Water: How to Jazz Up Your Water

Dissatisfaction with the taste of water is one of the factors in increasing the possibility of chronic, mild dehydration. Unfortunately, some people do not like the taste of water. They find it bland, flavourless or simply uninteresting.

water

Here’s some tips to jazz up your water to make it more exciting:

Add bubbles: Sparkling water has more personality than flat variety. This is also my husband’s favourite.
Add colour: Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper to your glass. Not only will it look super bright – you’ll get the added antioxidant benefits of the turmeric, and the warming properties of the cayenne pepper.
Add fruit: Citrus such as lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange, blueberries, sliced strawberries or kiwi fruit to your water to enhance the flavour. Just remember; by doing that, you are also adding vitamin C to your water. You can get a fruit infusion bottle easily to do the job like the one in photo below.

water
Add some green: Add fresh herbs like mint or wheatgrass juice to freshen things up a little. Not only does it have a minty fresh taste, it also helps to alkalise and detoxify the body.

In the summer
Have your herbal teas chilled: make a large pot of herbal tea such as rosehip, peppermint or chamomile and allow it to cool. Then you’ll have lots of flavoured water to see you throughout the day. There are some nice blends of fruit teas and the good thing about them is they are caffeine free. I also use frozen berries instead of ice during summer.

In the winter
When it is cold, start your day with a glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it and a tablespoon of natural honey. This also breaks up mucous and helps eliminate toxins.

When you want something warm during cold days of winter, try herbal teas. There are some really nice blends out there to try. They will help keep you warm and hydrated during winter.

How to Create a Habit
It can be tricky to create a habit of drinking water regularly. Here’s a few tips:
• Drink water at regular times every day so you don’t forget. For example, drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up.
• Keep a bottle of water or even a jug of water on your desk or table where you spend most of your time. Somewhere easy to see, basically. It’ll serve as a constant reminder throughout the day.

Restaurant Review: Yellow, Potts Point – Sydney

Restaurant Review: Yellow, Potts Point – Sydney
When I did Bentley’s Bar and Restaurant review, I promised to go and try their sister restaurant, Yellow and tell you all about it. I am keeping my promise.

The Place
Even though it was our first time, Yellow has been around since 2013. However, in early 2016 it became exclusively vegetarian. The décor is quite contemporary with deliberately unfinished areas on the walls. Yellow is in Potts Point. Is there anything yellow in this place, you may ask? Yes. The walls outside.

The Wine
The wine list at Yellow is quite eclectic with a range of natural, bio and organic vintages from around the world. And, they complement the menu nicely.

The Food
The menu at Yellow is exclusively vegetarian. Peter, the assistant manager was kind enough to let me keep my copy of their menu so that I could match my experience with the dishes properly. It always helps when I write about it. Here, I typed in their 5 Course Tasting Menu for you:

5 Course Tasting Menu

Fennel + Fresh Curds + Apple
2014 Weingut Dr Salomon ‘Kogl’ Reisling from Kremstal, Austria
Grapefruit Spritz

Heirloom Zucchini + Pepitas + Juniper
2015 Partida Creus VN Blanco Field Blend, Catalunya, Spain
Turkish Apple Tea

Spaghetti Squash + Shimeji Mushrooms + Salted Egg
2015 Ruggabellus ‘Fluus’ Grenache Blend, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Pear + Yuzu

Forbidden Rice + Butter Beans + Smoked Yoghurt
2014 Moranza Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain
Apple + Beetroot + Carrot

Blood Plum Sorbet + Toasted Buckwheat + Wattle Curd
2014 Domaine Delevaux Coteaux Du Layon ‘Passerille’ Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France
Nectarine + Kombucha

Before the menu above was served, our dinner started with complimentary bread and butter, followed by Mexican Cucumber and Baby Turnip in Buttermilk and Toasted Black Sesame Seeds (see photo below).

Yellow

Fennel + Fresh Curds + Apple
This is a contrast of textures with the softness of the fresh curd, creaminess of the sauce and the crunchiness of the fennel and unexpected sweet bursts of cured and fermented apple. The dish was paired with 2014 Reisling from Austria. We are a huge fan of Austrian wines. This one is young and crisp with a touch of acidity and residual sweetness. Quite well balanced and it works well as a great aperitif. Perfect match!

Yellow

Heirloom Zucchini + Pepitas + Juniper
Zucchini, zucchini flowers: all the best of the zucchini family. Zucchini flowers are the male ones and the stem was used in this dish as well, not just the flowers. They were cooked to perfection; totally melted in my mouth. The dish was paired with 2015 Partida Creus VN Blanco Field Blend from Catalunya, Spain. And, it’s an interesting one. It is quite funky on the nose, almost like an orange wine. It is cloudy because the wine maker does not like filtering his wines very much. Fully biodynamic winery and this one in particular, almost sulphur free. Glen, the manager, told us that the little amount of sulphur which is added is in there for the sake of lasting the journey. This was my favourite wine of the night; it is vibrant, fresh with complex flavours. I will be talking about this wine for many days to come. However, our waiter, Ryan, was kind enough to give us the details of the wine company’s importer so we may be able to get some.

