Baked Clams

Clams………do you find it delicious? The answer should be yes if you are taking the time to read through this post.

I love it! But then I love all sorts of seafood which includes all sorts of shellfish too. And clams are high on the favourites list….

Clams are little morsels of deliciousness; there’s not much you need to do but today I have gone all out to re-create this English summer classic.  It’s light but flavoursome from the butter, cream, cheese and white wine. Please don’t start counting calories; let’s just tuck in without any remorse whatsoever.

I found the most amazing fresh clams at the Hellenic Seafood Store inside Dandenong Market. By the way, have you read my previous post? If you haven’t, you need to because it is a guide to some of the best stores in the market and there is also a $200 voucher waiting for a lucky reader.

Clams - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Usually I prepare this South Indian style clams dish but this time, I thought of trying out this recipe. I am a big fan of white sauce, cheese, wine etc… etc…. (Yup you get the picture!). And this recipe for baked clams from an old Rachel Allen cookbook just seemed perfect.

It’s a pretty simple dish actually and extremely easy to prepare even though there are a few steps. It’s important to get your hands on really good quality fresh clams; very little time needs to be spent on cleaning and it also affects the taste.

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

These baked clams will not take you much time which makes it perfect even for a weekday indulgence. A bottle of crisp white wine and some sourdough bread is all you need. But a salad would be a great idea too if you want to balance out the richness of the dish.

So let’s dig in this deliciously creamy and indulgent Baked Clams!

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg fresh clams (weight with shells)
  2. 20gm unsalted butter
  3. 20gm plain flour
  4. 2 tbsp shallots; finely chopped
  5. 1 ½ tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  6. 120ml dry white wine
  7. 100ml water
  8. 200ml double cream
  9. Salt, to season
  10. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  11. 40gm unsalted butter
  12. 40gm Cheddar cheese (you may use Gruyère too)
  13. 25 gm white breadcrumbs

Method:

  • Wash the clams well under cold running water. If there are any clams which will not shut when tapped on the shell, then discard those as it might not be fit to eat.
  • To prepare the roux, heat butter in a pan and add the flour when the butter has melted. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes taking care that the flour and butter does not burn. Remove from heat and keep aside.
  • In a large pot, place the clams, shallots, parsley, wine and water. Cook on high heat allowing the liquid to boil for a couple of minutes and all the clams have opened.
  • Remove the clams one by one from the pot and place in another bowl. If there are any unopened ones, allow more time to cook which will open up the shells. But if any remain closed even after cooking a few minutes, then discard those. Sieve the remaining liquid through a muslin cloth to remove any remaining grit.
  • Return the strained liquid back to heat, bring to boil. Then add the cream slowly and stir well; allow to boil and then add the roux to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the remaining butter, cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • To assemble, place the clams in an oven proof dish, pour the sauce all over the clams and then add the crumb mixture evenly on top. Place in a hot oven or under a hot grill for 1- 2 minutes or till the crust is golden.
  • Serve warm

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dandenong Market – A Slice of History in your Shopping Bag + a Giveaway ($200 Market Voucher)

 

Established in 1866, Dandenong Market is the second oldest and largest market of Melbourne. Often referred to as the Cook’s Market, it has always played a central role in the community – farmers, small business owners and public alike.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

My association with Dandenong Market began in 2013, the year I migrated with my family to Melbourne. Living a stone’s throw away, the market soon became my shopping haven. The vibrant and bustling scenes, fresh produce, spices, friendly vendors calling out their wares were all a reminder of my home in India. And those initial days of newness in a foreign land seemed to diminish away, instead replaced with a sense of belonging.

It’s my weekly trips to the market that has provided a lot of inspiration for the blog in those early days. Even today, a trip to Dandenong Market is enough for me to come back home feeling inspired and bursting with ideas. And that’s largely because of the amazing variety of produce that can be encountered here.

The bustling multicultural community lends a unique charm to the market making it a utopia for food lovers!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The market also conducts free Food Discovery Tours, a perfect way to go behind-the-scenes and get an exclusive glimpse into the everyday workings of a busy market. It also provides a deeper understanding of the produce, sustainability and interesting stories of the traders who runs these businesses.

With over 200 traders, the market is a bustling expanse and private tours like these can be of great help especially when you want to buy the best on offer. There are also different kinds of tours of offer and booking is essential even though the tours operate free of cost. Learn all about the tours and make a booking here.

