Zucchini slice and too many zucchinis

A twist on an Aussie classic.

Listening: Armchair Expert – Experts on Expert – Peggy Orenstein

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Jump to the recipe

Star Rating: Four stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I re-started deliveries from Imperfect Produce this year, and I like that it challenges me to find some different recipes outside of what I’d normally make. I love trying new recipes but I’m also often lazy, and when there’s a bunch of tasty stuff I know how to make with my eyes closed, I fall back on my go-tos when I’m feeling tired or too busy or just lacking in imagination.

This week’s deliver had both zucchinis and summer squash and while I’ll make some into zoodles and probably roast some cut into chunks, there were way too many to use before they go off.

Enter the humble zucchini slice. This is an Australian favourite – I should try to delve into where our obsession came from, but I remember working at Yahoo!7 in the late 2000’s and zucchini slice was the #1 recipe for SEO at the time. The Aussie version includes bacon and cheese, so I tried to make a different version that was still delicious but didn’t depend on these ingredients for flavour. I almost managed it, but I’d make some changes next time (mostly salt related).

Also, I’ve reintroduced eggs into my diet. I have no trouble not eating dairy. Not eating meat has been easier than expected. But eggs – man. My friend, Anthea, exclaimed “But eggs?” when I told her I had become vegan, and we waxed lyrical about how wonderful eggs are. I did a bunch of research, and there is a brand called Misty Meadows Farms  which are pasture raised, organic, and cruelty free and come from just outside Seattle. I’m happy to pay a little extra to get them, and this has also made me much more mindful of my consumption.

So the recipe. Really, I made this up by combining the general base of a zucchini slice and stealing some of the ideas from Ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake. I used nutritional yeast to try to give it more of a cheesy flavour, and added a lot of garlic powder and paprika too. I still needed to use much more salt, and I’m sad I hadn’t thought about lining the pan with a mixture of black and white sesame seeds à la Ottolenghi. Regardless, it’s a good base and the addition of fresh herbs mixed through and perhaps something a little crunchy like pepitas on top would elevate this even more.



Half a head of cauliflower, cut into florets

Half a head of broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2 x medium zucchinis (or summer squash), grated

Half an onion, roughly diced

1/2 cup chickpea flour (60g)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (20g)

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste (you’ll want to add more salt that you think)


Fresh herbs – whatever you have to hand

Black and white sesame seeds to line the pan

Pepitas, friend onions, Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 360F/180C
  2. Boil a large pot of water
  3. Add cauliflower to boiling water and set timer for 8 minutes
  4. After 3 minutes add broccoli to boiling water
  5. When timer goes off, immediately drain cauliflower and broccoli into a colander and rinse with cold water. Fill the pot you just used for boiling with cold water and add cauliflower and broccoli to cool down further. You will need to make sure that the pot isn’t still hot so might need to rinse a couple of times.
  6. Meanwhile grate your zucchinis into a large bowl.
  7. Dice onion and add to bowl.
  8. Add chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper; mix together.
  9. Crack eggs into separate bowl and whisk to combine.
  10. Drain broccoli and cauliflower, add to large bowl. If you’re adding herbs, add them now.
  11. Add eggs to large bowl with another generous grind of salt and gently stir to combine so mixture is evenly combined, but don’t over mix and break up vegetables.
  12. Grease a shallow dish (I used a 15cm x 30cm glass dish) with olive oil. If you’re using sesame seeds, now sprinkle across surface of dish. Try to distribute evenly, but don’t worry if there are some denser pockets.
  13. Pour mixture into dish and smooth out so it’s spread evenly.
  14. Place in oven. Check after 30 minutes and if it’s not quite done, leave in for another 5-10 minutes. Slice is done when I knife comes out clean.
  15. Let cool for 10 minutes, slice and serve by itself or with salad or any other side. Goes really well with hot sauce.

Note: Freezes well and is good to have on hand when you’re in a rush. Defrost on counter and heat in microwave or oven, depending on how much time you have.

Lentil and Spinach Polpette and Divided Opinions

Soundtrack: The Nod Podcast – Nobody Looks Like Me

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Spinach and Lentil Polpette

Star Rating:

Polpette: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sauce: One Star ⭐️

Honestly, I don’t know how to rate this meal. And it’s really making me interrogate how I use the star rating system. One part of this meal (the polpette) was excellent and I will definitely make them again. However, the other part (the sauce) was just strange. I would not make it again, nor would I recommend anyone else does.

So let’s unpack these separately.

I’m always skeptical about meat-free replicas of meat recipes. They seem to offer a promise they can’t deliver, and I’d prefer to either have the real thing or nothing at all.

However, these ‘meatballs’ have all the characteristics of a good meatball. They have a resistance when you bite into them, they are really flavourful, and have a salty sharpness from the pecorino. They’re pretty easy to make, wilting spinach in a dry frying pan and smushing up the rest of the ingredients in a blender. Roll them into balls and cook in the oven for 20 minutes and their done.

