Month: May 2017

Warm Sweet Potato, Chickpea + Tahini Salad

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Just a quick post today. I’m on a roll with the salads and lighter fare lately! Maybe it’s the warm weather, or maybe it’s because Richard is away? I find that when I am alone, I tend to eat almost entirely vegetarian cuisine, completely without thought. I guess my brain doesn’t think “meat” when I’m alone.

But it does still think “comfort food” which is why I really love this salad. Not only does it have some unusual flavors in the tahini and miso paste, but it’s got the warmth and hearty sweet potatoes. It’s the kind of salad that works well in the summer and winter – it’s easy like that.

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Now, the only thing to be careful of is the tahini. Not everyone will like it – it’s a bit… bitter? Maybe it’s just the lemon juice. I really like tahini but I can imagine that it’s not to everyone’s taste. However, it is the star of this dressing, so don’t bother making it if you’re not a fan.

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Feel free to adjust the amounts of red onion and parsley to your heart’s content – same with the potatoes and chickpeas. The great thing about salads is that you can simply make them however you want, it’ll work. Feel free to throw in other things too! I think some toasted chickpeas would do nicely – don’t you?

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Warm Sweet Potato, Chickpea + Tahini Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1kg sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • Oil for roasting
  • 426ml can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 0.25-0.5 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 0.25-0.5 cup chopped parsley
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 0.25 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp miso paste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the sweet potato with some oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, mash the garlic with some salt and pepper until you get a smooth paste.
  4. Add the lemon juice, tahini and miso and mix together. Add the water and olive oil whisk to combine. Add more water to achieve the desired consistency.
  5. Assemble the salad while the potatoes are still warm, and enjoy!

Notes

The miso paste adds a depth of flavor, but isn't necessary.

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Adventures in Foraging: Stinging Nettle Pesto

Caprese salad with stinging nettle pesto | Hello Victoria

While in my course at the Northwest Culinary Academy, we spent a day at an allotment garden in Richmond. Part of what we learned was about foraging for edible items. One of the things readily available in the springtime is stinging nettle! As the culinary students were required to use a foraged item in their menu development (and the pastry students were their guinea pigs), I got to try plenty of nettle pesto!

Now, if you’re like me, you may not have heard of stinging nettle before. Honestly, I don’t know how I wasn’t aware of it until that day, as it’s everywhere! It’s not just prolific, but it’s also the kind of thing you should be aware of… it hurts! Seriously, don’t touch this stuff without protective gloves. I accidentally touched the bag I was putting it in with my arm, and got stung. I guess my gloves got some residue on the outside…

Stinging nettle pesto | Hello Victoria

But while stinging nettle, well… stings, it’s also one other thing – free! Homemade pesto is one of those things that always seems to cost too much. Fresh basil and pine nuts aren’t the cheapest things to buy. So I decided to try my hand at making some nettle pesto using not just free stinging nettles, but the cheapest nuts I could find! I think pine nuts could give it a better flavor, so if you’re flush, go for it! Buuuut… if you’re trying to save on money, try walnuts! (more…)

Recipe Testing: Chocolate Banana Muffins

Chocolate banana muffin recipe | Hello Victoria

So I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect banana recipe – banana bread or banana muffins, I’m not picky. I’m always buying bananas, in an effort to get my 5 a day, but they keep ripening too fast!

Richard thinks I’m crazy, but when a banana has more than a few spots, I sort of lose interest in eating it. I like my bananas more on the green side. Speaking of which, when I was in Nepal, they had the best bananas (and they were always super green)!! As the food in the orphanage I worked in was dal bhat twice a day (gets a bit monotonous) the piece of fruit as dessert each evening was most enjoyable. And one of the best fruits I found, was the humble banana! It might have been the lack of variety in my diet, but those bananas were like the equivalent of candy over there.

Chocolate banana muffin recipe | Hello Victoria

I’ll eat the ones on the right, but the other ones are only good for baking IMHO

So in an effort not to waste my spotted bananas, I’ve been baking with them! Unfortunately, lots of the recipes just aren’t quite as good as I’m hoping for. I want something decidedly more-ish, but kept ending up with dry or bland, and certainly not banana-y enough. Like all my made up words there?

