• One Bowl Chocolate Cake

    I’ve been itching to share something with you. A couple of things, actually.

    One, this recipe for a one bowl chocolate cake is really great. It means a lot to me. This is the childhood cake I mentioned when speaking about that lovely almond olive oil cake. I was obsessed with it as a child. It was my thing. And I’m finally sharing it with you, which is exciting in itself.

    Two, this recipe was featured on Food 52, a site I’ve been fangirling over for yonkers. It means a lot to me. I’m super keen to share more Heirloom Recipes with you, as, let’s be honest, food + family + family history + home are all the things that make me happy, that make me want to cook and write.

    Here is the link to my post on Food 52 and a few more pictures from the day I made this beloved cake. Quite befittingly, I spent the day at my parents’ house, my childhood home. Wearing my most favourite apron and pulling out all of mum’s prettiest bowls, I sifted and folded, following the instructions in this much cherished cookbook. Ben took photographs and my grandparents visited for an afternoon slice, my family reaping the benefits of my eagerness to share. This is why I blog. I just want to share. To cook and write about it. I was so happy. With my one bowl chocolate cake, my heirloom recipe and my family.

    I feel my posts have been a bit pensive of late, a little moody. There has been so much greatness happening in my life, but greatness is often packaged with…well, lots of other things. My loved ones have lost dear, dear loved ones, which is always fucked. There’s been a few health things, too. Nothing drastic in the scheme of things but enough to make us stop and enough to make us frustrated. And with that comes a little stress on top of what can, at times, be a lot of stress as two self-employed folk. Plus we are moving (great!) so our house looks like a bomb has hit it (less great). I don’t function well when I can’t step through my house without knocking over piles of…something (why do I have so much stuff?) But I don’t have time to be super organised as we are both juggling a few really exciting opportunities. There’s much much greatness, friends, but, as I said, it’s a package. Thank goodness for this space to ramble and my kitchen, even if I cannot find my plates in amongst the boxes. My cooking, this blog, these words tend to reflect how I feel when I’m most relaxed. Energetic and challenging days encourage more sincere rest than usual, and it is during these restful times, mug of coffee by my side and woollen blanket on my lap, that these words come. Thank you for joining me for the ride. And now, cake.

    P.S. it was years since I had made this recipe and man, the cake is just as good as I recall. I thought I was so good at baking when I was younger, beating this beauty up whenever I felt like creating and sharing and excelling in the chocolate department. But maybe it was the recipe. Maybe. Probably. It doesn’t matter. Either way, it means a lot to me.

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    This cake. My family. Thankful and full.

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    Heidi xo

     

  • Turkish Delight Banana Soft Serve

    This week I feel like I’ve been treading water. Usually I’m pleasantly swimming, favouring oooh I suppose breaststroke. Maybe a little butterfly thrown in for fun. It’s a nice pace and it feels good and it gets me places, places I want to go. Or I’m stopping to float, my breath deep and present, my chest and eyes open to the open sky. But this week I haven’t been able to move very far and I’ve found myself sinking instead of floating. I need to breathe. Well, rest and breathe.

    I can feel my stroke coming back. I’m starting with sidestroke, slowly, keeping my eyes to the sky and my breath consistent. You gotta breathe. If yoga has taught me anything it’s that you must breathe and treat yourself with love and kindness, never judgement. I’ll be sure to pause and tread when I need to, but I’m moving again. And I know I’ll get to breaststroke soon enough. Heck, I’ll be smashing butterfly. But for now it’s different and that’s ok.

    Today I have something a little different for your weekend. A new twist on an old favourite, dressing banana soft serve up with a few jewels. A little rose water, some berries for colour, a drizzle of tahini and we have ourselves a Turkish Delight-inspired banana soft serve. I’ve been itching to make this ever since a lovely lady I follow on instagram called Mariam shared her creation. I thought you might like it too. It can hep rejuvenate us after a crappy swimming session. No judgement, just love. Rose water and pistachio-dressed love.

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    Turkish Delight Banana Soft Serve

    Recipe loosely adapted from the lovely @mariamseats.

    Serves 2

    Ingredients
    2 large frozen Bananas, sliced (ensure the bananas are frozen solid. They take at least a few hours to freeze, peeled and slice up  and put in plastic wrap or peeled and left whole to use in a Yonanas machine)
    1/2 cup frozen Raspberries
    1 Medjool Date, pitted and chopped (or 2 teaspoons pure Maple Syrup)
    1/4 cup Milk
    1-2 teaspoons Rose Water (more if you enjoy the flavour, less if you’re unsure. I used two teaspoons. Find this in Middle Eastern delis like Oasis)
    Toppings: running unhulled tahini and toasted, chopped pistachios

    Method
    1. Add the bananas, raspberries and date to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the milk as required to ease it into soft serve texture.
    2. Add 1 teaspoon rosewater, blitz and taste, then add more as desired.
    3. Serve immediately into bowls and top with a drizzle of running tahini and toasted, chopped pistachios.

