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Honey, Hazelnut & Tahini Banana Cake

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There are high maintenance cakes, and then there are low maintenance cakes. High maintenance cakes require you to combine their ingredients in overly-complicated ways. You'll probably have to cream the butter and the sugar in one mixing bowl, while whisking the egg whites into soft peaks in another. Then you’ll have to ‘fold’ in the dry ingredients. Which is completely stressful because basically its impossible and there are always lumps and I always get impatient and just stir it viciously until it’s smooth, which totally defeats the purpose of all the gentle folding. Once they're cooked, high maintenance cakes have to be perfectly iced using one of those fiddly piping bags with the special star-shaped nozzles, then they have to be positioned into artful layers, which will slide off each other onto your lap when you're driving to the party, leaving you covered in your ostentatious icing and rueing the day you decided to try and be fancy.

High maintenance cakes need to be dressed up nicely and taken to dinner. You’ll need to spend your weekends watching their boring-ass cricket matches, and pick them up from parties at 3am when they’ve had a few too many. They don't approve of your outfits, they don't make enough effort with your friends and they only ever want to watch black and white subtitled films. Well STUFF THAT. 

There are high maintenance cakes, and then are low maintenance cakes. 

This is a low maintenance cake.


Ingredients

(serves 8, each serve is approximately 320 calories)

3 overripe bananas, mashed

2 eggs, whisked

1 cup almond meal

2 Tbsp honey (use 3 Tbsp if you're a sweet-tooth)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup whole meal self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

A punch of salt

1/2 cup soy milk

2 Tbsp tahini

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Method

Put everything in a bowl except the granulated sugar and the hazelnuts. Stir until the mixture is smooth

Pour your cake mix into a non-stick loaf tin. Scatter the granulated sugar and hazelnuts on top, then bake for 30-40 minutes at 180˚C, until a knife inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. 

Serve warm with fresh fruit, plus butter, honey, tahini or peanut butter as a spread (or just eat with your fists straight out of the loaf-tin because you are a strong independent lady - or gentleman - and you'll do whatever you damn well please)


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Maple, Vanilla & Citrus Cocktail

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Friday 2.33pm is definitely the time to make a cocktail. Sadly for me, this Friday at 2.33pm I will not be making cocktails. I will be writing my thesis. Actually that's probably not wholly true either. Probably, what I'll actually be doing is obsessively tidying my desk drawers and 'minimal-ising' my life as a form of productive procrastination. But you do what you can. And what you should do is make this cocktail because it's just lovely! 


Ingredients

(Makes 2)

2-4 Tbsp Maple syrup

2 shots of vodka

Seeds from half a vanilla pod (or you could just use 1 Tbsp vanilla essence)

2 lemons

1 lime

1 cup sparkling water

2 Kaffir lime leaves, crushed (or you could use lemon grass, or mint)

Method

Combine your maple syrup (start with just 2 Tbsp and add more if you'd like it sweeter), vodka, vanilla seeds (or essence), the juice and rind of one of your lemons and the juice of your lime. 

Crush the Kaffir lime leaves (or the lemon grass or mint if that's what you're using) and muddle these in the mix with your maple syrup and vodka concoction. 

Strain into two glasses, add ice, and then gently pour over your sparkling water. Serve with a wedge of the remaining lemon. Drink!

Note: You can adjust the flavours however you like - if you'd like it sweeter add more maple syrup, if you'd like more zing squeeze in more lemon juice, or if the flavours are too strong and you'd like, it a little milder add more sparkling water. The most important thing is to make it while the afternoon sun is still hanging in the sky, making your Friday afternoon look golden-hued and full of the promise of late-night revelry! 


Extra Note: The little black speckles on the top of my cocktails are grated vanilla pods + seeds! (...just in case anyone thinks I've started using dirt to flavour my alcoholic beverages...). If you can find them - they come in a handy little grinder - I highly recommend! Lasts ages and it's great as a last minute 'this-definitely-isn't-dirt' garnish!


