the art of alone time

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being a raging ENFP, I’m not terribly good at being by myself, especially for long stretches of time. the uncomfortable feeling I’m told introverts get after being social for too long is what i get when i’m alone for too long – insufferable cabin fever. this used to manifest itself hugely around exam time, where hours spent being silent studying in the library would drive me cuckoo. frankly put, i want to be around (friendly) others most of the time.

however, as I get older, i’m learning to appreciate time spent alone. this was put to the test when my mum and sister went away for the easter weekend, and i had the house to myself for 4 days. Now, i was working for two of them, (hence why i didn’t join the trip to my favourite place), but two days and three evenings is quite sizeable for this extrovert.
but anna! I hear you ask. just because your mum and sister were away, don’t you know anyone else in christchurch? well yes, i do, but easter is a time of going away/spending quality time with your family that i feel like it would be weird to try and arrange social activities during it – not to mention that my two days off were good friday and easter sunday, on which nearly everything closes. popsicle date at the petrol station, anyone?

so – what have i been up to? relishing my time! while typically i greatly dislike cooking for one, we had lamb shanks in the freezer, which i just love. I used a great annabel langbein recipe to make them and also whipped up baked apples with custard. i hadn’t made the latter before, but we had cooking apples and i was intrigued – and they turned out great! the skin of the apple gets crunchy and flaky, kind of like a baked potato, and the inside turns to pure tangy fluff. and i guess the custard doesn’t hurt either ;)

my mum, feeling guilty at abandoning me, also left me lots of other treats, so come monday i may have trouble fitting into my work clothes!

to accompany this supreme comfort food, i read a dear katie fforde book, who i can always rely on for a sweet heart warming read, watched nz bachelor (i’d saved two episodes expressly for the purpose), and discovered a new web series (to make up for the hole in my life after finishing the lizzie bennet diaries and emma approved).

……i would also like to point out that i did laundry, went for a few runs, cleaned my room and vacuumed the house for when my mum reads this post ;)

my alone time also doubled as learning time. it’s very easy to get by without knowing how to do maintenance things around the house when you live with a. parents or b. boys, and as I have spent my entire life with one or the other, i duly know very little about all this.

BUT! the gods evidently decided this weekend i would learn real life adult skills, when the gas (that powers our stove) ran out on me one day, and a fuse tripped the next. to youtube i turned initially, before admitting defeat and phoning my mum. however, next time these things occur, i will be equipped and ready – i’ll even volunteer to be the one to sort it out! i’m still a little hazy on the whole tire changing thing (despite observing it being done twice), but, as I’m still on my learners, I have no doubt the time will come the very first time I’m driving alone (when i finally get my restricted licence).

i also took the opportunity to give the fridge a going over. with my food bag, we use up the majority of our groceries at the end of each week, unless we have leftovers from the recipes or bought extra stuff. I found beetroot, broccoli and radishes in the fridge and decided a salad was in order. riffing on a couple of ripe recipes, and stuff i’d seen online, i made this creation for my lunches this week.

i really like it – i prepared the beetroot in both raw slim juliennes and soft roasted cubes, plus blanched broccoli and edamame, sliced radishes, toasted sesame seeds and a tangy dressing (pomegranate molasses is amazing). i initially planned to make quinoa to go in it, but then i came to my senses.
However, if you like quinoa (i just don’t), feel free to toss it in – i’ve seen quite a few recipes which include it.

now, i’m off to enjoy what’s left of my alone time before my family gets back – i’ve enjoyed my weekend off so much that it may be a blow to have company!

enjoy what’s left of the easter weekend friends – my love to you all.

