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Tag Archives: australian

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review

Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel is an iconic landmark building that opened its doors in 1888.

We decided to drop by for lunch at the in house restaurant and bar while on our recent trip to the Yarra Valley. Apart from the regular restaurant, the hotel also houses Herb’s backyard that serves gourmet pizzas and drinks. The hotel is also a hot spot for weddings and special events with special areas dedicated for the same.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Apart from the dining options, the Yarra Valley Grand is also a great place to stay over. The 4 star fully appointed rooms have still retained the old world charm yet equipped with the most modern facilities.

Stepping inside the Yarra Valley Grand transports you to a different era. In spite of all the hustle and bustle (the restaurant is packed especially on weekends), the space feels warm and inviting. The ambience is definitely old world charm yet with a contemporary touch.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The restaurant space is huge and spread across different areas. There’s plenty of seating yet it’s advisable to make a prior booking. Fortunately we were able to get a table within 10 minutes of walking in.

The menu at Yarra Valley Grand is modern Australian pub food. The menu is not extensive but you are likely to find something for everybody; also there are specials everyday which are based on seasonal produce.

We bought a selection of drinks including a single malt whisky, sparkling white, beer and lemon lime bitters. Nothing much to write about but there’s a good range of drinks including some great Yarra Valley wines.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned the restaurant was extremely busy and we were informed by the staff that there would be a bit of a delay for the food to arrive. But we decided to wait anyway. I think that was not a very wise decision as we had to wait 45 minutes. No complaints though as they did inform us the same.

We didn’t order any starters instead we opted for a salad – the crunchy Thai salad with crispy noodles, Thai chicken, carrot, cucumber, sprouts, herbs, cashews and nahm jim dressing. Perfectly well balanced flavours and textures and it was a delicious start to the meal.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we had the Saltibocca – half roasted chicken, crispy pancetta, sage, potato gratin and sautéed spinach. The chicken was cooked perfectly and all the accompaniments complemented the chicken perfectly. Definitely recommended.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The second main we ordered was the Twice cooked pork belly – with son in law egg, chilli jam, creamy mash and tendrils. An absolute stunner of a dish; the pork was just melt in the mouth with a crispy layer and every single element on that plate was perfect. Definitely dish of the day!

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The third main we chose was from the special of the day – Grilled trout with Schezwan pepper and salad. The flavours were good, the fish was cooked well but not an outstanding dish in terms of flavour.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish we ordered was the Porterhouse with chips, salad and a red wine jus. The only dish that disappointed us; the steak was a bit tough and chewy. It wasn’t a bad dish but not good either especially after we have had such amazing steak experiences at other places in Melbourne. So by comparison, we weren’t too happy with this one.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, a great place to stop by for food or to stay over while visiting Yarra Valley. I am sure, we will definitely be going back…

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel

19 Bell Street,
Yarra Glen 3775

Phone: (03) 9730 1230
Website: http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/

Timings:
Monday – Sunday ~ 11.30am till late

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by my family.

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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.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice

My love for markets is legendary, especially the local one in my suburb (Dandenong) which I would have mentioned on my blog at least a million times.

Looking back, I think it’s destiny that bought us to this suburb. Amidst all the confusion, loneliness and that strange feeling of newness in a foreign country, it was the local market here that was my refuge. The smell, sights and sounds always reminded me of home because I would get every single ingredient that I needed for my style of cooking which means a lot when you are so far from home. And it’s true that food opens doors where none exists. And for me that door was this blog…..

These days, I don’t visit the market as often as I used to but I am still there at least once every fortnight. It’s my space to get inspired and to re-ignite the creativity and passion I have for food. All the beautiful, fresh produce gives me such a buzz and there are so many ideas that pop into my mind after a trip like this.

And with Christmas almost here, markets are just brimming with such amazing produce and I simply couldn’t go past the seafood section. I had to come back with some fresh Australian raw prawns; don’t waste your hard earned money buying prawns from other countries when you can get some amazingly fresh and delicious prawns caught right here in Australia. Believe me, it’s totally worth those few extra dollars.