The sauce, while just as easy, was kind of a strange, sloppy mess. Full disclosure, I do not have a proper blender or food processor so the almonds didn’t break down as finely as the recipe probably intended, so part of the textural problem could be equipment based (although you do know what they say about workmen blaming their tools…) The flavour was… fine? It was just kind of sharp, and sour, and watery all at once and made the meatballs soggy which detracted from them entirely.

So the meatballs get four stars, and I will make them again as an appetizer, hors d’oeuvres, or to add to salads. The sauce was a solid one star and I will not make it again. If I gave an average that would make this a 2.5 start attempt, but that would be burying the lede. Sigh.




Pesto and Poor Organisation Skills

Soundtrack: Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Some version of this pesto (more or less)

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m really behind on this whole ‘make one recipe a week and write about it’ project, but in my defence I have been pretty busy. Let’s just conveniently ignore the fact that the last time I actually wrote about a recipe I made was April 4th…

This weekend was my first full weekend at home since late July. I had grand plans to make this spinach and lemon polpette from Anna Jones, until I realised that parts of my blender were sitting next to my desk at work. Yes, at work.

This is not the first time, nor the first workplace, that my cooking tools have found their way to. I remember getting ready to cook 8 hour pulled pork in my tiny Sydney studio (or ‘The Pod’ as we affectionately called it) only to realise that the last time I’d made 8 hour pulled pork was at work and I’d never bothered to bring the massive pot home, because laziness.

This time a colleague had returned the various instruments I’d left at her place when I’d cooked her and her family dinner post-baby. None of the pieces are nearly as large as a stewing pot, but they are still sitting next to my desk, because laziness.

So when it dawned on me that I didn’t have the blade or bowl for my mini-blender, and I wouldn’t be able to blend almonds and other various things, I decided to put off this recipe until Monday night.

Of course, I only made this discovery after I’d been to the supermarket, so I did have a whole lot of fresh ingredients in my house. And after a glorious day of flying, then seeing Bohemian Rhapsody with friends, I returned home to finally watch ‘Salt Fat Acid Heat’.

Serendipitously, in the first episode (Salt) she shows a gorgeous Italian woman making pesto with a mortar and pestle. The six pesto ingredients (basil, garlic, hard cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, salt) were all in my house, and I have a mortar and pestle (for mostly decorative reasons), so ever the opportunist I saw this as a chance to quickly make up for lost time AND to have a delicious dinner.

For those of you who know me, you know that I can’t eat dairy. HOWEVER, I can eat limited amounts of goat and sheep cheese. I’d bought a chunk of pecorino, which is basically sheep parmesan, and it was also burning a hole in my fridge. This made this meal a real treat because I LOVE cheese. It just doesn’t love me.

I really enjoyed making this. It’s so easy – roughly chop the basil and put it in the mortar (I just had to look up which bit is which), add the oil and some salt, and crush with the pestle until it’s fairly broken down. This is kind of therapeutic, TBH.

Once it’s semi paste-like, add finely diced garlic and lightly toasted pine nuts and keep pummelling. Once you’re happy with the texture, add grated parmesan/pecorino and keep blending. Now you should taste to see whether you need any more salt or oil or garlic. The cheese will keep breaking down, so be conservative with your seasoning (I sound like I know what I’m doing, but totally stole this tip from the link above).

Cook your pasta until it’s al dente and rather than mixing with the pesto in the pan, put a few dollops of pesto in the bottom of the bowl and then add the pasta straight from the water using tongs. Mix thoroughly and keep adding pesto to taste. I also added a good squeeze of lemon juice and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

God this was good. So much so that I can’t believe I’ve never made pesto before! For something with so few ingredients, it’s very impressive and it’s probably the only time in recent history that I’ve licked the preparation bowl and I wasn’t baking.

I used some weird vegetable pasta that apparently has a bunch of servings of veggies in it which explains the really green pasta in my photos. I liked the earthy flavour, but it would obviously also be good with regular pasta or even better – fresh, homemade pasta.


Sweet Potato Red Curry and Falling Behind

Soundtrack: Startup Season One (yes, I’m very late to this)

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This recipe is from two weeks ago and I am a bit behind on this project, so I’ll keep this short. This meal is good and I recommend that you make it if you want something healthy and quick. Red curry is delicious, and this one is meatless but still filling and the sweet potato takes the carb role without needing to overfill yourself with rice.

My biggest takeaway from this recipe was using roasted cauliflower and broccoli in place of rice. I would have normally just cooked the cauliflower in the curry, which can make the sauce a little watery and the cauliflower mushy. By roasting and pouring the curry on top it allowed the cruciferous vegetables to maintain their texture and act as a great carrier for the sauce.

