Magnifique Matcha macaroons, Oh mon Dieu!

Look what came in the mail for me today.

kawaii kenko

kawaii kenko

How cute is that?  It’s right up there along with giggling infants, dimples, Mini Coopers and baby pandas.

It was sent by Melbourne-based Kenko Tea, a premium matcha online retailer.  I’d used matcha in a past post whereby I concocted a raw vanilla cheesecake using a mung bean crust.  However only a dusting of matcha was used – it was not the centre of attention.

I did a lil more digging around and discovered there’s matcha.. and there’s MATCHA.  Let me explain.  Like any fruit or vegetable, the more vibrant the colour = the more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it contains.  Makes sense.  Who’d want a light mauve eggplant over one a fetching deep shade of royal purple?

I took the photos below to illustrate the varying grades of this wonder powder.

gorgeous green

gorgeous green

Yeah, this is mine… all mine.  Note the intensity of the hue.  And the smell when I popped open the container was just wow.  Pure freshness in a can.  Eau de fresh!

not so green

not so green

Yeah, the above pic is not my matcha obviously.

I was keen to do two things:  brew myself a well-earned cuppa matcha.  Check.  Experiment with Kenko Tea’s premium matcha in the kitchen.  A ha…

This is what transpired.

Raw Magic Matcha Macaroons

2 tbs matcha green tea powder
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried coconut
3-4 tbs tahini
3-4 tbs cup agave
¼ tsp sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: carob nibs, orange zest

Food process the coconut and sunflower seeds first until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Food process everything else and shape into cute macaroon-esque balls.  Done.  Haha, short and sweet right.

If it’s too dry, gradually add more tahini, vanilla extract or agave.  Conversely, if you went overboard on the liquid, add more dried coconut bit by bit.  I had carob nibs in the pantry so threw them in there for an extra crunch factor.

Shape into macaroons and pop in the freezer for 5 minutes.

matcha macaroon heaven

matcha macaroon heaven

I was interested to find out more about the Man behind the Matcha.  This is what I discovered….

Sam James, 27, has called the kitchen a second home ever since embarking on a chef apprenticeship at the age of 16.  He works on Kenko Tea during the day before working the evening shift at a Melbourne restaurant. 

Kenko Tea creatively fuses together his passions for quality ingredients, health and funky packaging.

Why did you start Kenko Tea?

I decided to start my own project as after living in Melbourne CBD for the last few years, I’d noticed the specialty coffee culture in Melbourne explode.   I’ve always had an eye for food trends and first came across matcha online when researching its health benefits and high levels of antioxidants.

I couldn’t find any GOOD matcha in Melbourne.  I read about matcha being an amazing, sweet, fresh and bright green super tea that whisks up a layer of crema.  The ones I tasted were horrible unless mixed with loads of sugar and milk. So that’s why I started Kenko Tea, to bring high grade matcha to Australia.

What prompted you on the health and wellness path?

I’ve had a growing interest in nutrition, food and health for a few years now. I was miserable in my early 20’s – the lifestyle that comes with working in kitchens is characterised by long hours, high stress, bad diet, no social life.

I started searching for healthier ways to manage stress. This led me down all sorts of paths – meditation, yoga, martial arts, gym, cutting out sugar/processed foods etc.  These days I notice straight away if I haven’t exercised for a few days or go back to eating junk.  I am still learning what works best for me.

Why the interest in matcha?

Besides the health benefits, it was the intense colour that appealed to me.  It was something new and exciting, an ingredient I’d never experimented with.  It’s incredibly versatile – to drink on its own as a tea, made into a green smoothie, or added to desserts and sweets.

The history behind matcha is fascinating.  It was used by samurai and Zen monks for meditation and the stone grinding production methods are the same methods they’ve used for centuries.  The more I learn about matcha, the more I Iove it.

How matcha benefits me:

Matcha makes me feel energized, refreshed, alert and focused without the jittery or wired feeling of coffee.  Matcha’s high levels of L-theanine which when combined with caffeine, delivers caffeine to the bloodstream over a longer period, so you feel calm and alert for 4-6 hours without coffee’s massive ups and downs.  I receive emails constantly from customers saying exactly this regarding their energy levels.

Describe a typical day for you: 

Wake up 9am, make a matcha smoothie, check emails, pack any orders and go to post office, check emails, write more content for my website, experiment with matcha recipes, send out any more orders before post office shuts. Then I head to work.

Life motto:

If you don’t design your own life someone else will happily do it for you.