    Heidi xo
  • A Pile of Toast

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    A pile of toast is a sight I cherish. It speaks of weekday family breakfasting, with freshly squeezed orange juice and swift hands reaching for a bread baton and whatever spread suits the mood for the day. Weekends are for leisure, pancakes and baked eggs…Wednesday is for toast. A pile of toast.

    This morning I rose early to brown some bread for Ben and I, to get it all warm and toasty, making the crusts extra crusty and the spreads more likely to spread. Yeah, I just popped it in the toaster but yeah it’s a pretty neat invention. I’m always up for an early toasting call. Especially when it involves making a pile of food. You see, I like to play with my food, it’s one of my most favourite past times. And four slices is more fun to stack than one or two.

    Today it was ricotta with black tahini and honey, which we enjoyed as our first slice. Black tahini is a devilishly good spread of black sesame seeds that pairs splendidly with ricotta or labneh. Honey, too. Toast number two was dressed in a keen spread of natural peanut butter and cherry jam for Ben and macadamia butter for me, lots of it. With a little ricotta and honey because I can’t get enough of that combination.

    Is there a toast recipe you’ve been loving on lately? Do let me know. I’m ever so fond of piling new toppings on my toast.

    ♥ Alpine Bread (a brand I saw in the supermarket recently. I am rarely in the big supermarkets so I find it a little overwhelming when I do visit and find myself buying a few new products “just to try”…It’s no Flinders Sourdough, but I’m pleased to see a better and growing variety of bread options for shoppers)
    ♥ Black Tahini + Honey + Macadamia Butter + Peanut Butter + Cherry Jam + Ricotta
    ♥ Freshly squeezed orange juice
    ♥ Coffee. With milk for him, black for me.

    What did you have for breakfast today?

    Heidi xo
  • Beef Vindaloo

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    Ben and I had an almost argument when cooking this dish. I say almost because, though heated, it was fuelled by stubbornness, which was fuelled by hunger, and really it all boiled down to how long it would be until we feuding lovers could devour dinner. We can all appreciate that, right?

    You see, Ben was intoxicated by the scent of spiced stewing meat and wanted to eat right away. Yesterday, in fact. I, on the other hand, have a little more self restraint than my beloved and insisted on an additional hour of simmering. I also demanded we let it sit for an hour before reheating. Then we would eat. As I said this Ben’s face fell. Bless the boy for loving food as much as I.

    To not entirely break my husband’s heart that Saturday night it was just us two, I fixed us a snack of cheese and olives and red wine and pulled out Scrabble (dude loves himself a board game). And as I attempted to get the word “quone“, we waited patiently for our beef. It was a hard almost argument to win, folks, but *dusting my shoulders off*, it was the right move. And mid-bite of melting meat, Ben agreed.

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    Making these rich, stews sensational tends to come down to how long they simmer and sit before you serve them. If you’d like to be one step ahead and make this dish the day before, I applaud your foresight. Just beware you might like to add a bit of water when reheating to ensure there’s enough sauce (and likely adjust the seasoning with a bit more salt to avoid diluting the flavour).

    I took these photographs mid-almost-argument, quietly snapping away while he, transfixed, sniffed and swooned and not so  stealthily stole a piece. He was totally quoning the beef.

    I can’t blame him. It’s freakin delicious.

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    Beef Vindaloo

    Adapted from Aarti Sequeira‘s Goan beefy curry with vinegar. This vinadloo is not exceptionally hot, especially if you leave out the chilli seeds (if you’re unsure how hot your chilli is and whether you should remove all the seeds, taste a little of the chilli and if it burns, go easy. I often use about a quarter of the seeds in my dishes).

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients for the wet masala pasta
    1/2 Cinnamon Quill
    8 Black Peppercorns
    8 whole Cloves
    1 heaped teaspoon Cumin Seeds
    1 teaspoon ground Turmeric
    1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground Sweet Paprika
    1/2 teaspoon ground Cayenne Pepper
    10g peeled freshly grated Ginger
    15g (~4 large) minced Garlic Cloves
    2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

    Ingredients for the rest of the vindaloo
    4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or Ghee)
    1 brown Onion, finely chopped
    1 long Red Chilli (again, remove all the seeds if hot and sensitive to heat), finely chopped
    Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
    1kg Beef Sirloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
    ~2 cups Hot Water

    Method
    1. Toast the cinnamon quill, peppercorns, cloves and cumin seeds in a pan over medium heat for ~1 minute, until fragrant and toasty.  Place in a spice grinder and blend until a powder. Add the rest of the masala ingredients and blend until smooth. Place into a mixing bowl and set aside.
    2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and the chilli and a good pinch of salt. Sautee until soft and golden for ~10 minutes (don’t let them burn, turn the heat down or add a drop of water here and there as required).
    3. Add the wet masala pasta and stir until some of the liquid evaporates for a couple of minutes.
    4. Add the meat and coat in the masala, browning the meat for ~5 minutes (I turned my heat up here to allow the meat to brown, see how you go).
    5. Add 1 & 1/2 cups hot water to the pan with a little sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, stir then bring it to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, covered for ~1 & 1/2 hours until the meat is super tender and falling apart (check at the halfway point to make sure you don’t need to add more water – you shouldn’t). Allow the curry to sit for 1-2 hours (if leaving overnight, place in the fridge and when reheating add some more water and seasoning as required), then reheat by simmering for a further 30 minutes or so (take the lid off if you need to reduce the sauce a little). Serve with steamed basmati rice and whatever vegetable dish you desire. Anything from steamed peas to spinach would be lovely. Maybe some aloo gobi too.