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beautiful beetroot salad

five beetroot, peeled
4 radishes, finely sliced
1 head of broccoli, chopped into 1cm bits
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
350g edamame beans, defrosted
optional extras that would also be nice: mint, kale, spinach, dried cranberries

dressing:
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp olive oil

preheat the oven to 180C. take two of the beetroot and dice them. roast in the oven with a little olive oil for 30 mins or until caramelised and tender.
julienne the three remaining beetroot. i used a mandoline – if you don’t have one, it may be easier just to coarsely grate them – it’s up to you. know that you will end up with red stained hands no matter what, and gracefully accept this. definitely make at least one bad joke about getting caught red handed (if you are alone while making this, there will be no one to groan despairingly at your lame humour).
boil the kettle. put the chopped broccoli in a large heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. put a plate or lid on top and let cook for 3 mins or so. get a piece of broccoli out and taste to test the done-ness. if tender drain the broccoli, and try to get it as dry as possible.
to make the dressing, just mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

toss together beetroot, broccoli, radishes and edamame. pour over some of the dressing – you don’t want to drown it. you can always add more later on if the salad needs it. scatter over sesame seeds and toss again to combine.

enjoy! i think spinach or kale would be nice, if you feel you need more greenery in your life. i’d be happy either way.
good served for lunch by itself, or dinner accompanied by chicken, fish or tofu.

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healthy eating on a student budget: two tasty salads

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hi sorry for my absence! uni is heating up and i have lots of pressing big assignments on at the mo along with tons of tiny ones too. however in better news, we have enjoyed stunning weather which has made everyone so happy! we got up to 23ºC (73F) the other day which is incredible for the start of spring. we had to celebrate so enjoyed a cheeky G&T sitting in the sunny backyard that afternoon – bliss!

although we seem to be back to arctic conditions again, i’ve been enjoying two tasty lunches that i wanted to chat to you about:
vegetarian soba noodle salad and falafel bowls!
the fact that i should be writing an essay right now has nothing to do with this haha …

they are both cost effective, filling, don’t involve much wheat, have protein and include a bit of prep upfront but easy after that! i was so sick of soup, roast vege salads were feeling too heavy and dense and one note. i was craving asian/middle eastern flavours and they can both be doused with chilli which i both love and find it satisfies my hunger really well.

noodle salad
150g soba noodles
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp oil (sesame would be nice)
2 tbsp minced chilli
1 tbsp honey/brown sugar
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
julienned carrots
2/3 head cauliflower, in small florets
red pepper/spring onions/broccoli as desired

cook noodles according to packet, blanch carrots and cauli. mix with dressing.

falafel bowls
2 tins chickpeas
juice 2 lemons
2 tbsp olive oil
good handful of parsley/chives
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander

blitz it together in food processor. to make, fry little balls of it for about 5 mins each side. i have them atop shredded iceberg lettuce, grated carrot and with a feta dip and sweet chilli sauce as a dressing. a yoghurt sauce would be super yum too.
note- remember the flour!! i forgot when i originally made them and ended up with stirfried hummus haha absolutely essential! 

i have also been heartily enjoying popcorn, which i just make on the stove. 1 tbsp of popcorn kernels in a little oil with some dried chilli, smoked paprika, and then scattered with little salt when popped is the perfect snack! all this talk of chilli is giving me the sweats- addict much!

also, a list of things to be glad about
(which i need to remember when i look at my planner and see all my assignments for the next few weeks!)

– pretty blossoms around campus
– warm weather allowing summery clothing
– the country being united and excited around the rugby world cup
….(except when its 4 in the morning and the tv wakes me up! time differences..)
– delicious coffees with fellow addict friends who require zero persuading
– beautiful new music and a gripping new podcast
– a fun new restaurant we need an excuse to try out
– downton abbey, mindy project and greys anatomy being back!
– …and possibly my favourite ever tv show being revived for another season!
– remembering that its my last 6 weeks living in dunedin and to just savour every bit of it!

…. i may even look back at the library with nostalgia.. or maybe not.

the best vegetarian lasagne

Spolier alert: this is time consuming so don’t make this unless you have plenty of time to potter in the kitchen!

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Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you the story of how this dish came to be.

Last year, i had an intense craving/desire for vegetarian lasagne – why, i have no idea. to my knowledge, I’d never actually eaten vegetarian lasagne: my mum never made it and neither did any of my family. I scoured recipe books and blogs for my visualisation of what a vegetarian lasagne should taste like: sweet rich pumpkin, sliced finely and roasted; healthy green wilted spinach; juicy tomatoes; moreish, garlicky mushrooms and of course a thick coating of luscious cheese sauce. I was convinced i’d seen the recipe somewhere, but alas it escaped me. after feeling frustrated and irritated at this evasive recipe, i suddenly realised that i’d already come up with it! so i cajoled the flatmates into spending a little extra on groceries for my dinner for the week, and rolled up my sleeves and made it!

