Quinoa as mustard! Quinoa + Coconut Poached Chicken Salad with Tamarind Dressing

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.
poached chicken-0880
I’ve been eating a lot of Kraft cheese lately. You know the stuff – squares of plastic cheese, wrapped in another layer of plastic dividing them into a single serve that is only ever satisfying if you eat more than one at a time and/or are supremely inebriated.

poached chicken-0875

If we’re talking of the latter scenario, you’ll most likely find me rummaging through the fridge while sitting cross-legged on the floor, trying not to fall any further. The floor is good for that. Real good.

poached chicken-0872

Back on topic, I decided that I needed a wholesome, healthy meal to contradict all the crap goodness I’ve been applying liberally to my face. Some sort of salad should fix that, right?


poached chicken-0864
The chicken is poached in the same way as the Gochujang Poached Chicken from back in May: 68 degrees celsius for 12 minutes in a sealed bag to lock in the moisture.

poached chicken-0855
I’m quite bad at the whole gardening/ensuring plants are sufficiently watered thing, so luckily the weather Gods of Melbournetown have been makin’ it rain of late, and have taken care of that little game for me. All of the green bits in this recipe came from my adequately sized ‘erb garden, so I’m feelin’ like a bit of a proud mama.

poached chicken-0856

Quinoa and Coconut Poached Chicken Salad with Tamarind Dressing
Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 stalk young lemongrass, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
1 small cucumber
1/3 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons black chia seeds
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate paste
1 red chili, finely sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges to serve
handful of coriander and mint leaves, to garnish
Fried shallots, to garnish

In a large snap-lock bag, combine chicken, coconut milk, lemongrass, sriracha and a pinch of salt, submerge in warm water and seal completely, removing excess air.

Poach chicken for 12 minutes at 68 degrees celsius (see here for more in depth details).

Deseed cucumber and finely dice, setting aside in a bowl with a sprinkle of sea salt to draw out the moisture and maintain crunch. Before adding to the salad, squeeze out excess liquid.

Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons greek yoghurt, sriracha, and tamarind paste to form the dressing for the salad.

Dry toast slivered almonds in a pan until golden brown, and set aside.

Tear chicken into bite-sized pieces and leave to cool.

Combine quinoa, chicken, almonds, chia seeds, cucumber, chili, and half of the dressing in a bowl. Add extra dressing, depending on taste and consistency, and serve with lime wedges, fried shallots and mint and coriander leaves.

Apply liberally to face in the same way you would Kraft cheese.

poached chicken-0883


Holy Mackerel: Assam Fish + REFRIED CHIPS

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

*Note: Aside from the title, I have decided that fish puns cod get out of hand and are a little overkrill (sorryyyyyy), so i’ve decided to stray away from them for the rest of this post before I get lost in a punderamic sea and lose all sense of porpoise, and all you lovely readers become turtley disfinterested.

I dolphinitely think I have a prawnblem.

assam fish-0794
Ok fin, I’ll stop now.

Assam fish was one of my favourite dishes as a child. I always recall my mother saying that the sourness of the assam helped overcome a lack of appetite whenever I was ill. I just think the dish was so delicious that it always left you wanting more. As you’ve probably realised by now, eating was not only a necessity, it was also my favourite competitive sport as a child.

assam fish-0790
The fish is prepared and cooked separately, so that it is crispy and retains it’s texture when added to the sauce. This recipe calls for small fish, so they’re perfect for individual portions. 

assam fish-0793

I got the idea for refried chips while watching Shane Delia’s latest cooking show, Spice Journey, on SBS. Of course, his recipe used more Middle Eastern based flavours (as you can see I still retained the sumac from his version, because sumac is motherflippin’ delicious), but I realised that my whole life up until this point has been a huge lie and I’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG THIS WHOLE TIME. Unless you’re ridiculously haggard and/or incapable of being trusted near a flame, there is no way you will ever want to eat plain, boring, deep fried potato chips EVER AGAIN.

assam fish-0796
Assam is traditionally a balance of hot and sour. This recipe has a pretty even balance, but alter the ratio of tamarind : chilli if you feel inclined.

assam fish-0801
I added a side of Pickled Cucumber (first seen in this Korean-inspired recipe here) to freshen up the dish and cut through the oil of the chips and fried fish. Think of this as a simple, quick, Asian-inspired version of your classic fish and chips.

assam fish-0804
You could just as easily serve the fish traditionally with rice, but WHY WOULD YOU, YOU BIG SILLY?





