Monthly Archives

May 2012

Warm Smoked Trout Pasta Salad with Dill and Creme Fraiche

May 31, 2012



It’s been three months since my beautiful friend, Peta, moved to France. Peta is a true gem, she’s kind, ever generous, energetic and fun, as well as being incredibly adept at offering good advice. And so, you can imagine, she is dearly missed.

One stunning Sunday afternoon before she left, Peta’s family threw her a going away party. Besides that fervent combination of excitement and sadness in the pit of my stomach, I recall from that day a smoked trout pasta salad, which had Ben and I in a particular spin. It was light, understated and terribly scrumptious.

And so, some Sundays later, I decided to recreate this pasta salad for lunch. My version is a little jazzed up, a little more gutsy. I fear you couldn’t name it understated. Yet it remains light and terribly scrumptious. I find it to be fresh, comforting and all round rather favourable.



You might just call this my ideal weekend lunch.



Ben and I leave for our honeymoon in four weeks, which means that in five weeks I will be reunited with my lovely Peta. It’ll be all French wine and cheese, with long walks through gardens and down boulevards, exploring the streets of Paris. Then we’ll sit on our Moroccan Riad rooftop sipping mint tea, before heading to the bustling night food markets. All the while talking life, love, hopes, dreams and adventure. I can hardly wait.


Warm Smoked Trout Pasta Salad with Dill and Creme Fraiche



Serves 4, for a light lunch.

Ingredients

250g Pasta
150g Smoked Trout
75g Green Beans
60g Radish
2 handfuls Baby Spinach
4 tablespoons Creme Fraiche
1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Garlic-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil (if you do not have any, I highly suggest you purchase some. I buy Cobram Estate brand, found in Woolworths. Or simple use more extra virgin olive oil).
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Dill
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper

Method

1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
2. Cut your green beans into quarters or thirds (depending how long your bean is).
3. Slice your radish (not too fine, you want some crunch) and flake your smoked trout with a fork into a small bowl then set aside.
4. Add your pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to packet instructions until al dente (please do not over-cook your pasta! It’s a true crime). While the pasta is cooking, steam your green beans for a few minutes in a steamer over the top of the pasta pot. You want them cooked but to still have a little crunch to them. Once the beans are cooked, run them under cold water to arrest the cooking process, then set aside.
5. While you wait for your pasta to finish cooking, prepare your dressing: add the creme fraiche, oils and lemon juice to a small bowl. Stir vigorously to combine. Add a little sea salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper. Stir again, then set aside.
6. To a large bowl, add your spinach leaves. One your pasta is cooked, drain it then add to the large bowl on top of the spinach leaves, stirring and allowing the leaves to wilt ever so slightly. Add your beans, radish, trout, dill and then 2/3rds of your dressing. Toss well to combine and then add as much of the remaining dressing as you desire (I had a little left over). Serve.

Heidi xo

Paella, Please.

May 28, 2012

 



Mother’s Day lunch in Red Hill.

Blessed with a little sunshine on this chilly day we retreated outside, warmed by woollen caps and snuggly socks, and gathered around the burner. Dad cooked us lunch, I made cake. We gave mum extra kisses and cuddles that day. It was perfect in it’s simplicity, familiarity and comfort.

Red Hill, love.

Family, food.

Paella, please.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


Heidi xo

Quinoa Quince Pancakes

May 24, 2012
You know those combinations are just a little too fantastic, too opposing or too absurd?…That surely they could not possibly work? Like, for example, peanut butter and chocolate? And salted caramel? Or maybe spaghetti with vegemite? Ok, I went possibly a little too far with that last one…noted.

My point is that sometimes seemingly ridiculous combinations or contrasting flavours can work. While quinoa and quince don’t exactly encourage repulsion, I nevertheless found this combination to be rather interesting to work with. Pungent and nutty quinoa flour vs dreamy and yielding sweet quince… finding the right balance took some messy practice. But we got there.

Have you used quinoa flour before? It’s quite the rambunctious ingredient. It’s different, it’s nutty and it’s decidedly self-assured. When I first attempted to make quince pancakes using quinoa flour I found the ground quinoa flavour all together far too overwhelming. It suffocated the quince. The balance was way off, I needed to bring the sweetness out so that you weren’t lamenting the presence of quinoa and pining for the regular stuff after the first bite. Because quinoa flour is worth having in your life. It’s nutrient profile is far superior to white flour, providing you with protein and fibre, as well as other important micronutrients. And it’s gluten-free to boot, so coeliac peeps can feel the love. I hate to exclude people, especially when pancakes are involved.