    Heidi xo

     

  • Stovetop Granola

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    This morning feels like a Thursday despite being Wednesday. It feels like a nice morning, of clean hair, slightly sleepy eye-lids and a favourite, worn shirt against my skin. Over this thin grey thin top I’m wearing a new to me old jumper. My nana gifted me a bunch of sweaters she knitted more than thirty years ago for herself. I love that I’m now keeping warm with clothes that feature in our family photographs.

    This morning sounds like a surprisingly gentle wind and small bird conversations. I like to leave the window open in the morning because it sounds so clean. The threat of a bird flying inside (holy mother of God) is worth the breeze and breathe. But these days I only manage a minute or two before the chill gets mean.

    This morning tastes like two large mugs of coffee, made on the weak side so as to justify the keen serving of morning comfort. The holding of my coffee mug, full and dark and blisteringly hot, is of equal enjoyment as the coffee itself. This morning also tastes like nutty crunch and toasted oats with sure maple sweetness and cinnamon stewed apples.

    Today I have a gratifying granola recipe for you, swiftly prepared on a mid-week morning. This is for those days when you want granola now yet cannot fathom preheating the oven, toasting the oats for 45 minutes and stirring intermittently before allowing it to cool. Nah-uh. Now, when you want granola sooner rather than later, you can make stovetop granola.

    It will make your morning feel, sound and taste really really good.

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    I like to mix up the ingredients each time I make this recipe. You can use either honey or maple syrup as the sweetener. I dance between the two based on my mood. Lately it’s been maple syrup. Both work well, though honey makes a thicker coat. Be sure to not drown your pan in sweetener, as this will make it difficult for the granola to harden upon cooling and as a result, it won’t be crunchy (and will be too sweet). When adding the sweetener use a wooden spoon to distribute it as swiftly as you can over the oats and nuts. If it doesn’t cover the mixture easily, put it back on the heat  briefly and add a touch more sweetener until it’s all coated and sticky. Then lay it out on baking paper as above and try not to pick at it while it cools.

    Stovetop Granola

    Serves 2-3

    Ingredients
    1/2 cup Rolled Oats
    2 tablespoons roughly chopped Almonds (or almond flakes or alternative nut)
    2 tablespoons Sunflower and Pepita Seeds (or 1 tablespoon seeds and 1 tablespoon unsweetend coconut flakes)
    2 tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup or Honey
    A small sprinkle of Sea Salt, if you’re so inclined

    Optional: a pinch of ground Cinnamon or cardamom, chia seeds or ground flaxseeds.

     

    Method
    1. Dry toast the oats and almonds in a large pan over low-medium heat for a few minutes until they begin to brown, tossing the pan at intervals to allow for even toasting. Add the seeds and toast for a further few minutes until everything is nicely toasted and golden.
    2. Turn off the heat (but leave on the stovetop) and add the maple syrup, stirring with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts/seeds are coated and sticky. If it’s too dry, add a touch more sweetener and put the pan back on the stove to melt it and help it combine.
    3. Scrape the mixture onto a piece of baking paper. Using a spoon, spread the mixture out so it’s not all on top of each other. This will allow the mixture to get a nice crunch. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top then leave it to cool and harden while you have a shower or listen to the birds. Once hard (I leave mine for about 10-15 minutes), break it up with your hands and serve in bowls with milk or yoghurt or both. Banana soft serve is a lovely base for this granola too.

    Heidi xo
  • Sumac-Spiced Roasted Carrot Salad with Preserved Lemon and Labneh

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    I’m reading this book called Eating On The Wild Side, by Jo Robinson. Each evening I climb into bed, with two hot water bottles strategically positioned to warm my frosting toes, and eagerly open Jo’s well-researched book. I lose myself in the pages, attempting to soak up this nutritious information. Did you know open, loose salad leaves are the most nutritious, as they are exposed to UV rays and bugs and other “threats” so they are hence made to fight and produce more phytonutrients to become stronger (and in turn, more nourishing)? It’s fascinating stuff.

    A little while ago during a cooking demonstration I was running, encouraging people to give anchovies some love, I cooked up some rainbow coloured carrots. Along with the familiar and fantastic orange kind we had purple (both deep and light shades) and a bright yellow variety. Everyone loved these carrots, the colours, the texture, the shape, not to mention the flavour. They were farm-fresh, far from the tasteless and monotonous kind the Supermarkets demand. Folks are missing out! And, as Jo Robinson states in Eating On The Wild Side, these varieties, with stronger flavours (bitter is great!) and vibrant colours, hold the most beneficial health properties. Over the years we’ve bred our crops for high yield and sweet produce, which is such a shame. Food can be so much more interesting, colourful, textured, nutritious and tasty if we branch out, visit a farm or farmers’ market and find a few quirky carrots to throw into our salads.

