Broccoli and Leek Soup

I’m gearing up to tell some stories. Actually, I’ll just be telling one specific story, multiple times.

This weekend, F’s parents are throwing us our Australian engagement party. It’s going to be a lovely night in the backyard with friends, family, good food and bubbles.

There’s one catch: I’ll be obliged to tell the story of our engagement to many of the guests. While I’ve already had quite a bit of practice in the two months we’ve been engaged, I still haven’t got better at telling it.

Where do I start? One minute, I was on a rooftop in New Orleans’ French Quarter laughing at his pre-proposal speech, not being able to take a compliment and the next I realized what was going on. I think I probably just sound like a jerk when I tell it…I dunno.

It was a perfect night – like, majorly – and we were the happiest couple in NOLA, I just wish I could express the sequence of events better!

It doesn’t really matter though – we’re just excited to celebrate with the people we love.

I wish I had a better story about this soup too, but the truth of the matter is that I found myself on a Monday waiting for my fruit and veg delivery and very hungry. I scraped around the crisper and came out with a head of broccoli and a big leek. Instead of an omelet or some quick stir fry I opted for a simple and silky smooth soup.

Admittedly, you have to be a broccoli fan for this one, but you could try subbing in more potatoes or roasted carrots instead. I like to garnish the whole thing with chives, which add a nice mellow onion-y compliment to the leeks. I also think a little grating of Parmesan or cheddar would go over extremely well in this situation.

The end.


  • 1 medium head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced thin
  • 1 small-medium white potato, pealed chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 liter or 4 cups vegetable broth
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped chives, to serve

In a large pot, heat a glug of olive oil over a medium high heat. Add leak and garlic and sauté until the leek is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook for another minute.

Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add broccoli and potato and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes until the broccoli and potatoes are tender.

Allow the soup to cool for a few minutes and purée with a stick blender or in batches in the blender.

Pour back into the pot, bring to a boil and and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Serve with chopped chives and extra black pepper.

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Vegetable Indian Curry

This is what a Monday night looks like in our house.

Lots of vegetables tied together with some bold flavors. It’s about treating yourself right.

The weekend is my favorite time for trying new restaurants, eating ice cream for dessert (or lunch) and having a couple of glasses of wine. All of these wonderful things mean that I sometimes don’t get the ideal amount of vegetables from Friday night to Sunday night. (Or if I do, they’re accompanied by their bffs bacon and cheese.)

On Mondays, I aim for a vegetable top-up. I like to center meals around veggies with things like soups, salads and stir fries.

Curries are one my favorite ways to incorporate a lot of plant life into my Monday (or any day) – you get tons of flavor and spice with a combination of a few pantry items. They’re often vegan too, which is just a bonus. (Or useful, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to feed a vegan!)

With the help of jarred curry paste, my Thai curries are usually a success. But my Indian curries are always a little more…interesting.

I’ve tried a bunch of recipes using dry spice combinations and EVERY TIME I freak out within the first 15 minutes, thinking I’ve screwed it all up somehow. It’s almost always fine by the time everything’s cooked properly. What the heck was I so worried about back there?

I finally realized that Indian curries are just late bloomers. They need a little extra time for all of the flavors to develop and come together in the way they’re supposed to. Let them simmer or sit for a while and they’ll come good – with the warming, complex flavors that you were looking for. No need to freak. Leftovers get even better too. Another bonus!

Feel free to add or substitute whatever vegetables you’d like or toss in some chickpeas, tofu or shrimp for a protein boost. Curries are endlessly adaptable and a great way of making your daily (or weekend) dose of veggies full of flavor.

South Indian Vegetable Curry
adapted from Bon Appetit

- 1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
– 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
– 1 2-inch-long 1-inch-diameter piece peeled fresh ginger (about 2 ounces)
– 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
– 1 tablespoon garam masala
– 2 teaspoons ground cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
– 1/2 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
– 2 tablespoons tomato paste
– 3 cups vegetable broth
– 2 teaspoons (packed) golden brown sugar
– 4 curry leaves
– 2 whole green cardamom pods
– 1/2 cup coconut cream
– 2 medium  russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
– 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
– 3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes, drained
– 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 2-3 large handfuls of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Puree first 8 ingredients (onion through coriander) in processor until paste forms. Cook in large pot over medium heat until aromatic, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste. Cook until mixture starts to darken and brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes longer.
Add broth, brown sugar, curry leaves, and cardamom. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring often and scraping up browned bits. (This part can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.)
Add coconut cream, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, peas, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to mixture in pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Add spinach, if desired, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard curry leaves and cardamom.
Serve with steamed rice.
If you’re freezing your leftovers, you may want to slightly under-cook your veggies as things like potatoes sometimes get mushy in the thawing process. Try removing the portion you’re freezing 5 minutes early and allowing it to cool completely before freezing.

