Thursday, 31 January 2013

Plane food: a tale of two vegetarian meals

Alternative titles for this post:
  • Why can't they get airline vegetarian meals right?  
  • When will airlines start to understand dietary preferences?  
  • I asked for plane food not plain food!
I was so unhappy with the plane food on our recent Melbourne to Dublin trip (the Dublin to Edinburgh leg was with another airline) that I was determined to write to Etihad as soon as we got home.  That was over a month ago and I am only now getting around to writing about the meals here.  But first I will share one of the highlights of the trip.

The best thing about plane food was actually while we were still on the ground.  I have got into the habit of trying to eat well before heading to the airport because of the dull dried food that usually sends us to a fast food chain.  At Edinburgh airport we ate well at The Turnhouse Pub.  It was really good.  Not much ambiance but good food presented with style.

I had the Vegetarian burger made with lentils, carrot, cheese and mushrooms.  It was served with salad in a bun with tomato sauce, a pickle and great crispy chips on the side.  If I hadn't been in the mood for a burger, I could have even satisfied my nut roast cravings.  They had a Christmas menu with a Lentil Mushroom Mozzerella and Pumpkin Seed Roast served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, cranberry and sage stuffing balls, seasonal vegetables. cauliflower cheese, gravy and cranberry sauce.  All for £9.99.  Sigh!  I wish I was there now.  Oh no I don't.  Because then I would be headed for airplane meal hell!

Unfortunately the worst part of the flight was predictably the plane food.  I have complained about it before.  We had unacceptably insubstantial meals a few times.  I was so outraged that I finally got out my camera to photograph the vegetarian lacto-ovo meal.  Above is the boiled potatoes, tomato vegie stew and green beans accompanied by a bread roll, some green vegies with two pieces of feta and some melon.  You might notice that there is a dearth of protein here.

What made me really cross was that if you look at the menu at the very top of the page, it gives a vegetarian option for the main meals.  I got so hungry with the meal they served that I asked for one of the vegetarian main meals.  While the salad wasn't vegetarian, the tagliatelle with a creamy mushroom sauce, the crackers with cheese, the bread roll and the cheesecake would have been just fine.  (See above photo.)

So here are some questions?  Why are vegetarians being offered one vegetarian meal and omnivores being offered another more substantial vegetarian meal?  The meal I was given was practically vegan.  But even vegans need protein.  (I am focusing on vegetarian meals but I know there are similar problems with other dietary preferences.)  Do airlines have some misguided notion that nutrition guidelines only apply to omnivores? 

Why do airlines make vegetarians feel like second class citizens based on their dietary preference?  We all pay the same airfare.  Yet I didn't get a choice of the vegetarian meal that everyone else could choose.  I had to wait until everyone else was served to see if there was a meal leftover.  Which left me unsure if I ate my first meal or waited.  I ended up eating a bit of both and getting very grumpy.  E has always had vegetarian meals so he can eat with us and because he doesn't like too much meat.  After this experience, he has decided that next time he will have the omnivore meal.

I am even more cross about this because my 3 year old Sylvia is vegetarian and I get all protective about her.  She needs protein as much as any omnivore child, if not more.  it is frustrating to try and feed her at the best of times.  On the way over, it was easier because I had some vegies and a tin of baked beans that she could eat.  Going home, I just had to wait to get home for her to eat properly. 

To end on a more positive note, we stopped overnight on the way home in Dublin.  The airline staff helpfully checked out cases through from Edinburgh to Melbourne, and we had a good breakfast in Dublin airport.  Best of all, my sister and husband brought Dash along to play with Sylvia.  It was such joy to see the two kids play together.

In fact, though I whinge, it is a first world problem.  It is a privilege to be able to visit family so far away and I would (and probably will) eat the rubbish plane food all over again for such a great trip.  Meanwhile I will try and let Etihad know my views and let you know if I get a response.

