Jura Z6 and Impressa A9 (a Review) + a Recipe for Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing

Jura….the coffee and the machine!

Jura Impressa A9 - a review - thespiceadventuress.com

Unlike what most people think, it is a very daunting task for a food blogger (the honest types!) to do a product review. Starting from the day the mail from the brand arrives in my inbox to the day the final post gets published, I am under a certain kind of pressure to ensure that the review is honest, frank and unbiased. And there are days of research and testing out that happen behind the scenes before I say that I liked and enjoyed a certain product.

It was the same with Jura, albeit a bit easier because I fell in love with their coffee machines right on day one when I got to attend the launch of their latest machine, the Z6. And of course the fact that coffee is indeed a passionate obsession of mine.

Unlike the usual glamorous media launches, I was lucky to attend a trade launch which gave me a lot of insight into the technology and superior craftsmanship that Jura employs across all their coffee machines. Armed with all this information (and plenty of coffee sampling at the venue), I gave my nod to review two Jura coffee machines – Z6 and Impressa A9. So read on to know my thoughts and experiences over the past two months with these beauties and there’s also a delicious Mocha Cake recipe waiting at the end for you.

Jura Z6 launch - thespiceadventuress.com

Let me rewind a bit and give you a brief intro of the company itself. Jura is a Swiss brand which began manufacturing coffee machines as early as 1937.  Over the years, they have launched several lines of premium automated coffee machines which clearly puts them as one of the top leaders of the coffee machine world.

Early this year, Jura unveiled its latest innovation in automated coffee technology – the Z6 which incorporates the Pulse extraction process which ensures that perfect shot of espresso right in the comfort of your home. The tagline ‘be your own barista’ is befitting to the Z6 (this one should totally be on your Christmas wish list guys).

Jura Z6 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

Picture courtesy – Jura Australia

Jura Z6

Looks – I know that I should be speaking of technology first but looks do matter, right? The glamorous black and stainless steel exterior (that combination is a weakness of mine when it comes to gadgets) of the Z6 ensures that it sits pretty on your table top; in fact this machine is truly a conversation starter.

Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P) – This is the game changer which makes the Z6 stand apart from all the other automated coffee machines in the world. A process which optimizes the extraction time so that you can enjoy the perfect short speciality coffees like espresso and ristretto.

Latte Macchiato with Jura Z6 - thespiceadventuress.com

Functionality – At the touch of a button, literally! The Z6 has a rotary selection feature and a TFT display using which you can select the type of coffee you wish to have and also customize it to your specific needs like coffee strength, amount of milk foam, coffee etc….. You can even rename the customized versions and position it on the main screen. Like I said, the perfect coffee at the touch of a button.

Jura Z6 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

Taste – which is how most of us judge a cuppa. Intense and full bodied with a velvety soft and long lasting crema, each cup promises a café like experience every single time. I am more of a cappuccino girl and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the Z6 makes an absolutely stunning cappuccino at par with some of the best cafes of Melbourne. Apart from the Jura beans, I also used several different varieties of coffee beans and it was quite interesting to experience the different tastes and flavours.

Order your coffee through an app! You heard it right; an exclusive Jura app that can be downloaded on your phone and used to customize and order your coffee. My son had such a fun time playing the ‘virtual barista’ at home. (Don’t forget to keep a cup in place though!)

Jura app - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

Cleaning this machine is a breeze. The machine will notify when the drip tray needs to be emptied or when the used ground coffee container needs to be emptied. The large rectangular water tank sits at the side and is easy to remove, clean and fill. The machine also self cleans 15 minutes after the last use and shuts down itself. A milk clean must be done everyday (if you use milk) and all that you need to do is add the cleaning liquid to a small container and hook it to the machine.

Disadvantages:

Well none really, except the price tag! But I am not sure if I can call this a disadvantage as you bring home a premium Swiss fully automated coffee machine, endorsed by none other than Roger Federer. Retailing at $3790, the Z6 does not come cheap. It must be seen as an investment and a replacement for all those expensive café style coffees that you usually indulge in.

And be prepared for friends to drop in more often once you have introduced them to the Z6!