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it was very, very delicious! but also more complicated than it needed to be. I made smitten kitchen’s tomato sauce, sautéed the spinach with its own onion and garlic, and used multiple roasting tins and frying pans, exhausting our supply!

nonetheless, my friends, intrigued by my declarations and photos of this supreme deliciousness, asked for the recipe, and i ended up going over to Clara’s to be the sous chef/recipe advisor when she made it for her flatmates!

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i decided to make it this week, and when cooking it today, i realised that the spinach and tomato processes i’d previously done were needlessly complicated – once baked together, the tomatoes concentrate and develop of their own accord, and spinach melds with the sweet pumpkin and garlicky mushrooms. i streamlined the process, so that, while still a fairly time consuming recipe, it is simpler and less dish-creating than before!

for all my foreboding warnings of this taking ages, i actually loved my time pottering in the kitchen cooking this today. cooking is deluxe stress relief for me (unless i’m making a super tricksy recipe) and i was wearing my pretty flowery apron and it felt good!

it was also fun to not be constantly referring back to a recipe, plus i was listening to the audiobook of Hilary Clinton’s Hard Choices, which i just downloaded via my library’s overdrive account. Love her or hate her, she certainly has been terribly influential on the world stage for a long time and soon, potentially, will be even more so, if she becomes US president in the next election! I’ve listened to 80 mins so far and its been very interesting: especially considering she was Secretary of State, which the book focuses on, and i have a keen interest in the Foreign Service.

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^^^mmmm…^^^

Now, as for the title of the recipe: a) big call! and b) vegetarian anything sounds a little… lacking, right? as if it’s second best to the meat version. well, i’m here to tell you that i, a good omnivore, prefer this lasagne to the meat version- it is hearty, filling, delicious, not pious in the least, yet you don’t feel like you need to take a long nap afterwards like i do with the meat version! i like it cold, warm, fresh, leftover, any which way. try it!

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the best vegetarian lasagne
serves 6-8

1/2 large crown pumpkin, skin off and cut into thin slices
Canola oil (about 2-3 tbsp in total)
750g button mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Beef stock powder
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 large packet frozen spinach, defrosted
1 packet lasagne sheets (dried or fresh)
Plenty of cheese béchamel sauce

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the pumpkin in a large roasting pan, drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 mins or until tender.
Sauté the onions, mushrooms, and garlic in a little oil until mushrooms are soft and reduced in size. Sprinkle over beef stock powder to taste: i used about 2 teaspoons (omit this step or substitute with vegetable/mushroom stock powder if vegetarian).
Layer the lasagne sheets, spinach, pumpkin, tomatoes in a large roasting pan (I just use the same one that i used for the pumpkin). Top it off with a thick layer of mushrooms.
I never measure my cheese sauce, as i make it the way my mum taught me, all in the consistencies and adding flour and milk as i go, but here i start off with about 100g of butter – feel free to make it the way you usually do, you want enough to fully cover a large roasting pan size area. if you need a recipe deb’s looks pretty spot on.
Top with a sprinkling of grated cheese, if desired, and bake for about an hour, or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese sauce is golden brown.

This is more than enough for a meal on its own, but you can also serve with some gourmet sausages, as we did.

healthy spinach torte

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i really enjoyed the food at home – fancy bread, gourmet yoghurt, a few g&ts with my mum, my sister’s scrummy baking – it seemed wasteful and pointless to turn any of it down. so i may have put on a little extra padding, which i’m not exactly regretting given the chilly weather lately! however, i am ready to get back into more healthy eating now that i’m back in dunedin and into the routine of lectures, study and work.
i can be a little extreme when i want to eat better – while supermarket shopping i’ll only buy the bare essentials like oats, fruit and frozen spinach. all very worthy, but leaving me with a quandary when it comes to lunching: as i end up only eating a piece of fruit, which then pushes me back into bad habits of bread and so on as i feel hungry and sorry for myself, and justify that i need to eat more to function!
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so after 20 years in this body of mine, i knew myself well enough that if i was going to actually stick to some good eating behaviour, that i would have to make something healthy but also substantial, otherwise the healthy eating train would soon leave the station. i settled on a kind of spinach torte, reminiscent of one we make at home. my mum had supplied me with the spinach, eggs and italian cherry tomatoes, so i really didn’t need much extra to create it. so healthy = whole packet of frozen spinach, lots of onion, mushroom and tomato – but also the more luxurious additions of cheese and eggs, to set it into something healthy, yet filling and tasty!