Yellow

Spaghetti Squash + Shimeji Mushrooms + Salted Egg
With this dish, you are moving on to more savoury notes and the portions are getting bigger, too. It is also the time that you feel you need to slow down. I absolutely loved the salted eggs and the sauce in this dish. It was paired with a blend of Mataro, Syrah and Grenache from Barossa Valley, South Australia. The first Australian wine of the night and the first red wine of the night, too. With its 13% alcohol, it is almost like Pinot Noir. And it complemented the savouriness of the dish very well.

Yellow

Forbidden Rice + Butter Beans + Smoked Yoghurt
This was quite filling and rich. The dish has black rice crisps on top (which you cannot see in the photo because I ate them) and cabbage powder around.

Yellow

Because the dish is quite rich, it was served with a palate cleanser: Heirloom Tomatoes + Grains of Paradise + Fresh Basil (photo below).

Yellow

The dish was paired with a 2014 Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain.

Yellow

Blood Plum Sorbet + Toasted Buckwheat + Wattle Curd
As you can see in the photo, this is the dessert of the night. It was quite refreshing after two savoury dishes. I personally loved the contrast of textures. It was paired with a 2014 Domaine Delevaux Coteaux Du Layon ‘Passerille’ Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France.

Yellow can be found at this address:
57 Macleay Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
Website
Phone: 02 9332 2344

How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in a Nutshell

store

Our markets and supermarkets are overflowing with delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables. This little guide below brings together basics of storing fruits and vegetables to maintain their quality, colour, freshness, flavour and nutrient value.

Green leafy vegetables and salad vegetables (salad greens) are incredibly perishable and therefore should be consumed as soon as possible. They should be stored in the crisper or vented plastic bags in the fridge (plastic bags with holes). Too much moisture is the enemy when it comes to green leafy vegetables and salad greens. So, you shouldn’t wash them at all before you store them as it can cause spoilage.

Apples and pears are best stored in the fridge.

Tomatoes should not be refrigerated. Keeping them at room temperature until needed is the most convenient. Keep in mind that under-ripe tomatoes will ripen best at room temperature. Take tomatoes out of plastic bags to avoid the growth of bacteria. Keep them away from sunlight as it destroys vitamin C. Store in a single layer unless you want the tomatoes to ripen quickly, as heat causes ripening, not light.

Berries, stone-fruit, melons, grapes, kiwi fruit
Berries, stone-fruit, melons, grapes and kiwi fruit should be stored unwashed in the fridge. Just keep in mind that these fruits tend to bruise very easily.

Bananas
Store at moderate room temperature. If hot, keep in a cool place but do not refrigerate.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator, but should be wiped clean and placed in a brown paper bag. This way they will keep in good condition for three to four days. Do not store them in plastic because they will begin to decay quickly.

Root vegetables – carrots, turnips, beetroot, parsnips
Store these root vegetables in sealed plastic bags or the crisper compartment of the fridge.

Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onions and Garlic

Potatoes should not be refrigerated. To store potatoes, remove from plastic bags and place in a hessian or paper bag. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry place with good ventilation. Sweet potatoes, onions (except for spring onions) and garlic should be stored in the same manner. For garlic, you can buy terracotta containers with holes that are designed specifically for garlic.

Product Review: Gardein Golden Fishless Filets

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Gardein Golden Fishless Filets are an absolute life-saver in the kitchen. They are so practical; I stopped making my own vegetarian fish and chips from scratch. There is nothing fishy here, just great taste and 0mega-3s without cholesterol. Dip in … Continue reading

Chatkazz Indian Street Food, Harris Park, Sydney

Chatkazz

I have been hearing about those places selling authentic Indian food in Harris Park but it was only last night I actually had a chance to experience it myself. And place turned out to be Chatkazz.

Our friends Madhu and Kushal took us to Chatkazz for a night of Indian street food. Chatkazz is exclusively vegetarian with Jain options, by the way. Being Indian themselves, they know what they are doing. Naturally! And, the whole experience was truly fantastic!

Chatkazz is such an incredibly busy place. With all the hustle and bustle, it actually feels like you are in India! You have to wait for a table, though. However, they have this system: they have chairs, menus, order slips and pens outside where you wait for a table. While you are waiting, you choose what you want to have and scribble it down on the order slip. Once you have a table, you hand over your order and fantastic Indian street food starts coming.

