Friday, November 12, 2010

My summer in Europe... wild strawberries in Germany, granadilla in Spain, and a visit to raw restaurant Saf in London!

wild strawberries in Schwarzwald, Germany

This year I was fortunate enough to skip part of the Australian winter and soak up the sun in Europe…. and boy was it warm! 

One of the highlights was walking in the gorgeous forests of Schwarzwald in Germany, munching on the most sweetly perfumed wild strawberries!

Here are some more photos from the trip!

la Bouqueria market, la Rambla, Barcelona

Above is a stall at the market 'la Bouqueria' in La Rambla, Barcelona. The range is IMPRESSIVE! Imagine, so many varieties of locally grown wild mushrooms, cherries, berries, figs, heirloom tomatoes and imported tropical fruits such as dragonfruit and avocado. They even had one of my all time favourite fruits: granadilla!! Granadilla is a type of passionfruit native to the Andes. It is golden on the outside and can be cracked with your fingers to reveal the sweet sweet goodness inside! This is very much unlike the passionfruit available in Australia, which is often quite acidic. I haven't eaten granadilla since 2006 when I travelled to Peru and have dreamed of eating granadilla again so it was a special treat for me! I must say though, they taste so much better fresh from the markets in Cusco, Peru :) 

Here is the granadilla passionfruit, with a backdrop of the Pyrenees in Andorra:

granadilla passionfruit

And... alpine walking in Andorra... gorgeous views, fresh alpine air, a plethora of wild alpine flowers, bees and butterflies!

alpine walking in Andorra

Alpine walking in Chamonix, France. Simply stunning!

alpine walking in Chamonix

And then a yummy lunch in Globus department store in Geneva: (marinated mixed wild mushrooms, a caprese salad, delectable olives stuffed with truffle paste, and roast eggplant and capsicum on sourdough)

lunch in Globus department store in Geneva

The richest and best tasting double cream with raspberries in Gruyère, Switzerland!

double cream with raspberries in Gruyère

Yummy local cheeses in Gruyère, Switzerland:

local cheeses in Gruyère

Raspberries, cherries, strawberries and peaches in Germany:

raspberries in Germany

strawberries in Germany

peaches in Germany


Stunning scenery and a viking boat in Naeroyfjord, Norway:

Naeroyfjord, Norway

... and the famous Scandinavian Daim cake!

Daim cake

In London I visited the World Food Cafe in Neal's Yard, Covent Garden. I have had the World Food Cafe cookbooks for years - some of my favourite vegetarian recipes are from these books - so it was amazing to eat from there and see the place firsthand! If you've never heard of the books, I recommend from 'World Food Cafe 2': the East African wilderness sweet potato patties with piri piri sauce, briq a l'eouf (Moroccan style egg and potato pie), the cashew nut stuffed capsicum in a coconut and curry leaf sauce, and the Guatemalan breakfast... these are family favourites around here! :)

Mexican plate at World Food Cafe, LondonWest African meal at World Food Cafe, LondonFalafels and hommus at World Food Cafe, London

And to end on a wonderful note, on my last day I had lunch at Saf botanical restaurant! Amazing food and excellent mocktails and cocktails! I highly recommend it!! Please forgive the bad quality photos, they are from my phone! I feel funny taking out my big camera in a restaurant! ;)-

We had raw zucchini ravioli filled with cashew cheese and served with basil tomato sauce, shiitake and woodear mushroom gyoza, the Saf salad bowl (parsnip rice, kimchee, radish, avocado, zucchini noodles, oyster mushrooms), Caesar salad with raw pine nut parmesan, and cashew cheese with sage pesto, crushed pink peppercorns, dried tomato with a balsamic reduction, and flaxseed crackers.

For dessert we had the chocolate ganache torte, the berry cashew cheesecake with coconut crust, and a fantastic cocktail of cinnamon infused cognac, amaretto, agave syrup, and espresso! What a superb meal!

lunch at Saf restuarant, Londonlunch at Saf restuarant, London

lunch at Saf restuarant, Londonlunch at Saf restuarant, London

lunch at Saf restuarant, Londonlunch at Saf restuarant, London

lunch at Saf restuarant, Londonlunch at Saf restuarant, London

Thank you for reading! :)

P.S. If you are interested in colourful gemstones, check out my etsy jewellery store: Ara et Orchidée! :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Four tropical flavours of raw vegan Moon Pie!!