Jura Impressa A9

Jura Impressa A9 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

When discussions regarding reviewing the Z6 were going on, I requested to the client that I would like to review another coffee machine too, one which might be a bit more affordable to coffee lovers like me. And that’s how I got to play around with the Impressa A9.

Smaller size – The A9 is a much smaller machine when compared to the Z6, perfect for those who live in apartments or do not have lots of bench space. The same black and stainless steel looks that I love with a simple yet distinct design.

Simplicity – While the Z6 speaks of sophistication, the A9 focuses on simplicity. I loved the fact that the machine is much simpler to use in spite of having 12 specialities of coffee to choose from. The cappuccino doppio was my favourite program in this one. The touchscreen is simple to use with clear and concise directions; you hardly need a catalogue to use the machine.

Taste – While the A9 does make a really good cup of cappuccino, it might not be the best if you are an espresso lover. And that’s where the difference lies; A9 is currently not equipped with the P.E.P technology which means that while the coffee is still good, it does not have the same full bodied taste that the Z6 will give you. But this difference is most noticeable with the short blacks and espressos.

Cost – Retailing at $1990, the Impressa A9 is definitely more affordable for the average household. While it may not bring the sophistication of the Z6, it still is a really good fully automated coffee machine to make your favourite brew.

Jura Impressa A9 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

So which one is going to be in your Christmas wish list? I definitely have my eyes on the Z6…..

And since all of you have been patient and with me on this Jura coffee journey, it wouldn’t be nice if I didn’t share a great recipe here – one that uses coffee ofcourse!

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

While there were a zillion ideas buzzing through my mind, especially ones like this Grilled chicken with Coffee Spice Rub, I decided against all of it and instead went hunting for a simple and basic coffee infused cake.

That search ended when I found this super simple and easy Mocha Cake in Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Bake’. Now that’s a cookbook you need if you want to learn some baking fundamentals.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; the school holidays had just started so this Mocha Cake became a fun project for me and my little champ. Adi was with me through every step of this, right from weighing, mixing, baking to decorating the cake and also photographing it. The cake looks messy, the frosting is sloppy and the photographs are inconsistent. I can vouch for the fact that the cake was delicious though and we had fun like we never had before and I guess that’s all that matters.

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

And at the end of it, Adi ordered me to say an official thanks to him on my blog post (in fact he insisted on it). So Adi, thanks a lot for helping me bake and photograph this beautiful Mocha Cake.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

(5 x 9 inch loaf tin used)

  1. 175gm self raising flour
  2. 40gm cocoa powder
  3. 220gm raw brown sugar
  4. 175gm unsalted butter, melted
  5. 4 medium eggs, separated
  6. 70ml strong coffee, cooled
  7. 3 tbsp water
  8. Coffee butter icing; to decorate
  9. Dark chocolate sprinkles; to decorate

For the coffee butter icing:

  1. 100gm butter, softened
  2. 200gm icing sugar, sifted
  3. 4 tbsp strong coffee, cooled

Method:

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly butter and line the loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl and add the sugar; stir to combine well.
  3. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, coffee and water into the dry mixture and beat using a hand held whisk or beater till smooth.
  4. Whisk the egg whites in another large clean bowl till fairly stiff peaks form and then gently fold this into the cake mixture in three batches. Be gentle but make sure no lumps of egg white remain.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smoothen the surface and tap to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Bake at 175°C for 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 160°C and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in the loaf tin for at least 10 minutes before lifting it out. Then leave on a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating with the butter icing.
  8. Once cooled, cut the cake along the middle horizontally into two equal halves. Apply half of the icing on the lower half and then place the other half of the cake on top. Spread the remaining icing on top and decorate with the dark chocolate sprinkles.
  9. Allow the cake to settle for half an hour before cutting.

Note – I used a conventional oven; you may need to adjust the temperature and timings depending on the kind of oven you are using. To be on the safe side, check after the first 20 minutes and adjust temperatures accordingly.

To make the icing:

  1. Place the softened butter in a large clean bowl and beat till soft.
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar in batches and continue to beat.
  3. Add 3-4 tbsp cooled coffee and beat till smooth and creamy.

