Monthly Archives

February 2013

Peanut Butter and Millet Muesli Bars

February 27, 2013

How does one come to name a recipe? If there are more than a few notable ingredients, how may you settle on an appropriate title, one which does not lag, overwhelm or distract? This is my current conundrum, as I am faced with these delightful muesli bars. I could pronounce them to be ‘Walnut, Almond, Oat, Millet and Bran Bars with Peanut Butter, Honey, Vanilla, Currants, Cinnamon and a little Salt’, but that would be just silly, wouldn’t it? ‘Almond Currant Bars’ sounds lovely but doesn’t really reflect their true, presiding flavour. ‘Peanut Butter Oat Bars’? Ahh, dare I say I feel it’s a little ‘done’. So I find myself with the present title, ‘Peanut Butter and Millet Muesli Bars’. ‘Peanut Butter’ as they do contain a hefty dose of the good stuff, and certainly sing a strong, proud, peanutty chorus. ‘Millet’ deserves second place, as although it is not the principle grain in terms of abundance, its unique quality and spritely texture warrant a headline. While cooking millet with water on the stove (as you would other grains) allows for a more absorbable nutrient profile, I just love the crunch raw millet provides in baked goods. And finally, ‘Muesli Bars’ as this encourages lunchbox consumption, which is precisely what I intended. There…maybe it’s not so difficult to name a recipe after all.

I made these bars for my dear friend who has just started her postgraduate degree in Medicine. Well, the first batch I made I gifted some to her. This recipe has undergone a bit of tweaking since its crumbly start. Anyway, to say my friend is a little busy is an understatement. Between university, travel, study, and, oh, raising a toddler, I dare say she has little time to bake muesli bars. But she deserves muesli bars and many of them. And so I made her a batch.

I’m pretty sure these bites guarantee you an A in class.

Peanut Butter and Millet Muesli Bars

Recipe adapted from Sarah Forte’s Granola Protein Bars from the divine Sprouted Kitchen cookbook.

Makes 16-24 bars, depending how big you like them.

Ingredients

1/3 cup Unsalted, Untoasted Walnuts, roughly chopped (you can use an alternative nut here. Peanuts work nicely)
1 cup Slivered Almonds
1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 cup raw Millet
1 cup Bran (I use Vogel’s Ultra Bran, as it’s delicious)
1/3 cup Currants
1/4 teaspoon Salt*
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 cup runny Honey
1/2 cup Natural* Peanut Butter (feel free to use any natural nut butter)
2 tablespoon Water
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

* If using regular peanut butter (i.e. with added salt and sugar), dial back the salt to a pinch only. If using natural nut butter as is recommended (i.e. without added salt and sugar) then use 1/4 teaspoon salt.  If using regular nut butter, you might like to use a tad less honey and replace the reduced amount with water.

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 30cmx20cmx3cm baking pan, allowing the baking paper to overhang so it’s easy to lift the bars out. Set aside. 2. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and toast your walnuts, almonds, oats and millet in the oven until just golden toasty (~4 minutes, possibly longer, depending on your oven). Watch closely to ensure you don’t burn them. Remove and allow to cool in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the bran, millet, currants, salt and cinnamon to the bowl. Stir.
4. Heat the honey, water, vanilla and peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Pour over the oat nut mixture and stir until well combined.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin, pressing down with a spatula to ensure even, firm packing. Bake in the oven for ~15 minutes until the top is golden and the bars firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
6. Once completely cooled, cut your bars into your desired size and store in an airtight container. Gift some to studious friends and store others in the freezer. Leftover crumbles make a lovely breakfast over yoghurt – muesli bars and granola in one.


Heidi xo

Stuffing Business

February 24, 2013

Some days, you’ve just gotta stuff and roll a pork loin. There’s just no other way around your Saturday.