So some Saturday mornings later, after a little tweaking here and there, we have a rather lovely quinoa quince pancake recipe, using leftover poached quince. The sweet, soft, poetic chunks of this Autumn fruit contrast wonderfully with the earthy, fluffy pancake batter. The sharp nuttiness of the quinoa flour champions through, yet it’s nice, you welcome the contrast. It works. It’s balanced.

Next stop, spaghetti with vegemite.

 

Quinoa Quince Pancakes

Serves 2 (makes 4 small pancakes)

Ingredients

1/2 cup Quinoa Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder (ensure you use gluten-free baking powder for gluten-free pancakes)
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
A pinch of Salt
1 Egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
100g Poached Quince (recipe link)
Butter to grease the pan

Method

1. Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar (to ensure there are no sugar lumps) into a mixing bowl. Add the cinnamon and salt, then stir to combine.
2. Add the beaten egg, milk and vanilla to the bowl and fold the ingredients together (be sure to not over-work the mixture).
3. Let the mixture sit for ~20 minutes.
4. Chop the quince into 1.5cm chunks. Carefully fold through the batter.
5. Heat a non-stick pan over low-medium heat. Grease the pan with a little butter. When the pan is hot, add a scoop of the mixture (remembering to allow for 4 pancakes) and flatten slightly so the pancake is spread in an even circle (some quince chunks might pop through a little, that is fine). Cook the pancakes on one side for a few minutes until golden brown. Flip and cook on the other side for another couple of minutes until golden and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining mixture (using two pans or cooking two batches, keeping the first batch warm under on a plate). Serve.

We served our quinoa quince pancakes with maple syrup and banana yoghurt (frozen banana blended with a little vanilla yoghurt). It was rather dazzling.

 

Heidi xo

Almond Olive Oil Cake

May 21, 2012
cake

When I was a young girl, my Mum taught me to make a chocolate cake. It was a classic chocolate cake, with a basic cocoa/icing sugar frosting. It was simple, yes, but it was also relentlessly satisfying. Rich and fluffy, and only occasionally tasting of baking powder (I was prone to capricious heavy handedness with ingredients), I learnt to make that cake all by myself. And once I got the hang of it, it was the only thing I would make. It was my thing. For special occasions I would decorate with jelly snakes or smarties. Fancy. I adored that cake.

These days, now that I’m all grown up and have learnt to moderate my baking powder employment, I try to branch out a little. As comforting as old favourites can be, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of discovering a new recipe. New processes, new smells and textures. New tastes. It’s exciting. It encourages growth.

During the week, my Mum and I send emails back and forth, sharing our new discoveries. It’s what we do. A few weeks ago, Mum emailed a link to a recipe that was particularly enticing…an Almond Olive Oil Cake (recipe link). This recipe stuck with me for days, so much so that I scrapped my original cake plans for Mother’s Day and replaced it with this novel number. New tastes.

I’m glad I did.

DSC_0702

As delightfully snug and nostalgic a classic chocolate cake can be, this Almond Olive Oil Cake went down a real treat. I was undoubtedly inspired, and completely fascinated by this new taste.

The olive oil flavour was affectionately prominent, the cake body intoxicatingly light, and the glaze just lovely – no jelly snakes or smarties required. The only change I would make to this recipe would be to use a touch less salt.

 

Sans glaze, this would make an excellent breakfast cake. Maybe with a touch of jam and a side of natural yoghurt. That’s new, isn’t it? Kind of. Let’s compromise here…a slice of familiar in a new way. I like that.

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Heidi xo

Beautiful Buns

May 18, 2012
Small, curved beauties punctured with soulful, soft, plump fruit. Happily dense and joyfully rustic. With a sweet little coating to finish.

 


These buns truly are beautiful. They’re not like regular fruit loaf or raisin bread. Something about these buns makes them extra special. Perhaps it’s the sweet curves…? Or perhaps it’s the dried fruit inside, which you can just tell has been placed there with extra love…?



Whatever it is, they’ve become a real favourite in our house.

These fruit buns, named “beach buns” (cute!) are made by a young couple who have opened up Flinders Sourdough, a lovely little bakery in Flinders (which is one of the most gorgeous corners of the Mornington Peninsula). They sell divine loaves – grainy, rye and more. And their hot cross buns at Easter were supremely scrumptious.