Enjoy! And if you do bake this, do send me a picture or tag me in your post using #thespiceadventuress

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post and the coffee machines were given on loan to me by Jura Australia. But all the opinions expressed are truly mine. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onam Sadya……and memories of a delicious childhood

A delicious childhood……I know that’s not an appropriate adjective at all but that’s exactly what my childhood was like. Great food always for the family and for the zillions of friends who came home to eat my mom’s food.

Just like most people, there are so many memories associated with food from my childhood. But nothing else perhaps is as profound as the Onam sadya; maybe because it came only once a year or maybe because I was always fond of large feasts.

Growing up in a foreign country, the food is how I connected with my birth land. So when I think of Kerala, it is the food that rushes to my mind especially the rather elaborate Onam sadya. I can still remember my mom rising at the crack of dawn to prepare all the delicacies for the feast and me, her little assistant hovering around in the kitchen. As I grew, so did the responsibilities….chopping veggies and washing dishes. While the former was a prize to be conferred upon, the latter I thoroughly disliked even to this day.

After I got married and had my own small family, the Onam sadya was a tradition I continued. While I am deeply spiritual but not religious, there are very few cultural traditions or festivals that are celebrated in our home unlike many Indian families. But the Onam sadya has stayed with us because for me, it was all about sharing a slice of my childhood with my little boy.

This year, I have invited my girl gang to join me in the celebrations and excitedly looking forward to the day. Do you celebrate Onam at home or have friends with whom you celebrate? I would love to hear your stories and memories too….

And here is a compilation of some of the dishes that is traditionally served for the sadya. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do not have the entire list but there are quite a few if you need some help preparing for the feast. And if you have nothing to do with this festival, it still doesn’t matter because you get the opportunity to learn a few traditional vegetarian dishes from God’s own country.

Cut Mango Pickle

This is a great example of an instant pickle and with raw mangoes in season, a must have in your refrigerator.

Cut mango pickle (Onam sadya) - an instant pickle made from raw mangoes - thespiceadventuress.com

Puli Inji (Tamarind Ginger Chutney)

A preparation unique to the state, this chutney is all about the balance of flavours. A lipsmacking condiment for the feast.

Puli Inji/Tamarind Ginger Chutney - a classic chutney that forms an integral part of Onam sadya - thespiceadventuress.com

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk)

Succulent melon/gourd pieces simmered in coconut milk and spiced with green chillies. While winter melon is available in some markets, it still might be a tad difficult for everyone to source. Use native Australian cucumbers instead!

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk) - a part of the vegetarian Onam sadya - thespiceadventuress.com

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns)

A lesser known component of the feast, this yam and plantain curry is more famous in the central parts of Kerala. A creamy texture and spiced with black peppercorns, there is a slight twinge of sourness from the curd which completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - an integral part of the Onam feast - thespiceadventuress.com

Potato ishtew (stew)

Another classic, traditional dish that enjoys its quiet spot on the Onam sadya spread. This is one dish where the potato actually gets sidelined and the coconut takes over. The taste that hits your senses is the warm aroma of coconut oil with the rich sweet creaminess of coconut milk against the subtle hotness from the ginger.

Potato ishtew (stew) - a delicious creamy potato dish made specially during Onam - thespiceadventuress.com

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut)

A staple vegetarian dish which can be recreated in a zillion ways using just about all kinds of vegetables, legumes, meat etc…. For the sadya, a thoran is important but you can make any kind you wish to. I chose beetroot because it’s our favourite.

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut) - a vibrant vegetarian dish that is made during Onam - thespiceadventuress.com

Avial (Mixed vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt base)

The most famous vegetarian dish from Kerala, this medley of vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt sauce is simply to die for!

Avial - Mixed vegetables in a creamy yoghurt coconut sauce - thespiceadventuress.com

Thai Baby Brinjal Pachadi (spiced baby brinjal yoghurt dip)

Now you must be wondering what is Thai brinjals doing in Kerala cuisine. Well, it is just my way of using local vegetables. Traditionally a pachadi or yoghurt dip is made using native Malabar cucumbers which is not available here so I substituted it with baby brinjals.

Thai Baby Brinjal Pachadi (spiced baby brinjal yoghurt dip) - thespiceadventuress.com

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns)

Essentially a mixed vegetarian curry which is always prepared using black chickpeas, raw plantain and Indian yams. This dish is a true representation of the state as the main flavour components are coconut and peppercorns. It is the Malabar region that gave ‘peppercorns’ aka ‘black gold’ to the world. So the Kootu curry is a befitting tribute to that discovery which changed the course of the world.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

So that brings us to the end of the list…..I know it’s far from complete but as I said, it’s a work in progress.

