Tag Archives: Kale pesto

Kale Pesto

30 Oct

Kale Pesto Pine nuts sourdough

This recipe is part of a 7 course dinner which I recently prepared whilst in Vancouver. It is based on the original recipe of Brenda Fawdon. I reduced the pecorino cheese because my diner isn’t a huge fan of yellow cheese. I also used less pine nuts because I wanted the kale to stand out. Again, adjust to suit personal taste.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Makes 1 small bowl (increase quantities for larger portions)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley
  • 1 small clove of garlic, chopped roughly
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 50g of pine nuts, toasted
  • 50g of pecorino cheese, grated finely
  • 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

Method

Blanch kale leaves in hot water then transfer to icy cold water. Then add kale, parsley and garlic into food processor then blitz until rough. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and pine nuts blend until combined. Add pecorino and olive oil then stir through and combine. (For a finer result, just add pecorino and olive oil to processor and keep blitzing until smooth)

Season to taste and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Serve on crusty Italian bread like sourdough or pane di casa.

7 course dinner…at home

28 Oct

tasting menu

Recently, I spent last the 2 weeks of summer in Vancouver. Whilst I did get to savor some amazing food at several restaurants, I also had that one chance, to put my skills to the test and baptize a new kitchen.

A friend of mine had told me about a 5 course dinner that he had cooked to woo his girlfriend. I had to go one step further and cook an elaborate 7 course dinner. I have never cooked something so elaborate before and never in a kitchen I am unfamiliar with, but then I was not going to let that daunt me. I love challenges!

Leading up to the big day, I’d sourced enough ingredients to make 5 courses but needed to decide on another 2. Fortunately, two nights prior, I’d been watching an amazing documentary Step Up To the Plate. It provided plenty of inspiration, but in no way was it going to turn me into a 3 star Michelin chef overnight!

I still needed 2 more entrees. I narrowed it down to dishes which I thought would be hearty but not the stuff-you-silly kind. Soup it was. Besides, it was miserable outside, summer was coming to an end and rain, wind, cold was setting in.

Some of the dishes I made up, others I drew on inspiration and from participation at the Mondo Organics cooking class. Detailed recipes to follow.

Kale pesto on sourdough (original recipe by Brenda Fawdon)

Leafy green salad with semi-dried cranberries, pecans, goat milk fetta with a balsamic and agave dressing

Roasted tomato soup with thyme croutons

Wild mushroom soup with saffron croutons

Roasted pumpkin spelt gnocchi with sage butter sauce

Beetroot pearl barley risotto (adapted from original recipe by Brenda Fawdon)

Chocolate tofu tarts (adapted from original recipe by Brenda Fawdon)

Out and about in Vancouver and San Francisco

16 Oct

The abundant seafood along with many immigrants from the far east has created the perfect environment for eating sushi in Vancouver. There are probably more sushi restaurants per capita in Vancouver than any other city in the world, perhaps even more than in Tokyo! They are literally on every city block, in shopping centres, food courts, etc…

Could Vancouver be the sushi capital of the world? We’ll I don’t have the statistics to support such a statement but one thing I can vouch for is that it was some of the freshest, tastiest and cheapest sushi I’d ever eaten! If only I had my camera on all the occasions that I’d been eating sushi.

Sushi and Sashimi Porn…

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Not only did I come across many sushi restaurants in Vancouver but also a wide variety of Chinese, Malaysian and Thai restaurants too. Unfortunately I only have one stomach and am limited to eating 3 times a day so I wasn’t able to rival my sushi indulgence with other Asian delicacies. I did however sample a few dishes like hand-cut noodles, chili-garlic eggplant and salty-spicy tofu at The Peaceful; kacang ikan bilis (fried anchovies with peanuts) and roti canai at Tropika; probably the best laksa of late at Hawkers Delight; and, some decent papaya salad at Bob likes Thai Food.

