• Christmas in Winter

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    We’ve always had a pretty solid set of family friends. Friends that are family. Emphasis on family.

    These bonds develop from a strong connection between like-minded folk. These folk become your companions in life. And if you’re really lucky, they become family. So you get that fun factor of “hey, I like you, let’s be friends!” coupled with the unconditional love of family. And through all the ups and downs, the gains and losses, the good, the great and sometimes bad, they are there. Like family. But first, friends.

    This year we celebrated Christmas in winter with our family friends. My mum met most of these other mums in my life when they were in college, studying early childhood education. And due to a few birthdays around December, and the fact that we all celebrate Christmas Day with our immediate families, a tradition of Christmas in winter began. For twenty four years we’ve been gathering as a group and cooking a roast in July. We have skipped a few years but came back this winter in full force. I think next year might be even bigger.

    We all brought something to the table to compliment the beautiful, stuffed and rolled turkey that was beautifully cooked and carved by our hosts. There was a ham, some roasted vegetables and greens…I made roasted potatoes and my dad made bread. And then Monika whipped out a stunning chocolate and berry roulade by Katie Quinn Davies. I think you should make it. For friends. Or family. Or family friends.

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    Heidi xo

     

     

     

     

  • Moving Day Breakfast

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    So you know how I said we got the keys yesterday? Well I actually got them Monday.

    For two days I’ve been ferrying boxes of jars and cups and other pretty breakables from my old rental to my new home. Clothes and food, too. We even moved a mattress my grandparents gave us (a Queen!!) and last night had ourselves a sleepover in the living room. We ate plates 0f orecchiette with broccoli and anchovies as we sat on our bed, drinking Campari from water glasses and watching True Detective on the computer.

    Today we’re bringing in the big guns. I’m off to meet some dudes with a truck who are going to move our big pieces of furniture and help make this dream even more of a reality. I’ve had two cups of coffee. It’s on.

    But first, breakfast. Our first breakfast in our new home.
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    ♥ Hope Farm spicy fruit toast with butter and cherry jam
    ♥ Coffee, black.

    What did you have for breakfast today?

    Heidi xo

     

  • French Green Lentils and a Beautiful Lamb Shank Soup

    Lentils have always been a big part of my life. As mentioned in my post on lentil love, I grew up with a mother who cooked lentils with great regularity. Usually it’d be split red lentils, cooked in her lightly spiced, tomato-ed style over rice. Sometimes couscous. I adored that dish. In fact when I saw mum yesterday she handed me a container. Moving fuel. Bless her. But back to the lentil days of my youth…

    For special occasions, maybe on the weekends, mum would bring out the French green lentils. She’s got a French provincial cooking thing going on, my mum, and for as long as I can remember has been braising and slow-cooking. French green lentils were a favourite ingredient and remain one of my most beloved to this day, as they hold their texture after cooking, ensuring they’re aesthetically dreamy but moreover, have a beautiful bite to them. For those interested in learning more about lentilles du puy, David Lebovitz has a great blog post on the beauties.

    This month in My Mindful Kitchen I have, you guessed it, sourced some lovely legumes. I hadn’t previously thought on where I buy legumes. I knew Mount Zero were doing great things and were a popular brand, but honestly I’d end up favouring cost and buy the regular dried legumes from the supermarket or go for canned convenience. And while I still do use canned legumes pretty frequently, I am super excited to be transitioning to a different product (certainly when it comes to dried legumes) and support rad farming practices employed by passionate, local legume folk. That’s what My Mindful Kitchen is all about.

    I was first introduced to Burrum Biodynamics by my friend, Robin. Following her lead, I looked up their website and found myself ridiculously excited about these little protein pebbles grown in the Grampians. And snap, Burrum Biodynamics actually supply Mount Zero Olives with their French green lentils, split red lentils, pearl spelt, pearl barley, split peas and soup mix. I contacted farmer Steve and he was kind enough to answer some questions for me, which I’ve scribed below. Steve and Tania are super happy to talk shop, sharing information about the legumes and grains they grow and how to use them. It’s all about bridging “the gap between farmer and consumer”. Amen.

    1. We know a lot about buying organic vegetables, why should we buy organic, biodynamic legumes and grains? & I suppose, what’s the difference between store-bought mass produced legumes vs your product?
    Its not for me to tell people what they should buy;  but the differences for us farming conventionally until 2000 then Demeter Certified are considerable.  When we were farming conventionally in the 80′s and 90′s, the crops would have been sprayed at least five times with herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.  Now we farm without the use of these chemicals.  Working to the Demeter Standard, which is a self sustaining system has improved the soil biological activity and rain water infiltration rates.Most store brought split red lentils have been coated in vegetable oil to make them shiny.  We don’t put any oils or additives on ours.   Everything we packaged has been grown on our farm, by me.

