Archives For Autumn/Winter

Aromatic chickpea potage with spinach and salt cod

Aromatic chickpea potage with spinach and salt cod

For us lucky ducks living in Melbourne we have modern Spanish tapas restaurant Movida which is some of the best Spanish food outside of Spain. Actually, from my brief rendezvous with Spain, I find the food better here (am I allowed to say that out aloud? Maybe I just need to go back *wink*).

I received Movida’s cookbook a number of years ago, and today was the first time I’ve cooked from it, having recently gone back to the restaurant for the first time since it’s opening year. While I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel, the worst thing was being kicked out for the 8pm sitting. I hate that about Melbourne dining and usually avoid these places often finding that the food and ambience don’t match the hype. Not Movida!

But I digress, this isn’t a blog to blow smoke up their tush. No. What I’m most on about is rather than wait 3 weeks for a 6pm sitting on a Friday night, why not bring Movida to the home table? The recipes are accessible with few, mostly humble ingredients. The flavour is in the technique that maximises flavour and texture…something that has been perfected over many years and a passion to never, ever eat boring.

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White bowl with red lentil soup and parsley

Red Lentil Soup with Pancetta

While I am finishing my studies in Chinese Medicine, I work part time in a gourmet grocery/deli. Some may think this a rather humble vocation, but out of all my bitsy casual jobs, and even career-driven jobs, this one is in the top two. I love it because I’m surrounded by awesome food all day long. I get to talk to customers about their food ideas and ways to use our products, whether it be solicited or unsolicited. And that’s how I got the idea for this soup. A woman came to the register with red lentils and some pancetta I had just sliced for her, so I asked if she was using them together. Sure enough, yes she was. The recipe is pretty simple, so simple she told me in a 30 second conversation at the register. I love red lentils and the texture they create, so I resolved then and there that I’m going to make it, adding my own flare.

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Mexican Mushroom Soup with Crispy Tortilla strips

When autumn rocks around, I always feel like mushrooms. They’re in season and I like to think this is because I’m a highly tuned into the environment individual. It’s more likely that I have fond memories of gumboots and rainy days, soggy ground and buckets-in-hand picking mushrooms with mum. Back then I hated mushrooms.

Right now, Autumn is when dryness dominates and the Lung and Large Intestine are prone to weakening by dryness. Both these organs need moisture (known in TCM terms as Yin fluids) to function properly. We know from the Five Elements that nature provides foods with the right properties to tone and strengthen organs that are prone to ill-health during their season.

So it’s no surprise then, that the humble button mushroom and it’s larger counterpart, the Portobello, nourishes the fluids of the Lung, and by default, the Large Intestine.

Lung Yin deficiency can manifest as frequent colds and flu, dry cough or with small amounts of sticky phlegm, weak or hoarse voice, tiredness, exhausted from speaking, night sweats.

Even if you don’t suffer with Lung Yin deficiency, mushrooms are a good staple to protect and strengthen the Lungs and their immunity boosting function. We’re seeing quite a few snuffles in clinic so cold and flu season has definitely hit!

It’s worthy to note that button mushrooms have a gorgeous sweet nature which helps to strengthen the earth element organs Spleen and Stomach, while also eradicating dirty congealed fluids (damp) stuck in the body. This humble fungi is really a super food.

No one will hate mushrooms with this adaption from a Thomasina Miers recipe. Already pretty good, I’ve just made it better with the addition of Byron Bay Chilli Co. Jalepeno sauce, and a stroke of pure genius: oven baked tortilla strips.

~ Mexican Mushroom Soup with Crispy Tortilla Strips ~

2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 large ripe tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
large knob of butter (Vegan subst. with olive oil)
600g Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp ground star anise
2 – 3 tsp Byron Bay Chilli Co. Jalepeno sauce
a good handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 Litre good quality unsalted vegetable stock. I use Maggie Beer or make my own
150 ml creme fraiche (Vegan subst. with tofutti or omit)
4 small white corn tortillas (or 2 large)
grated pecorino to serve (Vegan subst. with almesan or omit)