After all the shopping, I was only in the mind for a one pot dish and nothing elaborate. And this delicious Indo Chinese style prawn fried rice is what came to mind.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

The Indo Chinese style fried rice is quite different from the traditional Chinese version. It’s a lot more fried where the grains of rice are separate unlike the sticky original version. I wanted a bit of a spice kick and used long dry red chillies for smoky hot undertones.

To get the flavour from the dry red chillies, add it to the cold oil and then heat on low flame. Toss in the prawns with a handful of different vegetables along with perfectly cooked rice and finish off with a dash of soy and tomato chilli sauce.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms long grained rice
  2. 500gms medium sized prawns; deshelled and deveined
  3. 1 large carrot; julienned

This post is bought to you in association with Supreme Seafood so the complete recipe can be found here.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

November Favourites + a Giveaway!

Guys, can you believe 2016 is almost coming to a close?? Gosh…where has all the time gone? I am an year older and none the wiser!

The festive mood has finally kicked in. The Christmas tree will go up this weekend, I have started planning for my Christmas party with friends and there is a lot of joy and cheer in the atmosphere. That’s what I love best about this season – the feeling of joy and of hope that we live in a beautiful world and our lives are all good, inspite of everything.

So on that joyous thought, let’s head into my favourites for the last month but first, the giveaway!

I had the opportunity to meet and interact with the brand, Little Innoscents, at last month’s Kids Bloggers Brunch.  I was pleasantly surprised and happy to see an organic baby skincare range because I have always been extremely careful about taking care of my son’s hair and skin.

Antonette (Director of Little Innoscents) was very kind to provide me with some samples so that I could use and test it out myself before making any sort of recommendation to you guys. I have been using their products for over a month now and completely pleased with it because it is effective, natural, plant based and free from all sorts of nasties.

Little Innoscents Organic Baby Skincare Range - Giveaway Hamper - thespiceadventuress.com

Little Innoscents has been very kind to sponsor one of their best selling hampers to one lucky reader of my blog; the hamper contains;

  • 1 pack Baby Wipes – Ultra soft wipes with plant based ingredients, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E
  • 1 Milky Whites Toothpaste – Fluoride Free and no Artificial Sweeteners. My son’s favourite!
  • 1 Sun Lotion SPF30 – UVA & UVB broad spectrum protection. No preservatives, with zinc oxide as the only active ingredient. Contains Vitamin E, organic Green Tea, Cucumber and Rosehip extract.
  • 1 Hair Fudge – Yet another favourite in our household. My son goes gaga over this as he gets to style his hair looking all dapper. Made with Sandalwood and Orange Infusions, this one is alcohol, SLS and Paraben free which means that there will be no icky residues left behind on the hair.
  • 1 Hair and Body Wash – A refreshing Spearmint & Orange wash which is ideal for sensitive skin and those suffering from eczema. My son smells so good after a bath with this which ensures that there are lots of cuddles afterwards!

Little Innoscents Organic Baby Skincare Range - Giveaway Hamper - thespiceadventuress.com

So if you would like to win a hamper for yourself or to gift to someone this Christmas, then the details are provided at the end of this post.

But before that it is time for my November Favourites:

99 Food Photography Tips; I am practicing each and every one of these and it’s been of incredible help.

A new year is just around the corner and if you need some inspiration, these are the quotes that will do the job.

The power of listening! I need more of that…..

I love makeup but I like to own only a few products, ones I swear by. And the one I am loving at the moment and an all time favourite are these Clinique chubby sticks.

How cute is this drink dispenser; on my wish list and fingers crossed!

And this hanging chair is on the list too! A girl can dream right….

This is Nacho dream come true!

I am not much of a bread lover but these challah buns get me drooling.

Get some pork on your fork!