Mum is very keen on these lovely little buns, and so for Mother’s Day breakfast last Sunday we popped some in the oven and served them warm.

Would you like some jam?


It’s not necessary, but it is rather delightful. Especially wholesome blackberry jam made by ladies from Flinders. It’s all about Flinders today.

 


With freshly squeezed orange juice.

And coffee.



Oh, coffee.



Whenever Ben and I head down to my parent’s house in Red Hill we are filled with anticipation for all the delicious local eats we’ll get to devour.

And currently, these beautiful buns are all I can think about.


Heidi xo

Orange Blossom Granola for Mum

May 14, 2012



My mum is not really a breakfast gal. She’ll have a small amount of muesli and yoghurt maybe. Or a slice of toast with vegemite. She won’t say no to a good brunch on the weekend, with eggs and a little bacon. But is she the type of person for whom breakfast is sole the reason they rise from bed? No, that’s not my mum.

What she’d really love in the morning is a big slab of pate on some ciabatta, but she knows that it’s not really the most wholesome of breakfasts, now is it? Rather, mum will pick a little at something and then graze throughout the day. I think this grazing strategy is what helps her to dart energetically from task to task (her energy never ceases to amaze me). During the working week mum will fuel herself on seeds and fruit almost every hour before her lunch break, where she’ll invariably ordering a strong skinny latte along with a bite from one of out two favourite cafes in Mornington. It might be agnolotti or a panini with fresh ingredients. Sometimes a slice of frittata. She eats well, she’s got class.

So now you know about my mother’s intimate food habits (sorry mum…) I can explain my gift to her for mothers day in context. I had already bought us two tickets to a Macaron making class, which we’ll go to soon – that’s the main present. But in addition I wanted something crafted, something special. Something more. Mum’s been particularly amazing this past year, having played a key role in our Wedding – from the planning, to making the cakes, to sourcing absolutely everything. Not to mention throwing multiple parties and being a pillar of strength and support. I’m not surprised by her brilliance, it’s not out of character at all. Rather I simply want to express how much I appreciate it, how lucky I am. Because I really am.

So I designed this recipe to suit mum’s tastes. Knowing she’s not a real breakfast person, I worked to entice her senses and exploit her food weaknesses. I sound a little evil, don’t I? Well it was kind of a mission. And I think I succeeded. The recipe uses three kinds of toasted nuts, exotic dried fruit, spice and orange blossom. Plus butter and sugar. See? It’s the real deal. Supremely elegant, ballsy, beautiful, unique and energetic. Just like my mum.

Orange Blossom Granola for Mum



Adapted from Tony Tahhan‘s Date and Almond Granola 

Ingredients

2 cups Rolled Oats
1/4 cup Pistachios (shelled and unsalted)
1/2 cup Almonds, roughly chopped in half
1/2 cup Pecans, roughly chopped into chunks
1/4 cup Shredded Coconut
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
A pinch of Salt
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons Honey
1 tablespoon Orange Blossom Water
1.4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Dates, chopped (dried or fresh)
1/2 cup Figs, dried but juicy

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 150 Degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Stir.
3. In a small heavy-based saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the honey and orange blossom water and stir until smooth.
4. Add the butter mixture to the dry mixture and stir, ensuring everything is well coated and the sugar is distributed evenly.
5. Pour the mixture onto the baking tray and spread out evenly.
6. Bake in the oven for ~30 minutes until golden and toasty. Give the mixture a stir every 10 minutes.
7. Take the granola out from the oven and add the dried fruit, stirring to incorporate. Leave to cool completely.

I find this granola to be especially delicious when consumed with milk, rather than yoghurt. I feel the flavours come through best this way. But…whatever floats your boat. Mum likes to eat hers by the handful, before darting off to finish some supermum task.

Happy Mothers Day, Mum.


Heidi xo

 

Peanut Butter and Jam Balls

May 11, 2012


I’ve got a thing for nut butter and jam. It’s pretty serious. I say “nut butter” (rather than good old “peanut butter”) as I don’t discriminate – I’m all about almond butter love too. And brazil nut butter. Cashew butter is also fabulous. It’s all love, people. Nut butter love.

Originally my love was centred on two ingredients: nut butter and banana. Combined. Together. On bread. That sandwich has rocked my world for many years. Many joyful years. I’ve endured the curious, sometimes judgemental stares harshly directed my way as I’ve devoured my nut butter and banana sandwiches or ordered this heavenly combination at sandwich shops. Sticks and stones, people – nothing can change my love for nut butter and banana.