Happy Onam folks!

 

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns)

Onam is almost here, just another week to go and most households which celebrate this festival must have begun the preparations.

For those who have not heard of this festival before, Onam is an annual festival that is celebrated in the state of Kerala, South India. The whole state comes together irrespective of caste, creed and religion and every household celebrates it albeit in a small manner. Without going into the specifics, one of the most important aspects of this festival is the feast, also referred to as the Onam sadya.

The sadya is traditionally served on a fresh banana leaf and includes at least 24-28 dishes, sometimes even going as high as 64. Every year I try and add a few recipes to the list here and hopefully, some day I will have the entire compilation. So the next two posts here will be about this ‘delicious’ festival since I will be celebrating it this year too just as I have done for the past 35 years of my life.

Today’s dish is called kaalan (I know it’s a hard one to pronounce for all those who do not know the language) or a yam and plantain curry with coconut, yoghurt and peppercorns. This recipe might sound quite similar to avial but the taste is very different due to the vegetables used and also the texture and consistency.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - an integral part of the Onam feast - thespiceadventuress.com

A couple of days ago, I was on the phone learning how to make this dish from my mom. Even though I am familiar with the consistency of this dish, she kept stressing about its importance. In her words, ‘the consistency must be that if you throw a spoonful of the curry at a wall, it must stay put and not slide down’….. Sigh. Mothers have such a unique way of recipe telling!

Now I am not going to advise you to do the same. Just make sure that the curry is thick enough yet not too dry and the secret to getting that is a spoonful of ghee that you must add at the end. Though other spices are also added, the predominant flavour is that of peppercorns. A slight twinge of sourness from the curd completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup yam; diced
  2. 1 raw plantain; diced
  3. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  4. ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ cup fresh grated coconut
  6. 1 tbsp black peppercorns (adjust to preferences)
  7. 1 green chilli
  8. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  9. ½ cup natural thick curd/yoghurt
  10. 1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  11. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  12. ½ tsp mustard seeds
  13. ½ tsp fenugreek/uluva seeds
  14. 2-3 dry red chilli
  15. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  16. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Add the diced yams, red chilli powder, half of the turmeric powder and salt to a pan; add 1 cup water, bring to boil and cook covered till the yams are completely cooked to a consistency where it can be mashed. Add more water if necessary but not too much; remember that a thick mash is what is needed at the end. (You can use a pressure cooker also).
  2. In another pan, cook the diced plantain with the remaining turmeric powder, water and salt till just done so that the pieces are cooked but still have a bite to it.
  3. Grind the coconut, black peppercorns, green chilli, and cumin along with curd to a fine paste. If the curd is a bit sour, add a pinch of sugar too.
  4. Once the yam is cooked well and mashed, add the plantain to this along with the ground paste. Simmer on low heat till mixed thoroughly. Add the ghee and continue to mix on low heat till the thick consistency is reached. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  5. For the tempering, heat coconut oil and crackle mustards seeds. Add the fenugreek seeds, dry red chilli and curry leaves.
  6. Pour this over the top of the prepared curry, remove from heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - an integral part of the Onam feast - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

August Favourites

Next Sunday is Father’s Day……. and this is for the man who is the most awesome ‘dada’ to my little champ.

Father and Son - thespiceadventuress.com

And this…..for my dad, my hero always!

Father and Daughter - thespiceadventuress.com

Source – Pinterest

For those who missed out, a delicious breakfast smoothie to start off the day on a healthy note.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

And my favourite photograph for the month of August!

Jura coffee machine - thespiceadventuress.com

 

My favourites folder overflowed this month and I had such a hard time picking just a few. But it’s still going to be long, so grab a coffee and enjoy the inspiration.

Does your dad love to wine and dine? Then here are some amazing gift ideas.

One of the less glamorous aspects of recipe development is a lot of hand washing which is why I totally love this nourishing hand wash.

This lady has mastered the art of pampering and I love every single product in her range; this month’s pick is this cleansing oil.