The perfect Christmas wine but I am partial to this old fashioned too.

These truffles would make awesome Christmas gifts

For days you want deliciousness and nourishment in a bowl

And this chicken dish in on my menu for the weekend

Little Innoscents Giveaway

To be in the running for this giveaway, here’s what you must do;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id.
  2. Like the Little Innoscents Facebook Page
  3. Leave a comment below stating that you have done both and also your email id so that I can get in touch with you if you have won the hamper.

Rules:

The competition runs from December 2, 2016 to December 9, 2016.

The winner will be chosen by a random draw and will be notified on my blog, social media channels and also via email. If the person does not revert back within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

To enter, you have be 18+ years of age and an Australian resident (or you could gift it to any of your friends or family living here).

 

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

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.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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. 

 

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles

I often get the ‘raised eyebrow’ expression when I say that I occasionally eat kangaroo meat. While a couple of my friends are fascinated that I have experimentative tastebuds, most of them are quick to judge in the negative.

We have become so judgemental these days, even when it comes to food. It is the era of the global palate, yet we have divided and compartmentalized ourselves in so many food groups – non vegetarians, vegetarians, eggetarians, vegans, paleos with each group trying to sound more righteous than the next.

Why can’t food be just what it is meant to be – to nourish our bodies and our souls. Eat what makes you healthy and happy without judging and having an opinion on another’s diet!

Judgements aside, kangaroo meat is both delicious and healthy. While it is easily available in Australia and quite affordable too, it can be difficult and expensive to procure if you live elsewhere. It is important for me to purchase all the meat I consume from a verified, sustainable source and for kangaroo, it is ‘Gourmet Game’, a trademark of Macro Meats.

I have cooked with kangaroo before and it was a delicious experience. This time, I wanted to experiment with the mince and the inspiration for these Spiced Kangaroo Triangles came from the meat samosas that are famous in India.

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Though I started out with the idea of samosas, I wanted to simplify the whole process making the snack a little easier and quicker to make. Samosas can be a bit technical if you are not used to making it often. So instead I decided to do a simple stuffed triangle using store bought puff pastry sheets…like I said, making it simple and easy for everyone. Also these triangles are baked so no deep frying involved which is another plus.

Spices and aromatics are the magic ingredients here which transform the kangaroo mince into the most delicious filling. These spiced kangaroo triangles make the easiest party snack. The filling can be prepared ahead of time and all that you need to do on the day is make the triangles, a bit of egg wash and bake.

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Use any kind of meat mince that you wish to, lamb, beef, chicken, all make great options. Or a vegetarian one with the classic ricotta and spinach or spiced potatoes. Just try it once and I am sure you will be making it over and over again….believe me, I have been making it a lot.

Ingredients:

Note – Makes about 30 triangles

  1. 1 kg kangaroo mince
  2. 3 medium red onions; finely chopped
  3. 3 garlic cloves; grated
  4. 1 tbsp ginger; grated
  5. 3 green chillies; finely chopped (adjust to heat preferences)
  6. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  7. ¾ tsp red chilli powder
  8. 1 tbsp coriander powder
  9. ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
  10. Salt, to season
  11. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  12. 1 tbsp mint leaves; finely chopped
  13. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  14. Puff pastry sheets (each pastry sheet makes 4 triangles)
  15. 1 egg beaten; for egg wash
  16. White sesame seeds; for garnish

Method:

  1. In a large pan, dry roast the mince till it has browned well. Brown in batches on high heat if the pan is small so that the mince is dried out and not stewed in its own juices. Remove and keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in the same pan and add the onions; sauté for 2-3 minutes on medium heat and then add the ginger, garlic and green chillies. Sauté till the onions are light brown, reduce heat and add all the spice powders. Season with salt, add the mince and mix well to combine. Finish off with the coriander and mint leaves. Remove and allow to cool completely before stuffing in the triangles.
  3. In the meantime, thaw the frozen pastry sheets.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced oven) and line an oven proof tray with baking paper.
  5. Cut each pastry sheet into 4 equal squares.
  6. Place about 2 tbsp of the meat mince in the centre of each square. Brush egg wash on all the four sides of the square and fold diagonally to form a triangle. Press lightly at the edges and place on the baking tray. Repeat for all others.
  7. Finally, brush egg wash on the top surface of the triangles and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for about 12-13 minutes or till the triangles are golden brown on the surface.
  9. Enjoy warm with sweet chilli sauce.