i’ve sliced it into 8 portions, wrapped them up and frozen them and hoping they last me a while. This is gluten free but doesn’t feel it! the cherry tomatoes aren’t 100% necessary but i always feel like eggy things like this always go really well with tomato relish or something, so they are a streamlined way of adding that sweet tomato flavour! go on, make one today and feel smug as you watch your flatmates hopelessly scrounge round for something to eat at lunchtime, or your friends dash to dispensary (a cute café that does admittedly scrummy food) for a pricey salad!

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healthy spinach torte
4 onions (i used red, but brown are totally fine too), diced
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp dried basil (basil pesto would be a yummy substitution if you have it – maybe 1 tbsp)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1 packet frozen spinach, defrosted
150g tasty cheese, grated (other cheddar or feta would be yum too!)
5 large eggs
1 can cherry tomatoes (juice drained)
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a large ovenproof glass or ceramic dish. Sauté the onions, basil and garlic in the canola oil until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and let cook until they start to soften. Take off the heat and stir through the spinach. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until thoroughly beaten and add the cheese. Season if desired. Add the spinach mixture and mix to thoroughly combine. Pour mixture into the prepared dish. Arrange the cherry tomatoes on top and push them in to the mixture a little. Bake for 30 mins or until set in the centre. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing. Enjoy!

note: as you can tell from my copious additions to ingredient list, this really is an anything goes type recipe- as long as you stick to roughly the same amounts of egg, spinach and mushroom (their plush meaty texture really adds something special), you can mix and match however you like according to your tastes and pantry! xx

healthy eating on a student budget: part 2

see! i promised you another of these posts and i delivered!
this part two is kind of a winter edition, because soooooup features, and, i don’t know, the freezing temperatures in dunedin lately aren’t terribly conducive to ice block making or whatever it is i do in summer (i’ve forgotten already, it feels like forever ago).
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^^^ok, not soup, but my yummy lunch today! kumara i roasted over the weekend, spinach and feta. I poured over an egg beaten with a little milk and had myself the fanciest, yummiest spin on a spanish omelette^^^
so without further ado, here are 3 more tips and tricks:
1. Soup! Basically the perfect food, so many different options, so filling and warming but so good for you at the same time!! even if you supplement with a mountain of cheese on toast (not that i would ever do that or anything…) or cheese rolls! southern sushi hehe.
Vegetables are so affordable as long as you buy them in season and shop around a little – i walk past veggie boys (a dunedin fruit and vegetable grocer) every day on my way to uni so i have my finger on the pulse of fruit and vegetable pricing (yes, i have a very exciting life, couldn’t you tell ;)
Here are some of my favourites:
lentil soup with carrot and tomatoes and chorizo
saute onions and garlic, add chunks of carrot, chorizo and brown lentils. Pour in a can of tomatoes and chicken stock and allow to simmer until lentils cooked.
pumpkin soup
saute onion and garlic, add chopped up pumpkin and chicken stock. Simmer until pumpkin is cooked and then puree. I like to add chopped up crispy bacon and grated cheese to top – takes me back to my childhood. my mum used to put creamed corn in too which i am very partial to.
leek and potato
saute onion and garlic, add finely sliced leeks and let soften. add chopped up potato and chicken stock and simmer until potato cooked. Puree. I like to add frozen or fresh spinach to up the vege content.
carrot soup
saute onion and garlic, add dried coriander, paprika and fresh ginger. add chopped up carrot and chicken stock. Simmer until carrot is tender. Puree and top with fresh coriander.
healthy vege soup 
– simmer red lentils and barley, add onions, parsnips, leeks, celery, carrots and pumpkin. puree when cooked.
 