I was lucky to be taken on a tour by Chef Tim Hollands, who is extremely passionate about Australian produce. In fact Chef Hollands is a well known food consultant and owner of Tim’s Foods and Tim Hollands Catering who is on a mission to introduce fresh Australian produce to the outside world. Food provenance and sustainability are very important to Chef Hollands and I could not have asked for a better tour guide.

Now as I mentioned, the Dandenong Market is huge and bustling with more than 200 traders and it would be impossible to write about each of them. So here is a photographic tribute to some of my favourite traders, shops and cafes to share with you.

(I have provided information regarding each place beneath the photograph, but you can also find more information about the traders here.)

Details of the giveaway for a $200 market voucher at the end of this post.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start the tour with a cup of coffee, shall we? Café Valentina by Melba Coffee is a great place to stop by for a cuppa of your choice. I especially loved the cold drip coffee and you may also like to take home some of their award winning roasted beans.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Hart’s Honey is another favourite of mine and I often stop by to replenish and stock up the honey section of my pantry. Owned by Joza Hart, the stall is very famous for the different varieties of honey like Iron Bark, Mixed Blossom, Red Gum, Leatherwood (from Tasmania) and Manuka (from New Zealand). Hart also stocks creamed honey and honey comb but my favourite is the Orange blossom honey for its citrusy undertones. Do stop by for a chat; Hart is great company and loves to talk about his products.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s a given that you will be shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. Do wander around the different stalls like Luppino Fresh (the oldest trader in the market), S&G Fresh, Alexander Produce etc… to see what’s in season and score a bargain. Markets are all about exploring so refrain from buying all the produce from just one place and rushing out unless you are in a hurry. For me, these braided shallots were the highlight of the day!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam’s Spice and Grocery….the most inspiring space for me in the market. I can easily spend hours here pondering over rows and rows of spices from all around the globe. In fact, most of my spice education happens here. A trip to Dandenong Market is worth it just to visit this store.

All of you know how crazy I am about seafood and Dandenong Market is one of my absolute favourite places to buy fresh seafood. Recommending two shops;

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The first is Hellenic Seafood, owned and operated by the Ganotis family. This is the place for sustainably sourced seafood, extremely high quality produce and my go to store for salmon, red snapper, oysters, mussels, clams etc….

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The second is Schwarze Seafoods, my next favourite because of the sheer variety of seafood available. Especially the place to visit if you are sourcing seafood for traditional dishes from other cuisines like Indian, Asian etc… And to all those who have asked me so many times, I get fresh sardines and mackerel from here most of the time.

There is a great selection of bakeries inside the market and my top two picks would be Baker Boys and Melina’s Bakery & Larder.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Baker Boys is managed by Jawad Zada who fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban rule and arrived as a refugee here in 2001. Since he was a baker there, he continued in the same profession here, taking courses and doing apprenticeships to establish himself as a baker here. While you will find all sorts of baked goods in his shop, my absolute favourite are the Afghan style flatbreads with herbs and chilli flakes……a stunning combination with a delicious lamb curry.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Melina’s is my go to shop for sourdough and rye bread. There are so many different styles available especially for those who are interested in artisan breads and European styles. My favourite would be the plain sourdough which makes an excellent base for a rustic and delicious Bruschetta.

Apart from all the fresh produce, deli, meat and seafood traders, Dandenong Market is also home to other shops, a space often referred to as The Bazaar. This place can indeed be a treasure house if you are willing to spend a little time and walk through the rows of clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, toys etc…..

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

One such store is Linda’s Workshop which specializes in fine pearl jewellery. Rows and rows of beautiful pearl jewellery that won’t break your bank!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The Afghan bazaar is actually located in the meat and deli hall because they also stock a huge variety of Middle Eastern groceries but I would recommend looking at the ornate traditional homewares , tea sets and other kitchenware for such bargain prices.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are a book lover, then you must pay a visit to Volkan Books. Owned by Mustafa, this is a very popular space not just to buy books but also to swap and sell books. And if you bump into me there, do come and say hello.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And even though I have not personally used their services, I was drawn to the beautiful ambience at Christalignment. The staff is trained in supernatural healing, presence therapy, dream interpretations etc…..

