Monthly Archives

December 2012

Dreamy, Chilled BananaNut Pie

December 31, 2012

This pie has kind of changed my life. Things are sweeter and that little bit more joyful because of this pie. It’s magic. Magic pie.


Firstly, it’s crazy yummy, truly. It satisfies every dessert craving I have (as I make a chocolate version also – that’s coming up!). Secondly, it’s beyond simple to assemble – no baking required. Oh, and did I mention it’s healthy? Well that’s just the icing on the pie, a pie that is uplifting and energising. That’s my kind of pie.

I have been enjoying variations of this simply scrumptious pie for the last couple of months, and I feel it’s high time I shared my favourite versions with you. First up, we have banana – banana and nut, what a dreamy duo. Feel free to mix up the nut combination. Add a little raw cacao powder to the crust if you wish, it’s a lovely addition.


I quite fancy some pie love in my life. I hope this dreamy, chilled banananut pie makes your life that little bit sweeter too.


Dreamy, Chilled BananaNut Pie

Nut Crust Ingredients

5 fresh Medjool Dates

1 1/2 cups Cashews (unsalted)
3/4 Peanuts (shelled, unsalted)
1/2 cup Walnuts (shelled, unsalted)
1/3 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Unrefined Coconut Oil (in its liquid state)
2 teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup

Filling Ingredients

5 frozen Bananas (~500g total frozen weight), chopped
3 tablespoons Greek Yoghurt
1 teaspoon Pure Maple Syrup
1.5 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Method

1. Remove the pits of the dates and then add to a food processor with the nuts. Blend until finely chopped. Add the salt, liquid coconut oil and maple syrup then pulse until combined. Pour into a 28cm springform cake tin and press firmly with your hands. Place in the freezer while you work on your pie filling.

2. Rinse your food processor to remove any remaining nuts. Add the chopped frozen bananas to the food processor along with the Greek yoghurt, maple syrup and vanilla. Blend until smooth (stopping to scrape the sides of the food processor the ensure the mixture is well incorporated as necessary). Taste and add more syrup for a sweeter filling if desired.
3. Pour the filling into the pie crust and smooth the surface with a spatula. Cover with cling wrap and freeze until set (~2hrs).
4. To serve, remove the springform case and cut slices of pie. I like to let it sit for 10 or so minutes to allow the filling to soften a little. Top with berries or nuts. I quite think this sauce would be a delectable topping also.
This pie keeps well in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Wrap slices individually in cling wrap.



Heidi xo

Christmas 2012 Love

December 28, 2012

Well, Merry Christmas, dear ones.

It’s been an intensely fabulous year for Ben and I. We’ve been spoilt with much love and adventure,  opportunity and happiness. And 2013 looks to be just as exciting. Life is good.

Here is how my family celebrated Christmas this year…this truly wonderful year.

…..

Ben and I cooked a Christmas Eve Sicilian Feast for my parents and brother in Red Hill. Fish and vodka is our tradition and so we obliged, merrily.

Swordfish Involtini (similar to these two recipes), Potato Caper Salad (similar to this recipe but with red onion and far more red wine vinegar) and Garden Greens.

Dad made a gorgeous Christmas Cherry Cocktail with vodka, fresh cherry juice, lemon syrup, a dash of ginger liqueur and some mint.

My beautiful family. Managing to snap a picture of the five of us was quite special – only two takes required.

…..

Christmas morning I woke at 5:45am, like any excited six year old. I entertained myself by heading out for an awfully refreshing run around Red Hill. It was quite spectacular – Merry Christmas to me.

We then got this one out of bed…

…and feasted on fruit salad, as we settled into some serious present opening.

While cooking, Jackson made me an Amaretto Sour (similar recipe link) using some of the homemade Amaretto I gifted Dad this year.

It was gooooooood.

Family cooking time before loved ones arrived. Duck fat was involved.

Let’s eat.

Prosciutto wrapped melon…

 

…and bubbles.

For our Christmas lunch, we had the usual scrumptious spread put on by my terribly talented mother. I adore being her kitchen minion.

Rolled stuffed turkey; roasted carrots, potatoes, parsnip and onion; Jamie Oliver Overnight Pork, as is delicious tradition; ham; peas with mint and butter; cracklingstuffing – best; and gravy.

Christmas plate perfection.

Then there was Plum Pudding, made with our dear family recipe (mum sourced real suet!), and my beloved Boozy Sauce. A double batch, naturally.