Hawkers Delight Laksa…

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The food choices in Vancouver weren’t limited to Asian either: fine dining vegetarian at the Acorn and the well established West, my first Thanks Giving Dinner experience and I even stepped up to the plate to prepare a 7 course dinner!

The Acorn…

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Thanks Giving Dinner…

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Samples from the 7 course dinner…(through the eyes of my exclusive diner)

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And it wasn’t all about Vancouver too. San Francisco offered some of the best Mexican food I’d tasted outside of Mexico. Sadly, the camera wasn’t always on hand to capture what was delighting my taste buds and nourishing my stomach. Two vegetarian restaurants worthy of a mention were Greens (the longest standing) and Millennium (contemporary).

Tacolicious Mission SF…

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Back to school…cooking school that is!

18 Sep

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I’ve liked to cook since I was a child. My father would always be shouting from the garage for his never to be found assistant. I would be perched up high on a kitchen stool trying to help or at least watch my mother cook. The garage just didn’t excite me and brought no joy to my curious taste buds or ever rumbling stomach.

Since then my love for cooking has never faded, only grown into a serious passion. Nowadays, I’m no longer satisfied with the basics and have had a need to go beyond the ordinary. So last Saturday, I checked myself into Mondo Organics Cooking School in West End, Brisbane.

I’d found out about the cooking school after dining at the adjacent Mondo Organics restaurant in June, earlier this year. The cuisine was exquisite yet unpretentious. And yes, everything was organic (there is a difference I can assure you). I’m not sure whether it was the duck or the deconstructed pumpkin cake that prompted me to pickup the cooking school flyer; either way, I’m glad I did!

Saturday morning was manic. It began with groceries, then flattening chickens and smothering them with my special Portuguese marinade. An evening barbecue was on the cards. I finally made the dash to the car only to discover that the battery was dead. Next best option was my bike. 20 minutes later I was over the hill at Mondo: with a glass of water, name tag and playing introductions with about 12 other students.

After all the students had arrived, we marched into the school. My dawdling landed me in pole position, right next to the chef. Whilst daunting at first, it didn’t take me long before I was enjoying the bird’s-eye view of Chef Brenda Fawdon working her magic. I was like a lap dog, eager to please: chopping onions, whizzing up pesto and stirring risotto.

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So what are Super Foods? They are foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients.  Some examples include pearl barley, quinoa, kale, turmeric, nuts, acai and cacao to name a few. In addition to having incredible health benefits, they’re usually unique in taste, texture and appearance.

What goes on in a 3 hour Super Foods class? Besides learning how to use Super Foods, there are cooking tips like how to: make garlic paste using only a knife, chop onion (safely), poach chicken and blind bake. But that’s not all. You get to interact with fellow foodies and ask loads of questions to debunk myths or misconceptions. Then you finish off by chowing on everything that you’d prepared.

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Have you attended a cooking class before or are thinking of taking one? Chances are that you won’t regret it, would definitely learn something new from it and if all else fails; go home nourished by a restaurant quality meal. There are classes about baking, bread, barbequing, pasta making, desserts, chocolate and even express meals in minutes. The list is endless and the number of schools are on the rise.

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What else did I learn?

Pecorino Cheese – did you know that it comes from an island called Sardinia off the salami and prosciutto coast of Italy where the locals are predominantly vegetarian? This hard cheese is made from ewe’s milk, has a mild taste, is slightly salty and melts nicely.

Tofu – is not bad! There are several types which can be used to complement meat dishes or as a stand alone protein for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. In my opinion, Tofu is underrated and can be incorporated or used as a substitute for many thick and creamy ingredients like mascarpone, double cream and mayonnaise (with only a fraction of the fat and same creamy texture).

Who attends such classes? Wives, mothers, daughters, sons, couples, foodies, amateur cooks, orienteering champions, herbivores, carnivores, basically anyone with an interest in food or cooking.

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