ps- feel free to ask me for amounts in the comments – but the beauty of soup is that there is no need to measure things specifically! approximate amounts will do just fine, and you will feel fancy and very chef-like, just tossing things in the pot with gay abandon!
 
pps – soup is the one thing i absolutely INSIST upon seasoning. If you taste the soup and it’s not quite right, 99 times out of ten (see what i did there) it’ll be because it needs salt. I am very proud of my low sodium intake (generally), but those vegetables need salt, i’m telling you. it doesn’t even make the soup taste more salty, it just brings out the flavours of the vegetables.
2. keep raw almonds in your bag at all times for when hunger strikes! this might be just me, but while i don’t dislike plain almonds, i don’t crave them or necessarily want to just mindlessly snack on them (french vanilla almonds, on the other hand…), which eliminates the possiblity of me just nibbling on them at every opportunity. they are fantastic when you are feeling peckish but are out of the house and know you won’t be eating for a bit longer/want to put off buying anything. a handful of them will satisfy me for a good 30 mins and mean i don’t make silly food choices like buying baking or lunch from a cafe- aiming for a fat bank balance and lean hips, not the other way around!
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3. ditto number 2 but for teabags! if you don’t have access to a kettle or hot water dispenser, most cafes will let you have a cup of hot water for 50c or less – and will even add milk or sugar for nothing! i’ve taken to bringing chai teabags with me, and getting my own keep cup filled up with hot water, a dash of milk and vanilla syrup for only 50c in total. a delicious and comforting beverage which is so much cheaper and healthier than buying a hot chocolate or chai and even nicer in my opinion!
I just got home from my chinese cinema paper’s film screening – we watched Suzhou Road which i actually really enjoyed – i often find the films quite hard going, as i’m more of a romcom gal myself, plus my attention span is so bad these days. anyway, it was about love and loss, very tragic, and i walked home feeling very deep and of awe for this world of ours. it’s so easy to get distracted by study and lectures and petty random things and just go days lost in my little world of work and uni and repeat. but there is this big wide world out there that i will experience – the good and the bad, the love and the loss, just as soon as i get out of this lovely comfortable bubble of being a student in dunedin. raw almonds to chai tea to deep thoughts – what kind of hippy blog is this? don’t worry, i’ll be back to mediocre yarns soon enough.
and just a couple of photos from my birthday to tide you over:
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cheers to that!

healthy eating on a student budget: part 1

so after making cinnamon scrolls for the flatties last night (oops that autocorrected to fatties which is a fair call tbh) and a saturday market date this morning which involved a chocolate mousse doughnut, i was in dire need of some vegetables. luckily, past Anna (an overused expression of my sister’s, which i now seem to have picked up) was a thoughtful wee bunny and had prepared cooked lentils, homemade sun dried tomatoes, and feta in the fridge plus some frozen spinach in the freezer so i have just eaten a tremendously healthy lunch which my gluten weary body is thanking me for profusely. now don’t get me wrong – i’m no gluten nazi – but i feel so good when i’m not eating much of it.
eating healthily on a student (or any) budget is hard. bad food is just so cheap! and plentiful! and considering we buy bread as a flat, i could get by so cheaply if i just ate peanut butter toast for every meal of the day. and while that sounds like fun for the most part, not so good for this body of mine.

here are two tips, if you’d like (i will be doing more posts on the subject in the future. here are the two that come to mind for me right now!)

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1. preparation is yo friend
– the key to eating healthy food on a budget is sorting yourself out in the weekends or evenings or whenever you’ve got some free time. it is so so sooooo much easier to eat well if your fixings are sitting there in the fridge, and a mere five minutes away from a good meal. it’s when you’ve got nothing sorted that you resort to takeaways or junk food.