Note – The cooked mince freezes well to be used at a later date. I make it in bulk, freeze in batches and always have a pack of puff pastry sheets in the freezer; very handy for after school hunger pangs and unexpected guests.

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious, party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots

Soup weather is officially here!

The days have been cold, wet and grey and since we were relying too much on this cheesy bowl of comfort, I decided to experiment with more soups this season. Like this super creamy and delicious Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup generously garnished with crispy bacon and shallots.

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots - Comfort in a bowl - thespiceadventuress.com

The weather also dictates for a good read and the book I just finished reading is a poignant drama ‘Like I Can Love’ by Australian author, Kim Lock.

My knowledge of Australian authors is slowly but steadily increasing especially when I signed up to do book reviews with Pan Macmillan Australia. I found it a great way to discover new authors and also expand my reading horizon considerably.

Set in South Australia, ‘Like I Can Love’ is a poignant, heartbreaking tale of two friends. The book is also an exploration of different kinds of love, the varying spectrums of this emotion which can be fragile, sacrificing and sometime destructive. It is a tale of how love can make us do the most unthinkable of things leaving a mark on our souls and lives forever.

Beautifully etched by Kim Lock, the book captures the essence of love and friendship amidst the background of South Australia. By the end of it, I felt that the characters are real almost becoming a part of my life, as if I have known them all my life. It is a simple book to read but one that is profound and beautifully written.

Kim Lock resides with her family in the Barossa Valley and hence there is ample evidence of the culture and lifestyle of regional Australia in her book. The book is gripping without being too heavy which makes it ideal if you are a fiction lover.

Like I Can Love by Kim Lock - a book review - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s also simmer away a pot of this delicious soup before you get too engrossed in the book.

Just as the name suggests, this is a Potato, Cauliflower and Leek soup. I wanted more oomph and comfort which is why the shallots and bacon make an appearance, but if you are a crouton person, here is a delicious one you can try out.

Spices ofcourse are my thing but I am sure you agree that potatoes and cumin is a match made in heaven. So mildly spiced with bay leaf and cumin which adds so much more flavour to the soup. No extra cream in this one as I found that it is quite creamy from the potatoes and cauliflower but if you wish to, you can add a bit as garnish or at the end of the cooking process.

Bay leaf and Cumin - love thy spices - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Crispy Bacon and Shallots - Garnish for the Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

And of course, the crispy bacon and shallots……..yumm yumm yummmm!!

Ingredients:

  1. 100gms bacon; chopped
  2. 50gms fried shallots
  3. 2 large potatoes; diced
  4. 1 small cauliflower head; cut into florets
  5. 1 leek; finely sliced
  6. 3 dried bay leaf
  7. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  8. 2 medium garlic cloves
  9. 2 tbsp butter
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
  12. 1 litre homemade chicken stock

Method:

  1. In a deep pan, add the bacon pieces and fry on low heat. No extra oil required as the bacon has enough fat which will render down and crisp it up.
  2. Once the bacon pieces have browned and crisped up well, remove and drain on a kitchen towel. Keep aside.
  3. In the same pan, heat butter and add the bay leaf and cumin. Cook on low heat till the spices are fragrant and then add the garlic and leeks. Sauté for about 2 minutes on medium heat but take care not to burn.
  4. Next add the potatoes and cauliflower florets; season with salt (remember the stock has salt) and pepper. Mix well to combine and cook on low heat for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add ¾ ths of the stock, check seasoning and bring to boil. Turn the heat down and cook covered till the vegetables are softened and cooked through.
  6. Cool slightly and blitz till creamy. Add more stock if too thick.
  7. Serve warm with crispy bacon and shallots.
  8. Slurp it up!