If all that shopping and walking around has left you tired, then it’s time to indulge your tastebuds at the Market Square.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start with Saccha for a refreshing glass of cold sugarcane juice. Lez is a veteran of the hospitality industry and he definitely knows to mix his drinks. Opt for the plain freshly squeezed juice or try one of his signature drinks. Highly recommended!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Food from all around the globe is on offer here and some of my favourites include The Grill (for delicious burgers and kransky sausages), Sansan’s Dumpling House (for handmade traditional dumplings, golden pies and soft Chinese buns), Andy’s Mauritian Hut (for dhal puri, curries and vadai/chilli cakes) and Fat Kebabs (for kebabs, Middle Eastern pizzas and the best lahmacun I have ever had).

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you like spicy, rich and bold flavours, then it is PiqNiq Hut that you must head to for delicious Srilankan food. All the traditional favourites like Kothu roti, devilled chicken, goat curry etc…. are available.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Finish off your meal with delicious freshly made doughnuts from the much loved Dandee Donuts, perhaps the most famous of all eateries at the market.

I also had some very interesting conversations, all thanks to the DSLR around my neck.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Like this gentleman from Cairns who is visiting Melbourne and loves the Dandenong Market.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And these two gentlemen who came here 30 years ago from Iran and now call themselves proud Melbournians. It was a joy to see the pride they had in their eyes while speaking of what a welcoming nation Australia is. Let’s keep it that way folks!

I can write forever about Dandenong Market but all good things must come to an end. And we have the giveaway to talk about too;

The folks at Dandenong Market would love to have you and so they are giving away a $200 market voucher to one lucky subscriber.

To enter;

  • Subscribe to my blog using your email id (the subscription box can be found at the top right hand corner on the home page)
  • Sign up to Dandenong Market newsletter here.
  • Leave a comment below stating you have done both.

The competition will run from 15th to 29th March, 2017 and the winner will be drawn on 30th.  Open only to residents of Victoria; the winner will be announced on my social media channels so make sure you are following me.

Good luck folks!

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been drawn. 

February Favourites

The short and sweet month of the year!

February is a rather charming month, isn’t it? Kicks off with the much anticipated Valentine’s Day which might be the cheesiest and most overrated day but one that makes most of us happy and mushy within. The month is short and I always feel the weekends arrive faster (which is awesome!!). And March is not far behind, which for our household means, celebration time with birthdays galore. But I will talk more of that later….

For now, it’s time to reflect and share the happenings of February!

The month started with a feature and interview for the series, ‘The Foodie Files’. Liz is the creative force behind I Spy Plum Pie and her blog is all about delicious vegetarian recipes, sustainable living, eco friendly products, spice conversations etc…. And if these are the topics that interest you, then you need to head over to her space for sure. Also check out my interview for the series here.

Interview, The Spice Adventuress

We attended ‘White Night Melbourne’ this year, our first in four years. It was a tad bit tricky to be out so late into the night with a little boy but we survived and managed to have quite a gala time too. If you would like to see my photographs from the night, visit my Facebook page.

White Night Melbourne'17

I also got the opportunity to attend one of the Dandenong Food Tours, which is highly recommended to all those who love to experience the vast multicultural cuisine of Australia. These food and cultural tours are a real eye opener and is a great way to sample amazing food and also get an insight into the heart and soul of this suburb. Visit here for more photographs from the tour!

Polish Bakery, Dandenong - thespiceadventuress.com

This Asian style Prawn Omelette is my lunch time indulgence!

Asian style Prawn Omelette - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

And my current favourite drink is the Bonamy’s Cider. Made from 100% whole pressed Tasmanian apples and fermented with white wine yeast, which makes it a refreshing, sweet, clean and crisp cider which to me, tastes like a really good sparkling white!

Bonamy's Cider - thespiceadventuress.com

Speaking of drinks, let me introduce you to The ‘Mojito’ Candle from Ariel’s World.

Ariel, The Mojito Candle - thespiceadventuress.com

This scented candle is absolutely delicious; fresh, herby, minty, lemony…..it’s a very light scent that does not overpower but gently adds a whiff of fragrance to your room. I am not a big fan of heavy scents and so this candle is just perfect.

And it’s not just the scent that makes this candle special. It’s Ariel’s story.