Update 10 Feb 2013 - I had a few comments suggest the Asian (Indian) Vegetarian meal.  I tried this going to Auckland with Qantas last week.   On the way over I got a dal and upma - quite spicy for me but not too much and was far more satisfying than the Etihad meals.  On the way back I had gnocchi with mushrooms and beans and tomato sauce - not a bad meal but not sure what happened to the Asian meal.  And we were all given chocolate coated ice creams after the meal.  Hurrah for a decent dessert!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Australia Day Fudge

We had an unusual Australia Day.  E and his ukelele were in one of the groups in the Australia Day parade and concert this year.  He got up early and headed into the city.  Sylvia and I slept in and made fudge when we got up. 

Once the fudge was in the fridge, we took a train to the city where we caught the tailend of the parade.  Most importantly, we saw the ukeleles.  We also saw quite a lot of ethnic groups but missed some of the quirky groups - the daleks, jedi warriors and superheroes.  One of the great things about heading into the Kings Domain after the parade is seeing people in all sorts of costume wandering around.

On show were lots of Aussie flags, a display of vintage cars, and fire engines.  And the crowds.  It was impossible to buy food without queuing.  We had baked potatoes.  Good honest food.  Followed by poffertjes.  Good festival food.  I was glad I had brought along a rug to sit on in the gardens.

Then E headed off to perform at the concert and I went home with Sylvia.  As we walked to the train, we were treated to an air show overhead.  At home, we cut the fudge into squares.  It was to take to the Moody Noodles house.  I had decided the jar of almond butter (given that I don't bake with peanut butter due to Sylvia's allergy) and some chocolate would make the sort of treat K loves.

The fudge was the sort of slice to keep in the fridge.  It got quite soft when left out but it was rich and very chocolatey and slightly nutty.  We sprinkled it with coloured stars to make it look pretty. 

It was great to see some familiar faces at the gathering.  I loved K's raw fudge slice and Cindy's lavender biscuits.  Sylvia had a lovely time eating chips and chocolate coated rice cakes.  I regret to say she was probably once of the messier guests but at least she had some kiddie company.  Time flew and before we knew it, it was time to go home for dinner.  Just a simple salad sandwich was all we needed.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WW Iced Apple Chamomile Tea
Two years ago:  Aussie morroccan salad
Three years ago: WHB: Tomato and Peach Relish
Four years ago: Hot weather, hopeful politics and summer food
Five years ago: Gorgeous Grubs

Chocolate almond fudge
Adapted from Chocolate Moosey

1 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup butter or margarine, chopped
1 cup almond butter
1 cup icing sugar
Sprinkles, for decorating

Melt the chocolate and butter together.  I did this in the microwave.  Stir in almond butter and icing sugar.  Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.  Spread fudge in the tin and set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.  Cut into squares and keep in the fridge if possible.

On the stereo:
Wide Open Road: a trip through Australia's musical landscape – Various Artists

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Burns Night, Magic Slice and A Busy Week

Life is still hurtling along at break-neck speed.  At least last week brought some fun.  It started with a new car and a picnic and ended with a Burns Night Supper.  I mostly stuck to tried and true recipes.  They are best when racing to prepare dinner.  Perhaps my most disappointing recipe was a new recipes: experiments with a Caramel Gingersnap Slice.

Let me start with a week of dinners:
We are still getting used to our new car.  I miss our old one that was written off after the accident.  At least we were able to pick up the new car in time to go to see Romeo and Juliet in the Botanic Gardens.  The set was great and looks quite spooky in the above photo with the trees lit up at interval.  I love outdoor theatre.

The first time I went to Shakespeare in the Botanic Gardens (A Midsummer Night's Dream), I walked from North Carlton, arrived with a blister, a bag of cheezels and a bottle of champagne.  Since then I have seen Macbeth in the closes of Edinburgh, the story of the Bloomsbury Group in the grounds of Ripponlea Mansion and As You Like It (I think) at Collingwood Children's Farm.

One of the best things about outdoor theatre is the opportunity to take along a picnic.  I didn't have much energy for anything extravagant this week so I made pumpkin damper and tofu nut balls.  With a tub of hummus, vegie sticks, swiss cheese and corn chips, we had quite a feast.  E brought doughnuts and chocolate to eat with fruit for dessert.  And we loved the play too.  Mercutio stole the show but the balcony scene was still full of sweet sorrow.