Get on board this double fried potato train before no-one else does and somebody finds me lying on the floor in a puddle of deliciously flavoursome refried chips and shame.*

*If you ever do find me in this position, I won’t blame you for snacking around me.

assam fish-0808

Assam Fish with Refried Chips
Serves 4

1/2 Continental Cucmber
1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
1 large pinch sea salt flakes

10 shallots, peeled and halved
3 red chillies (use smaller ones if you want to turn up the heat, yeah)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2cm piece of ginger, peeled
3 tablespoons tamarind pulp
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only
1 teaspoon sugar
neutral oil, for frying

1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon chilli powder
4 tablespoons plain flour
4 small mackarel, or other small white-fleshed fish, gutted
1 tomato, sliced into wedges
Store-bought thick cut chips, to serve four
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 large chillies, sliced thinly
3/4 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder or chilli flakes
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons fried shallots
Coriander, to serve
2 limes
olive oil

For the Pickled Cucumber:
De-seed the cucumber and using a vegetable peeler, thinly peel into strips. Leave to macerate in a bowl with a large pinch of salt to draw out the moisture. After 10-15 minutes, rinse the salt off the cucumber with water and squeeze out excess moisture. Combine with rice vinegar.

For the Rempah:
Combine all ingredients in a mortar and pestle or food processor and blend until it resembles a thick paste. Fry with a little neutral oil on a medium heat, stirring to combine until paste is fragrant. Add half of the tomato and simmer for another five minutes or until tomatoes are cooked.

For the Fish:
Meanwhile, combine cornflour, flour, salt and chilli powder in a shallow tray or plate, and coat fish thoroughly. Shallow fry in neutral oil for 2-3 minutes on each side until flour is cooked off, the fish is golden brown, and is firm to touch. Set aside to drain on paper towel.

Serve the fish with Assam sauce, pickled cucumber, fresh coriander, extra fresh tomato, sliced chillies, lime wedges, and refried chips.

For the Refried Chips:
In a small amount of olive oil, fry sliced garlic and chilli until fragrant. Add slivered almonds, moving around the pan so as not to let the burn. Add the chips, and season with salt (if they haven’t already been a-salt-ed), sumac, fried shallots, chilli powder, and lime juice. Freshen up with leaves of fresh coriander and serve with the fish.

assam fish-0819

Snap, Crackling, Pop! Fennel, Roasted Garlic + Potato Soup with Crackling Pork Belly

Posted by Dani Sunario (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

This dish blew my mind. Not kidding. I made this, got so excited after my first mouthful, yelled out “FUAAAAAA” four times, then went and changed my pants. In that exact order.

fennel pork belly-0720

Oh, Mylanta.

The only thing that could’ve enhanced this experience is if  my pork-belly-lovin’-lovers were here with me. Sophie, Laura and Tiff (see: our ChangGo death-by-pork experience) – you need to get your babin’ butts over here and into a bowl of this/my bed, right now.

fennel pork belly-0721

 I’m gearing up to spend most of my Melbourne winter weekends curled up in bed with a never-ending bowl of this soup, watching back-to-back episodes of Adventure Time. You could even hum Marcy’s and Simon’s Soup Hunting Song while you make this bad boy!

fennel pork belly-0733
The addition of the lemon thyme at the end gives the dish an added zing that cuts through the heaviness of the soup and the fattiness of the pork. Having said that, the soup still has a lightness with the aniseed flavour of the fennel and the last pinch of cinnamon, and doesn’t seem as stodgy as a traditional potato-based soup. The tartness of the apple compliments the sweetness of the roasted garlic without either flavour overpowering the real heroes of the dish: the fennel and the soft, melt-in-the-mouth pork with salty, crunchy, golden-brown crackling.

fennel pork belly-0718
Snap, Crackling, Pop.

fennel pork belly-0734

This soup is entirely vegan, so all of the non-fun, non-pork-lovin’, vegetarian and vegan people can still have a cheeky taste if you eliminate dat meaty goodness.

Let’s get cracklin’!

Fennel, Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup with Crackling Pork Belly
Serves 4

2 brown onions, sliced thinly
2 fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1/2 bulb garlic
400g potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes
1 granny smith apple, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes
1 litre vegetable stock
2 stalks lemon thyme
2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch of sea salt
extra lemon thyme, to garnish
1 teaspoon fried shallots, to garnish

600g pork belly
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 stalks celery

Preheat oven to highest possible temperature.

Finely score the skin of the pork belly and ensure that it is completely dry, patting with paper towel if required.