Created by Raylene Barton, Ariel’s world is the journey of her little daughter (Ariel) who happens to have Down’s syndrome. And all her namesake scented products raise money for Down syndrome charities; Down syndrome NSW and LifeStart NSW.

Apart from candles, Ariel’s World also has lip balms and scented diffusers, all of which are individually handcrafted in Australia from eco-friendly products. The quality of the products is amazing and I can talk especially about this ‘Mojito’ candle which comes in a beautifully stylish silver container that adds style to your home décor.

Do check out their page and lend your support to this amazing mother-daughter duo making a real difference to the society.

Other faves of the month:

My skin loves this….

Kiehl's Pure Vitality - thespiceadventuress.com

My favourite sunscreen; because it is light, not oily and works as the perfect base for makeup apart from offering good protection.

I needed this nail paint hack, especially for the bright reds.

I wear a lot of Veronika Maine and I have been eyeing this top for autumn.

A big fan of dainty rings like these.

Travel Porn!

9 things your children need but won’t tell you.

Enchiladas, we all love it but check out this one. Major drooling happening!

This Korean fried chicken burger! Fingerlickin good!

Chocolate doughnuts. Need I say more?

Food Photography with a DSLR and why you need to go beyond the auto mode. Taught by none other than Simi of Turmeric n’ Spice…she hardly needs any introduction.

Mac n’ Cheese with a lot of oomph.

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander)

‘Time Flies’ is an age old adage but the supersonic speed at which the flying is happening in my life currently leaves me so lazy to cook. Too many work and personal assignments that leave me completely drained of time and energy that the everyday meals has become such a chore.

And more often than not, it is not the actual cooking that takes time but rather than the planning of ‘what to cook’! So I decided to pull out my cookbooks (the few that I have) and find inspiration amongst the pages.

Today’s recipe is adapted from ‘The F-Word’!

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander) - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Yup, you heard it right. This fantabulous book by Mita Kapur is one of my most treasured ones because it is more than just recipes. It is a glimpse into Mita’s food crazed family and her constant juggles as a working mother. The recipes are from around the world with no borders whatsoever and perfectly suit my style of cooking. I have written more about this book here, if you would like to have a read.

And one of my all time favourite recipes from the book are these Malai Kebabs (minced chicken patties with spices, aromatics and cream).

This time, given the time situation, I chose a simple chicken stir fry. Just a handful of ingredients stir fried in a wok topped over rice or noodles; makes an amazing dinner in no time at all.

Chillies are a key ingredient and I have used both Thai red chillies and large green ones. The original recipe has much more heat but with a 7 year old at home, I had to tone down the heat factor. But it depends on what you like; adjust the number of chillies accordingly.

Always use boneless thigh fillets for making stir fries as the meat is much more tender and juicy while the breast meat often tends to go dry. And of course the wok, never undermine the importance of this cooking vessel in getting that perfect stir fry. A good quality wok is a must have in your kitchen!

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms boneless chicken thigh fillet; cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 3 Thai red chillies; chopped
  3. 3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves (with roots); chopped
  4. 4 garlic cloves
  5. 2 large green chillies
  6. 2-3 tbsp fish sauce
  7. 2-3 tbsp oyster sauce
  8. 4-5 tbsp vegetable oil
  9. Salt; to season

For garnish:

  1. 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; chopped
  2. 1 spring onion (leafy part); sliced

Method:

  • Using a mortar and pestle, pound the red chillies, garlic and coriander leaves into a coarse paste; keep aside.
  • Heat 3-4 tbsp oil in the wok and add the chicken pieces. Stir fry the chicken pieces on high heat till 3/4ths done and remove.
  • In the same wok (add a bit more oil if necessary), add the pound chilli mixture and sauté on low heat for about a minute. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce and whole green chillies; also return the chicken pieces to the wok.
  • Stir fry on medium heat till done; add salt only if necessary.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and spring onions
  • Serve hot.

 

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander) - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Asian style Prawn Omelette

This was not a recipe I really planned on posting on the blog. But I made it for lunch yesterday and it turned out so delicious and made me so happy that I thought I must put it up for all those lonely souls who work from home and find lunch a boring affair.