The Kenko Tea Co in 5 years’ time: 

Matcha is the superfood of superfoods.  It’s the next gojiberry, acai berry, maca, cacao and spirulina all rolled into one. Kenko Tea will be the number one source of high grade, artisanal matcha green tea in Australia, and the world.

my matcha

my matcha

Nut-free Raw Noodles Gado-Gado style

I was yearning for the Indonesian salad ‘gado gado’.  Come to think of it, not the salad itself but rather the sauce this dish is renowned for.  Gado-gado is arguably the Western equivalent of a house salad, available at high end restos or streetside food carts around the nation.  Traditionally consisting of vegetables boiled within an inch of their lives and generously coated with peanut sauce, it’s devoid of any nutrition!  Typical blanched veges range from cabbage, spinach, bean sprouts, carrot and corn.  Toppings are raw sliced cucumber, deep-fried sliced tofu, deep fried tempeh, sliced boiled potatoes and sliced boiled eggs.

My sauce is much thinner than the authentic version, as I didn’t fancy my raw noodles becoming gluggy and limp.

Yep, been on a South East Asian trend lately.  I must be homesick.

beautiful bali

beautiful bali

Nut-free Gado Gado Salad

Raw noodles

1 spiralised zucchini (you could use carrot or beetroot too!)

Sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
2 tbs palm sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbs lime juice
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
2 cups hot water

Use a spiraliser to shred zucchini into noodle-like strips.  If you haven’t got one, use a veg peeler – your noodles will be thick a la fettuccine.

In a food processor, blitz all sauce ingredients until a saucey texture is achieved.  Taste and tweak seasonings if necessary.  You won’t use all the sauce in one go.  Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

Arrange noodles on a plate and pour over as much sauce as you like.

Now… does anyone have any raw pad thai recipes to share?  And I am yet to think of a way to ‘uncook’ Vietnamese fresh spring rolls too.  Any ideas?

Happy Friday everybody, have a great weekend!

gado gado inspired noodles

gado gado inspired noodles

Noteworthy noshin in Freo: The nom-noms at Simple Nosh

The simple things in life are always the best.  Hands up who’s with me?

This is something I agree with wholeheartedly.  Especially when it comes to what comes out of my kitchen.  It’s only fitting that a café with a name like Simple Nosh was on my “Must Eat” list.

Hubby and I walked into this charming cottage-cum-eatery towards the end of lunch service.  Bit past 2pm to be exact.  We found the display fridge to be pretty much bare –a good sign that business is booming.  A bad sign they had any vegan items left.  I was worried unnecessarily as there was still a lentil burger left – one with my name on it.  The veganised version of the Lentil Burger equates to ‘hold the mayo, hold the butter’.

IMAG0784_1

Nosh on Norfolk

The chatty Lea took our orders and we grabbed a table on the outdoor patio.  Luckily, the sun was now peeking out through the previously gloomy clouds.  There’s an op-shop rustic feel to the place, with odd bod chairs and sofas giving it a cosy ‘home away from home’ atmosphere.

My drink (classic Green Smoothie) arrives quickly in an old-school mason jar.  We both take a sip and hubby says it’s the best green smoothie he’s had in a while – he likes his thick, creamy and sweet.  I find I need to water it down a tad but he can slurp it up like there’s no tomorrow.  We pass the time by flicking through the travel section of the weekend paper (I’m daydreaming of a getaway during Xmas *hint hint*) and before I can say “VietnamCambodiaLaos” the mains arrive at our table.

fritatta and potato salad

fritatta and potato salad

Hubby opted for the vegetarian fritatta with a side of potato salad.  He breaks off a generous piece and forks it into his mouth.  Comfort food at its best.  Echoing his statement about the green smoothie, he now claims the potato salad is the “best he’s ever had”.  Lea tells us Simple Nosh’s condiments are lovingly created by her mum.  Everything is made fresh on the premises – no store bought mayo at this place.

My burger arrives and what a burger it is.  A generously thick lentil pattie on top of a bed of spinach leaves, tomato and julienned carrot, topped with their signature homemade tomato chutney and chunks of avocado.  All this goodness is sandwiched between a toasted wholemeal bread roll.  I’m so over burger joints being cheap by dishing out razor thin patties between huge mounds of tasteless bread.

love my lentils

love my lentils

By this point I’m quite stuffed, and opt for a soy chai latte to finish off the meal.  However, if I was feeling so inclined, there were no vegan sweets available anyway.  Don’t worry everybody – Simple Nosh will be adding plenty more vegan delicacies to their repertoire.  Hubby orders a raspberry chocolate muffin together with a flat white.  The Five Senses coffees are just what you expect a coffee to be – especially in a suburb reputed to be the birthplace of the coffee strip.  Throughout our dining experience I overhear compliments to Leah and her mum on numerous occasions as other patrons pay their bill and leave.  “Amazing”… “Thank you, that was fantastic”… “Awesome cake, so delicious”….