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    I made this sumac-spiced roasted carrot salad with preserved lemon and labneh for lunch that Saturday when it was just Ben and I hanging out at home, eating flourless chocolate pots. I purposely made a lighter lunch so as to allow room in our bellies for dessert, so if you are not presently prepping your chocolate pots for a sneaky second course, you may like to bulk this recipe out with chickpeas or perhaps some wild rice.

    Ever since watching my friend Yasmeen make labneh and having a girl power *yeah! I can totally do that!* moment, I have been itching to make my own labneh. And so bought myself some yoghurt, set it up in a strainer and did just that. You can have a lot of fun when it comes to serving your labneh. I rolled mine in oregano as that is what Ben requested when I shouted out a few options from the kitchen, but next time I might serve a big mound of it covered with dukkah, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt alongside some crackers, and then just going to town on it. Maybe a few fantastically coloured carrots, too…

    Sumac-Spiced Roasted Carrot Salad with Preserved Lemon and Labneh

    Prep your labneh at least 1 day ahead of time, following Yasmeen’s instructions.

    Serves 2

    Ingredients
    6-8 small colourful Carrots
    1 large clove Garlic
    1/2 teaspoon Sumac
    2 big handfuls Mixed Greens (dark, bitter, loose leaf goodness)
    1 large Radish, thinly sliced
    1 teaspoon Preserved Lemon, pith discarded and very finely sliced
    2 tablespoons Almond Flakes
    2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
    Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    2 homemade Labneh Balls

    Method
    1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
    2. Clean your carrots then slice them in half lengthways and place them, along with the garlic clove (skin on) on a baking tray lined with baking paper. If your carrots are particularly large, you might like to slice them again, just beware that how you slice them will affect how long you cook them for. Drizzle the carrots and garlic with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then scatter the sumac, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Use your hands to massage the seasoning into the carrots, then place the tray into the hot oven to roast for ~25 minutes (tossing the carrots halfway through) until nicely browned and sticky and caramelised. Note: be careful to watch the garlic clove so it doesn’t burn. If yours is soft to touch when checking your carrots halfway through, remove it at this point. If not, check it again later but be sure to not burn it.
    3. While the carrots are roasting, toast your almond flakes in a hot pan until lightly golden and fragrant, then set aside. Finely slice your preserved lemon (the skin only, no pith) and set aside. Mix the extra virgin olive oil and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Smush in the roasted garlic flesh, add the preserved lemon and whisk it all together. Taste before seasoning as required with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
    4. Assemble your salad into bowls, starting with the leaves and radish, then the roasted carrots. Drizzle the oil/lemon/garlic dressing over the salad and toss to combine using your hands. Add the labneh balls and toasted almonds. Season to taste with more extra virgin olive oil, sea salt or freshly cracked black pepper as desired. As stated above, add some chickpeas or cooked with rice to bulk out the salad if desired.

     

     

     

     

    Heidi xo

     

     

     

     

     

  • Panelle at Rosa’s Table

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    Last week I had spent an evening at my friend Rosa’s house. Don’t you love a mid-week dinner party? Rosa cooked for a bunch of us, including Ben and my mother-in-law, and we ate and drank and learnt and laughed. And ate cannoli with cherry syrup and pistachio icecream. Not bad for a Thursday night, hey?

    You see, Rosa runs cooking demonstrations from her home. I’ve spoken about Rosa’s Table before (in this post), I adore her classes. I adore Rosa. And whenever I attend one of her cooking demonstrations I’m left feeling full. Not just from the scrumptious Sicilian eats, that is a given, but full of the Sicilian spirit. Of warmth and hospitality and gusto…a love of life and a hunger for living well.

    Rosa’s Table has just launched a brand new (stunning!) website, so it’s an exciting time for Rosa and her family. Go forth, friends, and explore her site. Dream about Sicilian cuisine, learn to cook this beautiful food yourself and even travel to the little Italian Island with Rosa. Rosa’s Table offers many opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture, the food of Sicily. You might like to also check out this interview with Rosa (and make the rolled turkey breast with fruits and macadamias recipe she provides. It. Is. Divine).

    If you’re keen, contact Rosa to attend a cooking demonstration or to join her culinary tour of Sicily. This tour is just phenomenal, as you travel in an intimate group across Sicily meeting Rosa’s family and local food producers, tasting what the incredible Island has to offer and living life the Sicilian way. It will forever change you.

    But back to our dinner…

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    Last week’s demonstration was all about Palermo! Oh, I adore Palermo. It’s fast and gritty and with a special, surprising elegance. You can read about our adventures in Palermo here and come on a little journey right now, as I share snippets from the cooking demonstration and Rosa shares her recipe for panelle. The whole night was dotted with tips and tales from Rosa, her mother and mother-in-law. Here are Rosa’s words…

    “Palermo is a city of great beauty, it is like a rainbow. Yellow is for the sun, gold and silver for all its richness. Green is for prosperity, orange, red and purple for its heavenly produce. Blue, yes to me Palermo is blue for its people going about their everyday lives oblivious to this beauty that surrounds them.