Chatkazz

Here’s what we had at Chatkazz:

ChatkazzSabudana Vada (above), also called sago Vada is a tapioca (sago) patties which is served with spicy green chutney and a yoghurt/curd based one. It is a traditional snack from Maharashtra. In certain parts of India, sago is a very common ingredient to make foods during fasting period. You can get it from street vendors in Mumbai. So, I’m told.

Chatkazz

Dahi Puri (above) These are small crispy puffed bread mixed with boiled potato, chickpeas and topped with chilled yoghurt and various chutneys.

Chatkazz

Chole Bhatura (above) comes from Punjab. Chole and bhatura are separate dishes that are eaten together and it is absolutely divine. It is served with mango chutney, raw onions and chana masala.

Chatkazz

Pani Puri (above) is one of my old time favourites. I was introduced to these at the time we were living in Melbourne. There was a Gujarati restaurant down the road where we had enourmous amounts of chaat. I still miss Smita’s pani puri.

Chatkazz

Khaman Dhokla (above) is another old time favourite. These are savoury cakes made out of besan (chickpea flour) and are served with sweet & spicy chutney.

Chatkazz

Chinese Bhel (above) was everyone’s favourite. I must admit, I LOVE Indo-Chinese dishes. I am so determined to make this one. This morning, I tracked down a recipe. The moment I put together all the ingredients, I am so making this.

Chatkazz can be found at this address:
Shop 4-6/14-20 Station Street East,
Harris Park NSW 2150
Website

Chatkazz

Chatkazz has a separate sweet shop, by the way. We thought the colours were so inviting.

Chatkazz

We came home with a great selection of sweets.

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Thyme

Creamy Cauliflower Salad Lemon Thyme

I have been growing some of my herbs in our outdoor area for some time. Some of them have been successful, some died and replaced and even the replacements died. It’s a process I’m learning and in the end, all this will translate into a mini eBook (hopefully) for you guys to download. I will keep you posted on VegFusion Facebook page. So, go and like the page if haven’t done so.

Lemon thyme I used in this Creamy Cauliflower Salad is the one from my own herb garden. I have always thought that buying a bunch of lemon thyme to be used just one thing was waste of money. However, you pick just the right amount if you’re growing your own and the rest of it will still live.

Mixing yoghurt and mayonnaise is a common practice where I come from. It sort of balances the creaminess of the salad dressing. And, here in this recipe, I flavoured this creaminess with Dijon mustard and added some tanginess with white wine vinegar.

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Thyme
Ingredients:

1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets
Juice of ½ lemon

For the Creamy Dressing:
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt, thick Greek style
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I used Plamil Egg Free Mayonnaise which is vegan)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

2 twigs fresh lemon thyme, leaves separated
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:
• Wash the cauliflower and drain. Broke into small florets.
• Boil enough water in a large pot. Once it starts boiling, add the lemon juice (you can squeeze it directly into the pot) and cauliflower florets. Cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes. Drain and immediately drop the florets into cold water to prevent further cooking. Cauliflower florets should be slightly firm. Once they are cool, drain and set aside.
• To make the creamy dressing: Mix together plain yoghurt, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar. Season to taste.
• Place the cauliflower in a salad bowl and dress it with the creamy dressing. Mix well.
• Garnish with lemon thyme and freshly ground black pepper and serve!

Product Review: Authentic Turkish Gozleme

Product Review: Authentic Turkish Gozleme
I have discovered a new product at Costco a few weeks ago: It is the Authentic Turkish Gozleme with Feta and Spinach. You know those traditional Turkish pastries filled with spinach and feta cheese? That’s them.

Gozleme

It is a big pack of Gozlemes I must admit. There are 4 Gozlemes in 1 pack, weighing 1.2 kg. altogether. However, each Gozleme is 300 gr and pretty much handkerchief size. I believe they are produced that way because you want them to fit in your frying pan, right? Traditional Gozleme is very thin and large as they are cooked on top an inverted wok like cooking implement and our frying pans we use in our home kitchen can never be that big. I used to have a very big, square, electric frying pan that I mainly used to make Gozleme. It got old in the end and I quickly realised that they do not make them that big anymore. I bought the biggest one available but it is still tricky.

Because Authentic Turkish Gozleme is quite thick, it takes longer to cook. The other problem its thickness is the moment you cut it, it spills its guts out. That is probably the only negative comment I can say about it. Other than that, Gozleme is becoming very popular in Sydney and these ones are incredibly practical.

Ingredients for Authentic Turkish Gozleme
• Wheat flour (Vitamins: Thiamine, folate)
• Feta cheese (30% milk): milk, salt rennet (non-animal), culture
• Water
• Silverbeet (16%), actually this is English spinach basically
• Iodised salt

Allergen information:
Contains gluten and milk products.

How to store Authentic Turkish Gozleme
Keep frozen. Once thawed, do not refreeze. Keep refrigerated, cook and consume within 24 hours.