It’s a beautiful thing.


My younger brother introduced me to nut butter and honey sandwiches many years ago. I recall a stage when Jackson was around seven, and he’d have this combination for lunch. Often. And maybe for an afternoon snack. Sometime he’d have one or two after dinner. While I applauded his creativity, and was somewhat concerned about his fervent love for said sandwiches, I was never swept up by this particular nut butter combination myself. No, I seemed to remain firmly in love with my old faithful nut butter and banana.

Although recently, a new nut butter friend has come onto the scene…

Nut butter and jam may be an age-old love-story, but it’s rather new to me. And now that I’ve been properly introduced, I’m more than a little obsessed. You might recognise this combination from, well, most movies set in North America (I’m thinking early nineties movies in particular, like The Babysitters Club – high five!). The characters would gather together and eat crustless, haphazardly formed and generously spread PB&J; sandwiches. All of them. But they’d call it peanut butter and “jelly”, and that’s a little weird. I say jam. Nut Butter and Jam.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Nut butter and jam commonly graze my wholegrain slices at breakfast or lunch, or even snack o’clock. For this combination to be suitably satisfying and not sickly sweet, you need natural nut butters – ones with 100% nuts and no added sugar. Otherwise it’s just too much. Too far. I don’t enjoy.

These peanut butter and jam balls, I do enjoy. They’re a great afternoon pick-me up, giving you a hit of nutrients and nostalgia in one. A moment of pure happiness. 1995, scrunchie and denim overall-wearing, watching The Babysitters Club and wishing you were Mary Anne while planning Summer adventures with your friends kind of happiness.

It’s a beautiful thing.



Peanut Butter and Jam Balls



This recipe requires a hand blender or food processor.

Makes 7 balls. To make more, simply double the recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Peanuts (unsalted and shelled)
2 tablespoons Tahini, Unhulled (some tahini is rather thick, you want a runny tahini for this recipe)
1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup
A pinch of Salt
1/2 tablespoon Chia Seeds
3 1/2 teaspoons Jam (use a rich, good quality jam for best results. I used Bonne Maman Raspberry Jam – love.)

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 170 Degrees Celsius.
2. Toast your peanuts on a pan in the oven for ~4 minutes until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool but keep the oven on.
3. Once your peanuts are cool, pulse them in a hand blender or food processor until it starts to resemble a flour consistency – be careful not to overblend, some small lumps are still desirable and you don’t want it to become a paste.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut flour with the tahini, maple syrup, salt and chia seeds. Mix well to distribute the chia seeds. The mixture shouldn’t be too sticky and should come together easily. Add a little water or some more tahini if the mixture is too dry.
5. Moisten your hands and grab a portion of the mixture (remembering that you should get ~7 balls out of the mixture). Add 1/2 teaspoon of jam and mix it with your hands, squishing and shaping it into a ball as you go – you want the jam to be distributed in a haphazard way rather than spread too thin. Place the ball onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and repeat with the remaining mixture.
6. Bake your balls in the oven for 4-6 minutes until slightly golden on top and not too brown on the bottom – check them at 3 minutes if your oven is particularly efficient.
7. Once cooked, let the balls cool completely on a wire rack before consumption. Serve and enjoy. Scrunchie-wearing is optional but encouraged.


Heidi xo

Weekend Inspiration.

May 8, 2012

Saturday and Sunday.

Two simple days that encourage so much happiness and dreaming and promise…promise of future deliciousness. Inspiration comes keenly on the weekend. Currently I’m fuelled by thoughts of beautiful bread, thickly sliced, earthy salads and perfect pancakes. And now nothing is more certain than my desire to create.

Saturday morning I found inspiration in a loaf of Dench wholegrain. Walking to the shops early morning and cradling your loaf as you make the journey back makes it extra special.

 

Boiled eggs, avocado, slow-roasted roma tomatoes and thick slices of Dench divinity warmed in the oven.


I then felt inspired to make mini sandwiches to eat in the car later that day. We had a Wedding on Saturday, and with two ceremonies (due to two different faiths) I felt that snacks would be in order. They were. Nut butter and Jam for her. Nutella for him.

 

On this day I also found inspiration in a Cauliflower Salad at Shop Ate in Mt Eliza. Roasted cauliflower with radish, cherry tomatoes, almonds, pistachio, dill, crème fraîche, pear and parseman. I’m now itching to make some earthy salads using roasted vegetables, nuts and crème fraîche. These salads speak to me…I hear Autumn, I hear Winter, I hear root vegetables, I hear wholesome comfort, I hear love.


