Roasted Vegetable Salad – Balsamic and Soy Dressing

Imagine the richness of balsamic vinegar and the umami of soy sauce absorbed into hot sweet roasted vegetables with the freshness of raw vegetables in your month…. This salad tastes exactly like that!

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Ingredients:

For Roasted Vegetables

3 Potatoes – peeled and cut into 3cm chunks

1 Purple Skinned Sweet Potato – cut into 3cm chunks (keep the skin on)

3 Carrots – peeled and cut into 6cm long matchsticks

1 Red Capsicum – cut into strips

2 Flat Mushrooms – cut into 8 pieces

3 + 1 Tablespoons of Olive Oil to drizzle

2 of ½ Teaspoon of Rosemary Leaves

For Non-Roasted Vegetables

1 Tomato – finely chopped

1 Onion – thinly sliced

100g of Spinach Leaves

Dressing

1 clove of Garlic – finely chopped

6 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

1 Lemon

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

A pinch of Salt

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 ◦C.
  2. Place potato and sweet potato in a small pot and cover with cold water. Boil them for about 3 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked (but still hard). Drain the potatoes.
  3. Place the potato, sweet potato and carrot into a large baking tray in single layer. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of rosemary leaves over them. Roast them for 20 minutes.
  4. Place red capsicum and mushroom into a medium sized baking tray in single layer. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and spring ½ teaspoon of rosemary leaves over them.
  5. After 20 minutes roasting (Method 3), turn the potatoes and carrot. Place the capsicum and mushroom tray into the oven and roast the vegetables on both trays for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make dressing. Mix all ingredients of the dressing. Put aside.
  7. Place tomato, onion and spinach leaves in a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl and dress them with the dressing. Serve it while it is warm.

 

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My Thai Salad

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A light and fresh salad with a little bit of kick! Thai flavor can be easily made from the ingredients available in your pantry.

Ingredients:

For Dressing

1 Red Chili – finely chopped (remove the seeds if you prefer the salad mild)

2 cloves of Garlic – finely chopped

1cm cube of Ginger – finely chopped

1 Coriander Root – finely chopped

1 lemon – juice

5 Tablespoons of Fish Sauce

4 Tablespoons of White Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

For Salad

100g Rocket Leaves

2 Carrots – grated

80g of Bean Sprouts

½ Onion – sliced

2 Tomatoes – roughly chopped

½ Red Capsicum – roughly chopped

1 large brunch of Coriander – roughly chopped including the stem

Option

Very Moist Chicken or sliced Beef Steak

Method:

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

For the salad, place each ingredient beautifully in layers in a salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing just before serving. As an option of a decent sized meal, top with Very Moist Chicken or sliced beef steak.

The Easiest Ever Quiche – Bacon,Cheese and Vegetable

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Tasty Quiche with NO FUSS and MESS! No homemade pastry or frozen pie crust is required. You can add whatever fillings you like.

Ingredients:

Egg Mixture

70g of All-Purpose Flour

4 Eggs

400ml Milk

70g of Cheese – grated (any of your favorite hard cheese. I use Parmesan. )

One or two pinches of Salt

A pinch of Pepper

A pinch of Nutmeg

Filling

5 slices of Short-Cut Bacon – trimmed and sliced into small pieces

1 Carrot – grated

½ Onion – thinly sliced

5 big florets of Broccoli – cut into small pieces

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180◦C
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour (instead of sifting).
  3. Add the eggs one by one. Every time you add an egg, whisk and combine it well with the flour.
  4. Add milk. Keep whisking and combine all while you are pouring milk.
  5. Add grated carrot, cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and then combine them together.
  6. Layer broccoli, onion and bacon in a 24cm quiche dish. Pour the egg mixture over the top.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the quiche is set.

 

 

So many “ME”…. Tablao Night at Casa del Compas – 6 August 2016

Photos @mareelaffan

My husband always says to me that my emotional ups and downs are erratic. I did not believe, or if he were right, I was confident that it did not cause any trouble for him. At least I thought this way until recently.