my fave preparations are
– lentils. protein yeeha! if i’m feeling fancy i’ll saute some onion and garlic to begin, add some spices and then the lentils and then stock, and cook it down like a dry dahl. otherwise i’ll just boil them in some salted water. these can be paired with just about anything to form the basis for a meal.
– roasted root veges. obviously a winter time thing. i’ll do pumpkin, kumara, beetroot, parsnip, carrot… basically anything i’ve got on hand, with the exception of potatoes.
– sun dried tomatoes. very cheap in the summer! basically just dribble over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or malt if you’re a poor student) and chuck them in a low oven (130 ish) for a few hours or until shrivelled and crinkly. and i don’t even like tomatoes that much, but i love these.
– some kind of good fat – avo, feta, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews.. they add interest and yum to a salad.
– green vegetables. get that chlorophyll in ya! i find it easiest to buy frozen vegetables such as green beans, edamame, or frozen spinach portions. all it takes is a zap in the microwave (or even just popping them in frozen if i’m making my lunch in the morning, as they’ll be defrosted by lunchtime.)

some fave combos
– plain lentils, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and feta
– avocado, sundried tomatoes and a poached egg
– spicy lentils with a fried egg on top and feta/halloumi sprinkled over
– roasted veges, lentils, green beans, feta, and a cashew/cranberry/almond nut mix
– spicy lentils with spinach stirred through
…and much more

psst – if you don’t love lentils, then you can sub Israeli or regular couscous into most of these. which does mean you’ll be eating that wheat we’re trying to avoid, but still pretty healthy!

I also love love roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and will very happily munch my way through a heads over a few meals.
i like…
– cauli roasted with curry powder and mustard seeds, then a quick tangy yoghurt sauce to top
– broccoli with parmesan/ feta and pumpkin seeds/flaked almonds

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2. get on the oat buzz
my weekday breakfast HAS to involve oats in some shape or form – all very well to munch on scones or eggs or scrolls on a weekend, but porridge or bircher is my go to on a weekday. i generally eat bircher in the summer and porridge in the winter. plus they’re so much cheaper than buying breakfast cereal! and i love that you can precisely control the amount of sugar. i bought some stunning rhubarb from the market today which i have already roasted with a little sugar and am looking forward to eating it with my bircher tomorrow!

some toppings/ combos
– cinnamon and fresh pear
– cinnamon and dates
– roasted rhubarb and vanilla yoghurt
– stewed appple made from proper cooking apples
– canned black doris plums and custard
– coconut, linseed and cranberries 
– brown sugar and cream
…yum!

life right now : the word that comes to mind is busy! i’ve just found out i have the dubious pleasure of two midterm tests on my birthday – cheers eco department. however, i’m powering on! i had a brilliant day today and got to spend time with some of my favourite people – had a morning market date and an afternoon tea with Paris tea and scones with cream and jam and gorgeous chats. i sure am a lucky ducky. plus my flatmate’s nana dropped round a ridiculous amount of baking complete with the butteriest shortbread i’ve ever tasted – mmm.
i have cinnamon scrolls to share with you – unfortunately i didn’t manage to take pictures of the finished product as we pounced on them! but my dear friends have kindly volunteered to come over to eat them this week so that i can get more photos – what selfless, charitable gals eh ;)
until next time, friends! have a great sunday! i hope you drink lots of coffee and read the sunday paper and stay in your pyjamas until at least lunchtime. xx

indian spiced potato salad

one of the attributes i imagine is useful in a blogger is a constant desire to find new and more interesting recipes. I’ve been like this ever since I began cooking, eschewing the classic recipes we had for things like chocolate biscuits in favour of recipes i’d never tried before. to me repeating the same recipe over and over was boring, especially if it was one that could be described as -shock horror- easy or quick to whip up!

this concept is so foreign to my mum, which i guess sort of makes sense when you’re a working mama with 3 kids ;).
But even as a harried mother I can’t imagine enjoying settling for easy, tried and true recipes – it’s just not in my DNA.  of course there are my favourite recipes but i’d always sacrifice a little extra time and effort on improving or jazzing up a dish. yes, easy for me to say – leisurely student with nothing but time on my hands and few responsibilities!

to this day, when i’m home and i decide to bake something and my family requests one of the classic recipes, i sulkily mooch off to scour food blogs and recipe books for a newer, ‘better’ edition… perhaps the maxim ‘if its broke don’t fix it’ is something i’ll learn with age ;).

however, the upside to this this wilful, stubborn streak is that it occasionally culminates in very perfect recipe discoveries. along with this wonderful recipe, there is also a  perfectly stunning rhubarb tart recipe i’m dying to show you!