I love preparing a picnic but it is a lot of work.  Luckily, I always pack too much and have lots of leftovers.  The next day I had a salad sandwich with the leftover damper.  I had baked it in wedges because I was running late and thought it would help it cook quicker.  I also cooked the tofu nut balls in tomato sauce to serve with pasta and parmesan.
We also had a lunch at work.  I took along these Caramel Gingersnap Squares.  The recipe I followed - Pumpkin Gingersnap Magic Bars - was full of my favourite things it seemed too good to be true.  Pumpkin, condensed milk, coconut, walnuts, choc chips and caramel chips.  Yet the sum of all these was disappointing.  Perhaps due to high expectations. 

The slice was rich and indulgent.  Just as well most of it went to work.  It seemed to be based on what I know as Magic Slice but using gingersnaps instead of marie biscuits, and adding pumpkin and spices.  I was not a fan of the gingersnaps and spices, found the pumpkin didn't make enough impact unless it was to make the condensed milk less gooey.  It used a lot more mixing bowls than magic slice too, as E will attest after doing the dishes.  However it was still full of yummy things and was very addictive. 

I made it on a day that was 37 C and after eating rich slice for lunch I was glad to have a simple nibbly tea of dips, vegie sticks and crackers for dinner.  It had to be quick because we went to a singing circle after dinner.  I really enjoyed going to the singing circle which was very casual and lots of fun.  Quite different to choirs I have been in. 

I made haggis after the singing circle so that we could have haggis for dinner the next day because it was Burns Night.  As it is a celebration of Scottish Baird, Robert Burns, birthday, E read out To a Haggis before dinner.  I managed to set the table and even dust off one of my candle holders.  It hasn't been used for quite some time.

I roasted some potates and turnips because it is traditional to have haggis, neeps and tatties.  Sylvia wanted chips so I cut them in that shape.  They still took ages to cook in our oven.  We also served tomato sauce and broccoli with haggis.  I know it is more traditional to have mashed neeps and tatties but I find it a colourless meal.  E drank Crabbies Ginger Beer and Sylvia and I drank Irn Bru.  (No one drank whisky - the bottle was just in the photo because even after our recent trip to Scotland we were short on Scottish props.)

I almost finished the dinner with Cranachan (either Jacqueline's or Nigel's) but there were no fresh raspberries in our supermarket.  Probably best that we finished the meal with fresh cherries instead.  And then watched Scottish player Andy Murray get through to the final of the Australian Open.

It is quite a lot to celebrate Burns Night on 25 January and Australia Day on 26 January but we did celebrate Australia Day the next day too.  More about that later.

I also managed some work on Sylvia's dolls house last weekend.  We got up the wallpaper.  Here is a work in progress.  I still have more painting and decorating to do.  My favourite room is the green loungeroom.  Now I wish our own loungeroom looked that green.  Ah well, at least we have a green car now.  That is some comfort!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: A tale of three water bottles
Two years ago:  Australia Day Poffertjes and Cars
Three years ago: Muffins at the tennis
Four years ago: Birthday chocolate cake and crazy computers
Five years ago: Raspberry Vinegar for Dummies

Caramel Gingersnap Slice
Adapted from Culinary Creations by Peabody

250g packet gingernut biscuits, processed to crumbs
110g butter, melted
400g can condensed milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (I used 1/2 cup)
scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup caramel chips
1 cup dark choc chips
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup coconut flakes, chopped (or shredded coconut)

Preheat oven to 180 C (350F).  Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.

Mix the gingernut biscuits and butter.  Press into the base of the cake tin.  Mix condensed milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and grated nutmeg.  Pour into tin.  Sprinkle layers of caramel chips, chop chips, walnuts and coconut on top.

Bake for 25-35 minutes.  I baked mine til the coconut was a deep golden brown.  Cool in the tin.  (I did this overnight).  Cut into squares and keep in the fridge.