In a mortar and pestle, grind fennel seeds and salt until fine, before rubbing into the scored skin of the pork belly.

Place the pork in an oven tray, using the celery stalks to raise the meat from the base of the tray.

Roast the pork for 20-30 minutes until the skin puffs and turns into crackling. Reduce the heat to 170C and roast for a further hour until meat is soft.

At this stage if the crackling is still pale and not puffed up, place under a hot grill for a few minutes, watching carefully to ensure it does not burn.

While the pork is roasting, slice garlic bulb in half and place in oven until flesh is soft and caramelised. Remove garlic from skins.

Caramelise onions in olive oil on low-medium heat until softened and lightly coloured. Add fennel and celery and cook further until softened. Add in vegetable stock, 2 stalks lemon thyme, and diced potatoes and apples. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until potatoes have softened.

Remove lemon thyme and season with salt, ground fennel, and cinnamon before using a hand blender to puree the soup.

Garnish with fennel tops, lemon thyme, extra fennel seeds, and fried shallots and serve with pork belly.

fennel pork belly-0729

Breast Friends: Gochujang Poached Chicken, Kimchi Roasted Pears + Potatoes

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario),Melbourne.

Chicken breast has a notorious reputation for being dry and overcooked, and even more so, poached chicken breast gives the image of gross dry, grey meat served with steamed frozen vegies. Double gross.

gochujang poached chicken-0779

This method of poaching the chicken at 68 degrees for 12 minutes results in super moist meat and is also a healthy alternative to roasting or frying.

Sunday roast? Why have dry roast when you can have this entire dish cooked and on the table for yo’ famfam in less than 30 mins?

gochujang poached chicken-0761

Though it may seem like a lot of spicy chilli going into the marinade, the almond milk actually chills it out a little (hur, hur). Feel free to use water, or even normal milk in place of the almond milk if you’d like – the liquid is only added to change the consistency of the marinade.

gochujang poached chicken-0770

Try this recipe once and it will become your breast friend.

gochujang poached chicken-0781
Gochujang poached Chicken, Kimchi roasted Pears and Potatoes

Serves 4

2 tablespoons Gochujang

2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce

1 teaspoon almond milk

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

2 chicken breasts, skin off

6 chat potatoes, quartered

2 firm borsch pears, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons kimchi

1 teaspoon Gochujang

olive oil, fo’ drizzle

2 cups salad leaves

extra kimchi, for serving

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.

Par-boil quartered potatoes in salted water. Drain and shake in a lidded pot to fluff outer skins of potatoes

Combine pears, potatoes, kimchi and gochujang in a shallow oven tray and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast in oven for a further 10 minutes or until potatoes are crispy.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to 68 degrees.

In a bowl combine soy, sriracha, almond milk and gochujang in a bowl to make marinade.

Place whole chicken breasts in two separate snap-lock bags. Distribute the marinade mix evenly between the two snap-lock bags. Half-submerge the snap-lock bags in warm water, pushing the air out of the bag and sealing it tightly.

Place bags in pot of water for 12-15 minutes, checking temperature to maintain the 68 degree heat throughout the duration of the cooking process.

Remove chicken from bags, reserving cooking juices, and slice thickly. Serve with potatoes, pears, extra kimchi, cooking juices and salad leaves.

gochujang poached chicken-0785

Twice-cooked Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel, Mung Bean Vermicelli + Apple Salad

Posted by Dani Sunario (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

I like things that are an everyday occurence. It gives me a sense of familiarity. Everyday coffee, everyday napping, everyday touching.

Deep fried pork belly is definitely not an everyday dish. Perhaps the salad is, but it is definitely not as fun when it’s ridin’ solo.

pork belly-0666

The combination of pork and apple is a no-brainer, but you can also replace the apple for pear or nashi if you were after a sweeter crunch.

I also substituted the pork belly in the recipe for firm tofu for my vegetarian friends, and it was only slightly less delicious than the pork version. Mmmmmm, salty, crunchy puffs of tofuuuuuuuu. Once you make that substitute, the dish easily becomes a vegan flavour explosion!

pork belly-0667

This recipe has been adapted from Red Spice Road’s signature recipe.

Twice-cooked Five Spice Pork Belly
Serves 4.

800g pork belly, skin removed
1L masterstock
80mL light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Five Spice powder
Pinch of salt flakes
1 cup tapioca starch
Oil for deep frying
Fried shallots, spring onions and fresh chilli to serve.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Combine masterstock and soy in a large oven-proof dish. Add pork belly and cover with foil. Cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, occasionally topping up masterstock with water to ensure the meat does not dry out.