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Chilli Oil to Blow Your Face Off

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You know why chillies are spicy? It's a deterrent to try and stop us from eating them. Birds can eat chillies like nobody's business and they don't feel a thing, because chillies WANT birds to eat them. Birds' digestive systems don't damage the chilli seeds on the way through, so birds eat the chillies, fly off somewhere, and their droppings carry the seeds far and wide, which suits the chilli plants nicely. Humans, on the other hand, destroy the chilli seeds during digestion so the plant produces chemicals that make it taste spicy to us, to put us off eating it. 

Ha ha chillies. Ya big idiots. DOESN'T WORK DOES IT BECAUSE YOU TASTE FRIGGIN AMAZING. 

I have chillies in my garden, chillies on the sink, chillies in the pantry, chillies pickling in the fridge. I have chilli pastes and chilli sauces, and whenever we go out for family dinner my dad whips out a little baggie of dried chillies from his pocket and we cut it up over whatever we're eating because restaurants almost NEVER get what I mean when I ask for triple chilli. Dad gets it. 

If you get it too, then this recipe is for you. It's based around some vague instructions I got given by a chef at a restaurant my family goes to religiously. His recipe was for a chilli paste, but I must have screwed up the ratio of oil-to-chillies while making it, because I ended up with this rich red chilli oil, with what seem to be fried chilli flakes suspended in it.


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Ingredients

4 parts chillies (I used around 1-1.5 cups of birds eye chillies)

1 part garlic, thinly sliced (I used ~4-5 cloves)

a heap of olive oil

2 lemons (just the peel)

2 Tbsp dried chilli flakes

Method

De-stem the chillies and chop them in half lengthwise. Gloves are a good idea. I know this because I didn't use gloves and my hands burnt for 24 hours. 

Put the chillies and diced garlic in a saucepan, and add enough olive oil so that they're completely covered

Bring the olive oil to the boil and let the chillies and garlic fry for a few minutes, depending on how crispy you want them. I let mine go for quite a while, until some of the chillies started to darken and then I got worried that I'd burnt them and ruined it (but I hadn't!).

Turn off the heat, and add the lemon peel. Leave to infuse for at least ten minutes. 

Add the chilli flakes, then blitz everything with a handheld blender to turn the fried chillies, lemon rind and garlic into a nice crumbly pile of goodness. 

Pour into sterilised bottles or jars. The bits of chilli go great as a topping to noodles, salads, roast pumpkin...basically everything. The oil has such a lovely red colour and can be used to fry anything that you want a little spicy, or to make a salad dressing with a kick. 


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Potato Salad

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My cookbook comes out today! Huzzah! Which means that I am no longer consumed with writing recipes for the book, so I don't have any excuse to neglect this blog. My last post was in November - despicable! I hope this salad makes up for it at least a little bit.

I just came home from Hobart, and the food there is AWESOME! My brain is buzzing with new recipes to try, but if there's one main thing I took away from all the food I ate there (and I ate a LOT of food), it's that the Tasmanians don't hold back when it comes to throwing things into a dish.

You don't just get 'smashed avo on toast', they give you avocado, topped with white Kimchi, alfalfa sprouts, purple cabbage, white bean puree, and a million other tasty bits! The menus are written to deceive you; 'grilled carrot' isn't really grilled carrot. It's a carrot that's been softened in cow's whey with cumin and fancypants aromatics, blackened on the grill, sitting on top of a dollop of parsley aioli and scattered with currants and roasted pumpkins seeds. My island friends, you are all crazy! But I like it. So I'm gonna do it too!

 Smashed Avo by  Straight Up Coffee & Food

Smashed Avo by Straight Up Coffee & Food

 Grilled Carrots courtesy of  Templo

Grilled Carrots courtesy of Templo

Anyway, here's my roasted potato salad (which actually also has: Togarashi seasoning, roasted mushrooms, curly kale, regular kale, parsley, a pesto-french-viniagrette-and-mayo dressing, sunflower seeds, roasted garlic, barberries and pecorino cheese). Thing is, adding a million ingredients sounds fancy, and it makes things taste lovely, but the sneaky secret is often these recipes are no more difficult or time consuming than anything else.