On the Stereo:
Scotland The Brave: Various Artists

Friday, 25 January 2013

Risoni with Chickpeas, Lemon, and Mint

Friday night last week ran away from me.  I got caught up at work, was late picking up Sylvia, and had to catch trams home because we are still carless after the recent accident.  Thanks to Pinterest, I knew exactly what I was making for dinner.  I'd seen an Orzo with Chickpeas, Lemon and Dill that seemed the answer to the dill lingering in the fridge.

My version was quite different.  I only found risoni - called "rice pasta" by Sylvia - which I assume is similar to orzo.  More critical to the flavour was my discovery that my dill had gone grey and slimy in the fridge.  I can't even remember why I originally bought it.  Fortunately I had some fresh mint and used this instead.

It was fairly quick to put together.  Perhaps too quick.  I rushed through it.  The salad was rather bland.  (A bit like the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty that we watched that night.)  Later I found that I had forgotten the garlic.  I added it with some more salt before storing the salad in the fridge.

The next day, we had a large lunch and were happy to just eat some leftover salad for dinner.  It was far far nicer.  While I thought of it as salad, E considered it pasta.  He heated his and added Tabasco sauce.  On the third night we ate it with cheeseymite scones.  I even had a wee bit leftover for lunch on Monday.  It was just the sort of salad I love to see us through a relaxed summer weekend.

Definitely an interesting salad.  I am not sure about the nuts in it but I did wonder about adding chopped red capsicum and using rice instead of risoni.  So many possibilities.  I am sending this to Ricki of Diet Dessert and Dogs for her Wellness Weekends.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Happy Burns Night - Haggis Stuffed Mushrooms
Two years ago:  PPN Lentil Ravioli - and a Potato Salad
Three years ago: A week of firsts
Four years ago: Apricot History and a Chutney
Five years ago: Heavenly Truffles and Mysteries

Risoni with Chickpeas, Lemon, and Mint
Adapted from A Little Bit Crunchy, A Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll
serves 6

500g (approximate 2 cups) uncooked risoni
2 cup peas
2 large spring onions, finely sliced (I think it was about 1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
zest of 1 medium lemon
juice of 3 medium lemons
about 2 tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon French lavendar salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup chopped roasted cashews

Cook risoni in salted water for 8 minutes (or according to packet instructions).  Drain and set aside.

While risoni is cooking, cook peas and prepare remaining ingredients.  Place in a large salad bowl.  Add warm pasta and mix well.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Keeps well in fridge for 3 days.

On the Stereo:
Words and Music (LP): Billy Connolly

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Boatbuilders Yard - relaxing on the waterfront

Discovering new areas in Melbourne can feel like going out of town.  My mum had read about the Boatbuilders Yard and suggested we got there for lunch to celebrate her birthday.  For so long Melbourne has turned its back on the Yarra River that runs through its centre.  Over the last decade or so, the city has started to appreciate its waterfront.  The cafe is just one of the many appearing in central Melbourne on little known riverside areas.

It is located in a part of Melbourne called South Wharf.  I've never heard of that area before.  Yet it is an area I have visited.  I have been to the Polly Woodside tall ship (above) many years ago as a child and seen Bob Dylan play on the grassy area outside Jeff's Shed (as the locals call the Melbourne Exhibition Centre).  The Boatbuilders Yard is tucked away by these two landmarks. 

Its website noted that table bookings were not required as there are over 500 seats.  That is one huge cafe.  Yet it is cleverly designed with lots of partitions that create many small spaces.  You can sit at the bar on tall stools, on soft chairs inside, on wooden benches outside, on deck chairs by the kids sandpit.  Take your pick.

It was a nice day so we sat outside.  The first thing we ordered was chips to nibble while we decided what to eat.  The orders come with a round disc (see above) that buzzes when your food is ready.  We then ordered lots of nibbly plates to share.

Most colourful was this dip platter.  The bread was good and my mum and my sister Fran were singing the praises of the goats cheese before we even started on the dips.  We also had crispy sweet corn and capsicum fritters with a very spicy jalapeno salsa and arancini with a dark tasty mushroom filling (my favourite).