Remove from the oven and allow to chill completely in the refrigerator before cutting into bite sized pieces.

When cut, drizzle pieces with more light soy and drain excess before dusting with the combined mixture of Five Spice, salt and tapioca starch, dusting off the excess.

Deep fry in oil at 175ºC for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Drain on paper towel, and while still hot, sprinkle with extra salt flakes, fried shallots, spring onions and sliced fresh chilli. Serve doused in chilli caramel and with mung bean vermicelli and apple salad.

pork belly-0664

Chilli Caramel
Serves 4 for pork belly recipe, with excess.

1 cup caster sugar
1 cup water
2-5 small red chillies, chopped
8 star anise
50ml fish sauce
50ml light soy sauce

Boil the water and sugar in a saucepan until it starts to caramelise.
Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer for a further 5 minutes.

pork belly-0662

Mung Bean Vermicelli and Apple Salad
Serves 4 as a side.

2 bunches of Mung Bean Vermicelli, soaked in hot water and drained
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup Vietnamese mint leaves
1 cup fresh bean shoots
1/2 cup cabbage leaves, shredded
1/2 cup red cabbage leaves, shredded
1/2 green apple, sliced into matchsticks (can be substituted for pear or nashi)

Nuoc Cham
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5 tablespoons fish sauce
5 tablespoons lime juice
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-3 red chillies, sliced finely
2 teaspoons caster sugar

Combine all ingredients for Nuoc Cham in a bowl, and let steep. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavour and more intense the chilli.

Combine remaining salad ingredients in a bowl and dress with Nuoc Cham just before serving to taste.

pork belly-0673

Oats with the most: Vegan Lime + Coconut Oats, Green Tea + Ginger Poached Rhubarb, Cinnamon Sugar Radish Crisps

Posted by Dani Sunario (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

I know, I know. It’s been a while since our last post. Just for being patient and dedicated superfans of A Tale of Two Bougies, we’re rewarding you with three recipes. THREE. RECIPES. IN ONE POST. And they’re all vegan, free of gluten and lactose, and delicious. Aren’t we lovely.

Banana, lime, ginger, coconut, rhubarb, radish, almonds, green tea, chia, oats. In one hit.
That definitely has to count as healthy.

WAIT. Let’s break that down. Radishes with breakfast? WHAaaaAAAAAaaaat? BUT AREN’T THEY A VEGETABLE??!?!?!

Yes, yes they are. They’re delicious when they’re savoury, but they’re also delicious when they’re sweet. With breakfast. I KNOW, RIGHT? My mind is being blown too.

There may seem to be a lot of strong flavours in the mix here, but trust, this combination is definitely the Flayva Flav of the breakfast world. Winner.

vegan oats-0700

Lime and coconut? Classic gags. Ginger and Rhubarb? You can’t go wrong. Green Tea? That’s pretty much already a breakfast beverage anyway.

Asian inspired breakfast of champions? Come on now, did you really expect any less of me?

This recipe replaces the typical yoghurt and milk component of overnight oats with banana and almond milk, so not only is this recipe great for vegans, but it’s great for those with an intolerance to lactose as well! Not to mention that good quality, pure oats are also gluten free!

Serve the oats with poached rhubarb, radish crisps and pan-toasted almond slivers or crushed, toasted pistachios. Do whatever. It’s your breakfast.

vegan oats-0692

Vegan Lime and Coconut Overnight Oats, adapted from Oh She Glows’ Vegan Overnight Oats.
Serves 2.

1/3 cup regular oats
1 cup almond milk, and more if needed
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 ripe banana, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon lime peel
juice of one lime

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and leave in the fridge to soak overnight.

vegan oats-0704

Green Tea and Ginger poached Rhubarb, adapted from Epicurious.
Serves 4.

1 cup water
3 Green Tea tea bags
1 bunch fresh rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths (about 2 pounds trimmed)
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
1 large knob fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

Bring the water to boil in a large saucepan before adding tea bags. Remove from heat and let the tea bags steep for 15 minutes before discarding bags.

Add the ginger, rhubarb and half of the sugar to the liquid mixture, stirring over medium heat and bringing to the boil. Taste and add remaining sugar if required. I like mine quite tart, so typically reduce the sugar quantity.

Reduce the heat and simmer for roughly 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is just cooked through. Remove the ginger, and refrigerate until chilled.

vegan oats-0710

Cinnamon Sugar Radish Chips, adapted from Pinch of Yum.
Serves 2.