  1. Turn oven on to 200C
  2. In a hot fry pan (or cast iron pot) dry roast the whole tomatoes, garlic with skin on and onion for about 15 minutes (10 minutes for onion and garlic) until skins are starting to blacken and tomatoes soften. Turn from time to time so they’re evenly cooked. Remove the skin from the garlic once done.
  3. In a separate and larger frying pan, melt the butter and when it is sizzling hot, add the mushrooms, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Fry for about 10 minutes over medium-high until they have lost most of their juices and beginning to brown. Reduce heat and add the jalepeno sauce.
  4. Once tomatoes etc are finished, add the coriander (reserving a small amount for garnish) 250 mls of stock to the pot and  whiz with a stick blender.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the tomatoes, along with the rest of the stock, star anise. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes until flavours melded.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the tortillas into thin strips and place on a oven tray. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until crisp and lightly browned.
  7. Serve soup with a good dollop of creme fraiche, coriander leaves and tortilla strips.

♥ Gluten Free…♥ Vegetarian…♥ Vegan…♥ Paleo…♥ Damp…
♥ Yin deficiency…♥ Spleen Qi deficiency

If you have heat signs from deficiency or excess, omit:
♥ Black pepper
♥ Chilli



Roasted eggplant with fried seasoned onion and garlicky lemon sauce

Roasted eggplant with fried seasoned onion and garlicky lemon sauce

When I began to write this post, I realised I have begun another eggplant featured post. I’m seeing a pattern here, that I’m just loving the aubergine right now. On checking, eggplants are in season (in Australia) – being from summer through to early Autumn.

As per my previous post, I’ve been overindulging far too much lately, and eating more animal-protein based dinner than I care to admit. This has negative ramifications on my body. Contrary to popular diet fads, I don’t thrive off protein-laden meals. I admit, I have met some people who do, and this just proves that we’re all different, and have different dietary needs. There are only very few dietary rules that apply to the masses, and these are more like guides rather than absolutes. You can find these in the About section of this blog.

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Pearl Barley and Vegetable Soup with Shiitake and Kombu stock

Pearl Barley and Vegetable Soup with Shiitake and Kombu stock

This morning I had Pearl Barley soup for breakfast. It’s not a first, in fact whenever I feel like my digestion is particularly sluggish – lately caused by many rich dinners out, with probably a few too many wines – I often will have soup for breakfast.

Soups are naturally easier to digest, and are a great way to get a bunch of healthy seasonal vegetables and herbs in one tasty shot. I’ve made this soup extra nutritious by adding immuno-protective shiitake mushrooms and kombu*. Plus they give the stock added flavour. I always keep them on hand for this reason.

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French onion and roast cauliflower soup

French onion and roast cauliflower soup

No, it’s not what you think, foodiecure hasn’t gone on some erotic bent. But lately, the french bughas got me thinking all things gastronomic pleasure. The story behind this dish is I was walking home from work…the clinic being south side, and I live north side, and you see, I needed to get my Qi flowing after a day sitting down. As I wandered through the chilly Euro tinged streets of Melbourne, rugged up in a leather jacket, scarf, knee high boots and flat cap, naturally all I could think of was French Onion soup and Pinot Noir. Naturally. My minds eye drifted to the roast cauliflower in the fridge that I had cooked the night before – with the intention of doing something way more boring – and that’s how I got the brainwave to add the voluptuous flavours of roast cauliflower to rich, hearty, deeply caramelised onion. In soup format, it makes it better and easier to digest – especially good for the majority of us who need to protect our digestion.

~ The recipe ~

makes 2 main serves or 4 entree

1/2 head cauliflower, roasted
knob butter
good drizzle of olive oil
1 med – large onion, sliced and caramelised (approx 25 mins)
2 c. vegetable stock
white pepper
salt, to taste
truffle oil
rye sourdough cut into rounds with a cookie cutter
Gruyère or similar hard cheese (I only had manchego in the fridge which worked fine!), grated