Some notes on how I amended the recipe:

  1. I added a lot of other vegetables to the recipe (shocker) such as peas, spinach, and mushrooms.
  2. I waited to add the coconut milk right at the end once the sweet potato was cooked through. Coconut milk splits when it boils, so this kept the curry creamy.
  3. I omitted the sugar. It just wasn’t necessary.
  4. I didn’t add the curry powder to the cauliflower before roasting – if not done well, it can taste a bit too burnt and earthy, and my curry powder is dubious quality at best.

When I make this again – and I will make it again – I’ll add more chili and a bit more salt. Besides that, it’s a filling, warming, healthy, and fast. If you like vegetable curry, make it. Bonus points as it freezes well.


Hot Cross Buns and Busy Sundays

Soundtrack: My Favorite Murder, Episode 112

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Classic Hot Cross Buns from Donna Hay

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If I have one criticism about America (yes, yes, go home if I don’t like it), it’s their approach to Easter.

In Australia and the UK the Easter long weekend really emphasizes ‘long’. We get both Good Friday and Easter Monday as paid public holidays, the weather is generally still good enough in Australia that you can go camping, or possibly to the beach, and unlike other religious-based holidays (I’m looking at you, Christmas) there is no expectation that you’d spend this time with family. The only downside is that bottle shops (liquor stores) aren’t open on Good Friday and I have been caught short going to BBQs without planning ahead. If that’s the biggest inconvenience for a day off work, I’ll take it.

In the US, Easter passes without much fanfare. They aren’t big on Easter Eggs – you can find them, but for a country which can produce novelty candy for seemingly any occasion, it’s shocking to see so little innovation in this area. I particularly miss the dark chocolate Lindt easter bunnies because I’m lactose intolerant and these are the only eggs that I can eat. Cheers to my friends and family who send them to me each year. Or carry them around the globe for me, as my Dad once did.

This is not the only food that’s missing, and why we’ve arrived at this week’s recipe.

Hot Cross Buns are fucking awesome, and you can’t find them, or can’t find good ones, here. Please note that I don’t even have a high bar for HCBs – I’m happy with a 12 pack of Coles or Woolies soft, sweet, slightly chewy, golden buns which have been lightly toasted and drowned in butter (or whatever non-dairy substitute I can find).

I made a callout to Facebook asking for a good HCB recipe and my friends (as always) delivered. There were a number of suggestions which required rubbing butter through flour and this activity is something I don’t need to spend my life doing, so they were cut from the list. I checked out the ones on Taste.com.au but they seemed a bit… basic so those were passed over too.

Then we landed on Donna’s recipe. Now Donna is not a friend of mine, but Australians are all on first name basis with her. Donna Hay has been the doyenne of Australian culinary culture for a long time now, and her recipes are virtually foolproof. Despite my long-held fantasy of baking bread each weekend, I’m not overly familiar with using yeast so I wanted to start with a recipe that many people had already managed to not totally mess up.


Here’s something I didn’t think about. Rising dough waits for no one. I made the first part of this recipe on Sunday morning before heading off for a flying lesson. I got home to a very risen and gorgeous looking ball of dough, which I promptly turned into rolls and fit into a pan.

I had a 2 hour window for both the second rising and 30 minutes of baking, and at the halfway mark I realised that the buns were not proving at the rate I had anticipated. Thankfully resting the pan on the warm stovetop (thanks to the heated oven) sped things up and I was able to get the buns to prove to my timeline.

So how were they? Freaking delicious – so much so that I ate four for dinner that night. They were light and spiced and not too sweet, and and they made my whole apartment smell like Easter.

One word of warning – the following morning, even after being stored in an airtight container, they were already pretty stale. Apparently without a bunch of preservatives and sugar they don’t keep like the store bought ones. I highly recommend making these for a group of people and eating them almost immediately. I will salvage the leftovers by using the stale buns to make Easter bread and butter pudding next weekend, which is a pretty good consolation prize.

All up, these were pretty easy to make, but they do require time so I’m unlikely to make more than once a year. I highly recommend making them on a day when you’re pottering about the house, rather than trying to fit them in between plans. And remember – I have given you permission to eat as many of them as possible while they are hot and delicious.

Roasted, Marinated Cauliflower Soup and Awesome Customer Service

Soundtrack: ‘Trip’ Jhene Aiko

I don’t want to read your rambling, I just want the recipe: Roasted Marinated Cauliflower Soup

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

There’s a food place on the lobby level of my work building called SÜP. I’ve long assumed that the umlaut meant the U had a long sound and it was pronounced ‘soup’, while others argued for the far cooler pronunciation ‘s’up’. Considering they sell soup, I naturally assumed I was right, but it’s been a point of curiosity for our team for a while now.