1 bunch radishes, cut into thin rounds.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Steam or microwave radishes briefly until slightly softened, draining any excess liquid.

Combine cinnamon, sugar, honey and olive oil. Pour mixture over radishes to coat evenly.

Spread rounds over a baking tray lined with paper and bake for 12-15 minutes. Turn radishes over and reduce the temperature of the oven to 100ºC for a further 15-20 minutes or until crisp.

vegan oats-0702

FEASTer: Choc Hot Cross Bun + Creme Egg Bread & Butter Pudding

Posted by Dani Sunario (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

Bread and Butter pudding is a pretty outdated recipe, but this version gives an Easter twist to your good ol’ nana’s favourite!


Great for using up all of the leftover stale Hot Cross Buns from Easter, or even worth making with a fresh batch just in time for the festivities, this recipe uses chocolate hot cross buns and super sweet Cadbury Creme Eggs, this rich and indulgent bad boy is definitely worth the EGGcercise you’ll have to do post-feasting!


There will be no hot, cross bunnies at your FEASTer once you add this to the menu!*


I added less sugar than usual to the custard recipe as the Creme Eggs are already quite sweet. The bitterness of the cocoa also offsets the sugar content, so it doesn’t actually turn out too sugary at all. If you’re still concerned for your health, reduce the amount of Creme Eggs or brown sugar in the recipe.


I served mine warm with melted chocolate and a scoop of Salted Caramel Ice Cream because there clearly wasn’t enough indulgence in the pudding already.


Chocolate Hot Cross Bun x Creme Egg Bread & Butter Pudding
Serves 12

6 Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, sliced into thirds lengthways
3 Creme Eggs, chopped roughly
2 tablespoons good quality unsalted Butter
375mL evaporated milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melted Chocolate and Ice Cream, to serve

Butter between slices of Hot Cross Buns and pack tightly into a square cake or brownie tin. Tuck Creme Eggs randomly between the slices of bread.

In a separate bowl, whisk evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and cocoa until well combined.

Pour milk mixture over the bread until just covered, and let it soak for 25-30 mins. Place the dish in a large baking pan filled with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the dish. Bake for 30-35 mins until custard is just set.

Serve warm, drizzled with melted chocolate and ice cream.


* I guess you don’t have to invite your dad to easter anymore seeing have all the bad puns covered!

Chick it out! Pandan Fried Chicken (PFC)

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

Fried chicken is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Who doesn’t love the combination of salty and crunchy every once in a while?

I have a friend (who shall remain entirely anonymous) who has been known to wink at the guy in the drive-thru at our local KFC in order to score an extra Wicked Wing in her pack. From this day on, they shall forevermore be known as Wicked Winks.


Our recipe for Pandan Fried Chicken is little twist on the classic bucket-of-fried-chicken idea, introducing South East Asian flavours to an old favourite. Bring it along to your next party and you won’t be able to stop all the chicks (ha, sorry!) winking at you!

Pandan is the Asian version of Vanilla – it’s a ridiculously aromatic and the longer you leave the chicken wrapped in it, the more fragrant it will taste. Pandan and coconut are always a winning combination, so tie some leaves in a knot and add some to your next curry. You can buy the leaves frozen from your local Asian grocer.

Pandan Fried Chicken
Serves 6, as an entree

250g chicken breast
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon caramel soy sauce
1 teaspoon chilli oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salsa picante (or tabasco/sriracha)
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 tablespoon lemongrass, sliced thinly, white part only
3 kaffir lime leaves, stems removed and sliced finely
200mL coconut milk
juice of half a lime
pinch of salt
Pandan leaves for wrapping
Bamboo skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in cold water
Neutral oil for shallow frying

Cut chicken breast into bite sized pieces.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and season with salt.

Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. the flavour becomes more intense over time and the meat becomes tender in the acidity of the lime juice.

Wrap each piece of chicken in a pandan leaf securing with a bamboo skewer, before shallow frying in hot oil for 6-8 minutes. Use the skewer to turn the meat without breaking the pandan leaf.

Serve with some sriracha (or sriracha mayo) if you can take the extra heat, or with some coconut rice and some steamed asian vegetables if you’re all about balanced meals.


Just Beet It, Chickpea It: Spiced Pickled Beetroot + Classic Hummus

Posted by Tiff (@tiffanyalisonha), Perth.