Asian style Prawn Omelette - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

My lonely lunch sob stories periodically makes its appearance on my social media channels and I realised that there are many out there who work from home, freelancers, homemakers etc….who feel the same way. Lunch is often a hurried, last-minute-put-together, whatever-in-the-fridge, leftovers on a plate at least most of the days.

While I do enjoy the creativity involved in re-inventing leftovers, there are days when I want to make something nice and delicious, just for myself. And then, sit down for the meal perhaps with a good television programme or book in hand. A few minutes grabbed all to myself, from an otherwise maddening multitasking superwoman day. Or to make up for some real human contact…

This recipe is adapted from the Chin Chin cookbook; remember the one I won for the Bank of Melbourne’s #socialfeeds competition. The book’s a dream for those who love Asian flavours; so full of stunning recipes. I have cooked quite a bit from it including this mean Massaman Curry and this refreshing Bellini.

And now this insanely delicious Prawn Omelette!

Ingredients:

  1. ½ cup sriracha
  2. 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  3. 2 medium garlic cloves; grated
  4. 5-6 king prawns; deshelled, deveined and chopped into small pieces
  5. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  6. 3 eggs
  7. ¼ tsp Chinese five spice (optional)
  8. Salt, to season
  9. Bean sprouts, a handful
  10. 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves
  11. ½ tbsp ginger juliennes
  12. 1 tbsp fried shallots

Method:

  • To make the dressing, mix the sriracha, oyster sauce and grated garlic in a bowl and keep aside.
  • Whisk the eggs well with a pinch of salt. Add the chopped prawns and Chinese five spice and beat well again.
  • Heat oil in a flat pan and pour in the egg mixture. Allow to cook well on one side before flipping over; cook on the other side till done. Roll the omelette and remove to a plate.
  • Garnish with bean sprouts, coriander leaves, ginger, fried shallots and drizzled generously with the dressing.

Asian style Prawn Omelette - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs)

Usually I talk about the weather when I am tongue tied or when I can’t think of anything to speak, but today it’s simply because the temperatures are soaring in Melbourne and I just can’t take it anymore.

The new home we moved into does not have air conditioning and the poor fans, there’s only so much it can do. I am a summer person generally but not a fan of these intense heat wave days which leaves you feeling so sick and dehydrated.

Cooking becomes a chore because I like rich, bold, big on flavour dinners but I can’t imagine toiling away in the kitchen making it. Takeaway options in my suburb are rather limited which means I have to do the job anyway.

And thus the carbonara!

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs) - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s hardly any cooking involved for a traditional carbonara; apart from cooking the pasta ofcourse. But I wanted something more meaty and delicious to complete my carbonara experience (without much effort though)! And spicy sausage meatballs were the answer…

Fresh sausages especially the flavoured ones are really delicious; all that you need to do is remove the outer casing and then you get the minced meat to make the meatballs. Easy!

You may use any type of sausage available at the deli but I have chosen hot Sucuk, which is a traditional style famous in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia. Both plain and hot Sucuk is available, but the hot one adds a lot of oooomph and flavour to an otherwise mild and creamy Carbonara.

Hot Sucuk - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Hot Sucuk - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned, you may use chorizo or any other sausage you wish to. Sucuk is a dry sausage, hence I used an egg to bring the minced meat together, or else the meatballs might disintegrate. If the sausage you are using is not dry, then the addition of the egg is not necessary.

And if you happen to try this recipe out, please do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your post; I love to see your pictures.

Ingredients:

  1. 250gms fettuccine
  2. 1 hot sucuk (approximately 400gms)
  3. 1 whole egg
  4. 150ml thin/cooking cream
  5. 2 egg yolks
  6. 20 gms grated parmesan (extra for garnish)
  7. Salt, to season
  8. 2 tbsp olive oil
  9. 2-3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Method:

  1. Remove the casing of the sucuk and add the minced meat along with 1 egg to a food processor. Blend just enough to combine the egg with the meat.
  2. Divide into small portions and shape into small meatballs.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and shallow fry the meatballs in batches; keep aside.
  4. Beat the cream, egg yolks, parmesan till well combined in a bowl and season lightly with salt.
  5. Cook the fettuccine according to packet instructions; drain but reserving half a cup of the water in which the pasta was cooked.
  6. Return the pasta to the hot pan, add the cream egg mixture along with the meatballs and toss through. The residual heat in the pasta is enough; do not place on heat or the eggs will scramble. Add the pasta water if the sauce feels too thick.
  7. Garnish with chopped parsley and grated parmesan; serve warm.