My flamenco teacher converts her dance studio to “Tablao” (a bar/restaurant where flamenco shows are on) 3-4 times a year. She welcomes any flamenco dancers to perform at her Tablao. Performing flamenco, especially at Tablao, is like a jazz session between the singer, guitarist and dancer, and the dancer is a sort of playing the role of conductor. For me as a trainee dancer, this is a scary but wonderful opportunity as you can imagine.  – “Excited Naoko”

“I have done it before, and I will do it again”, I thought. This time, Solea – beautiful dance which we had been working on in the class last year. Solea is apparently from the word of “Solidad” – Solitude, so it is not a happy dance. The chorography that my teacher gave us is really beautiful. It is like you are in a dark place looking for something to get out of it. When you think you have found it, you feel like you will lose it again. But in the end, you don’t care anymore and just go for it. I don’t know what the actual choro means but, this is what I felt and this is how I dance.  – “Arty Naoko”

There was just one concern. This dance is shockingly difficult. The footwork is ridiculous in the Solea’s slow tempo which makes me easily lose in the compas (like rhythm in flamenco terms). The difficult steps keep coming one after another in a different form and there is no place where I can be relaxed during the 15 minutes dance. On top of the pressure of working with professional musicians, a huge anxiety hit me. After a couple of bad rehearsals, all I could do was sleep. I went to bed at 9:30 every day, as I did not need to think of anything while I slept. – “Stressed Naoko”

However, after all, it is me- positive in nature to the end. It was the morning of Tablao, what could I do? Coincidently, the day was the 6th of August – an important day for us Japanese. I knew what I dance for on this special day. When I thought about it, my mind was sent and ready. – “Determined Naoko”

Yes it was not perfect. Yes there were still many things to develop. But I certainly enjoyed performing on the day. The musicians and palmeras (who make percussion-sound by clapping hands) were creating this vibe which is “THE” flamenco. I was just so happy to be able to perform with them and create this vibe together. I really hope that it delivered to the audience and that they enjoyed it as much as I did.  – “Happy Naoko”

I really appreciate my teacher, my fellow dancers and the musicians. They were wonderfully tolerant with me, encouraged me and helped me a lot. And of course to my husband, yep now I admit my emotional ups and downs, and he is the one who had to handle “ME”s. Hope he does not mind going through this again with me.

And a Special thanks to Maree Laffan – a wonderful photographer who captured the moment. I actually look like “Solea” there, don’t I?

My Birthday Week – August 2016

Day 1 – Wednesday

Wednesday is my flamenco day. My teacher is very kind and brings a bottle of bubbles if someone’s birthday falls on the day of the class. The first year I did not know the tradition so I just said thank you and enjoyed the kindness. The second year, it was during a workshop (my favorite La Chica!). When I was leaving, they sang Happy Birthday for me. It was really lovely. This year was my third year at this school, so I thought I should prepare. I brought a bottle to enjoy with my flamenco people. After class, we stayed to have a glass of bubbles. It was a lovely, intimate and relaxing time we spent in the middle of the week.

Day 2 – Thursday

Thursday is my ballet day. I started ballet 6 months ago just to help my dance technique – core strength, balance and furthermore to learn how to turn. To be honest, it is not much fun as I do not know what I am doing in the class…. At least what I can do is not drink at dinner and show up at the class every week. So no glass of bubbles for me this day….. But I was proud of myself for not giving in to the temptation!

Day 3 – Friday

This day was my real birthday. My day started with a chocolate biscuit with salted caramel cream and hot chocolate for morning tea. Not a bad start at all. Dinner was sushi at the best Japanese restaurant here – our home. Tonight the chef was my husband. He visited 2 different fish shops on the way home and got my favorites; Coffin Bay Oysters, Tasmanian Salmon, its head and frame, Canadian Scallops and cooked Tiger Prawns.

We started with Coffin Bay Oysters and a glass of cava as entrée. While I was preparing rice for sushi, he prepared all fish for nigiri sushi. Salmon’s head and frame were salted and went to the oven until they became crispy (200 ◦C for 40 mins). AAAAHHHH! Just loved to surround by real food! To be honest, I strongly believe that we cannot find any better in Perth. By dinner time the table filled with sushi, we opened the second bottle – bubbly red. Yuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….

Day 4 – Saturday

After cleaning the house and doing the laundry, we went for a bike ride to Kings Park. The wild flowers had started blooming here and there. It was beautiful. At the café, my husband ordered me a cup of maccha latte. It was a lovely gesture from him! After a little bit of nap, we headed to Co-Op Dining (http://co-opdining.com.au/) in East Perth for dinner. The restaurant focuses on local produce which is organic and bio-dynamic (Refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture). We tried the 5 course degustation with matching wines. All dished were fresh and delicious. I especially liked the first dish – raw vegetables (cauliflower, radish, kabu radish, parsnip) with rhubarb puree and the desert. My husband liked the slow cooked egg yolk with carrot puree topped with puffed buckwheat and garlic chops, and the slow cooked kangaroo tail. The down side was the appearance and décor. Although it was located in a nice area, we could see it was a renovated office. The service was friendly, but not pro. Some were poorly explained (e.g. the first dish was supposed to be eaten by hand but it was not explained, Kabu was introduced as Japanese radish etc). This place was certainly a wonderful bistro, not fine dining though. Having said that, we loved the food and wine. All wines were so nice and unique we had never seen them before.