Even though us foodies go to great lengths to prepare some of our meals (think rolling individual gnocchi by hand or blow-drying a duck with a hair-dryer), there are some days when we’re just short on time or money and can’t be bothered trekking to the usual take-out spots, let alone preparing a meal. So I like to have these two healthy, versatile, ready-to-eat sides in my fridge at all time. They’re not really meals in themselves (although, who’s stopping you?) but they will surely spice up any salad, sandwich, wrap, burger or miscellaneous spread made from things scrounged from your fridge.

There have been countless times when I’ve given myself five minutes to scoff something down before work, and have been caught standing in the fridge, eating pickles out of the jar, or slathering some carrot sticks in hummus, thankful that I’m not reaching for that packet of tim-tams. So whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous, these snacks will surely come to your tummy’s rescue when you’re in a pickle!


I’ve gotten into gardening this spring/summer and have been growing beets for the past few months. Those of you who have grown veggies at home will probably know that they far surpass the taste of stuff you get at the supermarket, as well as being cheaper, fresher and organic! If you don’t have access to organic beets, pick ones that are smooth, firm, a deep pinkish-red and smaller in size (smaller = more flavour).

I’ve only recently tried raw beets; I usually cook them or use the canned ones. It seemed a waste to boil off all the goodness in my home-grown labours of love, so I just peeled and sliced them. Wow! What a revelation – the sweet earthiness and invigorating crunch; it was incomparable to the soggy, preservative-filled canned stuff I was used to.

All of my beets were ready to harvest at the same time (should have staggered my planting), so I decided to pickle them and make the goodness last longer. This spiced pickling liquid is so moreish I promise you won’t go back to the store-bought stuff once you’ve tried this.


Spiced Pickled Beetroot


600g fresh beets (note: if you are paranoid about staining your hands, wear gloves when handling)
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 dried chillies
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup white white vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste


Sterilise two glass jars by soaking them in boiling water. Rinse and then dry with paper towels.

Trim and peel the beets, slice thinly and cut into rough matchsticks – it doesn’t matter if they’re not all the same size, since you’re not going to be cooking them.

Peel and mince the garlic and combine with the beets in a mixing bowl. Pack the sliced beets and garlic into the glass jars.

Place the all of the vinegar, water, salt and spices into a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Pour the pickling liquid (along with the spices) into the jars and seal tightly. The beets can be eaten straight away or kept in the fridge for up to a month. The flavour will develop over time.


Classic Hummus

I pretty much have a tub of this stuff in the fridge at all times and I never get sick of it. It’s the cheapest, tastiest way to get a good dose of protein, fiber, folate and manganese. The chickpeas make a big difference to the flavour and texture of this dip; I prefer to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight then simmered for 15 minutes, but if you’re short on time, the canned stuff works just fine.


115g dried chickpeas, rehydrated and cooked (115g dried = 253g cooked); or one 400g can chickpeas, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste – look for it in the health food isle)
125ml extra virgin olive oil if using dried chickpeas, or 100ml if using canned
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried mint, or 3 fresh mint leaves
salt and pepper to taste


Put everything in a whizzer and whiz until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. If the dip is too thick for your liking, add some more olive oil. That’s it!

Serve with a drizzling of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika.

Serving suggestions

Make a wrap with the hummus, beets, chopped tomato, spring onion, some crumbled feta and a handful of mint leaves.

Simply eat the hummus with carrot sticks – so easy and super healthy.

Make a Mediterranean style breakfast with the hummus, beets, eggs, salad and bread (tabbouleh and pita if you really want to stick to the theme).

Make a delectable vegan burger with the hummus, beets, a veggie pattie, salad, mustard & ketchup.

For breakfast in a jiffy – hummus and/or beetroot pickles on toast.

The possibilities are endless!



Jam Session: Raspberry, Balsamic + Pepper Jam with Baked Camembert

Posted by Claire (@bearclairepear) and Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.


This is probably the quickest and most delicious jam you’ll ever make in your life. Make this once, and you’ll never look at your life the same again.

The tartness of the raspberries and balsamic cut through the oiliness of the baked camembert cheese, and the pepper adds a whole new dimension to your gastronomic adventure.


I’ve made it with strawberries before too, but it doesn’t have the same kick as the raspberries do. Feel free to change the quantity of pepper to your liking.


Raspberry, Balsamic and Black Pepper Jam

200g frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons castor sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until raspberries have just started to break down. As the mixture cools, it will start to set, so don’t worry about how much liquid is in the pan.

Eat it with Baked Camembert (remove paper packaging from camembert and bake in a ramekin for 10 minutes at 140 degrees until melted) while in your jam-jams, just because you can.