Greek-style Vegetable Galette


I’m not going to lie, I don’t make pies often. I know that probably makes me a bad home cook, but the task always seems a little daunting with the whole crust-making business. I have, however, been quietly keeping my eye out for The Perfect Crust Recipe. It’s an elusive thing, this recipe. So many claim that they have it but I continually find myself somewhat put off by so many. I’m looking for something simple, versatile and easy  – not too many ingredients, easily adaptable to savory or sweet and the potential to make it with my eyes closed after a couple of tries.

It would be disappointing if I built that up just to tell you I am still searching, wouldn’t it?

C’mon, I wouldn’t do that to you. Thanks to this recipe on the lovely TwoSpoons, my search is over. It’s perfect – crunchy and slightly flaky, and easy to make and handle. I love the texture the wheatgerm brings, too. And no required refrigerating! (If you’ve got the time, go for it – but it’s not necessary if you’re looking to move fast.)

I decided to make a galette with my dough because I like the idea of a free-form tart – its informal and, to borrow my favorite Gordon Ramsay description (in abrupt speech), “simple. rustic. yes.”

I went with some Greek-style vegetables for something summery. (And maybe subconsciously because of all the recent news of Greece’s floundering economy?)

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this week in vegivore meals: corn and potato soup, zucchini patties

While I will openly admit to being a breadophile, I tend to hesitate when aligning myself with more mainstream categories of eating habits. For about 3 years I was “technically” a pescetarian (someone who does not eat meat, but eats fish) – which some people still consider a vegetarian (I do not, for the record). I always found myself qualifying my status as one who abstained from eating land-roaming animals by responding with a,”but I eat fish,” to anyone who would call me a vegetarian outright. I felt like I was lying about vegetarianism if I left that part out, but for the sake of brevity it worked for communicating that I would prefer not to be served chicken, please.

This is not something I think about anymore because these days I eat meat, (which I started to do again after 3 years because I got a very persistent craving for a medium rare steak) but my awkwardness around such labels persists. Slightly reluctantly, I stamp the brand of vegivore on myself because I like what it stands for, even if I don’t like the labeling itself.

As anyone who has spent a day eating with me could tell you, I love vegetables. I love making fresh salads, stir fries, curries, soups, burgers – really anything I can pack a combination of fresh veggies into, I am a fan of eating and cooking. While I enjoy learning about nutrition and do take my caloric intake and overall health into account when preparing meals for myself, I choose vegetables for their taste first and the good feeling I get from eating them (not the self-righteous kind of good either, the physically energized kind of good feeling). Plus, I like a bright colour combination.

For me, vegetables are the stars of most of my meals. I love incorporating meat (and fish too, of course) into my meals, but most of my meals throughout the week tend to be vegetarian, vegetable-based meals. I would rather save a good piece of beef or pork for when I am really craving it. Or else I will use very small doses of extra-tasty meat, like chorizo or prosciutto, to bring rich flavours to vegetable side dishes and salads.

This is my 3rd week of receiving fruit and vegetable delivery from Box Fresh and I feel as though it has brought my vegivore-ism (still awkward) to a new level. I am always excited to discover the contents of my delivery and comb through magazines, cookbooks and websites for meal ideas incorporating my rotating selection of produce.

This week I have made a few dishes that really showcased the fresh, seasonal ingredients I had.

Roasted Corn and Potato Soup (makes 4 servings)
– olive oil
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 clove of garlic, minced
– 1 celery rib, chopped
– 3 sprigs of thyme, picked
– a dash of crushed red pepper (optional)
– salt & pepper
– 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
– 4 or 5 small chat potatoes, diced
– 3 ears of corn, roasted

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Place corn in their husks on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until they are easy to handle. Peal back the husks and remove the kernels.
2. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil inside a large pot until onions are translucent. Add celery, thyme, salt&pepper and crushed red pepper.
3. Add stock and bring to a boil, then add potatoes and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are nearly cooked.
4. Add roasted corn kernels and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Allowing the soup to cool for a few minutes first, put 2/3 of the soup through the food processor. You will have to do this in batches if your food processor is on the small side like mine is. Add puree to the remaining soup and bring back up to a simmer.
6. Garnish with a little grated aged cheddar and ideally, avocado (mine wasn’t ripe yet).