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sorry, back to potato salad but not as you know it- no mayonnaise, spring onions or bacon here- i guarantee you won’t miss them! instead, we take waxy new potatoes, coat them in an indian spice mixture and roast until perfectly crispy. then we layer them with the fresh, zingy “chaat salad” of juicy cucumber, red pepper, mint leaves and lemon juice.
the garnishes though, in my humble opinion, are what really make it. you take a whole cup of coconut chips (the flakes, not the desiccated thread stuff) and toast it, you get amaranth and pop it like popcorn, unsweetened greek yoghurt, and make a tamarind sauce out of tamarind pulp.

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my meandering introduction was really just a longwinded way of telling you it’s complicated, and will take some time, requiring dirtying several bowls, 2 saucepans and a roasting tin. fiddly, but equally what elevate it from standard everyday stuff to a salad that’s pretty special.

I served it with my favourite sticky chicken, roasted asparagus and some sautéed silverbeet (aka chard), but it would be also very yummy brought along to a summer BBQ – you decide!

this recipe is slightly adapted from one in a wonderful recipe book called Ripe Recipes, after the deli in Auckland. this and the sequel A Fresh Batch are some of our favourite cookbooks and we’ve already made so many of the recipes – each one has been absolutely perfect. They are all unabashedly fresh, using beautiful produce and flavours you may not pick to be together but all work fantastically. i don’t expect the books are terribly well known outside of NZ, but they really should be – they rank up with the big names like Jamie Oliver in my eyes.

(psst: no fear of sponsored/affiliate links, i have no idea how to do that stuff!)

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anyway, here is the recipe – let me know if you make it! i promise you won’t regret it :)

indian spiced potato salad

potatoes:

1 kg (2 lb) new potatoes, cut up if large

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tsp salt (I used sea salt and it was lovely, but table is fine)

3 onions, peeled and finely slice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

toss ingredients together in roasting dish, then roast at 180 C/ 350 F for 45- 60 mins, or until potatoes are cooked and crunchy.

chaat salad:
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cucumber, finely chopped.

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

juice of a lemon

toss ingredients together, then set aside.
garnishes:

1 cup coconut chips, toasted in a pan

3 tbsp amaranth,** popped in a pan (optional if unavailable/undesired)

1 cup greek (unsweetened) yoghurt
tamarind* sauce:

1/4 cup tamarind pulp

1 1/2 cups water

5 tbsp brown sugar

bring ingredients to the boil in a small saucepan, then bring down to a simmer for 10 minutes. if your tamarind pulp is stringy/fibrous, or has seeds, strain sauce through a sieve.

to assemble, layer half the potatoes, then half the chaat salad, then about a third of the coconut/amaranth, some of the tamarind sauce and greek yoghurt, then the other half of the potatoes, the final half of the chaat salad, then the rest of the sauces, and the last of the coconut/ amaranth to finish.

enjoy!

*so whats the deal with tamarind, i hear you ask? well, it’s a delicious sour pulp that comes from the pods of the tamarind tree. you can either buy it as a pulp or paste (unless you live in a country where it is grown, i’m guessing – in which case, lucky you!)
From what i’ve gathered, the pulp is just that, while the paste has stuff like water, sugar and salt added. I went down to the local asian supermarket and was spoilt for choice, eventually opting for a massive vacuum packed block of pulp for just $2. I know it seems like a luxurious/exotic ingredient, but it can be used in so many asian recipes and is really deliciously sour – if you enjoyed sour worms or sour patch kids as a child, you will definitely enjoy it. i like it in my sticky chicken, in the dressings of thai salads, and i think you can even make cocktails with it! i reckon you could even sub it in for lemon juice in the right context.

**in regards to amaranth, i’m really not the best person to ask as it was just something we happened to have in the cupboard (family’s gone to the hippy dark side, remember). Sarah from My New Roots has a fantastic post on it over here. in terms of tracking it down, your local health store or possibly a well stocked supermarket should have it – don’t despair if you can’t track it down! toasted sesame seeds could also be a yummy substitution if you’re tolerant of them.