Despite being in Australia and so probably not being an official entrant, I couldn't resist participating in Heathy's Moonie Pie Challenge!! The moonie pies on Heathy's gorgeous blog looked so delicious and I just had to try them! So I downloaded the recipe and started un-cooking! The challenge is to make two changes to her moonie pie recipe and blog about it. The winner does a moonie pie swap with Heathy and the winning moonie pies are featured on her blog.

So what is a moonie pie, you ask?! A moonie pie is a raw version of the American 'moon pie' - a marshmallow sandwiched between two biscuits, covered in chocolate. For all the Aussie readers, think of something between a wagon wheel or mallowpuff biscuit. The raw version of the moon pie is basically a creamy coconut-cashew-vanilla filling sandwiched between two layers of raw cacao-date-walnut cake then dipped in raw dark chocolate! SOOOO YUMMY!

As usual I couldn't pick one flavour to experiment with, so I decided to try 4 different varieties of moonie pie: custard apple (a.k.a cherimoya), guava and raspberry, rose and pistachio, and tiramisu!

The guava and raspberry moonie pie is divine - the acidity of the raspberries perfectly offsets the sweetness of the chocolate and the guava adds a delicate perfume to the pie…

The custard apple adds a tang that is just to-die-for and is really well complemented by the vanilla filling!

The tiramisu flavour is perfectly suited to moonie pies - a hint of coffee and marsala wine!

And the rose and pistachio moonie pie reminds me of eating rahat lokum (Turkish delight) and pistachio baklava…. so yummy!

It is hard to pick a favourite, but I would have to say the guava and raspberry! Well, what did you expect, this blog is called guavablossom, isn't it?! ;)-

Here are the details of the changes I made to Heathy's recipe:

I couldn't find agave powder for the filling anywhere, so I had to adjust the coconut oil and lecithin quantities in the vanilla filling recipe. I increased the coconut oil to 1 cup and used 4Tbsp of lecithin instead of 2, and the filling set perfectly!

I split the recipe into 4, which turned out to be 170g of filling and about 240g chocolate cake for each variation. Here are the variations:

Custard apple (a.k.a Cherimoya) moonie pie - to 170g vanilla filling, add 80g deseeded custard apple. Mix lightly so that the bits are visible when you bite through the moonie pie.

Guava and raspberry moonie pie - blend 170g vanilla filling with 50g deseeded guava flesh and 50g raspberries. Once blended, add an additional 25g raspberries and mix very gently so that the raspberry bits are still visible.

Rose and pistachio moonie pie - blend 170g vanilla filling with 2tsp rose water. An optional addition for colour is to add a few raspberries or a hint of beetroot juice, though I just used the blender after the guava and raspberry moonies :) Instead of walnuts in the cake, use pistachios, and omit the cacao powder.

Tiramisu moonie pie - blend 170g vanilla filling with 2tsp of Marsala wine. Stir 1tsp espresso-ground coffee beans through 240g of the walnut chocolate cake.

And what to do with the left over chocolate topping? Pour into chocolate moulds!

And that's all for this post! Good luck to all the participants and to Heathy with the difficult decision of choosing a winner!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ganga's Fijian-Indian Young Jackfruit Curry

A few months ago, one sunny morning, my friend Vidya and I got up at the crack of dawn* and made our way to Sydney's weekly flower market. Strolling past vibrant pinks and exuberant reds, the air perfumed with the scent of budding hyacinths and blossoming tulips, I wondered what hidden delights the day will hold...

Walking away, arms full of proteas, oriental lilies and the odd orchid, we decided to stop at the fruit and veggie market next door. We were pleasantly surprised to find young jackfruit on sale - what luck!! We grabbed a couple, some fresh loofah, and she suggested we head over to Ganga's place (her mum) for some Fijian-Indian young jackfruit curry! I felt so blessed to be able to witness the making of this traditional dish, first hand. While Ganga made fresh roti, Vidya and I picked stunning little bishop crown chilli peppers and cumquats from the garden. Then we chopped up the jackfruit, making sure to cover our hands and chopping boards in oil to avoid getting covered with the sticky white latex inside the young fruit (not as bad as it sounds actually, at least in my limited experience with the fruit!) The pieces had to be as small as possible, and once they were cut up, they were sautéed with onion, lots of garlic, and a plethora of Indian herbs and spices.