    A visit to Sicily’s capital city will leave you breathless as you wander the streets being captivated by its splendid cathedrals, architecture and the most vibrant food markets across all of Italy. It is here that you can begin to appreciate the many culinary delights that Sicily has to offer from its street food to its many characteristic restaurants. Of course, amongst all this magic and array of sights and sounds live puppets and princes, symbols of the prosperity and madness that surrounds you.

    Tonight’s menu reflects all this and more. Sit back and enjoy a little taste of Palermo. My mother and I hope you enjoy the journey.”

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    How special is that? Here is the menu that was made right in front of us. The whole night is dotted with tips and tales from Rosa, her mother and mother-in-law. The cannoli, pictured above, were fried using the bamboo rods Rosa’s grandmother gave Rosa’s mother before she left Sicily for Australia as a young woman. Yes, it was all very special. And I’m still dreaming about that swordfish…

    ♥ Entrée: Panelle
    ♥ Main: Mint and Pistachio Swordfish
    ♥ Side: Orange and Fennel Salad
    Dessert: Rosa’s mother Pina’s Cannoli with Ricotta, Lemon and Chocolate

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    Thank you, Rosa, for your food, your passion and your generosity of spirit. And for sharing this recipe today. My mother-in-law has already asked when I will be making the panelle myself. Soon, Sylvia, I can assure you.


    Panelle

    Panelle are a common Sicilian street food. They’re thin chickpea fritters which are stuffed into a fresh bread roll. Rosa’s mother-in-law, Josephine, professed her love for these panelle and her memories of getting a roll filled with hot panelle on her way home from school as a girl growing up in Sicily.

    To make panelle, a batter of chickpea flour (also called besan flour, found in Supermarkets or Indian grocers), water, salt and herbs is mixed, warmed and thickened, then poured into a flat surface and allowed to cool for at least an hour. When pliable, you cut segments (rectangles or triangles, whatever you desire) and then fry them in hot oil, before serving them in a bread roll with a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle of sea salt and chopped parsley. I know, it sounds great, right? Well, they are even more delicious than you’d expect. Give them a go and get a taste of Sicilian street food.

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    Makes ~20 fritters (though you can cut them smaller and make double!)

    Ingredients
    3 cups Chickpea Flour
    6 cups Water
    1 teaspoon Salt, plus extra for sprinkling
    1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
    1 tablespoon chopped flatleaf Parsley
    Olive Oil for deep frying
    2 Lemons, halved
    Bread rolls for serving

    Method
    1. Rub a cold surface with olive oil, ideally a marble slab or alternatively you can wet 7 large, flat plates with cold water and use them.
    2. Place the flour, salt, fennel seeds and parsley into a large heavy-based saucepan and stir until well combined.
    3. Pour the water into a saucepan and whisk to avoid lumps.
    4. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens (10-15mins). The mixture should just begin to pull away from the sides of the saucepan and remain on the wooden spoon.
    5. Spoon out the mixture and spread it wafer thin (~3mm) with a rolling pin or spatula over the prepared surface (marble slab or wet plates – see the picture below for a reference). Allow to cool (~1 hour), then cut into small triangles, squares or rectangles.
    6. Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan. Deep fry the fritters ~5 at a time (depending on the size of your pan) until golden, then drain on absorbent paper.
    7. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice, plus extra herbs. Serve warm in bread rolls (street food style) or on a platter.

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    Heidi xo

     

     

     

  • Spelt Scones with Broccoli and Leek Soup

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    Along the rewarding road to getting to know my food, selecting a different producer each month, I’ve found it less intimidating to first tick off the familiar. Eggs were easy, I grew up with backyard chickens and almost daily fresh eggs so was well aware of their value and how to source them. Vegetables came next and my excitement for farm fresh was (and still is) palpable. The farm has a break for two months over winter and I’m already missing the soil, my farm friends and those beautiful rows of kale, carrots, peas…I’d even plant beans again if given the chance (my least enjoyed job at Transition Farm). So, eggs and veggies, done, awesome!

    Poultry took a bit of investigating and now I’m comfortable only buying a bird (a whole bird, at that) every now and then, forking out for free-range and organic, trying my hardest to support humane farming practices. I’ve spoken about where I buy bread and, when in season, mussels, sending a lot of love to a little corner of the Mornington Peninsula called Flinders. Most recently there was milk and this month I wanted to share where I’ve been buying nuts and flour, staples in my food world. Little by little I feel like I’m building up an arsenal of ace producers. And that feels pretty wonderful. So, let’s talk nuts and flour.