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs) - thespiceadventuress.com

January Favourites

Back to school time for the little champ!

And that means this mamma, who is extremely poor with time management during holidays, finally gets back to routine and discipline. I am usually a very organized person but I don’t know what gets over me during holidays…not only am I a disorganized mess but also Miss Lazybones.

So after a month or so of late nights and equally late mornings, too much wine and binging on free YouTube movies, I am back to routine. Sigh of relief!

Reminds me that a month has gone by and it’s time to share with all of you what I have been enjoying reading, cooking and obsessing over in January…….

Starting with this breakfast smoothie! The late mornings meant that there has not been much of a smoothie action the whole of last month. So I am super glad that I am back to eating sensibly with my favourite breakfast smoothie; have you tried it? Let me know….

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

Though I haven’t been working much, January has been an excellent month for the blog. The traffic has considerably gone up (no clue why!!), landed some new work opportunities and collaborations which I will reveal in the coming months and ‘The Spice Adventuress’ was also chosen as one of the Top 10 Australian blogs 2017 by Australian Good Food Guide.

top10-blogger-round-2017

There’s been no dearth to good reads, recipes and creative ideas on the Internet especially with the beginning of a New Year and the holiday season. So the list is rather long and I strongly recommend grabbing a steaming cuppa….

2017 is the “Year of Gratitude” for me. What are you focusing on this year? Haven’t thought about it…maybe this article will be of help.

Planning….don’t undermine its power. It’s not enough keeping it in your head, put it down on paper and then start ticking off those lists; you will notice the difference. Here’s some help for you!

Blog of the month; absolutely drooling over the photographs!

Eyeing these flutes, what do you think?

Battambang delights….yet another amazing travel article by the Maverick Bird.

Kids will be kids! Hilarious…..and thank God I was born before social media happened.

This mango daiquiri. Yum!

And bookmarking this drink and this too for the colder days.

Couldn’t go past this tomato and bean soup; look at that rich colour.

And this thoroughly fulfilling and delicious pasta soup.

After my cauliflower rice obsession, it’s this tabbouli!

The next Taco Tuesday will feature this.

I need to perfect this delicacy; the most delicious accompaniment for meat curries.

This hot sauce is the bomb!

Have you ever tried the pol sambol? Deliciousness….

Time to drool over seafood (ofcourse!) with this warming crab stew and this sesame shrimp bowl!

Lamb with potatoes is a classic which we all love. But have you tried lamb with beans? Delicious….I tell ya!

Can I have a dozen of these please?

And finally, something for the pork lovers to drool over.

Spicy Salmon Sliders (with Kashmiri Chilli Mayonnaise)

I enjoy sliders more than full sized burgers simply for the fact that most often, I cannot finish a burger by myself. But sliders are like little morsels of deliciousness that are the right size for smaller human beings like me.

Also sliders are fun and exciting party food, perfect for any kind of season. Most of the elements can be prepared ahead of time which leaves you relaxed on the day. Paired with a creamy homemade mayonnaise with the vibrant flavour from Kashmiri chillies, this is a party canapé like none other.

Spicy Salmon Sliders (with Kashmiri Chilli Mayonnaise) - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Salmon Sliders (with Kashmiri Chilli Mayonnaise) - thespiceadventuress.com

Any kind of fleshy fish without tiny bones can be used for making the patties. Prawns, crab meat and lobster meat are all good options too. Since salmon is an oily fish, there is no need to add any other binding agent (except for a bit of breadcrumbs) but if you are using a white fish, you may need to add potatoes or more bread crumbs so that the patties will not break while frying. And shallow frying or grilling would be the best option instead of deep frying.

Even though I have used the word spicy, these sliders are not super hot but there is plenty of flavour from the spices and aromatics. And don’t get thrown off by Kashmiri chillies in the mayo; these are a variety of chilli from India that has an intense red colour but less heat when compared to others. But you may use any sort of mayo that you wish to.

Spicy Salmon Sliders (with Kashmiri Chilli Mayonnaise) - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Salmon Sliders (with Kashmiri Chilli Mayonnaise) - thespiceadventuress.com

Brioche buns are the perfect pick for making sliders like these; soft, buttery and delicious. If you live in Australia, I suggest the ones that you can find at Breadtop. You will need to visit early though; gets sold off within a few hours itself.