Note – I always have a stash of homemade fried shallots in my pantry which I used. You could use the store bought ones too.

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots - Deliciousness in a bowl - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots - comfort in a bowl - thespiceadventuress.com

Pssst….I am having this soup second day in a row with a  few drops of Tabasco hot sauce in it. Try it guys if you can take some heat!

 

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post but the book was sent to me by Pan Macmillan Australia.

 

 

 

Smash Box – a Product Review + a Recipe for Mushroom Bacon Wrap

Another two weeks to go for the school to re-open!

Little Adi is excited and so is his mom. I mean it was great spending time with each other, having play dates, workshops and a whole lot of fun but seriously, both of us need a break from each other.

Most of you would have begun the Back to School shopping. Luckily, no need for uniforms but have to get everything else, especially new shoes (they cost a bomb!). While thinking about a new lunchbox, I received a mail from SMASH asking if I would like to review their brand new lunchbox products launched for the season. Yay!

What got me even more excited is their new lunchbox range for the grown-ups. The hubby is forever complaining about the lack of choice for adults, especially men. So I decided to review both the products and read on to know what I think.

And yes, there is also a recipe – delicious mushroom bacon wraps. Easy and ready in a jiffy!

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A bit about the brand…Smash Enterprises is an Australian brand! And this speaks volumes to me as I am a great believer in promoting local brands and products. The products are not just reliable and durable but the brand also focuses on reducing wastage and is BPA free.

The coolest thing about the new ‘Smash Box’ is that it comes with an insulated jacket for the lunch box. For me, this is an extremely important feature. Adi loves his ham and cheese but it’s always a worry packing it for his lunch box especially during the hotter months. So this insulated jacket is great when I need that extra chill factor. The jacket can be removed easily so great while washing or for days when it is not required. Insulated bags are also available for the office range – a beautiful blue for the guys and a vibrant green for the ladies (it can easily pass off as a handbag).

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Made from durable plastic, the Smash box is sturdy and designed to be a great companion to your child’s school meal times. I loved the fact that the design is well thought of; the twin compartments make it easy to segregate the different food items. There is even a sandwich belt to hold those unruly ones in place (how much I need that!). A special yoghurt container which will definitely be used a lot and also plenty of room to hold other nibbles like cheese, biscuits, fruits etc… Individual containers of varying sizes and shapes are also available for multipurpose use.

A practical yet simple design, the lunch boxes are easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

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Smash products are sold at most of the big retailers like Coles, Woolworths, Officeworks, BigW, David Jones, Masters and Target. The new Smash Box is sold only at Coles and the adult range (pictured in this review) can be found at Officeworks; these are a limited release so make sure to get your hands on it before it is sold out.

There are also several other designs and styles, so make sure you take a look at the website for more details.

And to inaugurate the brand new Smash box, I decided to make a mushroom bacon wrap – a recipe I make quite often for Adi’s lunch. It’s easy, high on protein and delicious; the filling can be made ahead of time so assembling the wrap is the only job for the morning. The filling is so robust and delicious but I add that extra bit of nutrition in the form of baby spinach, cucumber and tomatoes. For the adult lunch boxes, I bulk up with a mixed salad on the side.

If you are a vegetarian, replace the bacon with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or tofu.