Cooking instructions for Authentic Turkish Gozleme
• Remove Gozleme from its bag.
• Place it on oiled hot plate or non-stick fry pan and fry until each face is golden brown.
• Serve hot with a slice of lemon (optional).

Wine Notes: Process of Wine Making

Wine making has been around for thousands of years. It is not only an art but also a science. Wine making is a natural process that requires little human intervention, meaning if you put together the right ingredients in the right environment, the process will take care of the rest. However, they say that each wine maker guides the process through different techniques.

wine making

In general, there are five basic components of the wine making process:
1. harvesting
2. crushing and pressing
3. fermentation
4. clarification
5. aging and bottling

Wine makers typically follow these five steps but add variations and deviations along the way to make their wine unique.

Harvesting
The first step of wine making is harvesting the grapes. The time of picking the grapes determines many characteristics of the grapes and subsequently the wine which is made from them.

Although many wine makers prefer to hand-pick their grapes, the harvesting can also be done mechanically. Once the grapes are harvested, rotten and under ripe grapes are discarded.

Crushing and Pressing
Grapes are crushed with two different methods: using body part or using machinery.

The body part is the process of stomping the grapes with feet and crushing the grapes into must. Think about Aitana Sánchez-Gijón in movie called A Walk in the Clouds, crushing grapes with her feet in barrels. It is the old-fashioned way.

Nowadays, most wine makers prefer to use some kind of machinery to crush the grapes. And for that, a mechanical press is being used. This is a more hygienic way, as you can imagine.

Fermentation
After crushing and pressing, the juice of crushed grapes ferments with the help of yeasts added. Fermentation happens when sugar turns into alcohol. Grapes’ individual properties colour and flavour the wine-to-be. Winemakers can step in at this point and add oak fermentation or oak products into the process to further flavour the wine or add structure.

Clarification
Clarification is the process of removing certain substances like tannins and dead yeast cells. Wine is then transferred into an oak barrel or a stainless-steel tank. Clarification can be done by fining and filtration. During the process, wine is transferred into an oak barrel or a stainless-steel tank and certain substances are added to clarify it. For example, milk, clay, gelatine, egg white or isinglass (sturgeon bladder) are added for unwanted particles to attach to. Then to capture and eliminate the larger particles, the wine is filtered. The clarified wine is now ready to be transferred into another vessel for further aging or bottling.

Aging and Bottling
As a final stage, wine is aged in barrels and tanks to impart some much-needed integration on the various components of sugar, alcohol, grape juice, oak and yeast. Some wines are bottled straight away but some are given additional aging.

Some wine makers prefer aging their wine in oak barrels. The process produces a smoother and rounder wine. During this particular aging process, the wine will be exposed to oxygen which subsequently decrease tannin and increase fruitiness.

After that stage, we come in… as consumers. Because, wine is then ready to be served and consumed with friends and family.

Faux-prawns in a Coconut Cream Sauce

Yesterday, I was tidying up my Indian recipes on my computer. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I haven’t done much Indian cooking recently. I was especially missing my Aloo Matar (potatoes and peas) and it seemed like I may have cooked it a million and a half years ago. I quickly checked the radiation levels in my fridge and for that I mean ingredients. Eventually decided to make my aloo matar and something else. That something else is below…

prawns

My Faux-prawns in a Coconut Cream Sauce recipe was inspired by Meena Pathak’s Chingri malai curry from her book; Flavours of India.

Faux-prawns in a Coconut Cream Sauce

Meena Pathak says that the dish is from the east coast of India. Of course, it uses real prawns but I substituted them with vegan/vegetarian prawns. The recipe also calls for bay leaves but I didn’t have any. So, I left it out completely.
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 vegan/vegetarian king prawns, thawed and cut into 2
½ cup frozen baby green beans
5 baby corns, chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic
1 piece ginger (about an inch)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves
2 green cardamom pods
2.5 cm (1 in) piece of cinnamon stick, broken into 3 (I used a very thin one)
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon plain natural yogurt
270 ml coconut milk
Salt to taste

Method:
• Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and add vegetarian prawns, green beans, baby corn and turmeric. Fry them on high heat until they are crispy. Remove and set aside.
• Place the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and process to a fine paste.
• Wipe the pan with paper towel. Add the remaining oil to the pan (1 tablespoon) and add the cloves, green cardamom and cinnamon.
• Reduce the heat, and add the onion, garlic and ginger paste to the pan. Stir-fry over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
• Add 1 teaspoon turmeric and red chilli powder. Sprinkle with a little water and stir well.
• Add the yogurt and mix well. Pour in the coconut milk and return the vegetarian prawns, green beans and baby corn to the pan. Cook over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until the sauce thickens.
• Serve with plain boiled rice.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava! (Bon Appetit!)