    Bulk Wholefoods and looking for local

    Every couple of months I have been driving to Somerville to visit Bulk Wholefoods. Here I stock up on “affordable wholesome food”, which is a passion and priority for Bibi, the store owner. I jumped for joy upon discovering Bulk Wholefoods earlier this year. This popular store on the Mornington Peninsula has a good turnover of produce, quality produce. There’s nothing like fresh nuts, folks. The tricky thing is asking yourself what you need to buy and not having the answer be “the entire store”.

    Bulk Wholefoods has a really great variety of nuts, seeds and grains, most of which are organically grown, which has become a priority for me as I try to limit my exposure to the array of potentially harmful chemicals that are so prevalent in our world today. Organic wasn’t always a priority for me, and I do not exclusively eat pesticide-free food, but I try my darndest as a consumer and health conscious individual to go organic and reduce the chemicals I put in my body and on my skin (and to support better environmental practices). What I also love about Bulk Wholefoods is that the country of origin is clearly displayed on the bulk bins, making it easy for me to choose Australian grown (almonds!) and limit overseas goods (coconut). It’s really tricky to tick all the boxes when shopping for food today – sustainable, organic, local, fresh… the best advice I can give is to identify your priorities and do your best each time you shop. You might like to put your money towards Australian grown produce in lieu of it being organic. I favour supporting local producers, it is something I care about and feel to be an important issue. Plus if you get to know your farmer you can ask them questions directly and really learn about their farming practices. They may be employing organic principles but might not have forked out for the certification. If I can get both Australian and organic goods, well that’s just fabulous. As I have said before, I am still learning and I am certainly not perfect (and heck, I’m a Dietitian!). But I really believe we can try our best to make sure we are not lazy consumers, rather thinking for ourselves (asking questions, provocative ones!) and striving to be intentional with our choices. I have Robin from Transition Farm to thank for encouraging me in this endeavour, I could talk to her about food and health and growing and travel and life and love and community supported agriculture for hours.

    Indulging

    Raw cacao is pretty much a staple in our house, but lately I’ve been treating myself to some maca (a supposedly hormone balancing root vegetable powder, which they stock at a great price and which tastes the least funky of all the maca varieties I’ve sampled). The cacao and maca I buy are organic, but they’re flown in from Peru. They’re a splurge financially and I’m just not sure how I feel about us Westerners suddenly going mad on these “superfoods” from South America. And then there’s those coconut flakes that creep into my basket on days when my willpower conveniently takes a nap upon stepping into Bibi’s store. They’re from Sri Lanka, which is decidedly not local, but they’re crazy delicious and make this granola recipe unbelievably scrumptious. This whole My Mindful Kitchen business is about making informed choices as a consumer, so I would love any tips you might have in terms of where you shop for these fancy foreign ingredients. Is the answer “don’t buy them?” Gah…maybe.

    At Bulk Wholefoods you can also buy those sugars and syrups of coconut, palm and rice origin (and claim your goods to be “sugar free”), but for the marginal nutritional benefit they provide I’d prefer to just reduce my consumption of these sweeteners and focus on filling my baked goods with real food that isn’t an expensive fad. Food like spelt flour.

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    Spelt Flour

    Spelt flour has certainly had a boom in popularity of late (I know, I know, I just said spelt wasn’t a fad, but I feel “fad”  has such negative connotations and I only have love for this grain). As a dietitian I see this rise in popularity alongside an increase in clients presenting with food intolerances, particularly fructose malabsorption and gluten sensitivity. Spelt can often be a saviour to these individuals, as although it is a species of wheat (an ancient one, at that) and does contain gluten (so is certainly a no-go for those with Coeliac Disease) the protein structures are different to that of traditional wheat. Spelt contains less gluten and this gluten appears to be digested rather gently. It’s important to note that when people who fear they may be gluten sensitive cut down on food which contains wheat as the main ingredient, they are often reducing their intake of highly refined foods that may cause symptoms for a number of reasons (thereby omitting many other possible irritants along with gluten). Nevertheless, I am still quite smitten with spelt flour. I pick and choose my fancy flours and powders, some are a treat and not what I would consider an integral part of my diet. But spelt flour is most certainly a staple. And while I personally tolerate gluten fine, I do find I feel particularly great when eating goods made with spelt flour. I think that is largely due to the quality of the product I am buying…

    The spelt flour I buy from Bulk Wholefoods is both Australian and organically grown. It is also stone-ground, which I appreciate for the more controlled, small batch, ‘hands on’ process. The stone-ground method is said to retain more of the nutrients compared to the now common high-speed, high-yield roller methods (and the flour is less prone to rancidity). Plus it tastes so much better and yields, I believe, a far superior baked good. The folk at Powlett Hill are doing great things with flour so you might like to check them out. There’s more to flour than the few brands we see at the Supermarket. So much more.

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    In terms of cooking with spelt flour I find it behaves most similarly to regular wheat flour in the kitchen (texturally and flavour-wise), so I’m rarely disappointed when substituting it into recipes. And you know what? Eating pancakes or cookies or buns made with spelt flour just feels good. My belly is happy eating this grain, particularly the fresh variety I get from Bulk Wholefoods. I asked Ben how he feels when eating spelt flour goods versus those made with the regular flour I used to get from the Supermarket, and he said it doesn’t seem as heavy and that spelt flour is “grainer…in a good way“. Indeed.