One of the top contenders in my travel bucket list.

What colour is your energy?

Barack Obama…he sure loves kids. Check this out!

This mezze platter is totally my thing.

A quick and delicious weekday dinner; just waiting for my basil to grow again to try this one out.

I ate a lot of these (a lot!) during my uni days.

No one can eat just one.

There can never be too many chicken wings recipes.

This is an interesting collection of traditional Indian dishes; how many do you know?

The fried chicken goes to Asia.

Had to include this in my dinner planning for next week. You will too….

 

 

Transport Public Bar, Melbourne CBD – a Review

Lunch dates with girlfriends is such an awesome thing; infact it must be made legit and compulsory. That few precious hours snatched away from the daily grind and routine is such a relaxing experience for me.

I am lucky to have a few but a solid bunch of girlfriends here in Melbourne with whom I meet at varying frequencies. And we always try and meet up for lunch at restaurants in and around the city which also gives us an opportunity to try out a new place each time. So this time, we headed to the Transport Public Bar in the CBD.

The Transport Public Bar is one that needs no introduction, especially given its location. Though many of us might not have walked into the space, almost all of us would have seen it at some point or even everyday. If location is anything, this place has picked out the most coveted spot; right opposite Flinders station and bang in the middle of Federation Square.

Overlooking the city, Transport bar has an amazing view on offer. Whether you pick your spot outside or inside, it’s a space that you can both relax and soak in the city atmosphere at the same time. We chose indoors as it was slightly chilly. And being a working weekday, there weren’t too many customers which suits just fine when you are catching up with your girl tribe.

For drinks, we decided to go with cocktails as the menu had a few interesting ones. Both the drinks and food menu changes often which is great as this is a space that attracts a lot of regulars.

I chose the Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri, specifically because of those two ingredients. The flavours were distinctly refreshing and even though I expected it to taste summery, it actually reminded me of autumn…

Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

The second cocktail chosen by one of the girls was the Pom Plum Rum (I hope I have got this right), a delicious concoction of rum, cherry and other ingredients. Apologize that I forgot the exact combination; we were having too much fun to get into the details but nevertheless it was delicious and perfect for autumn.

Pom Plum Rum - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the third drink we ordered for the day was the Somersby apple cider…..which really needs no introduction at all.

Somersby apple cider - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

The food at Transport Bar is relaxed and casual; no fancy stuff but crowd favourites created in the most delicious way.  Easy to share food with good quantities is another highlight which works perfect when you are catching up with friends or stopping by for an after work drink or a bunch of tourists.

We ordered three dishes which we shared amongst ourselves and these were;

The Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander – a Mexican delight that just can’t go wrong. Succulent pieces of fish encased in soft tortillas and finished off with coleslaw, salsa, lime, coriander and a dash of sour cream. Absolutely delicious and fingerlickin good.

Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

Simple couldn’t go past the Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter – how can you not love corn on the cob with grilled cheese and that splash of Tabasco to spice it up. Highly recommended especially if you are a corn lover!

Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish was the day’s special – buffalo chicken wings. Yet another classic that was done to perfection. The chicken cooked perfectly and tossed through a delicious buffalo sauce that had just the right kick of heat. Yet another fingerlickin one.

buffalo chicken wings - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

Thoroughly fed and satiated, we said no to dessert this time. Maybe another lunch date to try out the desserts. I am sure we are going back…..

To summarize, a great place to hang out with friends and family. Do make it a point to take out a bit of time from all the stuff you need to get done and catch up with that someone special; small priceless moments of happiness.

Transport Public Bar

Federation Square, Corner
Swanston Street and Flinders Street
Melbourne CBD
Victoria

Phone no: 03 9654 8808
http://transportpublicbar.com.au/

Timings:
All days – 11.00am to 3.00am

 

Transport Public Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me and my friends

 

The Breakfast Smoothie

So I am back peeps, after a brief hiatus…..with a delicious breakfast smoothie.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

As many of you are already aware, I moved homes last week. Just a couple of streets away, but the move didn’t turn out exactly how I had envisioned in my head. It was more intense, full on and plenty of work involved; coupled with bad organization, it turned out to be more stressful on our minds and bodies.