Chocolate banana muffin recipe | Hello Victoria

After all those failed attempts (okay, two), I decided to rework a banana muffins recipe that I had. I could vaguely remember a good recipe from an old job that I had loved, and used it to alter my current one. I increased the banana amount considerably, added some chopped chocolate, and a bit of cinnamon. It’s still not quite perfect yet, but good enough to share. (more…)

Homemade Pizza Dough

Home made pizza dough recipe | Hello Victoria

Every pizza is a personal pizza if you believe in yourself

A couple of years ago I found myself working at a little cafe in Victoria. It was a great job, as there were only two of us in the kitchen, and we had plenty of freedom in terms of our hours etc. One of the other great perks of this job was the lunch! Most restaurants etc. have free food as part of the job, but from my experience it’s almost always unhealthy! Pasta, pasta, pasta… pretty much cheap carbs every day. But here we could make our own lunches with salads, sandwiches, and the occasional pizza!

They would make these individual pizzas for lunch each day, with different toppings. And boy, were they good! They would also sell the pizza dough for people to make their own at home.

Home made pizza dough recipe | Hello Victoria

Easy pizza dough recipe | Hello Victoria

As the baker, it was my job to make the pizza dough in large batches, and then we would defrost a few each day. These small balls made perfect thin crust personal pizzas – so you can imagine I decided to make them at home! I adjusted the recipe a little bit for myself (I’m not super into whole wheat flour), and then would make a batch and freeze them. Then, all you need to do is pull a couple little pizza dough balls out, and let them prove/defrost for a couple hours. You can even bring them out first thing in the morning, and let them defrost in the fridge. (more…)

Kitchen Progress: Demolition + Repairs

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

welcome to demolition!

Okay, so I’ve given you an overview of our plans for this kitchen, and what we’re hoping to accomplish. We thought it would be a relatively straightforward couple of days, but boy… were we wrong! Once we started demolition, we realized we had created quite the mess for ourselves.

Let me try and break down where we went awry.

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

oh look! It’s Richard’s hand!

So on our first day of demolition, we removed all of the upper cabinets, which also meant moving everything in those cupboards to our living room. Let me tell you, living in a kitchen/living room for about a week isn’t fun. Bleh. We also had to remove the range hood, IKEA GRUNDTAL pot racks off the wall, as well as anything living on the counter tops. We kept stuff in the lower cabinets, and didn’t bother removing the fridge etc., as none of that was changing besides paint.

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

range hood and stainless panels removed

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

Once everything was out of the room, we contemplated the tiling. Before we could paint or start putting up our new METOD cabinets, we would have to remove all the existing tiles. This was precisely the moment that things went wrong… (more…)

Two Days in Brighton

Artist Residence in Brighton | Hello Victoria

For a while now, Richard and I have been talking about spending a couple days down in Brighton. It’s so close by, which makes it perfect for a quick little weekend, or even a day trip by train! And of course, ever since watching the original A&E Pride and Prejudice as a kid, I’ve wanted to go. Just like Lydia!

https://i1.wp.com/media.giphy.com/media/3oKIPx5XAIfWNMowP6/giphy.gif?w=660&ssl=1

A little bit of sea bathing would set me up too, Mrs. Bennet. 😉

But other than seeing the ocean (I miss that), I wanted to go because Brighton is a smaller, younger feeling city. It’s got the sort of hippie-meets-hipster vibe that you find in places like Seattle or Portland, with lots of small businesses. Most of them are centered around a few small streets, called the Lanes. They can be quite busy and a bit touristy at times, but still lots of fun. In a weird way it reminded me of Coombs, if Coombs was a proper city with a university et al.

Two days in Brighton | Hello Victoria

Richard had been wanting to take me there because it’s where he went to University! He mostly wanted to show me where he used to live, and have a pint in an old pub down the lane, but it was closed when we tried to go. Darn.

Now, I mentioned that you could take the train down and do Brighton in a day, but when we tried to book our tickets a few days before, they were so expensive!! We did the math, and it would be only £20 more to drive down and get a hotel room for the night than the train! Of course we decided to choose that option, as it would give us more time to explore Brighton.

Artist Residence in Brighton | Hello Victoria

isn’t that brick wall and tufted headboard gorgeous?