Fran also decided to order some Pimms.  It was my first time that I have tasted it.  (It wasn't in fashion in my student and travelling days when I spent more time in pubs.)  It looked stunning and was refreshing but tasted a bit too much of cucumber for my liking.

Sylvia was quite cold by then and we were all ready for a walk.  First we ordered ice creams.  Sylvia had a strawberry one and my dad and I had chocolate.  They were most delicious eaten on decking facing onto the Polly Woodside.  Then we headed off for a walk as far as DFO, marvelling at how many other cafes were to be found along the walking track. 

Boatbuilders Yard
23 South Wharf Promenade
South Wharf
Tel: 03.9686.5088

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cheeseymite scones for Australia Day

I found a forgotten cooler bag covered in Australian flags in our back shed today.  Leading up to Australia Day (26 January) each year, the shops are full of the the Aussie flag.  Hats.  Serviettes.  Paper plates.  Bandanas.  Thongs (footwear, of course!).  Bunting.  Even the groceries have flags all over the packaging.  Tomato sauce.  Olive oil.  Biscuits.  Tissues. Etc etc.

At this time of year I am filled with the need to make iconic Australian recipes.  Every now and again I wake in the night filled with horror that I have never blogged about lamingtons or sponge cake or pavlova.  Mind you I have blogged pumpkin scones, chocolate crackles, damper and ANZAC biscuits.  And I have told you of my lifetime of eating vegemite and promite.  Today I am sharing a recipe for cheeseymite scones that draws on Australian traditions of vegemite and cheese sandwiches.

These cheeseymite scones were so good, I made them two weekends in a row.  The recipe came from Julie Goodwin in this month's Australian Women's Weekly.  I take my hat off to her for her simple approach to a fiddly recipe.  Before telling you about them, I thought I should show you (above) the Bakers Delight cheeseymite scrolls that Sylvia and I love. They are made by rolling up and baking yeasted bread dough with vegemite and cheese.  The result is a delicious fluffy savoury scroll.

Cheeseymite scrolls are like a meal in a bun.  I have made cheeseymite scrolls with puff pastry.  They were delicious but I prefer bread to pastry.  I have been meaning to make a yeasted version, but am yet to get around to it.  Scones will do me just as well.  They are so much quicker than yeast.  I have seen scone versions of these sort of scrolls and it seemed a good idea but still fiddly.  The genius of Julie's recipe is that it requires folding rather than rolling.

It is simply a matter of patting out the scone dough, spreading it with vegemite and cheese, folding it in two and spreading with more vegemite and cheese.  So easy.  So simple,  So brilliant.  I prefer my scones round but worried about the dough scraps if I cut out rounds.  So on my first attempt I cut the dough into squares.  When I tried round scones the second time I was pleased to find they worked fine.  I used recipe notes I had scribbled out of the Women's Weekly before loaning it to my mum.  As usual, I didn't follow instructions precisely.

On my first attempt I spread the vegemite and cheese over the whole scone dough surface.  It them occurred to me that I was struggling to spread vegemite over such a large area because you only needed it on half the dough before folding it over.  I rubbed the butter into the flour rather than melting it but my mum says it makes them taste better.  That is probably why I usually make my scones that way.

I also had some help from Sylvia and Dolly.  The dough is really sticky and soft.  Not for small hands to handle.  I let them both help to stir in the milk with a knife.  Dolly also had fun with a cup measure.  She reminded me of Saucepan Head in Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree.  No doubt such practices would not meet health and safety standards in a commercial kitchen.  But it gave us a good laugh.

We ate the scones around the kitchen table for lunch when I first made them, took some to a friend's place and then nibbled on the leftovers.  The second time I made them was at breakfast time.  We ate them for lunch after a swim at the pool and then for dinner with some leftover salad.  Both times, they were compensation for having no fresh bread in the house.  I suspect they will become a regular recipe in our house.  We love them very much and they are so very easy.

In honour of Australia Day I have made a collage of some Aussie images, quite a few of them from our visit to the Botanic Gardens last weekend.  (NB The gum leaves for my scone photos are from my local area.) Cheeseymite may well be a recent addition to the Aussie lingo but it is a flavour combination that has long been a favourite of Aussie kids. 