But finally, we are almost settled in the new place. There are still boxes to unpack but the basics are sorted and we are all beginning to feel at home again. Feeling at home again…..that’s a hard one to achieve when you move into a new space. A couple of my friends said that I invest a lot emotionally and physically in a rented property but for me, this space is home. It doesn’t matter who holds the ownership rights….for now, it’s our space and our home which we want to fill with happiness, stories and memories. So yes, I have always and will continue to invest a lot physically and emotionally in every home I live in.

One of the biggest changes has been the fact that after 3 years of our life in an apartment, we moved into a free standing house.  I am ecstatic about the larger space, more storage (for my props!) and a small but real backyard, but I feel a little lost at the same time. I keep forgetting where I have put stuff and then I run around like a headless chicken searching for it. Sigh.

So when it came to doing a blog post, I thought of sharing something simple and everyday like this breakfast smoothie which I made a lot during the past couple of days. High on nutrients to keep me nourished till lunch time and with that dash of chocolate and peanut butter for an indulgent luxurious feel.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

 

I thoroughly enjoy using oats in my smoothies rather than the porridge form; gives the drink a lot more body. I went for almonds because it’s my favourite but use any you wish to or maybe even a handful of different ones. If you have never used peanut butter in a smoothie, then do give it a shot folks; lends such a rich, silky and amazing texture with that hint of nuttiness to the drink.

And of course the chocolate….I was initially leaning towards coffee but then couldn’t look past the delicious blocks of Australian chocolate with 60% cocoa and hints of smoky oak, raisins and dried spices that I picked up from the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice CreameryYarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery (if you haven’t been here, you do need to check it out; perfect for a spring/summer day trip).

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

PS – That ladder has become my new best friend; the cupboards are so high in this house that my puny self cannot function without it!

The Breakfast Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 10 almonds
  3. 1 tsp chia seeds
  4. 1 tbsp grated chocolate
  5. 1 tbsp peanut butter
  6. 2 cups milk
  7. ½ cup water
  8. A dash of honey

Method:

  • Blitz all the ingredients together in a blender.
  • Enjoy

Note:

In summer, add ice cubes and extra milk for a chilled drink; children will love it.

I used honey as a sweetener but you may use fruits like bananas or dry fruits like dates or prunes for the same.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa

Looking at the title, are you wondering where the hell did I find ripe mangoes?

This recipe was developed for a client a while ago when mangoes were in season but I somehow never got around to sharing it with you guys. And since we are moving homes this week, I thought of making these tacos again since I had some leftover prawns in the freezer. That’s when it struck me that I haven’t shared these awesome tacos with you, so here we go – Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

The star of these tacos is ofcourse the prawns that has been cooked in a rich Mexican style tomato sauce with oodles of flavour. All the ingredients are pantry and refrigerator staples, nothing fancy at all. Just get your hands on fresh local prawns and the job is done. Any type of salsa may be used; the mango salsa was a delicious addition because of the sweetness which balanced out the spice kick from the paprika in the prawns.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Not going to keep you longer with small talk today…I am plainly tired from all the packing, cleaning and scrubbing going on so I promise we will talk more when I have finished with all the moving stuff.

And if you love tacos, then you need to check out this one too.

Ingredients:

For the prawns:

  1. 300 gms large prawns; deshelled and deveined
  2. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 small red onion; finely chopped

For full recipe, click here.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

 

 

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns)

A taste of home!

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

The flavours of Kerala can throw a real surprise to those who are not familiar with the state. The style of cooking and choice of ingredients can be so varied from region to region inspite of it being such a small state in terms of topography.

Most people associate Kerala with non vegetarian food, which is understandable given the state’s fixation with seafood and beef. But the land also has a vast repertoire of vegetarian dishes, many of which are practically unheard of like today’s Kootu Curry. A disclaimer here…..there are a few versions of this dish that can be found across the state but the recipe that I am sharing with all of you comes from the Malabar region (which in my opinion is the most delicious!)

So the Kootu curry is essentially a mixed vegetarian curry and is always prepared using black chickpeas, raw plantain and Indian yams. This dish is a true representation of the state as the main flavour components are coconut and peppercorns. It is the Malabar region that gave ‘peppercorns’ aka ‘black gold’ to the world. So the Kootu curry is a befitting tribute to that discovery which changed the course of the world.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

Black peppercorns - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

I am yet to find the Indian variety yams in any of the Melbourne markets, most often I find the other Asian varieties. Now if you are not looking for the exact traditional recipe, you may use that though the taste will vary slightly. Or you could get these traditional Indian ones, which are available frozen in most Indian stores.