…..

Needless to say, Boxing Day breakfast was a treat.

Merry Christmas, lovelies. I hope your day was filled with festive eats, joy and cuddles. I feel very spoilt to have such beautiful loved ones around me. Spending Christmas day with both my parents and Ben’s parents was truly special. We capped off a fabulous year with pork and pudding for all.

Heidi xo

Central Sicily Tales

December 25, 2012

Whimsically pointing at a map, winding the windows down, turning on the 80s tunes and driving, just driving. This was our sole obligation as we moseyed throughout Sicily on our honeymoon last July. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

After coasting into Cefalù and relaxing on the beach for a couple of days, we headed back inland, over the Madonie Mountains. Our first stop was Polizzi Generosa, where we saw a whole lot of no-one. We possibly encountered seven people in this entire town.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw a sign in a bakery window for Sfince, Sicilian doughnuts that I have been obsessed with ever since first tasting them at Shop Ate. As I tried to communicate my desire for these beautiful fried balls of bliss, the staff informed me that they had none that day.

Quietly devastated, we moved on and found another bakery, where we stocked up on pizza slices and Sfoglio, the region’s famous cookie cake. Not a bad consolation prize, I’ll give you that.

On this day we also visited Petralia Sottana and Petralia Soprana, friendly little cobbled neighbouring hilltop towns.
Here we had sandwiches and ragu arancini to fuel us up for more exploring.
Overwhelmed.
Pleasantly exhausted, it was most definitely time for a glass of wine, and so checked into our accommodation. We spent two blissfully relaxing nights at Masseria Susafa, it was a real trip highlight. This place is just stunning, an ideal location for a destination Wedding. The dining hall was lovely and served up truly delicious food. By day we would relax, reading by the pool and exploring the surrounds. It was perfection.
Vino in the bar.

Some of the delicious eats we had – caprese salad bliss, pasta with lemon and sage, pork chop with potatoes and sausage and apple salad with balsamic.

About the home…

…and morning walks.

Tan.

Love and limoncello, central Sicily tales.

 

Heidi xo

Cefalù

December 21, 2012
Cefalù, where Palermo-ites escape in the Summer for a bit of cheeky sun and sand. It’s crowded and a little tacky, not a demure corner by any means. Yet Cefalù still harbours some gorgeous, historic gems (and the beach chairs are super cheap), so I forgave its occasional inelegance.

You’ll find hidden corners of quiet…

 

 

…and many tasty eats. See that’s the thing in Sicily, the majority of tourists are Italian, so even the touristy places have to serve good pasta. For real.
Lunch at Le Chat Noir on our first day. Spaghetti with tuna and pesto, tomato salad and spaghetti alle vongole. Gorgeous plates of light and love.

Lunch and dinner at Ti Vitti was a treat, also. Calamari and potato salad, pasta with sardines and pangrattato and lobster ravioli (as well as their caprese salad and seafood grill – oh, the swordfish in Sicily…)

A morning run before waiting for the hiking track to open…

…only to find we were an hour early. Enter frolicking in the extreme with some kung fu shots. Clearly we are easily entertained. Good elevation, Benz.

Our first Sicilian cannoli from Dolce e Delizia. This mini bite was heavenly. Ordinarily, I’m not mad about cannoli, but this one had me in a spin. Dolce.

And gelato, of course. Sometimes there is nothing quite as special as mango, other times my heart cries only for berries. Always dark chocolate, always.
We popped into L’Angolodella Dolcezza to try their famed bites, which were also delicious. Even though Ben and I both agree we’d rather devour a plate of pasta or scoop of gelato over these such cakes, we would never ever say no to these treats. That would just be rude.
Easing into the evening with a cocktail and scribble in the square.
Campari and soda for her, always. Long Island Iced Tea for him, often.
It was nice to relax on the coast after being inland. We had some temperamental weather and pondered over a storm or two with a pizza or two. It was all rather stunning.

 

Heidi xo

Cefalù Notes

Length of stay:

2 nights – probably one or two nights too long if you’re limited for time. While a lovely place, there is not a lot to do in this little town, and it certainly was not our most favourite Sicilian location.

Accommodation:

Hotel La Plumeria – great location, lovely clean rooms and very friendly staff.

Where we ate:

Le Chat Noir and Ti Vitti for seafood and pasta, and then Dolce e Delizia and L’Angolodella Dolcezza for sweets.