To celebrate Australia day you could hold a party with a backyard bbq and pool like my brother is this year, or go the beach and bush like we did last year or go to the Australia Day parade like we might this year.  Or you could just stay at home and bake these cheeseymite scones.  Washed down with a mug of billy tea.  It will have you yelling "Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi".

Lastly, I can't mention Australia Day without a note that it means different things to different people, particularly our First Nations people.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people once called it Invasion Day but lately I hear more reference to Survival Day.  In this spirit I will leave you with a moving excerpt from an Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) poem, 'A Song of Hope', that I heard in a few speeches late last year:

To our fathers' fathers
The pain, the sorrow;
To our children's children
The glad tomorrow

Some other Aussie posts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
ANZAC Day and the Biscuit Police
BBQ tofu like an Aussie flood
Memories, BBQs, and Bangers & Mash
Potato salad, freak weather and bushfires
Reconciliation damper, snags and dead horse
Stuffed Pears - in the swag

Cheeseymite Scones
From Julie Goodwin in the Australian Women's Weekly January 2013
makes 23 small scones

2 cups self raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
40g butter, chopped
1 cup milk (I used soy milk)
2 tbsp vegemite
120g (I cup) grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 220 C and grease an oven tray.

Place flour and salt in a medium to large bowl.  Rub butter into flour with your fingertips and then make a well.  Pour in milk and mix gently with a knife until it comes together in a sticky dough.  Sprinkle with flour and turn out onto a well floured surface.  Briefly knead until it comes together.  (Mine seemed too sticky both times but with a generous amount of flour it came together ok.)

Pat the dough out (making sure the surface below is well oiled), shaping into an approximate rectangle of between 1 and 1.5cm thickness..  Spread half with 1 tablespoon of vegemite.  (The dough is so soft that it is not easy - I found the best way was to dab blobs of vegemite over the dough and use a knife to sort of join them up.)  Sprinkle with half the cheese.  Fold the plain half over the vegemite and cheese half.  Spread the top with vegemite and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cut out scones either using a scone cutter to make circles or a knife to cut squares or triangles.  (If making round scones, some of the scones made from scraps at the end will not have cheese and vegemite on top.)  Place closely together on greased tray.  Bake for 10-20 minutes (I baked mine for 20 minutes).  When cooked wrap in a teatowel until ready to eat.  Best on day of baking but keeps fine over night.

On the Stereo:
No Earthly Man: Alasdair Roberts

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Leon Superfood Salad

Last week was tiring.  I would like to claim that making this Leon Superfoods Salad gave me the energy I needed but it was no match for a young girl who did not want to sleep.  While it might not work magic, it is a delicious salad that is healthy without feeling heavy.

I bookmarked the recipe because it sounded excellent.  I made it because I was searching my bookmarks for avocado recipes.  This one particularly appealed because we are still buying broccoli but I have less desire to cook it in the hot days of summer.  It wasn't that hard to make but it took me quite some time to prepare between trying to settle Sylvia. 

Allegra McEvedy of Leon claimed that this was one of two recipes that she was still making 3 years after opening Leon restaurant.  That impressed me.  Yet I still made changes.  I am a bit lackadaisical about measurements for salads.  I did buy a really good soft marinated feta, which I would recommend.  It was a great salad. Crunchy, soft, spiky, creamy, little bit sour, little bit salty. 

The biggest disappointment was that the following day there was only enough leftovers for one person.  Possibly this was because I didn't follow the measurements precisely.  Unfortunately E loved it too, but he was happy to eat pasta while I polished off the salad.