Sunday morning I found inspiration in Ricotta Hotcakes at Three Bags Full. With orange-infused ricotta and baked fruit, these hotcakes were complete bliss. Crisp on the outside and perfectly fluffy with a friendly amount of ricotta ooze, these pancakes left me pondering whether I am cooking my pancakes on too low a heat… I am inspired to get pancake making to see whether this inkling is true.


Weekend inspiration.

What’s inspiring you lately?


Heidi xo

Leaves. Quince. Autumn Love.

May 4, 2012

I’ve found myself feeling terribly affectionate towards Autumn this year. The air is completely crisp all day long, with just a touch of faint sunshine warming the underlying chill. Assuming you’re wearing a cute little sweater so as to not resent the bite in the air, I find it to be an incredibly friendly, invigorating season.


The romantic in me has come out and I’ve caught myself lovingly sighing at the blush leaves surrounding me, these shades of welcoming yellow, burnt orange and deep red filling me with warmth and happiness. Yes, I’m finding myself rather in love with this season.

I feel that now might just be the right time to tell you about a little hobby of mine… I collect Autumn leaves. Weird? A little bit? Maybe. They’re just so stunning and fragile and simple in their beauty.


On my walks I’ll pick up one or two up that might catch my eye, and I carry them with me until I reach home. Ben finds this terribly amusing, affectionately teasing me, “did you get any nice leaves on your walk?” I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of my leaves. At the moment they’re piled up like delicate little trophies on one of my glass cake stands.

I blame the fresh Autumn air for tickling my whimsical ways and encouraging me to savour the charm of the season. Because now I have a pile of leaves in my kitchen. And a craving for quince.

 


Quince, the epitome of Autumn flavours. Earthy, wholesome, comforting, tender. And when poached, they’re just so stunning and fragile and simple in their beauty. Like leaves.

Leaves. Quince. Autumn love.


Poached Quince



Inspired by Stephanie Alexander‘s Poached Quince recipe from her book, The Cook’s Companion.

Ingredients

6 medium Quince
7 cups (1.75L) Water
3/4 cup White Sugar
3/4 cup granulated Stevia (or simply add an extra white sugar)
1/2 Vanilla Pod, split down the middle lengthwise to expose the seeds
1 Star Anise
1/2 Lemon

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 150 Degrees Celsius.
2. Peel and core your quince, then cut them into six wedges.
3. In a saucepan, heat your water and sugar/stevia over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Place your quince, vanilla and star anise in a large, heavy-based casserole dish. Add the sugar syrup to the dish and then squeeze the lemon juice over the top.
5. Cover your dish tightly with a lid or foil and gently place in the oven. If using foil you may wish to place a layer of foil on the rack in the oven before you add your dish, to capture any liquid that may bubble over.
6. Cook for 6-8 hours until ruby red.


Enjoy your quince on top of porridge, muesli or pancakes for breakfast, with some yoghurt for a snack or with ice-cream for dessert. You might also use the quince in baked goods like cakes and muffins. Or do all of the aforementioned options. They’re all delicious. They’re all Autumn Love.

Heidi xo

A Simple Lunch

May 1, 2012

You made apple and quince pancakes with quinoa flour for breakfast. That recipe needs tweaking but it was fancy enough to satisfy your need for weekend food pizzaz.

You just did your weekly grocery shop at Oakleigh Market. You bought fish and lamb backstrap, parmesan, nutmeg and a truck-load of fresh vegetables. And dry roasted almonds, you’ll be making almond butter this week.

Your man is sleeping off that eager portion of Friday drinks he had last night.

It’s time for lunch. Something simple, you’ve got groceries to put away.

Steam some sweet potato. Leave the skin on, it’s full of nutrients. Just give them a good scrub. Cook extra, you’ll use them during the week in salads. Your small, elongated logs should take ~20minutes to steam through nicely. They’ll be just like in Thailand at Baan Dada. Nature’s candy. They’re unbelievably good, no embellishments required.

Boil some eggs. Place two lovelies in cold water, bring to the boil then turn off the heat and cover. Leave for 13 minutes then rinse under cool water, peel. Done. Perfect hard-boiled eggs.

Steam some spinach.

Pluck some fresh basil leaves.

Sit outside with your plate and a book.

A simple lunch.

 

Sometimes simple is best.


Heidi xo