    Remember, folks, every body is different. Most people benefit from using a variety of whole grains to ensure good health (importantly, good gut health!). I’m  just letting you know I am terribly keen on a well-milled, quality flour and that spelt? Well, it kind of rocks.

    … …

    Last week I Ben worked from home an additional day, as the mad weather had resulted in a power outage at his office. I was so thrilled when he told me the night before (having also planned to work from home that day) that I pulled this celebratory move and immediately planned to make carrot cake porridge for breakfast followed by broccoli and leek soup (his favourite) for lunch. Spelt scones seemed like the right accompaniment and indeed they were. Warm from the oven with a spot of butter, wedge of cheese and a sneaky anchovy or two, they were rather outrageous. Grainy, in a good way, leaving us feeling really really good inside.

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    Spelt Scones

    Adapted from this recipe.

    Makes two large scones perfect for a lunch date. Simply double the recipe for more and/or use a smaller cutter and adjust the cooking time as required (maybe 10-15 minutes for smaller scones).

    Ingredients
    1 & 1/4 cup Spelt flour (measured as per Joy the Baker’s instructions), plus a generous amount for kneading
    1 & 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
    1/4 teaspoon Salt
    30g cold Unsalted Butter
    1/2 cup Milk

    Method
    1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (hot!). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
    2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.
    3. Cut the cold butter into 2cm cubes and add to the flour bowl. Using your fingertips, incorporate the butter into the flour until it resembles crumbs (work quickly and do your best but leaving some larger pieces of butter are fine).
    4. Drizzle in the milk while mixing the dough with your hands to ensure it is all incorporated. Form it into a ball then place it back in the mixing bowl before chilling in the fridge for 15 minutes.
    5. After chilling, place the ball of dough on a well floured work bench and gently knead the dough, adding more flour as required until the dough feels smooth but still a little tacky (it will certainly be moist, but it shouldn’t be super wet). Form the dough into a small, smooth, high square mound and then, using a scone or biscuit cutter, cut out 3.5cm deep scones. You can use a different cutter here and make smaller ones, just be sure to cook them for less time (checking from ~10 minutes to see if they’re cooked).
    6. Place the scones on the baking tray and bake in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked (mine are usually done at ~22 minutes). You will know they’re done when they’re hollow to tap on the bottom and look nicely browned and risen.
    7. Serve warm with butter. Additional toppings might be cheddar cheese and anchovies (jarred in oil), which is the route I went. But some rich, chunky berry jam and creme fraiche would be divine.

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    Broccoli and Leek Soup

    Makes two big bowls

    Ingredients
    1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    10g Unsalted Butter (optional)
    1/2 a large Leek, thinly sliced
    400g Broccoli, (stem and florets), chopped
    2 cloves Garlic, crushed
    4 cups hot Homemade Chicken Stock (or vegetable stock. If going store bought opt for salt-reduced, as you’re using salt in the cooking process)
    1 cup frozen Peas
    A pinch of Sea Salt, plus extra for seasoning
    Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

    Method
    1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Meanwhile, using a smaller pot, warm your stock. Back to the large pot, add the leek along with a pinch of sea salt and sautee until soft and fragrant (~5 minutes, turn down the heat and/or add a few drops of water if required to avoid over-browning). Add the garlic and cook for a further minute until fragrant. Add the broccoli and stir to coat with the leaky mixture for a minute, before adding the hot stock.
    2. Allow the mixture to simmer for ~15 minutes until the broccoli is tender. In the last 5 minutes add the frozen peas. Adding them at this point will provide a bit of bright green sweetness to the soup (in the above photograph I used only 1/2 cup and it was a little pallid in colour).
    3. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth (or at least as smooth as you desire, I never puree anything too perfectly). At this point, taste the soup and adjust for seasoning (sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, a spoon of creme fraiche if you desire…).
    4. Serve alongside spelt scones, thick slices of cheddar and some anchovies jarred in oil.

    Heidi xo

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Flourless Chocolate Pots

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    Morning, friends. I wrote this blog post earlier this week when I was feeling a little sentimental, loved up on chocolate and…love. Which is the same thing, really. Anyway, here it is. We’re talking darling chocolate pots. It’s a good day.

    …..

    I’m sitting here on a wintry Monday afternoon, cup of tea to my left and my husband to my right. With two perky, open laptops we’re sitting at the kitchen table, a shared blanket on our laps and wrists on the keyboard, fingers dancing on w, o, r, k as we work. I spent the morning on tasks for my private practice business before making us roasted parsnip and boiled egg salads for lunch. Then I vacuumed the house and am now sitting down to blog a little. It’s almost time for a snack as I’ select which photographs I want to include in this post for flourless chocolate pot. So naturally I feel our snack should involve chocolate…we’ll see. The National is playing through my earphones (my farm friend Tim got me onto them and I am obsessed) while Ben is speaking to schools and doing his thing.

