Tag Archives: sugar free

Melbourne is Immune to Global Warming: Sesame Zoodles

Photography by Kim Mennen Styling by Ali Nardi

Photography by Kim Mennen, Styling by Ali Nardi

It’s obvious at this point that Melbourne doesn’t feel like giving its people a break. We love you Melbourne, but you don’t seem to love us back. It’s spring, and you are still throwing weather tantrums. It’s immature, and inconsiderate and I expect it to stop. Everyone is cranky and depressed, and I’m hitting that point too. Luckily, because we aren’t in NYC, no one is calling it, “weather prone depression,” but really we all have a touch of it. So cut it out. It’s just plain rude.

I’ve gone ahead and made something springy anyway. I’m sick of slow cooking, and roasts. I don’t want to play with my oven tonight. I want to embrace the fresh veg of spring– gosh, I don’t even know what spring means anymore. What-eh-ver.

I was skeptical about zucchini noodles–a.k.a.”zoodles”– for a long time. While on a somewhat Paleo stint I scoffed at the idea. I LOVE pasta. It is hands down one of my favorite foods ever. I wasn’t about to disgrace pasta by trying to recreate it with a zucchini. I was just going to have it once as a while, not as a a small treat, because I’m incapable of eating small portions of pasta. (I allow myself an occasional pasta binge.)

Then someone I knew got hold of a “zoodler” and I became a believer. This little gadget is simple, but efficient, and the zucchini comes out in a very satisfying spaghetti cut. It isn’t spaghetti, but it isn’t so far off, and you could just think of it as a totally different food that happens to go well with pasta/noodle sauces. I’m pretty into them, and have to make them often to justify spending nearly $40 on a piece of plastic.  I keep them raw when using them so the flavor is more neutral. If you sautee them, you will end up with a stronger zucchini flavor, but that will work for some dishes. It all depends on personal taste.

So here it is: Sesame Zoodles. This recipe, adapted from Zygot Bookworks & Cafe originally published in Bon Appetit Magazine,  is a veggie-packed, no-cook recipe that absolutely reeks of spring. It’s misses a lot of sore spots as it’s dairy free, free from processed sugars (you’ll need to purchase “no-sugar added”/ all natural peanut butter if you are avoiding sugar), gluten free, vegan and raw, but still tastes really good… Take that Melbourne!

zoodles 3

I’ve been making this for years using udon noodles, and now I use zoodles with it. You can really add whatever veggies you like. With the sauce, some people prefer it more peanut buttery or thicker/thinner so feel free to play around with the soy sauce, vinegar and stock, but these ratios are what I like.

If we pretend it’s warm, maybe it will actually become warm…

Sesame Zoodles (adapted from Zygot Bookworks & Cafe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tblspn balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more), finely chopped
  • finely chopped red chilli to taste (optional)
  • 3 spring onions/scallions thinly sliced plus extra for garnish
  • 2 cups shredded nappa cabage
  • 1 head bok choy, well rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • melted coconut oil or oil of choice to coat zoodles
  • 2 tblspn sesame seeds plus extra for garnish
  • about 3/4 zucchini per person to be made into zoodles–this recipe makes enough for 3 or 4 people.

1. To make the sauce, combine the first 5 ingredients, as well as the chilli if using. Make your zoodles and coat with a little bit of oil in  a large bowl. Add remaining vegetables and coat with sauce. Add sesame seeds. Garnish with extra sesame seeds and spring onions

Mom’s Artichokes, Flannel and Boomboxes

Artichokes 2 AsiaPhotography by Asia Upward, Styling by Ali Nardi

First, a shout out to my buddy Asia Upward, who is so much fun to work with (plus I love her dog, Bear). She really knows how to photograph food and she has done some really lovely work for this blog. To see more of her work check out her website: Porkchop Photography

Whilst wandering through the Victoria Markets last week pretending I wouldn’t make my way to the borek stand and have my customary cheese and spinach borek straight from the oven (and straight from the hands of the borek nazi lady herself, who still doesn’t recognize me after the countless borkes I have purchased–it adds to the experience) I noticed that there were quite a few artichokes about the place, and I got excited and a bit nostalgic.

I love artichokes, and I really enjoyed eating them when I was a kid and my mom used to make them. They are in season in Victoria, and naturally that meant I would be eating them soon. By that, I mean I naturally expected them to be prepared for me soon–by my mom. And then it hit me. I have never cooked an artichoke! Okay, there might have been that one time in Italy after the artichoke fair in Rome, but did I actually prepare the bundle of chokes we brought back, or did I just sip 3 euro wine and sit on the windowsill watching my friend prepare them before eating them?

In any case, it was due time, cause mom is all the way back in Brooklyn and who else is going to make me artichokes? I wanted to make them the same way she always did when we were kids: simple, delicious–when you pull the leaves off and tear off the meaty bottoms with your teeth, then scoop the choke from the heart and eat the heart and a bit of the stem. So I called her, and she gave me the rundown, which I have passed on here.

After Asia Upward photographed the artichokes, we ate them, and Asia had a rush of nostalgia, cause sure enough, her mom used to make them the same way. And that’s when we realized artichokes are totally a 90’s thing. Perhaps they aren’t instantly recognizable as 90’s trend– the boombox, flannel, Pearl Jam–but that’s the decade they brought us back to.

So go grab some Artichokes at the market and and enjoy a blast to the past, and maybe plan to watch an episode of My So Called Life after dinner. I would portion two artichokes per person as part of a bigger meal. I served it up with a simple spaghetti with a bit of chilli flakes, parsley, and parmesan, and some bread to soak up the garlicky artichoke oil.

Artichokes 3 Asia

Mom’s Artichokes

Ingredients:

  • Artichokes (or two per person)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic per artichoke, sliced not too thinly
  • salt and pepper to tast
  • olive oil
  • water

Remove the really tough leaves from the artichokes and using a knife, peel the tough skin off of the heart and stem (leave about 2 inches of stem). Gently pull back petals a bit and push garlic slices down in the crevices. Place artichokes in large deepish pan in a single layer. Add equal portions of olive oil and water to the pan until you have about 3/4 an inch of liquid. Place a lid on the pan and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer (if the lid isn’t super snug or has a small airhole, seal the top with a layer of foil and then place the lid on). Allow to simmer for an 1 1/2 to two hours depending on how tough your artichokes are, turning occasionally (be gentle so the leaves don’t fall off). You should able to pierce the heart (right above where the stem meets the choke easily).

Your chokes are done and ready to eat! Just peel the petals off and pull of the tender bit of the pettle off with your teeth. Discard the rest of the pettle (it’s nice to have an extra bowl on the table for discarded leaves). When you get down the the spikey choke, scoop it from the heart, and enjoy the heart and the upper bit of the stem.