Last week I came across the perfect recipe by Katie Quinn Davies, so I darted down to our butcher and grabbed this beautiful piece of meat. Grating apples and chopping pistachios for the filling intensified my anticipation for this lovely meal – what fabulous additions they are. Stuffing is absolutely the best part of most meals. Make extra and you’ll have yourself a nice little side dish of heaven. Maybe you’ll add pancetta to the mix as well…that’d be just spectacular. Next time I’ll be sure to flatten my loin some more before filling. This foresight resulted in a rather zealous leakage of stuffing. All the more to pick at…

Oh, and I made crackling. For the first time. I rubbed salt into those grooves like there was no tomorrow. Katie’s encouragement for thin strands rather than ungracious slabs is so very smart. Such a dainty piece I did enjoy.

Served with blanched greens and thinly sliced radish, as well as roasted kipfler potatoes, this was an incredibly satisfying meal to plan, to stuff and to eat.




I quite like this stuffing business.


Heidi xo

Ham and Provolone Frittata with Roasted Cabbage

February 21, 2013

 

Living back at my parents’ house for a few months certainly has its merits. Beyond the obvious benefits such as spending time together, there are those added little perks which totally sweeten the deal. I’m talking food.

First, we have their vegetable patch, which has a party of greens sprouting out in a fantastically gregarious, drunken manner. I’ve never seen so much rocket. Then we have their never-ending supply of Christmas ham, which Dad cares for possibly more dearly than his children. I both understand and support this. And then of course we have the fresh eggs and herbs, as well as their affinity for fresh sourdough and a pantry full of baking ingredients. Yes, I’m quite comfortable living back at home for a few months before Ben and I head off to America for a short while…


My parents tend to work late during the week, so I often find myself alone for dinner. I’ve always loved cooking solo meals, always. It feels terribly nurturing, taking the time and effort to build yourself a wholly nourishing meal based entirely on what you desire…and what’s in your parents’ fridge.

This ham and provolone frittata with roasted cabbage was a ravenous, rainy Thursday night dinner, thrown together without foresight and without expectation. Although let’s be real here, when using provolone you do expect a certain degree of deliciousness.

Isn’t purple cabbage so very handsome? I think I’ll stay at home a little longer…

 

 

Ham and Provolone Frittata with Roasted Cabbage

Serves 1 in a wonderfully greedy manner

Ingredients

3 Eggs
A generous dash of Milk (~ 1/3 cup)
1 clove Garlic
4 Cherry Tomatoes
1 handful Leg Ham (you can replace this with tinned fish, roasted sweet potato cubes, chunks of fetta, whatever you wish!)
1 big handful Rocket
15g Provolone (a small handful)
15g quality Parmesan (a small handful)
150g Purple Cabbage (a small 1/4 cabbage)
Spray Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a cooking tray with baking paper.
2. Slice your cabbage into 1cm wide strips (or whatever width you desire). Lay the cabbage on the baking paper, season with salt and pepper and spray with spray oil. Roast in your hot oven for 15-20 minutes, until as crisp as you desire. Toss once or twice while cooking to ensure even roasting.
3. While your cabbage is roasting, whisk your eggs and milk together, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Grate your cheese, crush your garlic and slice your tomatoes. Set aside.
4. Heat some spray oil in a small non-stick pan* over medium heat (*ensure your pan has a handle that allows it to be placed in the oven). Sauté your garlic for a minute until fragrant. Add your tomato and cook for a further minute before adding your ham and rocket.
5. Pour the egg mixture over the tomato, ham, rocket and tilt the pan to allow even distribution of egg. Top with the cheese and cook for 1-2 minutes until the base is cooked (turn down the heat if it is browning too quickly), then place your pan in the oven (under your cabbage tray or wherever fits) to finish it off. Cook for ~3-4 minutes until the egg is just cooked and not dry.
6. Remove the cabbage and frittata from the oven and plate up. Serve with balsamic reduction if desired, it’s delicious.


Heidi xo

Kale Tacos with Carrot Ginger Spread and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

February 17, 2013

I have a few vegetarian friends. I appreciate them and their vegetarian ways, most definitely. I do however, often find myself scratching my head when planning what to cook for these lovelies. It’s not them, it’s me, as it appears my most delicious meals tend to involve meat. How did that happen?…

I so very much want to serve up deliciousness for my non-meat loving companions. They deserve it just as much as my pork and lamb loving friends. So when I find myself meatless inspired, I roll with it. This carrot ginger spread is the basis for meatless wonder.