    I love these photos. Beyond the obvious warm from the oven gooey chocolate cake factor, they make me happy because it’s me and you. I made these on a Saturday spent at home with just us two. We needed that day, nothing on our agenda besides doing our most favourite things together. Just us. For breakfast I made us spelt diner pancakes and we affirmed these as our most favourite variety yet. Then there was a roasted carrot salad, which I will be sharing here shortly, and a vindaloo simmering away (which I will also be sharing here shortly). My goodness, that vindaloo was good.

    In the afternoon I read this book mum picked up from the op shop (which reads so easily and feels like a trashy magazine but a little educational at the same time as I have babies on my brain (though this is not a pregnancy announcement) and a love for all things Oliver) while you watched X Men on your computer. I’m happy you got to be a couch potato, you needed a break. Plus I made you run in the morning and you’re still telling me your “glutimous maximus” hurts, so it must have been a good one (or perhaps just long overdue).

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    My natural hair colour is coming through after years of dying. You say you like it and I like that. These days I’d rather buy the good chocolate than visit the hair dresser. In fact, before making pancakes you cut two inches off. When I decide I want to do something I want it done straight away! That Saturday I wanted a haircut. Thanks for letting me bully you into taking the scissors to my locks and paying you in pancakes. And for taking these photographs of my flourless chocolate pots. I rewarded you with gooey cocoa pudding taken from the oven a minute too soon because that’s how you like them best. We make a good team, you and I. Let’s hang out again soon, just the two of us.

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    Flourless Chocolate Pots

    Serves two

    Ingredients
    80g Dark Chocolate (>70% cocoa), roughly chopped
    50g Unsalted Butter
    ¼ cup Almond Meal
    ¼ cup Raw Cacao
    ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
    ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
    1/3 cup Honey
    1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    1 tablespoon Milk
    2 Eggs, lightly whisked

    Method
    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and lightly grease two pots with butter (my pots were 9cm diameter and 6cm deep).
    2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, allowing it to bubble and brown. When nicely browned and fragrant (nutty and delicious, like a batch of croissants) add the chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon, allowing it to melt.
    3. To this same saucepan add the almond meal, cacao, salt, baking soda, honey, vanilla, milk and eggs. Stir well to combine.
    4. Pour the mixture into the greased pots and bake in the hot oven for ~15-17 minutes. You want the centre a little (or a lot) gooey and the sides a little more fluffy/cakier. It’s better to undercook them than overcook so check from ~12 minutes, depending on the size/depth of your pots and your oven strength. Mine are usually done at 16 minutes. Serve with creme fraiche and berries.

    Heidi xo

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Carrot Cake Porridge

    Good morning, friends!

    Today for Wednesday Breakfast Club I have another keenly adorned bowl of porridge to fill your morning. Sometimes I do want plain porridge, I swear. There are days when only rolled oats and creamy milk will do…maybe with a few nuts. But then there’s those days when I just GO nuts and want more. More flavour, more texture, more toppings… This was one of those more mornings.

    Did you eat a lot of carrot cake growing up? I didn’t. Cream cheese frosting? Pfft, please, what even was that? Frosting to me meant powdered sugar + cocoa + warm water. When left to my own devices I’d make a tidy bowl of frosting for a snack. It’s apparently confession Wednesday, Mum and Dad. I would also steal the matches, light them and watch them burn. That’s not odd…

    Anyway, perhaps my lack of carrot cake knowledge allows me to call this porridge assembly “carrot cake” without any sense of blasphemy. If you do feel this name to be misleading and misrepresenting of the popular cake that I now actually adore, why not throw a spoonful of cream cheese on top and we’ll call it even. That’d really light my fire.

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    Carrot Cake Porridge

    Serves 2

    Ingredients
    1 cup Rolled Oats
    2 tablespoons Organic Sultanas (I prefer to go preservative-free when buying dried fruit)
    1 & 1/2 cups Milk
    1/2 cup Water
    100g Carrots – I used 3 small (purple!) ones, which equates to ~1 cup grated carrot
    A pinch of ground Cinnamon and Ginger (readers suggest mixed spice and nutmeg too – YES!)
    2 tablespoons toasted, chopped Walnuts (or Sunflower Seeds, as I used today)
    A drizzle of hulled Tahini and Pure Maple Syrup for toppings

    Method
    1. In a small heavy based saucepan, soak the oats and sultanas in the milk for at least 15 minutes – 30 minutes (or even longer) is desirable, allowing for noticeably creamier porridge.
    2. Add the water and cook your porridge over low-medium heat for ~15 minute, stirring every now and then, encouraging it to become nice and plump and soft and creamy. Add more milk or water if required and in the last few minutes of cooking add the grated carrot and spices, stirring to combine.
    3. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick pan over low heat and gently toast your walnuts until golden.
    4. Serve the porridge into bowls, topped with a drizzle of tahini and maple syrup to taste, plus the seeds and, if you desire, a sprinkle of sea salt.

    What did you eat for breakfast today?

    Heidi xo