UPDATE: Bon Appetit have been commenting on my Instagram post and it turns out the Ü was meant to simply look like a smile 🙂


SÜP also makes the most incredible roasted cauliflower soup, which is somehow vegan, dairy-, gluten-, and nut-free. There are a few of us who have this soup for lunch numerous times per week, and there was almost a mutiny the one day they ran out. I’ve made a lot of cauliflower soup in my time, but nothing has ever tasted and rich and creamy as this one so I decided to see if I could track down the recipe.

Conveniently, the company, Bon Appétit, which runs many of the on-campus cafes has a handy feedback form. This is what I sent to them.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 1.48.47 PM

A few days passed and I’d actually forgotten that I’d sent the feedback at all. That made it a pleasant surprise when this landed in my inbox (on Valentine’s Day!)

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 3.09.09 PM

So mystery kinda solved on the name, maybe?

More importantly, I wasn’t entirely sure we would get the recipe given how chefs can be notoriously protective of their secrets. Massive shout out to Sean for being a great dude!

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted, Marinated Cauliflower Soup
2 heads cauliflower cut into florets
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
4 cloves garlic minced
3 tablespoons oil

¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. Mix marinade ingredients and pour over cauliflower florets. Mix well and let sit for 20min.
  3. Roast marinated cauliflower at 425 for about 8min or until tender.
  4. Add oil to heavy bottomed pot. Stir in onion, celery, garlic. Cook until vegetables are translucent.
  5. Add cauliflower and water to ½ inch below cauliflower. Let simmer for about 45min.
  6. Blend and season with salt and pepper.

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 9.02.29 AM.png

Can we just stop to look at how beautiful this marinade drenched cauliflower looks? While I roast veggies a couple of times a week, I’ve never thought about marinating them, so this part of the recipe alone was a revelation! It’s also nice to use a marinade that doesn’t rely on oil.

I did tweak the recipe a little. I didn’t add as much salt to the marinade as recommended because I’m not a huge salt fan. I needed to roast the cauliflower much longer until it was tender – my oven definitely can’t hold its own against commercial ones. And finally, I didn’t use as much oil as suggested for sautéing the other vegetables. Half that amount worked fine.

What was the verdict of the homemade version? Probably due to the above changes it wasn’t quite as good as the one made at SÜP. It wasn’t as creamy which would be due to a combination of adding less fat and my stick blender being less powerful than an actual blender. However, it was still delicious and the best cauliflower soup I’ve ever made. I’m seeing how well it freezes, as back-up soup is handy to have to hand. Overall my version of this recipe gets four stars – but the original one from SÜP gets a hands-down five, which is why I will continue to buy it for lunch a couple of times each week.


Chicken Larb and Cheating

Soundtrack: Atlanta Monster Podcast: Episode 2

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want to make the recipe: Chicken Larb

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This New Year’s resolution was meant to be 52 new recipes in one year. This week I’m working with a fairly flexible definition of new. Actually, technical definition is a little more accurate. And if Futurama taught us anything, it’s that being technically correct is the best kind of correct.

Have I ever used a recipe to make Chicken Larb before? I have not.

Have I previously thrown together something similar using a combination of mince, chilli, soy, lime, garlic, herbs, and onion, and then wrapped it in lettuce leaves to serve? Many, many, many times.

I would have (erroneously) called it sang choy bow as shorthand to describe delicious, fragrant, meaty goodness wrapped in lettuce leaves. This is both culturally insensitive and inaccurate as sang choy bow is of Cantonese origin and Larb is Thai. So that’s an active correction I will be making moving forward.

What I’m saying is I’m kind of cheating this week, as this dish wasn’t completely unknown to me. And you know what? I kind of don’t give a shit because it took a total of 10 minutes to make, the leftovers were even more delicious the next day *, and I will be making it to take to work for lunch, so those are all wins in my book.

[As an aside, the whole reason I went in this direction is because I had a glut of Thai basil thanks to my Aerogarden**, and there really aren’t a lot of recipes which use it outside of Larb and Gai Pad Krapow. If I hadn’t sworn off booze for 2018 I would have totally made this Thai Basil Daiquiri instead].

[Also, I’m aware that after stating last week that I don’t really care for chicken all that much, this is another recipe featuring chicken. I have no adequate response for my hypocrisy, but wanted to make a note that I’m aware of it].

* HOT TIP 1: Shred iceberg lettuce, coriander and Thai basil, top with some of the remaining pickled red onions, dump the warmed, leftover mince on top, and garnish with a healthy plop of chilli paste. I actually think it was better this way than in the wraps)

** HOT TIP 2: It’s awesome having fresh herbs available at all times, and not sobbing as you throw out the slimy remains of the expensive bunch of herbs you only used 1/10th of in that recipe last week, but they don’t warn you that the Aerogarden light is on for 17 hours a day, and that this light is bright enough to be seen from space.