Highlights:

watching the storm come in from the beach, then spending an afternoon in bed watching Tintin on our laptop and eating gelato from a large take-home pack. It was a lovely ‘rest point’ in our trip.

Gangi

December 18, 2012
Picture a steep, handsome, cobbled town perched proudly on a hillside in central Sicily. This is Gangi.

Picture Ben and I exploring this town, trekking up, up, up… step by step, stone by stone, for almost an hour and not encountering a soul.

 

Sun-drenched, we found respite in gelato and lemon granita at Piazza del Popolo, the town square.

 

And then, as the bell tower chimed, guests began to pour out of the church. A Wedding was happening. This is where the entire town was…celebrating love. Just as we were on our honeymoon.

Isn’t that just perfect?

Dinner was at Casale Villa Raino, our bed for the night. Lots of scrumptious small plates, finishing with fresh fruit. Drinking wine and eating outdoors like this after a day of hill-climbing and exploration was oh so lovely. Yes, our visit to Gangi was a true treat.

Eggs and bread for breakfast, with more fresh fruit and jams. Aren’t boiled eggs in the morning the most heavenly sight?
And then a dip in the pool, I think, before a drive over the Madonie mountains.
Next stop, Cefalù.

 

Heidi xo

Ferla

December 14, 2012

Ferla is a little town in the Syracuse provence of Sicily and it is a true gem. It’s not fancy, nor is it boastful. Ferla is humble and warm, it’s sunshine and family.

Most people touring Sicily would not think to visit this little town, purely for the fact that it is not one that pops up in many tourist guides. But that says nothing of it’s charm, we adored our visit. So why did we visit Ferla? Well, our lovely friends who encouraged us to visit Ortigia (endless thank yous for that) have family there. Again, endless thank yous for this encouragement.

Rosa and Michael informed us of a very special day on the 20th of July, where the town gathers to celebrate their patron saint, Saint Sebastiano. Our friends said it was a feast for the eyes, something truly spectacular and touching. Ben and I absolutely new we had to attend.

And so this past July 20th, Ben and I headed to Ferla. What a real treat that was. At 12pm the statue is carried from the Church of San Sebastiano. Fireworks and streamers explode all around with such excitement and proud energy. The statue is then carried in procession around the main streets, with the townsfolk following. It was like nothing we have ever seen before. We felt so blessed to have experienced this day, this celebration with the locals, and to have met some of our dear friends’ family. How special. Let me share it with you…


Rosa and Michael said to grab a spot right opposite the church. And so early on we lined up in the eager heat and waited, brimming with excitement and anticipation.

And then it started…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The procession begins…

Here, meeting our friend’s Uncle. This was so special. Through a hearty communication barrier we promised to pass on his “baci!” (kisses) to his family back in Australia.

The aftermath…

And then, after all the colours and sounds and emotion, it was time to eat. Ben and I grabbed a park bench and enjoyed our packed lunch of sandwiches, collected in the morning from Caseificio Borderi at the Ortigia morning market.

We had ham, sundried tomatoes and smoked mozzarella. Smoked mozzarella….heaven.

And pecorino, prosciutto, grapes and balsamic reduction. Now that’s a ridiculous sandwich, right there. It was truly divine.

Ben and I then headed back to Ortigia, our hearts and souls happier, richer for having spent July 20th in Ferla.
Heidi xo

A Meatball Party

December 11, 2012

What more could you want for your birthday than meatballs with friends on a breezy December Sunday? This was precisely our thinking and so, last weekend, we threw Ben a party. A meatball party.

Thirty friends joined us for lunch on this day. That’s a tad keen for a pasta lunch, I’ll be honest. Next time I do not think I would assume people would be busy with Christmas parties (practically everyone RSVP’d “yes!”) and perhaps I should have altered the menu to bread and meatballs. Nevertheless, I was determined to plate up spaghetti and meatballs for our friends. And so we did.

Timing cooking the spaghetti al dente was somewhat of a task, yet with Ben’s help, and the gracious help of my gorgeous friend, Jess (along with her small child who seasons food with great knowledge and gusto), we got there in the end. Ben and I had a blast, too, cooking this feast. We love everything about long, lazy lunches and dinner parties with friends and family. Even the clean up was fun.
Thanks to my brother, Jackson, for being the photographer and just generally being so supportive. Jackson, you know what I want from just looking at me and you’re happy to do whatever task I throw at you no matter what frantic state I may be in. Thanks for getting me that drink when I was cooking. It was delicious and refreshing.
Speaking of that yummy drink, let me show you the eats of the day…
Raspberry Vanilla Lemonade. I had quite a few recipe requests for this one, so it is surely a crowd pleaser.