The Kootu Curry is also an integral part of the Onam sadya (the banana leaf feast which Kerala is famous for); it’s one of the several dishes that make up the feast. But for everyday purposes, this is best served as a side to steamed rice and dal. To complete, add some pappadums!

So add these ingredients to your shopping list so that we can get cooking Kootu Curry or Kerala style black chickpeas, plantain and yam curry with coconut and peppercorns.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup black chickpeas; washed and soaked overnight
  2. 1 medium sized raw plantain; cut into large chunks
  3. 100gms yam; diced
  4. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  6. ½ cup grated coconut
  7. 1 ½ – 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  8. 2 large garlic cloves
  9. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  10. ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  11. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  12. 2 dry red chilli
  13. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. To a pressure cooker, add the black chickpeas with 1 ½ cups water, season with salt and cook till ¾ ths done.
  2. In another pan, cook the plantain along with red chilli powder, half of the turmeric powder, salt and 1 ½ cups water till done. Drain and keep aside.
  3. Add the diced yams to the black chickpeas and cook till the yams are lightly mushy (use the back of the ladle to mash the yams if necessary). Then add the drained plantain and mix well to combine.
  4. Coarsely crush the grated coconut, peppercorns and garlic in a mortar and pestle or grinder and add this to the cooked chickpeas. Add the remaining turmeric powder and mix well to combine.
  5. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Cook in low heat for 1-2 minutes and remove.
  6. To temper, heat coconut oil in a small pan and crackle the mustard seeds. Then add the curry leaves and dry red chilli. Pour this over the prepared chickpeas and mix well to combine.
  7. Keep covered for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  8. Enjoy with a bowl of rice and dal/lentils.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

July Favourites

Hello, all you lovely people……how have things been at your end?

For me, it’s been a good month…in fact a great month. I have reached that stage in life when great means that everything is stable and life goes on without much hiccups. Nothing exciting has to happen to make it great.

But life’s going to get a bit busy over the beginning of next month. Remember I told you guys about the house hunting, well we are moving in next month so it’s going to be hectic with all the cleaning, packing and rearranging. I am quite excited about the new home because after three years of living in an apartment, we are moving into a house with a backyard (small but a real backyard).

So I might be taking it easy over here. Have planned a few blog posts in advance but not sure how that’s gonna go.

Getting back to this month, here is the quote that I am trying to put into practice. I am a paranoid, clingy mother (who isn’t) but I am also a practical one and keeping the balance is so difficult. As my little fellow is growing up too fast, I need to constantly remind myself to loosen my maternal strings so that he is prepared to face this world on his own when the time comes.

Quote - thespiceadventuress.com

(This photograph was taken when Adi was around 2 at the Birla Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai, South India)

I get a lot of messages asking about food photography, the most common being ‘how to improve my skills’. There’s just one answer……pick up your camera, learn the basics and then practice, practice, practice. There is no other shortcut to it.

I take copious amount of photographs, many make it to the social media and the blog but there are many I don’t share too. And here’s one that I really love…..

Lemongrass - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Most of you loved this Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms. And those who haven’t, please check it out….it’s delicious. There is also a $25 voucher up for grabs if you would like to purchase a WW Fresh Box.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - thespiceadventuress.com

And now it’s time to share my favourites for the month of July, hope you enjoy it. Ciao…

Passion……have you found it?

This is the way we must say welcome to those who come knocking at our country’s doors.

For the budding photographers, this is a must read.

Summer drinks list sorted.

This will be on my summer barbie list. Ok guys, I am getting impatient for summer to arrive.

The ultimate boozy frozen treats for summer. This is the last summer collection, I promise.

What does your astrological sign say about your drinking habits? I am apparently an ambitious social butterfly. Hmmmm…..

How awesome is this!!

I am not a big fan of energy bites but this one’s amazing.

This bowl has me written all over it!

These are what the famous food photographers love to eat. Very interesting.

Prop love for the month; just stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

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