     

    2. How is it best to store legumes and how long do they last?
    Storage life is unlimited if they are stored in a cool, dry, airtight place.

     

    3. Why do you farm?
    Farming is all I have ever wanted to do; maybe because I am a fifth generation farmer.  I love growing things, learning, experimenting and watching the soil change .  I started growing grain crops in my mother’s vegetable garden at the age of seven and have grown a crop every year since.  I still live on the farm where I was born so I have seen many changes, especially since we converted to Biodynamics.

     

    Burrum Biodynamics sell through Farmhouse Direct as well as various Farmers’ Markets around Victoria. I really encourage you to give them a go. Their pearl spelt, farro, was a finalist in this year’s Delicious Produce Awards, and their French green lentils are award winning too. There are great things coming from their soil, friends.

    With each step I take on this mindful path I am discovering that getting to know your farmer and your food leads to a simpler, a more pleasant shopping, cooking and eating experience. Sure, it takes a bit of investigation at the beginning, but after that it’s a piece of cake. You know what you’re buying, what (and who!) you’re supporting and why it matters…and then you just get to play in the kitchen, making the best lentil and lamb shank soup of your life. And I’m not kidding about this soup, I am officially head over heels in love with this recipe, which was introduced to me by, you guess it, my French lentil loving mum.

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    Lamb Shank and Lentil Soup
    (recipe link)

    Changes mum and I made to the recipe: we both agree that making the soup at least one day prior to eating it is paramount. Mine sat for two days in the fridge. Letting the flavours develop as it sits leads to an incredibly superior soup and  also allows you to scoop the fat off the top and discard it before reheating, ensuring you avoid that greasy lamb shank residue I find to be so common and so displeasing amongst lamb shank recipes. I used very large, very good lamb shanks, along with homemade chicken stock. I also added extra potatoes, lentils and carrot pieces, to bulk it out some. Obviously I used French green lentils instead of brown. And lastly, I took the liberty to add a large crushed garlic clove with the onions and 2 dried bay leaves with the rosemary. This is, by far, my most favourite winter soup. My goodness, it’s good.

    Heidi xo
  • A Saturday and a move

    We’re moving in a week. Less than a week, actually. I get the keys on the 29th. Keys to a new townhouse.

    Our future home is warm and full of great things like a dishwasher, which Ben is thrilled about and a bath, which I am thrilled about. There’s a separate laundry room and two (two!) toilets, one upstairs and one downstairs. That’s luxury, right? The shower is nestled into a corner of the bathroom, which is new to me. I’m into it. There’s floorboards downstairs and carpet upstairs in the three (!) big (!!) bedrooms. The oven is new, with five gas burners and although the body is a little slim it looks like it’ll roast vegetables like a demon. And all for only fifteen dollars more a week in rent than we’re presently paying. That’s crazy, right?

    Though we’re leaving a community and a beach that has really become ours this past year, we will have ourselves a new beach. And we will be right near a couple of brilliant food gems that serve really really good food and coffee. I can already anticipate intense Sunday morning debates on the merits of staying in vs going out for brunch. Yes, we’ve found ourselves a gem, folks. And I cannot wait for our moving day.

    After a trip to Tasmania last week for work (which was really play), Ben and I promptly fell ill and found ourselves working our way through an obstacle course, struggling on the ropes wall and not really winning at life. But we got there, army crawling through the dirt, and now we’re over the other side, jogging to the finishing line. I fully intend on sliding across it, in the mud, on my belly, hands in the air. But back to the move and packing up this home of ours….

    Our beach cottage has been (for the most part) truly splendid, particularly during the summer. But now it’s blisteringly cold and we need a house that isn’t so frosty or prone to mould. I don’t think I will miss this house, rather the location. Our beach. It helped me breathe. It helped us both breathe through this whole starting your own businesses business. Which I feel we’ve done really well and, in retrospect, with very little stress. I think the beach has a lot to do with that. Nature, right? It puts everything in perspective.