Spicy Salmon Sliders (with Kashmiri Chilli Mayonnaise) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

For the salmon patties:

(Makes about 12-13 patties)

  1. 450gm skinless salmon fillet
  2. 4 tbsp coarse bread crumbs
  3. 1 egg (600gm)
  4. ½ red onion; finely chopped

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Supreme Seafood, so please visit their website for the full recipe (a really special one too as this marked the 50th recipe that I have created in collaboration with the company)

Full recipe….

Spicy Salmon Sliders (with Kashmiri Chilli Mayonnaise) - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review

ARZ was first recommended to me by a senior official at the Dandenong council. Knowing my extreme fondness for Middle Eastern cuisine, she suggested the place and wanted to know what I thought of the food. While this conversation took place almost a year ago, I somehow never managed to visit ARZ till 2 weeks ago.

ARZ has changed ownership recently (we had a great conversation with the head chef post dinner) so I cannot do any comparison between the old and new.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

On arriving, we realized that there was a private party happening and since it was in the main dining area, we were not sure if the restaurant was open for public. Within seconds, the staff came out to greet us and informed that the restaurant was open to all as long as we don’t mind the extra bit of activity and music that was happening. She also suggested that we could sit outdoors if we felt that it was noisy inside.

We were quite glad to be seated outdoors because it was a beautiful evening and the weather was just perfect for an outside dining experience. Must say that the dining space inside the restaurant is beautiful with textured walls, low lighting and plush seating and outside, it’s rather basic with plastic chairs and tables but that did not deter us one bit.

Moreover my husband had also noticed that many people sitting outside were using the sheesha/shisha. And on enquiring, the staff said that the sheesha could only be used outdoors which reinforced our decision to sit outdoors.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ has a really good menu to give you a glimpse into traditional Lebanese cuisine. Instead of a-la-carte, we decided to go for the banquet option so that we could have a taste of many dishes. The banquet we chose has no dessert options but a range of savoury dishes as outlined below;

The first to arrive at the table was the cold mezze which included a trio of dips – hummus, garlic tahini dip and beetroot dip along with bread and tabbouleh. Classics done well but that beetroot dip deserves extra mention because it was really delicious.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Soon arrived the hot mezze…Lebanese sausages grilled to perfection (really delicious), chicken livers cooked with onions and spices (another fabulous dish) and a platter of falafels, fried kibbeh, pickles, onions with sumac, all served on a bed of lettuce. While all the dishes were excellent, the sausages and falafels stood out to me personally as the most delicious.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

To be pretty honest, we were quite full already and didn’t mind the fact that the next course took a while to come out. And while we were waiting, we decided to order for a Sheesha and chose the double green apple flavour…our first Sheesha experience in Melbourne. While I do not smoke or encourage smoking of any kind, the Sheesha was more of a fun experience than anything else.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And then it was time for the grilled meats to arrive…a platter laden with chips, chicken skewers, lamb seekh kebabs and beef skewers topped with more of the sumac spiced onions. The skewers were pretty similar to many others I have had at other Middle Eastern restaurants. The lamb kebabs were really good but the beef was not tender enough to be enjoyed. And while the chips have become standard fare in Australia, I would have preferred a salad instead.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Desserts are not a part of the banquet; would have been nice to have a traditional one included to complete the meal experience. But there are a few on the dessert menu that you could try out.

The hospitality and service at ARZ is commendable; the staff are attentive and make you really feel welcome. We also got the opportunity to have a good chat with the Chef and hear about his passion for the cuisine.

Will I go back? Yes, most definitely….

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine

Shop 2, 78 Cheltenham Road
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 03 8743 3929/03 9799  0999

Website: http://www.arzlebanesecuisine.com.au/

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post!

Back to School with Smash Lunch Boxes + a Recipe for Easy Lunchbox Pasta Stir Fry

I think life has become a series of shopping lists, one after the other. Still getting over the effects of the Christmas list and it’s time already for the ‘back to school’ list. Sigh!

But in all fairness, life must go on and so does the shopping list. And one of the top spots in the back to school list is always reserved for a new lunch box.