Soon it was time to eat - loofah curry, young jackfruit curry and warm homemade roti with some pickles on the side - the flavours were intense, fiery, amazing! The texture of the jackfruit curry, in particular, was divine. We stuffed our selves silly, and found it hard to stop eating, each bite being tastier than the last. It was sooooo good!!

When it was time to go, Vidya and her mum packed some curry and roti for my significant other and fids** at home (Oscar looooved the roti), as well as the goodies from the garden - chillies, cumquats, rosemary, curry leaves, tea leaves and some succulent cuttings for my balcony. As I left I felt so grateful to have been so openly welcomed and utterly spoiled by Vidya and her family - for one day, I felt I had been transported to Fiji and felt a part of her family. Is there a greater gift someone can give you?!?!

The delicious jackfruit curry left such an impression on me that I made it the next day, and once again a few days later, and actively have been hunting young jackfruit ever since! With Ganga's blessing, I have recorded the recipe for you here, I hope you find it as wonderful as I did!

* i am a night owl, so wasn't exactly 'crack of dawn' but felt like it ;)-
** fids = feathered kids :)

Serves 1 of me or 3 regular folk, hehe ;)

800g young unripe jackfruit
1 medium-sized onion, finely diced
1 small head of garlic (yes, a whole head, or 4-5 very large cloves), minced
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric, ground
1/2 Tbsp curry powder (or 1/2Tbsp ground coriander and 1/2 tsp garam masala)
15 curry leaves
3 hot chilli peppers, finely chopped
a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt (don't be shy with the salt!)
2 Tbsp oil or ghee + extra oil for coating knife and chopping board
Some lime juice (optional)


Coat a sharp knife and chopping board in oil, and cut off the spiky jackfruit peel.
Chop the jackfruit into large chunks, remove the centre core and discard it.

Chop the jackfruit chunks into small pieces. (The smaller the better here, so be patient and you shall be rewarded with superior texture in the final product. Traditionally this was done by hand, so if you have the time, do so! You will notice the jackfruit naturally breaks apart into little bits.)

Heat oil or ghee in a deep large saucepan. When hot add onion and sauté until translucent. Next add the fenugreek, cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, curry powder (or ground coriander and garam masala), garlic and fry for a few seconds until fragrant. Next add the chopped jackfruit, curry leaves, chilli, salt and 1/2cup of water. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 40 minutes, until tender, making sure to add small amounts of water while it is cooking so the curry does not dry out.

Taste and add more salt if necessary and some lime juice wouldn't hurt, though it wasn't necessary in Ganga's original recipe. Top with fresh coriander and serve!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Guvablossom is back!

After many months of neglect (oops!!) Guavablossom is back!! Luckily, I only neglected posting, not cooking, so have many new recipes to share with you! Recently we have been trying to eat as many raw foods as possible, so will be including some new tropical raw recipes in the near future! Watch this space for a new recipe in the next few days, in the meantime, enjoy some new family photos ;)-

Suco loves a scratch ;)-Suco eats with a spoon!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guava cream éclairs topped with vanilla-bean white chocolate

I was so so excited to get the first little pink guava of the season and I wanted to do something really special with them. After a couple of weeks with my head burrowed in Jane Austen’s Emma, however, they had started to get a little too ripe… and… ended up as jam! Although there's nothing quite like sweet home-made guava jam on a hot croissant first thing in the morning, it wasn't worthy of being the first guava recipe on a blog entitled 'guavablossom'! While munching on the croissant, and with cuisine Française obviously on my mind, I decided to turn the jam in to a pretty baby pink cream filling for crisp éclairs! The combination of vanilla, white chocolate and guava makes me swoon, and I'm sure it will please you too! Enjoy!

Makes around 15 éclairs

Guava jam
1 cup guava pulp (see Method)
1/2 cup sugar
squeeze of lemon juice

Choux pastry
100g butter
15g sugar
pinch of salt
250mL water
125g flour, sieved
4 eggs, beaten

Vanilla-bean white chocolate topping
100g white chocolate
25g butter
1 vanilla pod

Guava cream filling
200mL cream
1/2 cup guava jam, ingredients above

To obtain 1 cup of guava pulp, place peeled and chopped guavas in a food processor for a few seconds and then use a sieve to get the hard seeds out.