    The first morning we moved into this cottage we woke to orange light coming through the window. My brother’s favourite colour was orange, so sitting under that golden sun stream felt like a sign from him that we were in the right place. Later that morning we went to the beach and while jogging, familiarising ourselves with our new surroundings, some dolphins came to say hello. Six years ago when we scattered David’s ashes in a paddle out ceremony a pod of dolphins turned up and I always felt comforted by that, like it was a sign. A sign that he was ok. One year ago I took it as a sign that we were in the right place. But now it’s time to move. I’m sure my brother will bless this new place too. He would have been incredibly approving of our soon proximity to a deli featuring quality cured meats and cheese. I think I’ll have to up my cheese game, David always loved the stuff. But (again) back to the move and packing up this home of ours….

    Last Saturday I dove right into sorting, purging, wrapping, packing. I mean, I tried. We were both still a little NQR. I’ve got a lot to do and today I am determined to do some real good work. Wish me luck. Here are some photographs from this day.

    Breakfast was sourdough toast, avocado and cheddar cheese, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Poor Ben ended up having to eat in bed with a movie rather than discussing packing plans with me at the table because he felt too sick…wait a minute…

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    Anyway, after breakfast I got started on packing my wardrobe, which was possibly not the most practical move one week before we actually shift houses but hey, I got to play dress up and give a bag of clothes to the op shop. A big bag. Though I have a hard time throwing away any clothes I bought on overseas trips when I first discovered Zara, even if I never wear them because I bought them when I was 23 and I am not 23 anymore.

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    Two things: 1) when did I grow my fringe out? I don’t recall any awkward phase photographs… 2) my older brother had super big blue eyes. They’re a little crazy eye, here. I have a tendency to whip out the crazy eye too. Speaking of crazy eyes, which Orange Is The New Black character are you? I got SoSo. Really? I don’t know how I feel about that.

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    Craving fresh air we took a stroll on our beach, one of our last.

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    And then it was time to warm up with another brew.

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    Have you heard about Notoxbox? It’s a sweet site that sources and delivers a load of cool products and tasty snacks. You sign up for different boxes (and can cancel at any time) and receive these surprise packages. Don’t you love receiving packages like that? It’s a neat idea. I was sent a couple to sample (thank you, team!) and while I personally didn’t love all the inclusions, there were some really cool products in there. In particular I’m loving the Brookfarm Macadamia Muesli and am super keen to try the green rice (brown rice infused with bamboo extract – madness!). Later on this night we tucked into the Absolute Organic Fair Trade chocolate bar with quinoa flakes for dessert, which I so appreciated.

    And now for something super cool: Notoxbox has kindly set up a discount for any readers that are keen. To take advantage of this offer, enter the special code “apples10” and receive $10 off your first Superfood Snack box. You have until August 31st.

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    Though our appetites were not that great, we still wanted a little something for lunch. Mum had brought around some apple cake she’d made recently (recipe link) so cake it was, which we warmed then served with yoghurt.

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    Later on I went out for cabbage and came home to a cup of tea. I’m wearing woollen gloves these days, always, as it’s so frosty. My olive oil in the bench is beginning to solidify…yeah, it’s time to move.

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    For dinner we had beef brisket with cabbage slaw and roasted potatoes. I how I adore this cut of meat, particularly since visiting Texas and waiting in line for two and a half hours at 8am for a serve of the famous Franklin BBQ. No no, that’s not a typo. I was most recently reminded of my love for cut of beef in Sydney when attending a symposium put on by MLA, which spoke about Target 100 and less popular cuts of meat.

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    To prepare our brisket, we scored the fat side of the meat then sprinkled over some ground sweet paprika, smoked paprika, ginger, cumin and cayenne pepper, plus a generous amount of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, which we massaged into the meat with a drizzle of olive oil. We put this beef of a bed of halved onions and blasted it for ~20 minutes in a hot (220 degrees celsius) oven, before turning the heat right down to 150 degrees celsius, adding some white wine and water to the pan, covering it with foil and cooking it for ~4 hours. We’d check it on the hour and add more wine/water to the pan as required (you could add stock too) and baste it in some pan juices. Don’t be like us, use a smaller pan to avoid excess burnt bits. These kids didn’t think of that…

    Removing the brisket from the oven and putting it on your chopping board, covered with foil and letting the meat rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing is pretty key, too. During this time you can make a gravy, if you’d like, and prepare the rest of your food (a fresh slaw maybe?). We added some halved potatoes to the pan in the last thirty minutes of cooking and when we removed the brisket we blasted the heat back up to ~220 degrees again to get them all crispy. It was rather ridiculous.

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    That was our day. Now, back to packing…

    Heidi xo

     

  • 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