This spread was greatly inspired by one of Tracy‘s recipes from her site, Shutterbean. Tracy is a blast, I adore her posts and her sense of humour. She makes me want to bake (and fry) doughnuts and eat avocado and glaze things. I had seen a recipe for a carrot ginger dressing on Shutterbean, which sounded terribly scrumptious. It left me with a hankering to steam and puree a bunch of carrots. In doing so, I ended up with a simple, humble puree, rather thick and full of potential. I did not want to thin it out too keenly, for fear of missing out on spreading this orange mess thickly on fresh bread. And who wouldn’t love to dip pita chips into this? Or carrot sticks? Hang on, that just seems wrong. Carrot on carrot…

Anyway I decided to leave it a little chunky. I envisaged scooping it into my salads, lashing it on fresh sourdough and smoothing it riiiiiight down with creme fraiche and sautéed mushrooms to create a snug little pasta sauce. This carrot ginger spread is friendly. It’s willing to go places with you and hang out, dressed up or down. I find myself quite affectionate towards this concoction.

Last weekend, my parents and I loaded up some carrot goodness on fresh sourdough. I then piled on salad goods, pickled cucumber and onion, bocconcini, basil and ham. It was good. Especially with cider.

Alright now, let’s talk tacos. These creations are not really tacos, let’s just acknowledge that first up. But I was quite certain Tracy and Joy would encourage a taco-fy situation here, so I grabbed my cavolo nero kale and did just that.


These bites make a super cute appetiser, paving the way for some cheese-and-bean-heavy nacho goodness as the main course – more vegetarian love right there. Perhaps you’ll take the Asian flavours of soy and ginger and go with a marinated tofu rice dish? Or maybe you’ll take my lead and just eat these for three consecutive days as a pre-lunch snack? It’s all good…and green and orange and crunchy.

Kale Tacos with Carrot Ginger Spread and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Serves 4 with 1 taco each. Simply make as many as you want and multiply the recipe as required. You’ll notice that there are only 3 tacos in the above photographs. I ate one first. Priorities.

Ingredients

4 Cavolo Nero leaves*
4 heaping tablespoons Carrot Ginger Spread (see recipe below)
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
A dash of Soy Sauce
* Cavolo nero, otherwise known as Tuscan cabbage, is a type of kale. You could replace this with any leaf which hold it’s shape. Baby cos lettuce would work well but would lack that deep earthy flavour of kale. Try to select leaves that open like a book, with a sturdy spine and generous leaves/pages.

Method

1. Heat a heavy non-stick pan over low-medium heat and toast your sunflower seeds for ~5 minutes or until lightly golden and toasty. When done, add a dash of soy sauce to the pan and stir to coat the seeds. It will sizzle, sizzle it good. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
2. Wash your cavolo nero and trim the ends to remove the large woody stem. Keep the stems for a stir fry or other dish.
3. Place 2-3 cups water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add a few good pinches of salt and pop your cavolo nero in to cook for 1 minute until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.
4. Using paper towel, dry your leaves then place them on a serving platter, the “inside” facing up. At this point you could cut them into smaller tacos if you wish.
5. Fill your tacos with the carrot ginger spread then sprinkle the toasted sunflower seeds over the top. Serve.

Carrot Ginger Spread – inspired by Tracy’s Carrot Ginger Dressing

Ingredients

5 medium Carrots, chopped into 2cm thick rounds
1/4 cup Water saved from when you steamed the carrots
1 clove of Garlic, peeled
1 thumb size cube (~1.5cm x 1.5cm) of fresh Ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon fresh Lemon juice (ideally a sweet Meyer Lemon – love)
Zest of 1/2 a Lemon
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Method

1. Steam the chopped carrots for ~10-15minutes until soft. When done, rinse the carrots under cold water. Reserve the steaming water for later use.
2. In a food processor, whiz the carrots, garlic, ginger, oil, lemon juice and zest and salt with most of the cooking water. Puree until smooth. Add more water if necessary until at the desired thickness. I enjoy a fairly thick spread.
3. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Use in kale tacos. And salad and on bread and on crackers and with pasta. My dad enjoyed this spread in a sandwich with peanut butter. Go there, if you so please.