To make the guava jam: Place guava jam ingredients (guava pulp, sugar and lemon juice) in a saucepan and bring to the boil while stirring, then simmer for 10 minutes. The guava jam can be prepared ahead of time.

To make the Choux pastry: Put the butter, sugar, salt and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour in flour and stir quickly over low heat until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and beat in eggs one at a time until you obtain a smooth glossy paste.

Using a piping bag with a 1cm-diameter plain nozzle, pipe the Choux pastry in straight lines about 10cm long on to a greased baking tray. Bake in a 200C oven until crisp, around 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the guava cream filling. Whip the cream and then gently stir in the guava jam with a spatula.

Once the éclairs are out of the oven allow them to cool. Using a small knife make two slits in the side of each éclair (near each end). Pipe the guava cream slowly in to the slits. Alternatively, you may cut each éclair in half lengthways and then pipe the guava cream in to each éclair.

To make the topping: Melt the white chocolate and butter in the microwave. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthways, and scrape the seeds in to the melted white chocolate and butter mixture and stir. (Keep the vanilla pod to scent your sugar jar or to make some vanilla-scented olive oil.)

Drizzle the melted white chocolate mixture on to the éclairs and... voilà!

(Note the photo of the infamous guava blossom above, which my kind friend Vidya sourced and drove me to one sunny Saturday!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dark chocolate tarts with red dragonfruit and blueberries

My love affair with dragonfruit is only recent. The first few experiences years ago left me unimpressed - I thought at the time, not much flavour for such a flashy exterior! I then had the fortune to try the fruit straight off the cactus plant on which it grows, at an exotic fruit farm in northern NSW... and WOW! So sweet and with a delicate perfume that excites the senses. When it's good - it's really good! It's a beautiful fruit to look at, a deep bright magenta inside and out. There are also smaller yellow-skinned white-flesh varieties - these are super sweet. Although the fruit is perfect when eaten alone and doesn't require any accompaniment or embellishment, I wanted to take advantage of that beautiful colour... and what better than with a decadent dark chocolate tart?! The pastry is full of almost bitter dark organic cocoa and the filling a creamy rich dark chocolate. Sugar is used very sparingly in this recipe, the key is to exhibit the complex flavours of chocolate, the berries and the dragonfruit… perfect with an espresso!

A few notes on preparation. The dragonfruit does not come in the ball shape shown in the photo above! To create the balls I used a 1/8 teaspoon measure to scoop balls out of the dragonfruit - more on this in the method section below. For those of you that have never made sweet pastry, the key is to keep all of the ingredients very cold, including the flour. I learned this the hard way, after serving hard pastry to my poor unsuspecting guests a couple of times! :)

Makes 400g pastry, I made this into 4*7cm tarts and 1*23cm tart (there is enough pastry for 16*7cm tarts, if you have enough tins)

1 large red-skinned red-fleshed dragonfruit
1 punnet blueberries (about 150g)

150g flour
25g good quality dark cocoa
pinch of salt
75g butter, cold
40g icing sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly

200g soy cream (dairy cream is ok if you prefer it)
50mL soy milk (dairy milk is ok if you prefer it)
150g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
4Tbsp rapardura sugar (you may add more, depending on your taste!)
1 egg

To prepare the pastry, mix the flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Add the cold butter and rub with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Incorporate the icing sugar and then the egg. Knead gently for a minute and then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the small tart tins, take little apricot-sized pieces of dough and roll out.

Line each tart tin and carefully trim the excess pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Prick the bottom of each tart with a fork and then refrigerate the tarts until the oven has preheated, at least 15 minutes. Then blind-bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

While the pastry is baking, prepare the filling. Combine the cream, milk, sugar and chocolate in a saucepan and heat until the chocolate has melted through. Cool slightly then stir in the egg but avoid whisking as it creates air bubbles.

Once the tarts are out of the oven, fill each tart with the chocolate mixture.

Bake the tarts at a low temperature (50C) for 15 minutes or until set. While the pastry is baking, prepare the dragonfruit. Peel the skin off the dragonfruit (no need to use a knife, it peels off like a banana). Using a semi-spherical metal 1/8 teaspoon measure as if it were a melon-baller, scoop small balls out of the dragonfruit.

Arrange the blueberries and dragonfruit balls on the tarts and serve immediately. Enjoy!