  1. Caramelise sliced onions on low heat, lid on, with olive oil and butter (if unsalted, add a pinch of salt) for a good 25 mins. You want the onions to be nice and brown (not burnt), sweet and rich in flavour. About halfway through add a good grinding of fresh white pepper.
  2. Bring the cauliflower and vegetable stock to the boil, then simmer, lid on for 20 mins (do this while onions are caramelising). This will make for a nice rich base for the soup. If your vegetable stock is unsalted, add a pinch of salt here.
  3. Once cauliflower done, puree really well until super smooth. Make sure the consistency is quite runny, you want an almost broth consistency, with that same richness. If you have one, pass through a chinoise for added smoothness.
  4. Add cauliflower ‘stock’ to the onions, bring to the boil then simmer to meld the flavours for about 10 minutes. The longer the better. Up to 45 mins would be divine.
  5. Test for seasoning and adjust (ideally you season enough through the middle stages you don’t need to salt at the end…this results in a well composed dish as opposed to salt-sitting-on-top-at-the-end kind of thing. Read this post for more info.
  6. Scoop into bowls and top with sourdough rounds and grated cheese. Put under broiler (grill) until bubbly and golden, then drizzle with some truffle oil for added decadence. Buon appetit!
Broccoli Soup in the making

Broccoli Soup in the making

I just wanted to share the easiest and tastiest way I get some greens and seasonal veg into me during Autumn.

Yes, broccoli is in season and now’s the time to be hitting the green hard. Not just for the obvious greens-are-good-for-you-in-an-antioxidant-kind-of-way. Eating what’s in season is a vitamin pill not made in a factory by synthetic ingredients. And it’s tailor made for what the season calls. Lovely.

Chinese Medicine recognises a pungent quality to broccoli. This is especially good in Autumn – the time of the Lungs – where pungent qualities disperse Lung Qi (chee). That’s Traditional Chinese Med talk for boosting immunity. We’re seeing a lot of snuffles and “under the weather” in clinic this past week and so boosting that immunity is important if you can’t afford to get sick, or like me and just hate being slowed down by getting sick.

I also love to add walnuts. They’re incredible little tonics for our Kidneys, which is perfect to get them toned before winter, when they’re naturally more sensitive to the cold and can give us some grief with waning energy levels.

Here’s how I make Broccoli Soup:

1 x leek*, sliced into half moons
2 x stalks of celery*, finely sliced
3 x garlic* cloves, roughly chopped
1 x potato*, diced
2 x heads broccoli*, broken into florets and stalks diced
1/2 c. Walnuts*, lightly toasted
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
olive oil
salt and white pepper

*In season

  1. saute leek, celery and garlic with 1/2 tsp salt until soft and fragrant (about 15 mins)
  2. add in potato and broccoli stalks with another pinch of salt and saute with lid on for another 10 mins
  3. add in the florets reserving 1/3, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins with lid on
  4. When veggies are soft, add walnuts and blend with a stick blender, check for seasoning and adjust, then add remaining florets of broccoli and cook for 5 mins until tender
  5. Finally, stir in the apple cider vinegar
  6. If you like, serve with crisp panchetta (organic) on top. Of course every soup warrants a side serving of crusty bread
Broccoli soup with walnuts and croutons

I’ve topped mine with sour dough croutons and toasted walnuts

Look after yourself,
Becki xx

Want to know why it looks like I salt so much? Visit here.

Shakshouka from Cumulus Inc. It’s baked eggs with roasted peppers and shanklish

Baking food is the way to go in Autumn months. If you think about it in Chinese Medicine terms, Autumn is when the direction of our body’s natural energy turns inwards – our intelligent biology knows it’s time to prepare for cooler months. That’s why it’s that little bit harder to get out of bed and naturally, we spend less time outdoors. And that’s ok! This is something we can’t control, and trying to force the opposite, well it will drain the energy faster than you can say “is it winter yet?”.

One way to get more bakin’ is breakfast time. I don’t know why it became the norm to socialise before 12pm on a weekend.  Somewhere along the lines it did, and that’s exactly what us Melbournians do en-masse come the Saturday. So Melbourne chefs had to get up earlier and get creative…not that this little foodie is complaining. Breakfast worship is my thing.

Trusty eggs benedict has been superseded by Turkish baked eggs, which I see on menus we are now using it’s “proper” name, Shakshouka. Essentially you have the same thing: Arabic spiced tomato base, crack in a couple of eggs, bake in clay pot, then serving with crusty bread and warning not to touch the pan.

Doctors orders this Autumn is to bake, braise and stir fry. Lots of fragrances stimulate the metal element – being our Lungs – and another little trick from 5,000 years ago to ward off the lurgy.