Now we all agree that the lunch box is such an integral part of the school life. Apart from the fact that it is a source of nourishment and good health for our little ones, it is also an integral part of school memories. I can recollect so many fond memories when it comes to school lunches and so will all of you.

So presenting to you my favourite brand of lunch boxes from Smash. I discovered this brand two years back and haven’t looked back ever since. In fact, I even wrote a blog post about it last year; there is also another easy lunch box recipe so do check it out.

Back to school with Smash - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash is an Australian brand so that means they totally understand our needs and requirements better. All the products are BPA free and extremely durable and reliable. In fact, all the lunch boxes, drink bottles from last year are still in great condition and the only reason I would change is because I received these samples to test out. (The old ones will be donated to the local Red Cross, and I strongly urge you to do so too if your old ones are in reasonably good condition)

The new designs out this year are so bright and colourful making it real fun for the kids. Our favourite happens to be this one shown below…of course it has to be blue because Adi is in that phase where ‘pink is for girls’. I like how the compartments are divided in this model and also the fact that there is an outer insulated case (removable) which also has the new Blue IQ antibacterial lining. The wipe-clean formula helps to keep the case clean devoid of any sort of mould or mildew, smells fresh and also protects the life of the lunchbox.

Smash lunchbox and outercase with Blue IQ antibacterial lining - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash has an extensive collection so there are plenty of choices for all sorts of lunch requirements. I love the add-on containers in various sizes, shapes and colours which mean that the food can be kept divided. The yoghurt container is so cool; it keeps it chilled and my son absolutely loves his during summer. The tube shaped box for wraps and rolls are so cool too.

Back to school with Smash lunch boxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Back to school with Smash lunch boxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Back to school with Smash lunchboxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash has a good collection for the grownups too especially taking into account the male/female preferences. I remember my hubby cribbing about the lack of ‘male’ colours till we started using Smash. Now he has his favourite blue and brown case which I must admit is really cool.

I also love the ‘Soup, Salad, Smoothie’ containers that were launched this year. Extremely thoughtful designs; for eg: the salad container has a separate portion for the dressing which means goodbye to soggy salads for lunch. I have been using these containers a lot while travelling too. Sturdy and great for road trips.

Smash products are available easily at many department stores and leading supermarkets like Coles, Woolworths, Officeworks, Target, Kmart and David Jones.

Smash office lunchbox collection - thespiceadventuress.com

Now that we have chosen the perfect lunch box, let’s go ahead with the perfect lunch too – a delicious easy to make Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables.

For those who are new to Mortadella, it is basically an Italian sausage or luncheon meat that can be purchased from a deli. Often had as a cold cut like ham or salami in a sandwich, but I am going to lightly stir fry it for this recipe. If you do not have Mortadella, you can substitute it with ham, salami, sausages or any other kind of meat. Or even skip it all together if you want a vegetarian version. The only thing to remember while purchasing from a deli is to ask the staff to cut it into a thick chunk instead of thin slices.

Apart from the fact that this dish is ready in less than 30 minutes, I also like the fact that there is no sauce involved which makes it a great lunch box option; tastes great even when it has gone a bit cold. I usually prepare this pasta stir fry for dinner which doubles up for the next day’s lunch for all of us. One dish for everyone in the family…..

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 300 gms pasta curls
  2. 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  3. 200 gms Mortadella (cut into a single thick chunk); diced
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves; chopped
  5. 1 large red onion; diced
  6. 1 cup mushrooms; diced
  7. 1 red bell pepper; diced
  8. 1 zucchini; diced
  9. 1 ½ tsp chilli flakes (adjust to preference)
  10. 1 tbsp mixed dried Italian herbs (a mix of oregano, thyme, rosemary)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions in salted boiling water and keep aside; reserve a little pasta water too.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan and add the chopped garlic; sauté on low heat for a few seconds and then add the diced Mortadella; stir fry on high for a minute.
  3. Next add the onions and mushrooms; continue to stir fry for another 30 seconds. Finally add the zucchini and bell peppers; mix well to combine and season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and Italian herbs. Reduce heat and cook for a few seconds.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with ½ cup past water and mix well to combine.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy; or ensure it’s cooled well before packing into lunch boxes.

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post has been brought to you in collaboration with Smash Enterprises but the opinions expressed and recipe are entirely mine.

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