopter ride for his 7th birthday, which I have written about here. And before we knew two years had passed by and this year, we decided to treat him to a hot air balloon ride!

There are quite a few Australian travel and tourism accounts that I follow on Instagram, and that’s how the idea of a hot air balloon ride took shape. I would often see breathtaking images of the balloons on these accounts, both floating around the cityscape and also the picturesque Yarra Valley so it was not long before we decided that this was the experience we wanted to enjoy as a family on his big day.

We didn’t have to spend much time researching the company we wanted to book the flight with. Safety was paramount, especially in the wake of the recent tragic balloon accident. So there was to be no shopping around or compromise. And hence ‘Global Ballooning Australia’.

Apart from being endorsed by the State tourism board, a quick look at their website is enough to understand why we went along with Global Ballooning. Safety and experience – that’s what you must look for and the company offers just that. Instead of me rambling on about their safety standards and experience, here is a link that you must check out if you are planning on a hot air balloon ride.

Global Ballooning offers rides in both Melbourne CBD and Yarra Valley. We chose to go with Yarra Valley, because we had already done the helicopter ride in the CBD and wanted a different view to experience. And Yarra is one of our favourite weekend destinations with its picturesque valleys and wineries, so we knew it was bound to be a breathtaking experience.

There are different packages to choose from and we chose the one with the ride and a champagne breakfast afterwards at Balgownie Estate. There are both private and public rides; ours was a public one which means we ride along with other passengers.

It’s always an early start in the morning, at least 2 hours before sunrise when you go hot air ballooning. And the real reason for that is not just to watch the sunrise but the air conditions are best at this time. Instead of driving from home at such an early hour, we decided to stay over at the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel, a vintage stay in the heart of Yarra. A budget friendly stay yet an amazing hotel with so much history and character.

After assembling at the Balgownie Estate, we were briefed by the staff about how we will go about the whole ride, a few safety instructions and other important information about ballooning in general. Then we boarded a vehicle that would take us to the property where we would be assembling the balloon and taking off. This can vary depending on the direction of the wind and where the pilot deems it best to take off.

A five minute drive after which we got to the property and before we began assembling, we were all briefed about the safety instructions. We then got to meet our pilot for the ride, who once again took us through safety procedures and instructions. And then we began to assemble….

I think the rest of our experience is best explained through photographs…..

The setting up process:

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Photograph Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Up in the air we go….. (The next two photographs were taken by the camera that was attached to the balloon and can be bought from the company for a nominal fee).

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

The magic of a sunrise….

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Breathtaking views all around!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yering Station

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Our pilot Bryan…..so witty and charming!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Time to land….

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Packing away the balloon!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

One last click before we say goodbye!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Off to Balgownie Estate for an amazing breakfast (we were ravenous!)…

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

And before we leave, a bit of wine tasting at the Cellar Door…

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

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