Look after yourself this Autumn,
Becki xx

El yummo

El yummo

I really do like this soup. Like I said before, you could end wars with it. How can you go wrong with an aromatic base of onion, celery, carrot, fennel and garlic bathed in a savoury broth? Oh that’s right, if you add potatoes and parmesan rind you’ve just gone form naught to 100 on the flavour scale in about 20 minutes.

I do have a penchant for soups in general because a) they’re ridiculously easy to make that I feel like a faker when they turn out stupendously tasty b) they’re really good for digestive health c) talk about budget friendly my friend, and d) any person watching their weight should be living off soups. Look at the traditional Asian diet for example.

I really don’t want to get into one of my Chinese Medicine digestive rants, but one is coming on….

I can’t urge you enough to eat more soup. It’s like you’ve done the work for your digestion. The environment of the stomach is moist and warm. When you apply the judo method – or “gentle way” – to your diet, weight loss / weight management is effortless. You go with the flow of the natural energy that your digestion craves. Not this stupid Western “make your body work harder” bullshit. I’ll stop myself there, but do realise I can go on.

Onto the recipe then…

Fennel, Parmesan & Chickpea Soup

A good slurping of olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium potato, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced (include the washed leaves)
1 bulb fennel, diced
4 c. water, maybe a slurp more
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed well (or cook your own)
1 x bay leaf
Rind from a chunk of parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil and begin to sweat the onions with a pinch of salt ensuring they don’t brown
  2. After about 2 minutes, add potato, carrot and celery and fennel with about a minute in between each one and saute with another pinch of salt for 2 minutes, giving the odd stir
  3. Add the garlic, give a swirl and saute for 20 seconds or so
  4. Add the water and parmesan rind. Make sure the water is covering vegetables with a good 3 – 4 cm more
  5. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for approx 20 mins until vegetables are soft
  6. Taste for seasoning*. Add more if necessary
  7. Add the chickpeas, gently simmer with lid on through and serve with lashings of fresh parmesan and fresh parsley

*why do I add salt in so many stages? Isn’t that a lot of salt? Answer: Nup. For starters, if you want anything to taste a-ok, you need salt (which is not your enemy, lets just clear that up right now alright?). So say you add approx 1.5 tsp salt to this here soup. Approximately divide that up into 3 or 4 and use those portions to salt as you go. Not only will you adequately season your dish, you’ll also be enhancing the natural flavours of the ingredients, which come alive with a little salting. You will also avoid that one dimensional salt-sitting-on-the-top-palate thingy that goes on with amateur cooking. So, there you have it. Salt in stages, just taste as you go until you get a feel for how much salt you can use at each stage. It will vary depending on the kind of salt you use. I prefer Celtic Seasalt which is rich in a bunch on minerals has a very intense deep flavour which means you require far less salt that average table salt…because even though it’s not your enemy, too much of anything is.

(Adapted from: Enjoy – New Veg by Nadine Abensur)

Soup in the pot

Soup in the pot


The perfect antidote to Sunday night miserable weather, this Tuscan soup is a winner. Traditionally a leftovers soup – Ribollita meaning “reboiled” – using minestrone and stale bread, but to us this is just as good as real meal.

Thanks to my housie for suggesting it…we are going to be eating well this week! This recipe is adapted from River Cafe Cookbook. Should get 6 servings out of it.

2 red onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 sticks celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped incl stalks
3 cups cooked cannellini and/or berlotti beans
2 stalks kale, leaves seperated, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 250g tin organic tomatoes
2 cups veg stock, heated
3 stale ciabatta rolls, hand torn into chunks (can use loaf equivalent)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Pancetta finely sliced and pan fried to crisp – for serving (omit if vegetarian)

In a good slurp of olive oil, sauté onions, celery, carrot and parsley with 1/2 tsp salt and a good grinding of fresh black pepper for 30 mins until flavours well blended. Add garlic halfway through.

Add kale, tomatoes and their juice and enough veg stock to cover. Add another 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer gently for 30 mins.

Meanwhile divide beans into 2 portions, set 1 portion to the side and purée the 2nd portion.

Once veg cooked, add whole and puréed beans and torn bread and a good slurp of olive oil. Add more stock if necessary, however you want a nice thick soup. Check for seasoning, adjust if necessary. Simmer for 3 minutes and serve with Pancetta on top.