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Ingredients:

  1. 150 gm bacon; diced
  2. 7 brown mushrooms; diced
  3. ½ onion; finely chopped
  4. 1 tbsp chives; finely chopped
  5. ½ tsp paprika
  6. Salt, to season
  7. Black pepper, to season
  8. To assemble:
  • Whole meal wraps
  • Baby spinach
  • Lebanese cucumber; sliced
  • Ripe red tomatoes; sliced
  • Aioli/tomato sauce

Method:

  1. Add the diced bacon to a pan; cook on low heat till the bacon pieces are beginning to brown. (No oil is added as the bacon fat gets rendered down).
  2. Once the bacon pieces start to brown, add the onion and sauté for another minute or two. Then add the mushrooms along with the spices. Season with salt and continue to sauté till the mushrooms get cooked. Remove from heat and mix in the chives.
  3. To assemble, place a few baby spinach leaves on the wrap followed by sliced cucumber and tomatoes. Then spoon the bacon mushroom mixture on top. Finish off with the aioli and tomato sauce. Wrap into a roll tightly with a foil.

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How are your ‘back to school’ preparations going? Would love to hear your stories…..

 

Disclaimer – This post was bought to you in association with Smash. All the products were sponsored but the opinions and remarks are entirely mine. 

 

 

 

 

Tandoori Paneer Skewers with Goat’s Yoghurt

My first taste of goat’s milk was when I was around 10, while living in the Middle East.

We had friends who used to work on dairy farms owned by the rich Arabs and they would bring us all sorts of delicious and exotic foods that were not so commonly available back then. Exotic varieties of dates, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, yoghurt…..the best kind which were exclusively farmed for the rich families and not for sale.

I had almost forgotten what goat’s milk or yoghurt tastes like until recently when I got the opportunity to sample the same from CapriLac.

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Remember this vegan, dairy free almond yoghurt green smoothie and coconut yoghurt zucchini dip using No Udder products? CapriLac belongs to the same group but specializes in goat’s milk, yoghurt and goat’s milk powder.

Now you would ask, why goat’s milk?

Goat’s milk is not necessarily healthier than cow’s milk on a strict comparison basis. But it definitely has its merits. It has less lactose, a tab bit less sugar and also more calcium, potassium and Vitamin A than cow’s milk. It is also more easily digestible as it has a chemical structure which is quite similar to breast milk and hence is a great dairy alternative for those who have sensitive tummies. It is also less allergenic. So in a nutshell, it can be a great alternative to cow’s milk.

Goat’s yoghurt does not taste much different to cow’s yoghurt. I felt it is creamy but less sour than the cow’s yoghurt which makes it perfect for today’s paneer skewers.

CapriLac Goat products are Australian made (the milk comes from their own farms). No preservatives, no flavours, no additives…..which makes it a really good product for your family’s use.

I wanted to use goat’s yoghurt for a traditional Indian dish that has become a global favourite – tandoori.

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Myths and misconceptions regarding tandoori are rife and rampant. To being with tandoori refers to a dish that has been cooked inside a tandoor, a specialized kind of clay oven. The tandoor arrived in India through the Persian traders and even today, you can find plenty of households in Iran use the tandoor on a daily basis.

So technically the ‘tandoori’ refers to any dish prepared inside a tandoor but these days, the name has also been extended to dishes which use the traditional spice marinade. Again, this marinade has quite a few variations and this one is my version perfected after a lot of trial and error. I do not like to use besan (chickpea flour) in the marinade but prefer to keep it light with just yoghurt, aromatics and spices.

Paneer, as all of us know is Indian cottage cheese and now so commonly available in mainstream supermarkets. Now this is made from cow’s milk so those of you who wish to avoid it can use the same recipe for preparing mixed vegetable skewers (mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower), tofu, chicken or prawn skewers.

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Tandoori Paneer Skewers are an excellent party starter. In fact, it is a hit every time I make it for guests.  It’s flavourful, delicious, pairs equally well with beer, cocktails or wine and just the right summer party food. Perfect for your meatless Mondays too; pair with a simple green peas pilaf and mint coriander dip like I did.

If you have a tandoor at home, that’s great but since most of us will not have it…grilling or pan fry is the best option.