Marinated Fetta and Nicolas Olives to nibble before lunch.

Rocket, Basil and Parmesan Salad.

Caprese Salad.

Pesto, Rocket and Pinenut Pasta for the vegetarians.


Aaaaaaaaaaaand the main event, Spaghetti and Meatballs. Buon appetito!

There’s something so joyful and comforting about sharing big plates of food with friends and family.

Time for something sweet? We had Dark Chocolate Bark topped with Pistachios

and Candy Cane for a little festive note.

We also had Ice-Cream Sandwiches, made out of Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and Connoisseur Ice-cream. This was a spectacularly easy dessert to plate up. I asked a few friends to bring along an ice-cream scoop and filled my old biscuit tins with cookies made fresh that morning. Tubs on the table and we were good to go.




 


Happy birthday, sweets.

You’re my best friend. I love you so very much. And I loved our meatball party. I know we both felt very blessed to have such beautiful friends celebrate with us on Sunday. Life is good. Do you remember when I promised to keep living life well in our vows? I kinda think we’re doing alright… xo

Heidi xo

Recipe Notes:

Raspberry Vanilla Lemonade – I added more raspberries and let the raspberries, vanilla bean and sugar sit for 1.5hours. I also added ice and used soda water instead of water.
* For the vegetarian pasta, I used Paul’s pesto, which I buy at the Red Hill market. It’s fabulous and makes for a truly easy, delicious meal.
* I made a fructose-friendly batch of meatballs by omitting onion and garlic. Instead I used garlic-infused oil, 7 Massels stock cubes and gluten-free bread for breadcrumbs. Tip: I used gluten-free bread to make breadcrumbs for the regular meatballs too, as I was really impressed with the texture it provided.
* To feed 30 people, we made three batches of meatballs (note: this is minus 3 vegetarians and 2 who had a separate fructose-friendly batch). These meatballs were really easy to prepare ahead of time, pop in the oven, then serve.
* For the Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, I used an ABC spread (almond, brazil, cashew nut butter) to help ease the fructose load a little.
* For the ice-cream sandwich filling, we had three Connoisseur Ice-cream flavours: classic vanilla, chocolate obsession and caramel honey macadamia. The latter is my favourite.

Sicily Road Trip Snaps

December 8, 2012
One of the great things about Sicily is the fact that it is quite a small island, so before travelling very far at all, you’re in yet another gorgeous community. From rolling hills to sparkling seas, Sicily is brimming with quaint, naturally stunning towns. And very few of these towns have been touristified, so you really feel like you’re seeing the heart of this land, experiencing true culture as you hop from place to place.
Ben and I adored our road trips across Sicily on our honeymoon this past July. We would pile into our car and drive, just drive, heading to a destination that sounded keen. The freedom of being able to pick up and just go was bliss, and allowed us to create our own, truly unique journey.
Breakfast was often eaten in the car – yoghurt, pastries, fruit.


Espresso, always. Often chilled.

 

And then we’d hit the road! Today I have two towns to show you, one intentional, the other a welcome surprise.
The first town is Ragusa, a stunning, historic city not too far from Ortigia (which was our base for five days of our two and a half week Sicilian adventure). Ragusa is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it is naturally loaded with history. We spent a lovely couple of hours exploring Ragusa Ibla, the lower, older part of the city.

 

 

Ok so you know that I absolutely love history and exploring new towns, so Ragusa was just a real treat and I was in heaven…but let me be real here. The highlight of this Ragusa visit was our midday visit to Gelati DiVini.

We sampled a myriad of intoxicating flavours, from extra virgin olive oil and ricotta, to moscato and passito. This was fantastic gelato.

 

After our sweet scoops we piled into our car (not this adorable fiat below, but hey, a girl can dream) and headed back to Ortigia for a plate of pasta and more swimming by the rock. Road tripping in Sicily is a good deal.

The second town I’d like to show you is Leonforte. We stumbled across this hilltop town while journeying to Gangi, in central Sicily. It was quite the breathtaking lunch spot.

 

 

Ben and I grabbed a seat in a park, embracing whatever shade we could in the dry, July Sicilian heat, and devoured our packed lunch – we had purchased freshly-made sandwiches from Caseificio Borderi  before departing our beloved Ortigia and heading inland.

