Homemade Labneh and Quesadillas

labneh

I feel fairly at ease attempting the basics in the kitchen – sautéing, roasting, chopping, boiling, broiling. I’ve got those on lock.

And then there are other kitchen endeavors that I’ve learned to avoid. Pastry, for example, is not something I’m down with on a regular basis. Nor is deep-frying or preserving.

Normally something like making one’s own cheese seems like dicey territory, but yogurt cheese – or labneh – is where it’s at for us novices. All that’s involved is a little stirring and a bit of patience.

Labneh is almost like a Middle Eastern cream cheese, spreadable, creamy and a little tart. And super easy to make.

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Vegetable Miso Ramen

vegetable miso ramen #voraciousvander

While we’re talking food hugs. Let’s talk about miso broth and noodles.

I mean, if warming and satisfying are what you’re after, a big bowl of flavorsome broth,  full of veggies and noodles is a good way to go.

It’s the perfect sick person food. Or well person food. Or tired and hungry person food.

This, paired with some sassy comments from Maggie Smith, is guaranteed to soothe most troubles away.

I have limited ramen knowledge, but I know that there are a few different types of broth that can be used when fashioning a bowl of the noodle soup.

This is an easy miso-based one that requires little more than stirring miso paste into some simmering stock. It’s a simple way to get your bowl of goodness started pronto.

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Pan Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

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Merry post-Christmas!

You look lovely today, btw.

I could have brought you a cookie recipe but that just seems wrong now. I can’t be bothered to turn on the oven, let alone throw measuring spoons and flour sifting into the mix. Ugh.

For me it was a Christmas filled with warm days, mangoes, pavlova, prosecco mimosas by the pool and lots of ham. Not too shabby.

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Zucchini, Pepper, Ricotta Muffins

Oh hi.

So…I’ve been gone for a few weeks. Ok, a month. But I have an excuse. Several, actually. I know, excuses are lame – so to make it up to you, I brought you muffins. Savory ones. With roasted vegetables and ricotta.

BUT first thing’s first – the excuses!

  1. I’ve been back in the US of A. We managed to make it to Long Island, New York City, Philadelphia and New Orleans this trip.
  2. I attended two fantastic weddings of two beautiful friends. Both weddings were gorgeous and filled with love, the most excellent people and lots of booty shakin’.
  3. I was able to be there for my grandfather’s memorial. Gramps was a really cool dude and a great grandpa, and is missed by many.
  4. While in New Orleans, Mr. F dropped a knee, presented me with an overwhelmingly sparkly ring and we are now officially engaged! I mean, what?!

In summary, I have been missing because of limited computer access, lots of celebrating and general awesomeness.

Even though I’m never quite ready to leave New York, it feels great to be back in Australia – back to my routine and back to our little home – as fiances! (Clearly, I’m deliriously happy and love saying the word fiaaaanceee – BUT – I’ll stop before I use any more exclamation points.)

Zucchini, Pepper, Ricotta Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

While I enjoy a good sweet muffin, their savory cousins are a pretty good reason to bust out your muffin tin. A bit of cheese and some vegetables in a portable little baked good, what’s not to love? They’re a fun alternative to toast with your eggs or on their own, as you’re running out the door. Feel free to swap any vegetables and type of cheese you’d like. I’ve made a winter squash, feta and spinach version of these that I adore. I also think the addition of bacon would be a great call.

– 1 medium zucchini cut into half-inch pieces
– 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into half-inch pieces
– olive oil (for greasing the baking pan)
– salt and pepper
– a pinch of chili flakes
– a handful of chopped kale
– 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
– 1/4-1/3 cup ricotta

– 1 cup milk
– 1/4 cup vegetable oil
– 2 large eggs
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 cup spelt flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon baking powder

FOR VEGETABLES:
Heat oven to 220 C/425 F.

Toss zucchini and peppers with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Spread zucchini and peppers on a baking sheet. Cook for 15- 20 minutes until vegetables are tender and golden. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, wilt down the kale in a medium pan over a medium-high heat. Add kale and a teaspoon of water to the pan and stir for 2-3 minutes until cooked down and water is evaporated.

FOR MUFFINS:
Heat oven to 260 C/500 F.

Prepare a muffin tin by greasing it with butter or baking spray.

Place 2/3 of the roasted zucchini and peppers and wilted kale in a large bowl with Parmesan and cilantro.

Add milk, vegetable oil and beaten eggs to the vegetable mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix delicately with a folk until just combined. It’s ok if there’s a few lumps!

Pour batter 3/4 full in each muffin cup. Top each muffin with a few pieces of the roasted vegetables and a dollop or two of the ricotta. Season with a bit of fresh cracked pepper.

Place muffins in the oven and then immediately turn down the oven temp to 205 C/400F and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

Pea and Zucchini Farro Salad

There are some things that I really wish I was interested in. Like cricket, football or the stock market.

This is mostly because I like to have something to say about everything, but when these topics are brought up…I’ve got nothin’.

I also really wish I was into astrology. Like, actually believed in it.

I’ve tried…I started reading my Astrology Zone forecast at the beginning of the month and have managed to find some tenuous links between what was predicted for me and my fellow lionesses and what has actually happened. But my trusty internal skeptic is kind of a loud-mouthed biatch.

I am, however, beginning to fully buy this Mercury in retrograde business.

For the past few weeks I’ve been seriously struggling in the inspiration and writing departments. While this is probably due to a number of other, more earthly things, I’m going to go ahead and blame it on an astrological issue.

If you’re looking to make excuses for your poor communication skills over the past few weeks, read more about this MIR beast here or here.

Something good that’s come out of these chilly July days is my daily reinvention of the warm salad.

Healthy, satisfying and endlessly adaptable – it makes the perfect lunch or slack dinner if you’ve got access to a large skillet. I’ve been using lots of warm grains, wilt-able greens (like kale and spinach), and quick cooking vegetables (like corn, zucchini and snow peas.)

This salad was one of my favorites – a nod to the summer weather in the northern hemisphere with the zucchini and peas, but served on the warm side to keep me toasty on cool Sydney winter days. If fresh peas aren’t an option, frozen work fine too.

It’s a simple combination, but the Parmesan and a generous amount cracked pepper really give it that extra (boom boom) pow.

Put an egg on it to make it a dang fine meal.

Pea and Zucchini Farro Salad

– 1 cup cooked farro
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 medium zucchini, grated on a box grater
– 1 cup shelled peas (or frozen and thawed)
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
– salt, to taste
– a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper

To cook farro: place 1 cup farro in a pot with 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, covered for about 15-20 minutes until tender and little chewy. Remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes.

If using fresh peas, blanch them first in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and run under cool water. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add grated zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes until the zucchini is heated through and softened. Stir in peas and cook for 1 minutes.

Stir in farro. If the farro is room temperature or cold, cook for 1-2 minutes until warmed through.

Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and heaps of cracked pepper. Serve warm, at room temp or cold.