I am sending this salad to Catherine of Cates Cates for her Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food challenge.  This is a new challenge that she has started this month with the theme, Substantial Salads.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WSC Blueberry Chocolate Cake
Two years ago:  CC Hal's Stirfry Sauce
Three years ago: Cheese and Almond Loaf
Four years ago: Beat the heat with fruit salad
Five years ago: Nigel’s bulghur supper

Leon Superfood Salad
Adapted from Allegra McEvedy in The Guardian
serves 3-4

3/8 cup dry quinoa
160g broccoli florets (from 1 head of broccoli)
160g frozen peas
150g cucumber (1/3 telegraph cucumber), diced
180g marinated feta cheese, crumbled
20g alfalfa sprouts
40g seeds (I used sesame, sunflower, flax and pumpkin)
120g avocado, cut into pieces
Small handful parsley, rough chopped
Small handful mint, rough chopped
6 dessertspoons lemon juice
8 dessertspoons olive oil from the marinated feta

Cook the quinoa (place in saucepan with slightly more than twice the water and a pinch of salt, then simmer about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Cook the broccoli until only just cooked.  (Allegra said to steam for about 3 minutes but I microwaved it.)  Cook peas with broccoli if doing on stovetop or separately if in microwave.  Dry fry the seeds until they smell fragrant.

Layer the salad in a salad bowl in the order in the ingredients list.  Toss and check taste.  Adjust seasonings and lemon juice if required.  Serve at room temperature.

On the Stereo:
L'Imaginaire Irlandais: Various Artists

Thursday, 17 January 2013

WHB Caramel banana cake

I am still in love with Pinterest and amazingly I do get inspired by the recipes.  A surplus of bananas for smoothies in the shopping trolley, some yoghurt that needed using and a packet of caramel chips to trial were in my my kitchen.  This Banana Streusel Coffee Cake with Salted Caramel was close enough for jazz.  I just left off the streusel topping and caramel sauce and subsituted caramel chips for chop chips.

I make a lot of banana cakes.  Not usually in a swiss roll tin.  I thought it might rise and seep out over the edge.  I took the chance anyway.  I baked scones towards the end of cooking and turned up the temperature.  (I know, I know that you shouldn't do it but my oven is so slow that it never burns!)  The cake rose beautifully.  It smelt wonderful as it came out of the oven.

I made it on the weekend because we were catching up with friends.  We went to visit a friend of Sylvia's on the weekend and took some cake.  Then on Sunday we met our friends Chris and Yav and Florence at the Botanic Gardens.  It wasn't very warm but the cake and rug were lovely when we sat by the lake after the Children's playground.  I've never seen the lake so full of life before.  Swans.  Ducks.  Eels.  Turtles.  Excited kids on the edge.

I've never used the caramel chips before.  They are a new product in the supermarket.  They were like chocolate chips: gooey, soft and pleasing.  It was a huge cake.  Sylvia told me that I make the best banana cake ever.  E said it was better that my usual banana cake (I didn't ask which banana cake exactly as I have made many).  He just loved the caramel chips.  I loved how it was so soft and full of flavour that it didn't need any embellishments.  Perfect for work snacks or a little sweet something late at night.  Great for sharing.

I didn't miss the cake tonight.  It is 39 C today.  I thought it was ok until I took a tram home that had no air conditioning.  Then I just wanted to hurry home to the air conditioner and leftover salad.

I am sending this cake to Simona of Bricole for Weekend Herb Blogging #367, the weekly event coordinated by Haalo and founded by Kalyn.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Malabar Hut - why it is our favourite Indian takeaway
Two years ago:  Fruit mince scrolls and muffins
Three years ago: Millet Buckwheat Tortillas
Four years ago: Baba - full of eastern promise
Five years ago: You say biscuits, I say scones!

Banana Caramel Cake
Adapted from Portuguese Girl Cooks

250g butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
4 to 5 mashed very ripe bananas (Makes about 2 cups - I used 4)
1 and 1/2 cups plain white flour
1 and 1/2 cups plain wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup caramel chips (or choc chips would work)

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and then bananas.  Gently mix in white flour and half the yoghurt, then the other half of the yoghurt and the remaining ingredients.  Scrape out into a greased and lined swiss roll tin (13 x 9 inch baking dish).  I baked mine for 40 minutes at 200 C and then 10 minutes at 220 C.  (If your oven is more powerful than mine then 30-40 minutes at 180 C might be enough.)  Leave in tin 10 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.  Our cake lasted 5 days and by then it was getting a little soggy.

On the stereo:
The Alan Lomax Collection Sampler: Various Artists