This beauty was filled with a house-made mozzarella roll (mozzarella lined with ham, spinach, tomato and herbs, and rolled into a lovely loaf).

It was so delicious.

 

Oh Sicily, it was a pleasure to drive over your bountiful peaks and across your fruitful plains. You’re a rustic beauty.

Heidi xo

Ortigia Eats

December 5, 2012

Ortigia…dreamy, effortless, tender Ortigia. This love is real.

Our recent honeymoon visit to Ortigia was not our first meeting. We were initially encouraged to spend time in this Sicilian corner a few years ago by friends who also adore this beautiful spot. They’re Sicilian and they totally know what’s up. It was the most wonderful recommendation – thank you, Rosa and Michael xo

 

During our first visit, Ben and I were on a little bit of a budget. Our backpacking days of 2009 saw us cooking dinner at our apartment more often than not. And while I adore cooking, especially with all the stunning, fresh produce on offer at the Ortigia market, Ben and I certainly enjoyed many meals out this time around. A very big thank you to all the dearly lovely people who sent us on this trip, with their wedding well-wishes and strict instructions to live it up. Rest assured, we enthusiastically enjoyed the culinary delights that Ortigia had to offer and had a blast in the process. It was super fun to get dressed up and go out as newlyweds. Lots of vino and talks of future plans….

 

My favourite restaurant in Ortigia was L’Anorca. I absolutely feel I demonstrated my affection appropriately for this spot, as we visited oh so many times for their divine plates of pasta. I discovered this restaurant after finding Jenny‘s wonderful blog, A Taste of Travel – she’s got some fab Sicily recommendations. L’Anorca guaranteed us divine seafood pasta – our favourite – and incredibly generous pours of vino. Whichever way we ordered a plate, whether sardines, mussels or prawns, we were enraptured.

 

 

And then there was Restaurant Porta Marina, Ben’s favourite. Here the food was a little fancier and the waiters incredibly charming. These small plates were stunning, supremely delicious. Swordfish in citrus sauce, prawns in kataifi pastry, truffle pasta…Ben was in heaven.

Clearly.

 

 

Ok well I guess this post was really just some hardcore food porn. Sorry about that.

I suggest you go and make yourself a plate of pasta. Maybe with anchovies, pangrattato and loads of fresh parsley. That’ll do the trick.

Heidi xo

Ortigia Notes

Length of stay:

5 nights. This is a gorgeous place to spend a little time just living the life – swimming, shopping, drinking, cooking… So I feel it’s definitely worth spending at least a few days here, just chilling.

Accommodation:

we hired an apartment through friends of friends. I recommend staying in Ortigia if you can, and not Syracuse (the larger, less quaint neighbouring town) – just to really feel like you’re escaping.

Where we ate:

the morning market (including the cheese shop, Caseificio Borderi, where you can get divine fresh rolls made up for ~2 euro (see next post for pics!), L’Anorca and Restaurant Porta Marina. We also devoured gelato at the little shop at the far end of Piazza del Duomo – the best gelateria in Ortigia, in our opinion. Cinnamon gelato…mmmm…

Highlights:

waking each day and enjoying the simple, satisfying, sublime pleasures of life.
This is perfection to me.

I’ll leave you with a scene of local boys fighting the waves. This was ever-entertaining. And sometimes terrifying.

Ortigia

December 2, 2012
Let me show you my favourite place in the world. It’s quaint and peaceful, elegant and assured. It’s a calming place. One that encourages existence in the purest sense. Sleep, nature, food, life. Being. Ever since our first visit to this little Island on the South East corner of Sicily, I have not been able to shake this love, this overwhelming connection and desire to stay and be, just be.
Ortigia.
Here, our days were simple. Ben and I would wake and amble down to the market for fresh fruit, yoghurt and an espresso. We would usually collect lunch supplies while there. We’d then retreat to the rock and laze the morning away, losing ourselves in books and finding ourselves in the sea. Cleansing. Lunch was back at the apartment, some ricotta and bread, salad and meat. Or maybe fish. Chilled red wine was unabashedly enjoyed, which encouraged an afternoon nap. Then there would be more swimming on the rock, perhaps, and an evening wander before dinner at one of our two favourite restaurants. Pasta, seafood, wine, happiness. We’d dance home and do it all again the next day. I am entirely certain that there is nothing better in life.

 

 

There is nothing better in life. I’m sure of it.

 

 

Heidi xo