Heidi xo

For My Valentine

February 14, 2013

Having a husband interstate for Valentine’s Day isn’t the most romantic situation to be in. I have no doubt that some way, somehow he will send me love from afar. But it’s not quite the same, is it? I cannot complain though, as Ben is actually coming home next week for a week-long visit (it’s our one year Wedding anniversary, can you believe it? I can, it feels like five years ago). And while he’s home I plan on spoiling him with pancakes and spaghetti alle vongole and chicken cacciatore and french toast and meatballs and slow-roasted meats and cake and wine. Yes, I shall save my doting for the 20th when I collect my love from the airport.

For now, here are some Valentine’s Day kisses. Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Kisses. I gifted these to my parents, grandparents and friends. And myself. I gifted many to myself. These bites are terribly scrumptious. I deem them a healthy version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I trust that’s enough incentive for you. Now, go forth and spread the love.


There are two of these sweet hearts left in the freezer for my sweetheart next week. Dear husband, you will have to wait. In the mean time, look under your workout clothes in your cupboard. I may have left a sneaky Valentine’s Day gift there for you when visiting a couple of weeks ago. I trusted those clothes would remain put and my secret would stay safe. Was I wrong?…

And to you, sweet readers, Happy Valentine’s Day. I so appreciate you. The remainder of these hearts are for each and every one of you. Well, the sentiment is there. But you do realise I will have to eat them myself *sigh*.

I already did that, by the way…

Heidi xo

Recipe Notes:

* This recipe is from the fabulous blog, The Minimalist Baker – recipe link.
* I did not bother with the raw aspect of the recipe.
* I used almond meal instead of oats to ensure they were gluten-free for a GFGF (gluten-free girlfriend).
* I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter and a circular mould to cut these bites (making some hearts, some discs).
* I recommend using your hands when dipping in chocolate, tongs and forks are rather fiddly and the chocolate isn’t too hot.
* I’m terribly flawed at chocolate coating.
* Be sure to serve these straight from the fridge or freezer, as they melt quite quickly and taste best when very chilled.

Steamed Artichokes

February 11, 2013

The simple things are often the most dazzling. Isn’t that true?

Take this artichoke. Plucked proudly from my parents’ garden, we praised the natural beauty and prepared it without a lot of fuss. Steamed with salt, served with butter. It was at once so simple, and so glorious. Truly, dazzlingly, delicious.

 

I remember seeing grand buckets of artichokes for sale at the markets in Sicily. I’d gaze longingly into their hearts with a combination of curiosity and wonder in my heart. How on earth was I to tackle such a beautiful beast? Back at home I’ve finally learnt how to respect this gorgeous thistle…with simplicity and admiration. And butter.

Eating an artichoke as we did on Saturday night, oh so simply, is a soul-enriching ceremony. Share or make it a greedy solo affair. I encourage both options.

 

 

I’ve said it before…sometimes, often, simple is best.

Heidi xo

Sunday Pizza and Pie

February 7, 2013

Last Sunday my friend and fellow blogger, Carly, came to visit. It’s so lovely when friends are eager to travel down to the Red Hill to see where I grew up, where I’m currently living. I suppose they know that they’re in for eats, perhaps that explains their enthusiasm…. Either way, it’s terribly lovely and I had such a nice day with Carly and my parents. We visited some food stores and the beach, before heading home to prepare the pizza. It was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, sitting and eating outside together, enjoying the gently warm day we were gifted.

Earlier on, Dad made his pizza dough, ever so perfectly.


Afterwards he designed a refreshing drink for us. This ginger and plum afternoon cocktail was a delightful mix of tart plum syrup, ginger liqueur, bourbon, ginger sugar syrup and sparkling water.