Zucchini Patties
(makes 4 servings)
This recipe is adapted from The Greengrocer by Leanne Kitchen. Where she called for parsley and mint, I used basil. I also pre-cooked my onions which she does not do, but I prefer the sweeter, sautéed onion.
– 3 medium zucchini, grated
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 3 tbsp self-raising flour
– 4 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
– 1 tbsp chopped mint
– 2 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
(I used 3 tbsp of chopped fresh basil instead of the above two herbs)
– a pinch of nutmeg
– 3 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
– 1 egg
– salt&pepper
– olive oil

1. Sauté onions until they are just beginning to turn golden. Put the onion and grated zucchini in a paper towel or clean dish towel and wring out to remove all the juices.
2. Place this mixture and all other ingredients into a large bowl and mix with your hands to a stiff batter.
3. Heat olive oil in a medium sized pan. Place 2-3 tbsp of batter in the pan and press flat. Fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until browned all over.

Ms. Kitchen served these with a yoghurt sauce, but I decided I was more in the mood for a dollop of fresh ricotta, cherry tomatoes and a couple of crispy pan-fried pieces of of chorizo instead.

Below is a quick veggie fry up. I started by sautéing onions and a few pieces of chorizo in paprika and garlic-infused olive oil and then I added cooked chickpeas, fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes and shredded carrot. I cooked covered over a medium heat for a few minutes until warm. It’s a quick and easy concoction that makes a nice lunch with a cup of soup or some crusty bread.

For more on vegivores, check out this New York Magazine article: Vegetables Are the New Meat

the meatball shop in my kitchen: vegetarian meatballs edition

I could not have been more excited when I found out that New York restaurant The Meatball Shop is releasing a cookbook. I love that The Meatball Shop sticks to what they’re good at. These guys can make a good meatball. In fact, they can make a few types of really freaking fantastic meatballs – and it’s what their menu is centered around. Their sides, in particular their roasted vegetables and salads, are delicious and inspired too.

The menu is a Choose Your Own Adventure-type deal: you get to mark your choices on the menu with a dry-erase marker. You choose the type of meat (or meatless) balls you’d like along with the type of sauce and the form it will come in. You can have them on a hero, on a round roll all smashed up, on a small individual slider, over mashed  potatoes, salad or pasta. Or, if you’re a purist like myself, you can have them naked – which, in meatball terms, means they are served simply with sauce and a side of focaccia bread.

I’m not the only one who loves this place (although, I am probably one of the more enthusiastic fans) –  the 3 hour wait for a table and their recent expansion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn are evidence enough of that. But I was sad to say goodbye to one of my favorite Lower East Side restaurants. News of the cookbook gave me hope that I could still enjoy some damn good meatballs in Australia.

While the book doesn’t actually come out until November, I have managed to gather a couple of recipes that have been previewed to excite people like myself. I found their recipe for their Vegetarian Meatballs on the Martha Stewart Radio Blog. I know, vegetarian meatballs sound downright awful to some, but these can hold their own next to beef and spicy pork meatballs. Admittedly, one of my favourite combinations is the classic beef with mushroom gravy, but I had such an abundance of beautiful vegetables this week I thought I would give the vegetarian variety a whirl.

The Meatball Shop’s Vegetarian Balls

I halved the original recipe since it was just Mr. F and I, so this made 12. I also swapped the mushrooms for eggplant because I only had shitakes on hand and also because I thought eggplant could be pretty awesome in these too.

  • 1 cup of lentils cooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 celery rib chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, picked
  • 1.5 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups eggplant chopped (and two shitakes, just because they were there)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (I used a homemade blend made with sourdough soy linseed bread and parsley)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 205 degrees.
2. Finely chop onions, garlic, carrots and celery in a food processor. Chop eggplant this way, separately.
3. Sautee the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt with olive oil in a large frying pan over a
medium-high heat, stirring frequently (about ten minutes). When the vegetables are tender and just beginning to
brown, add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly for three minutes. Add the eggplant and
continue cooking, stirring frequently for fifteen more minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and allow to cool
4. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl with the cooled vegetables and lentils and mix by hand
until thoroughly incorporated.
5. Place the mixture in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely (about 25 minutes). Roll the mixture into round,
golf ball-sized meatballs making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls into an evenly oiled baking dish, such that all
of the meatballs are lined up evenly in rows and are touching each of their four neighbors in a grid.
6. Roast until firm and cooked through (about 30 minutes). Allow the meatballs to cool for five minutes before removing.


In conclusion, they came out fantastic. They were moist and flavourful and the eggplant version actually turned out very similar to a meatball made with meat (I was told I could have easily fooled my dining partner, which was not my intention – but good to know).  I served them with a spicy tomato sauce made with onions, chili, garlic, paprika, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper and parsley. We also had a side of pan fried gnocchi with spinach and a browned butter sauce. It was a beautiful Friday night dinner in!

I enjoyed this addition to The Meatball Shop’s website. You might not.