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Note – I have seen many photographs with perfect looking paneer cubes with hardly any signs of charring. But remember, it is those brown charred bits that you actually need because that’s where the deliciousness is!

Ingredients:

  1. 400 gms paneer (Indian cottage cheese); cut into equal sized cubes
  2. 1 medium red onion; cubed
  3. 2 ripe, yet firm tomatoes; remove pulp and cut into cubes
  4. 1 green bell pepper; cubed
  5. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  6. 5-6 tbsp tandoori marinade
  • 4-5 tbsp Goat’s yoghurt
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp garlic paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • A pinch of black salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  1. Salt, to season
  2. Lemon wedges, to garnish
  3. Bamboo skewers

Note:

  • Kashmiri chilli powder is mainly for a deeper red colour. It is optional and the level of heat can be adjusted with regular red chilli powder.
  • Chaat masala and black salt (kala namak) are available at all Indian stores.

Method:

  1. To make the tandoori marinade, mix the goat’s yoghurt with all the aromatics, spices and coriander leaves in a non reactive bowl.
  2. Add the paneer and vegetable cubes into the marinade and mix well. Season with salt and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as possible. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 15 minutes before using to prevent burning.
  4. Skewer the paneer cubes and vegetables alternately so that each skewer has paneer, tomato, onion and bell pepper.
  5. Oil a flat pan or grill well and heat to smoking point. Reduce heat and place the skewers. Increase heat to medium and grill till done on all sides. Paneer cooks really fast so a minute or two on each side would be enough.
  6. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with a mint coriander dip.

 

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Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post in association with CapriLac Foods. But the recipe and all the opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

No Udder Dairy Free Yoghurt + Recipes for Green Smoothie and Coconut Yoghurt Zucchini Dip

Important: Please read this before you proceed. 

No Udder and NuLac Foods has bought to my notice that the coconut yoghurt has been recalled due to a cross-contamination issue. Those of you who are allergic to dairy products or vegan or do not include dairy products in your diet for any personal/medical reasons, kindly return  the products to your nearest supermarket for a full refund.

For anyone else, this product is not dangerous in any manner and poses a risk to only those mentioned above. The company assures me that the product will henceforth be released only after revised and strictly enforced quality checks. Please get in touch with the company if you need further clarification on this.

Here is the statement from the company;

‘A statement from the owners, John Gommans and Penny Gandar.

We are taking note of all your comments and we fully appreciate all your concerns.

Our first priority in the recall was to protect those at health risk from the dairy contamination. We have followed the Health Department guidelines in this recall. As well as following these proscribed procedures we also wish to convey that we are personally devastated that this need for a recall has occurred. We are acutely aware of the needs of our allergen free, dairy free and vegan customers and to provide a product people could trust.

We do also process dairy products, our procedures and staff training have always been committed to preventing contamination. Our staff are dedicated and care very much about the quality of our products. We have only sought and used ingredients certified to be allergen and dairy free and are shocked to find that a contamination has recently occurred. We are re-testing and investigating all aspects of the ingredients and manufacture but until this is completed we are unable to give a definitive reason for what has happened. We deeply regret what has occurred and that we have lost the trust of our dairy free and vegan customers.

We are truly sorry.’

 

My love for smoothies has become legendary on my Facebook page.

It all began when I started sharing pictures of my daily morning smoothie with my readers. And soon, there were so many people writing to me asking for more recipes, tips, blender brands, dairy-free options etc…. While I could answer most of the queries, I really did not have much information when it came to dairy-free or vegan friendly options.

So, I was quite thrilled when NuLac Foods wanted to partner with me to develop some recipes for their new range, No Udder Dairy Free Yoghurts. Just what my readers were asking me…..

NuLac Foods is an Australian company that develops both dairy and dairy-free products. All NuLac products are prepared from the highest quality ingredients which are sourced from their own and other farms across Australia. And above all, the products are free of preservatives, colours, additives or flavours – natural and pure. Love their philosophy of being a local business using local ingredients which always reflects on quality.