Day 5 – Sunday

As my husband went to see AFL, I decided to do what I like. A bottle of bubbles was opened at 2pm. I called my mother to chat, ‘line’d with my friends in Japan and watched Osaka’s comedy shows. And most importantly, doing nothing! My husband might call me lazy but why not?! A bottle of bubbles, family and friends and laughing out loud made me happy and was the best way to finish my celebration.

 

The Easiest Ever Muffins – Lemon & Coconut

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These muffins can be made just by adding ingredients. All you need to do is just place a large mixing bowl on a scale and keep adding and mixing all ingredients in order.

Ingredients (8 medium size muffins)

100g of Self-rising flour

40g of Shredded Coconut (unsweetened)

2 Eggs

70g of Sugar

40g of Lemon Juice

20g of Coconut Milk

40g Unsalted Butter – melted

20g of Olive Oil (or any of your favorite oil)

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200◦C. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Sift self-rising flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until sugar is dissolved completely. Add lemon juice, coconut milk, melted butter and olive oil and combine them well.
  3. Add self-rising flour and shredded coconut into the mixture and combine them gently until they disappear. Do not mix as gluten will come out and the muffins will be dense*.
  4. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake them for 15-18 minutes or until they are just cooked (until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of muffin comes out clean).
  5. Take them out of the oven and cool them down on a wire rack.

 

Note:

*How to combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients gently*

I use a wire whisk. Scrape and scoop the mixture of ingredients with the whisk, and lift up and drop it. Repeat this until dry ingredients disappear into the mixture. It helps you to work quicker when you turn the mixing bowl in the opposite direction of the whisk scrapping the mixture.

My Japanese Folk Remedies for a Cold – Common ?

I know when it got me. It was when I went to the gym. It was a yoga class with 15 people in a small studio last Tuesday. I could smell of the first sign of a cold at the first downward facing dog pose.

I feel that the cold is sitting in my nose now. I just do not want it to spread to any other parts of my body. I am still fine. This is the time that I have to take care myself and get rid of it quickly before I really get sick. So what should I do?

There are some common folk remedies for a cold taught by my family. What I believe the most is to sleep and sweat. The method is soaking in a bath at night, going straight to a bed, wrapping yourself with a warm blanket and having a deep sleep. OH! Do not forget to put socks on. Perspiration is the key. Make yourself sweat a lot while you are sleeping. Change your clothes frequently when you are sweaty.

Seriously, it really works. Well…, at least for me.This is the remedy from my mum, and my grandma and my great grandma. But, unfortunately, we do not a bath in our apartment so I cannot do this. I have to think of something else.

Eating something easy to digest is another one, so your body does not need to use unnecessary energy. A bowl of Udon Soup was the dish that my mum cooked for her sick children. I am never tired of Udon, especially the broth! Yummmm…. But my husband might (or already has), so I cannot cook Udon every day until I recover for dinner.

Gargling with green tea is a good one too. Apparently, the catechin in green tea protects your throat from dryness. But, green tea here is not cheap. I would rather drink it than gargling with it…. Is it still effective?

How about spring onions? It is said that they are good for a sore throat. Once I actually wrapped spring onions around my neck while I was sleeping. I was in a choir at the time and I guess I was desperate to get my sore throat better. I cannot remember whether it worked or not though….

How about eating ginger, garlic, hot cocoa and Vitamin C? My mum always made a cup of Honey Lemon Ginger Tea. And of course Hot Cocoa! I was told that ginger, garlic and cocoa are effective to keep a body warm. That’s something I can do in Australia too!

So this is my home-made Honey Lemon Ginger. – Place all slices of lemon (2 lemons) and ginger ( a big chunk!) in a jar. Pour honey over it. Marinade and store it in a fridge.

 

I asked my husband if there are any Aussie remedies like my Japanese ones. He asked me back – “Do you mean, common ones or just funny ones?”… See how my cold goes hey!