Our four pizza creations then went into the oven. We had a subtly beautiful mushroom pizza, my favourite of the day. As well as a chorizo and pesto pizza with bocconcini, smoked mozzarella and a tomato base. I tend to favour a bianco base, but this was a nice change. Our third pizza consisted of potato, ham, anchovies and provolone. And lastly, we made a ham, fig and red current pizza with blue cheese and mozzarella. These figs were just gorgeous, a present from Carly on the day. I also made a kale salad which provided a break from all that dough. We served our pizza with chilli oil, which I believe to be mandatory. Let’s eat.

Pie…

*sigh*

Pie is everything I adore about creating and cooking and eating.

Out of a desire for something sweet on this Sunday, as well as a fervent need to continue experimenting with the woodfired oven, I made an apple galette with rustic rye dough. I adapted Kim Boyce’s recipe for a fruit tart from her book, Good to the Grain. I am completely in love with this book. Whimsically, I used fig jam as my base and filled the pie with cooked, spiced, sweetened apples. It’s a tad early for apples, this is true. However I had seen a lovely pile of Delgrosso-grown apples at the Red Hill Market the day before and instantly thought of the woodfired oven and pie. I had to buy them. I had to buy them and make pie.


I was so very pleased with this beauty, which we served with vanilla ice-cream. The dough was terribly rustic and I adored the unapologetically earthy tones of the rye flour. It also contained less butter than many pie recipes out there, so it didn’t feel too rich. The technique involved in making the dough, respecting the butter as royalty and giving it the chilled treatment it deserves, allowed for a beautifully flaky pastry. I will most definitely be making this dough again, and I promise to scribe my recipe next time.

Thank you for visiting, Carly. And for the figs, raspberries and yoghurt. I love that you brought these goodies and enjoyed your time in Red Hill at our little pizza party.

I had more pie for dinner that night. It was a good Sunday…

Heidi xo

Coconut Frangipane Pudding

February 3, 2013

Don’t you just adore almonds? Show me the word “frangipane” on a menu and my heart is stolen. I tend to feel the same way about coconut, too. This delicate little pudding came out of a desire to use coconut flour in a new, pudding-inspired way. And together with almond meal it created a sort of frangipane-like dream.

I’ve been playing with coconut flour, using it in a few recipes, you see. Cakes and pancakes and brownies and such…but this recipe was a bit different, and just so darling, so feminine that I had to share it with you.

I favour this recipe as a breakfast pudding. It’s certainly nourishing, and satisfies on those days when you wake up hungry for something sweet and dainty. And even though it’s quite soft and feminine, it is still rather gutsy and filling. The perfect pudding personality, you might say.

I quite enjoy the distinctly light, etherial texture coconut flour affords to baked goods. I find it works well alongside a genial dollop of Greek or natural yoghurt, whichever you fancy. Coconut flour likes to suck up moisture, so do not be concerned by the use ample liquid and little flour in this recipe – it’s necessary to avoid a dry pudding.

Oh, and excuse the shamelessly crusty edges, contrasting rather drastically with this pretty little pudding. But truly, aren’t they the best part?

Coconut Frangipane Pudding

Serves 2, rather generously. It would make a modest meal for 4 if served alongside fruit and yoghurt.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Coconut Flour (you can find this in Health Food Stores)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 cup Almond Meal
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
2 pinches Salt
1 1/2 tablespoons Shredded Coconut
1 Egg
1/4 cup Honey (runny honey)
1 1/4 cup Milk
2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (coconut butter/oil in it’s liquid/runny state)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Frozen Raspberries (can use fresh or other berries)
A handful Flaked Almonds and more Shredded Coconut to scatter on top of the pudding
Butter for greasing the pans

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, convection setting, and grease two individual ~15x15cm pie dishes (or one larger equivalent dish).
2. Sift the coconut flour, baking powder and almond meal into a mixing bowl. Add the oats, salt and shredded coconut and stir.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg then add the honey, milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir to combine.
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and gently fold through until just combined. Add the raspberries and fold gently again.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared dishes, smooth the surface then top with the almond flakes and extra shredded coconut. Cook for 15 minutes, then cover with foil (to avoid over-browning the top) and cook for a further 10-12 minutes until the centre is soft but not too gooey, all the while ensuring the outer edges are not dry. Serve with Greek or natural yoghurt.
Heidi xo