Hubby is strangely quiet and I glance over to see it’s because he is busily stuffing his face with Simple Nosh’s nomnoms.  He says for food like this he’ll happily turned vego.  I know it sounds sappy, but he finds Lea’s mum Irene in the kitchen and tells her he can “taste the love in her cooking”.  Awww… cue puppy dog eyes and violins.

match made in heaven:  coffee + cake

match made in heaven: coffee + cake

As we make our way to leave, hubby is so impressed with our lunch he buys a takeaway slice of lemon coconut slice for later.

Lea tells me they’re dying to expand their vegan range.  Apparently they get queries all the time, however it’s a case of being restrained due to staffing resources.  As soon as they find another cook to help out in the kitchen, Simple Nosh will be putting more vegan fare on the menu.  And you my dear readers, will be the first to know!

Want to know more about Simple Nosh?  Run by a hard-working mother-daughter duo, this eatery has only been open for a year and a bit.  Even so, for a newbie kid on the block it already enjoys a loyal following of business patrons (weekdays) and local residents (weekends).  Nestled in the leafy Norfolk Street (in the old Sala Thai premises), it’s only a few minutes’ walk from Freo CBD.  Lea’s mum has years of experience in the kitchen, and prior to opening Simple Nosh she was resident cake baker for Ootong & Lincoln.  Lea gave up a career in the fitness industry to open the business with her talented mama.

Simple, honest, tasty food + friendly service + a good cuppa = smiles all round

Looking forward to revisiting when they have more vegan options!

Simple Nosh
12 Norfolk Street, Fremantle
Open 6 days week in winter (closed Sunday)
Breakfast from 7.30am, Lunch from 11.30am – 3pm

30 seconds with one half of Simple Nosh – Lea

Do you do catering? 

They take cake, muffin or pattie orders, just make sure you give them 2 days’ notice.

Simple Nosh version 2.0? 

Vegan range will be expanding, such as non-dairy smoothie options in the summer and more desserts.

In future you will be able to take Simple Nosh home with you – Mama Irene will sell her homemade jams, chutneys, preserves and other Made With Love goodies.  Watch this space!

Why did you decide to take the plunge and open a cafe?

?Both my mother and I have a passion for vegetarian food, also homemade food is hard to come by these days that has love and passion added to it (Freshbyfriska:  Amen sista!) We had an opportunity come to us and decided to take a risk and plunge into it 🙂 ”

Biggest learning experience?

“Didn’t realise how much hard work it would take.”

Life motto / philosophy:

If you never take a risk you will never get anywhere.

The fruits of Irene's baking

The fruits of Irene’s baking

Try a Tantalising Thai-inspired Salad Tonight

With Spring less than 2 weeks away in good ol’ P-town I was craving salad for lunch.  Furthermore, most of Monday (today) has been blessed with mucho quantities of sunshine, fresh breezes and chirping birds.  It makes the first day of the working week just that much more bearable.

This is based on the classic Thai ‘som tum’ salad.  I couldn’t for the life of me find any green papaya so made do with the contents of my veg crisper.

Take it from me – the dressing will take the veggies you use to a whole other level.

Raw Thai Salad

Dressing:

2 red chillies (sliced thinly)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
4 tbs tamari or nama shoyu
4 tbs lime juice
4 tbs sweetener (I used rapadura sugar)

Salad:

handfuls of sliced purple cabbage, zucchini, fennel, sprouted mung beans
unseasoned cauliflower rice (I had a batch the night before so threw this in there to bulk it up)

NB: Cauliflower rice?  Dead easy.  Blitz chunks of cauliflower in a food processor until crumbly.

To make the dressing put all ingredients in a blender and press ON.  Done!

Serve salad onto plates and drizzle with dressing.  Top with chopped raw nuts or seeds (I used cashew and sunflower seeds).

Bask in the sunshine while eating.  Daydream you’re lazing on a beach in Koh Samui getting massages and sipping cocktails.

P.S.  Want to up the protein content?  Add chunks of tofu or tempeh.

P.P.S.  If you have a low tolerance for heat, remove the seeds or just use one chilli.

Till next time!  Hope you all had a good start to the working week.

tasty thai

tasty thai