NuLac has several different brands and two of their highly popular ones are ‘No Udder’ and ‘Alpine’. And it’s No Udder that I will be speaking about today as it is the dairy free and vegan friendly one. The range includes No Udder Almond Yoghurt, Coconut Yoghurt and Coconut Probiotic Drink.

Available at most supermarkets and independent stores in Australia.

No Udder Almond Yoghurt Green Smoothie:

The dairy free almond yoghurt is a great substitute for milk in your daily smoothies. It is not only a good source of calcium but very low in saturated fats and contains a good amount of dietary fibre.

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I admit I was a little skeptical about how it would taste but I actually liked it very much. It was sweet and creamy with that hint of almond flavour; but somehow it also reminded me of this coconut milk pudding.

And since we are on the topic of good health and nourishment, I decided to use the No Udder almond yoghurt as the base for my green smoothie. There is a good amount of pre- and probiotics in this one and at the same time, it is super delish too.

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Ingredients:

Makes 3 glasses

1. 1 ripe avocado
2. 1 ripe green pear
3. ½ ripe red apple
4. ½ banana
5. 2 cup greens (I used chard, use any you wish to)
6. ½ cup parsley
7. 1 tbsp chia seeds
8. 200 ml No Udder almond yoghurt
9. Water/ice
10. ¼ tsp cinnamon powder

Method:

Blend all the ingredients with enough water or ice until smooth.

Note:

• The beauty of this recipe is that it is a basic guideline to making your favourite green smoothie. As mentioned, use any kind of greens you wish to.
• Rotate between chia, flax or hemp seeds and add nuts if you wish to.
• Use coconut yoghurt instead of almond for a sweeter and creamier smoothie.
• You can use regular milk or yoghurt too.

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No Udder Coconut Yoghurt Zucchini Dip

With live probiotic cultures, the No Udder Coconut Yoghurt is an extremely healthy option and one that is dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian friendly. It is sweet and creamy, perfect for smoothies, desserts or as a snack but I am thinking savoury.

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Yoghurt dips are a common feature of most meals in Meditteranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. In India, it is often referred to as ‘raita’ in Hindi. And there are hundreds of raita varieties that exist depending on the cuisine of each region.
Today’s recipe is a savoury yoghurt dip, adapted from a common preparation of Kerala known as pachadi.

The coconut yoghurt is sweet and deliciously creamy which makes it the perfect base for finely chopped zucchini sautéed with shallots and a hint of spices. This is a delicious yoghurt dip that makes the perfect accompaniment to flatbreads for your mezze platter or to accompany your favourite lamb curry or to pair with that delicious pilaf/pulao.

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Ingredients:

1. 1 medium zucchini; finely chopped
2. 400ml No Udder coconut yoghurt
3. 2 shallots; finely chopped
4. 1 tbsp crushed cashewnuts (optional)
5. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
6. ½ tsp mustard seeds
7. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
8. ½ tsp red chilli powder
9. 2 sprigs coriander leaves; finely chopped
10. Salt, to season

Method:

• Whisk the coconut yoghurt till smooth and without any lumps.
• Heat oil in a pan and crackle mustard seeds.
• Then add the shallots and zucchini; sauté for about 2 minutes on medium to high heat stirring constantly.
• Next lower the heat and add the turmeric and chilli powder. Mix and also add the crushed cashews.
• Sauté for another few seconds, remove from heat and mix through half of the coriander leaves.
• Allow to cool.
• Once cooled, add most of the mixture to the beaten yoghurt and season with salt. Mix well to combine.
• Garnish with the remaining mixture and coriander leaves. Refrigerate till serving time.

Note:

• Again, a very flexible recipe; substitute zucchini with baby aubergines, squash, beets or just nuts.
• Use cow’s milk yoghurt if you wish to.

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Disclaimer – This post was brought to you in partnership with NuLac Foods but the recipes and opinions expressed remain my own.

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