Artist Residence in Brighton | Hello Victoria

Not only would this option give us more time in Brighton, it would also give me the option to stay at the Artist Residence!! I first heard about this chain of boutique hotels when we were traveling around the UK in December. We were looking for a cool place to stay in Cornwall, but unfortunately, they were fully booked for new year’s. Ever since then, I have been looking for a reason to stay at one of their locations in Cornwall, London, or Brighton (with more opening soon). (more…)

To Perm or Not to Perm

We take a break from our regularly scheduled DIY/recipe/lifestyle blogging to talk about something on my mind…

When I was about 16 or 17, I discovered that with a little help from some product and a diffuser, I could get my hair to curl! Well, maybe more of a curly wave, but curly nonetheless! I had always been jealous of my sisters who had natural curls (shout-out to Bethany and Julia!) and was so excited to realize that there was this texture hidden in my hair.

Can modern perm techniques recreate long lost curls | Hello Victoria

Oh wow, 18 year old Amy in all her no-makeup, no-eyebrows glory…

For a while, when I had the time, I would diffuse my hair – figuring out all sorts of tricks to get it to curl the way I wanted. But the problem with diffusing a full head of long hair? Time! When diffusing curly hair, you need your hair dryer on its lowest speed, with high heat, to get the best result.

Low Speed + High Heat = Eons of Drying Time

I hate wet hair, so would never just let it air dry; which meant that when I was short on time, I had to go straight.

Then, a number of years back, some genius with a straightening iron discovered she could curl hair with it! Like most people, it took a bit of practice to get the hang of, but once I did, I could dry my hair and curl it with my straightening iron far faster than I could dry it with a diffuser. This method wasn’t just fast, but flawless! The problem with diffusing natural texture is that the hair doesn’t always cooperate. And so began my 2+ year love affair with straightener curls, which morphed into curling wand curls… etc. (more…)

Increasing Storage in Our Tiny Kitchen

Okay, I promised a proper kitchen post with before photos and all… so here goes! If you’re following me on Instagram (and check the stories) then you will see we have already begun work on this space.

Increasing storage in a tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

welcome to our tiny kitchen!

When we had just moved in, we discussed how we could make the kitchen space work best for us. First up, would be to add some hanging storage on the wall, for all of our pots and pans. I don’t have any photos of the kitchen before we put them up, but you can see below how we’re currently using it. We installed two rows of IKEA’s GRUNDTAL rail system, using the top row for pots and pans, and the bottom for pantry goods. One basket contains bread, another potatoes and onions, and the third is a fruit basket.

Those three baskets took me ages to find (it’s hard to find an open weave basket that’s fairly flat) and are actually beach bags that IKEA was selling in their limited HEMTRAKT collection (I just cut off the handles). And yes, we bought waaay more hooks than we need, but we still have to buy more pots.

Increasing storage in a tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

After adding some hanging storage, we needed to address the cupboard situation. The ceilings are high enough to accommodate another row of cabinetry, so we thought – why not double our storage? (more…)

Afternoon Tea at Sketch, London

Afternoon tea at Sketch London | Hello VictoriaBefore moving to London, I started following a couple bloggers, to see where the good places to eat, shop, and visit were. One of those bloggers is Rosie at The Londoner, and she’s pretty much a go-to resource for places to eat around London, as well as other cities around the world (she travels A LOT!) A place she’s mentioned a few times, and that I have been dying to visit, is Sketch in Mayfair, and especially their afternoon tea in the gallery.

I’m definitely not a girly, girl… but there’s something quite awesome about this room. Almost every surface is pale pink, including the plush velvet booths, and even the bar ware (in rose gold). It’s pretty much like Instagram heaven for the social media generation, no? I like the dichotomy of the decor – it’s all pale pink and girly, but then has these strange mordant sketches lining the walls, with matching ceramic serving ware.

Afternoon tea at Sketch London | Hello Victoria

the drawings on the wall are unusual to say the least – we found a few that made us laugh while we enjoyed our tea

So this past Easter weekend, we finally managed to book a table (thanks Richard!!!), and it was definitely worth it! I mean, afternoon tea is quite pricey no matter where you go (and I mean priceeey), but it’s an experience – and we made sure to milk it. And I mean that literally, as we’re both huge fans of the ol’ ‘builder’s tea’, with plenty of milk and sugar…

Afternoon tea at Sketch London | Hello Victoria

The afternoon tea we picked started with an introduction by one of their staff, as to how the afternoon would unfold. It began with someone explaining all the teas to us (four pages of options) and we would each pick a pot of tea. As the stuff is unlimited we tried to make a dent in all the options. I think by the end of our time there we had tried a combined 7-8 teas, but we could definitely have tried more. If only our bellies could have handled more of the hot liquid… (more…)