For this recipe I just chucked the potatoes, garlic and shrooms in the oven and forgot about them for a while, then washed and chopped the kale, poured on some dressing and threw on whatever random toppings I could find in my pantry. Easy! If you cant be bothered making the dressing I made (which was also just out of leftover bits and pieces in the fridge), then I recommend just going with a nice french vinaigrette (try this one - it's my Dad's recipe and it's grrrrreat!). 

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Ingredients

(serves 1)

4 small potatoes, chopped into 2cm thick chunks

2 field mushrooms

4 garlic cloves

1-2 tsp Tamari

2 cups of kale (curly, regular or both), coarsely chopped

Togarashi spice (you can get this at asian food stores, if you don’t have it use chilli flakes or cayenne pepper)

2-3 Tbsp sunflower seeds

2-3 Tbsp barberries (if you cant find barberries you could use currants or dried cranberries)

A little finely grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)

Method

Put your potatoes, garlic cloves (whole and still in their skins), and mushrooms on an oven tray with a little olive oil. Salt the potatoes generously and sprinkle with the Togarashi seasoning!

Put the Tamari on the furry inside bit of each mushroom. Roast everything at about 200˚C for 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft inside and crispy on the outside, an the mushrooms look all juicy and tender. 

While the potatoes etc are roasting, wash and roughly chop your kale. Pour the dressing over the kale and massage it in!  

Take the potatoes and mushrooms out of the oven and   let them cool down for 5 minutes. Pop the roasted garlic out of its skin and chop it into chunks.

Chuck the potatoes and garlic in with the kale and give them a toss. Stick it on a plate, put the mushrooms on top, scatter the sunflower seeds and barberries on top, and lastly grate a little pecorino cheese over the whole thing. Eat!

Note: For the dressing, I used some of my Dad’s vinaigrette, mixed with 1 Tbsp of my Mum’s pesto, and 1-2 tsp of mayonnaise. Shook it up real good, then poured it all over the kale and kinda massaged it in (I know that sounds creepy but go with it because it’s the yummiest way to do kale!)


Dad's Vinaigrette

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My Dad is clever. When I was little he taught me all about volcanoes and tsunamis and geology and space travel and how you can work out how far away a storm is by counting the number of seconds in between the flash of lightning and the boom of thunder (pretty sure 1 second = 1km). 

He also taught me how to make this salad dressing, and for that, among many many things, I shall be eternally grateful.


 
 My Dad <3

My Dad <3

 

Once you have this dressing you're golden. You don't ever even need to cook again. Just get an avocado, cut it in half and remove the seed, then fill it with this dressing. Eat it with a teaspoon and some crusty buttered French bread. It's just so good. Anyhoo, here's how you make it. 


Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Method

To call this a 'method' is bloody ridiculous! Here's what you gotta do. Stick all the ingredients in a jug. Blend with a handheld blender. Done!

Note: The cool thing about this dressing is you can customise it. So I've used Dad's original version here where you have a 2:1 oil to vinegar ratio. Blending the dressing with the blender emulsifies the oil and makes the dressing really thick and creamy. It's good. It's probably also not what you want to eat every night if you're on a diet hehe. For a runnier (less calorific) version, just use a 1:1 ratio of oil and vinegar. You can also play around with the amount of garlic, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper until you find out what you like. I never measure anything when I make it, just go by feel, and then sometimes I don't even use it as a dressing...I just drink it out of the jug. 


Black Tahini Ice-cream Sandwiches

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It's nearly December, and you know what I've realised? December screws with EVERYONE'S MINDS. The world goes weird. Clocks start moving in some kind of physically-impossible, frenzied mania. Each hour passes twice as fast as it ought to. And people (me, usually) suddenly start wanting to catch up over champagne lunches. Every night feels like it ought to end with soft cheese and wine, or a glass of baileys in a bath full of pumpkin-pie scented bubbles. It all sounds delicious and glorious really, the only problem is there's just no bloody time.

I have bought no Christmas presents. I have written no cards. I have cooked no gingerbread. I haven't watched any Christmas movies and I haven't listened to a single carol to speak of. You know what I am? I am this Black Tahini Ice-cream Sandwich. Trapped between the UNRELENTING PRESSURE of two maple-flavoured vegan Anzac cookies, becoming ever so slightly untethered and INCREASINGLY MELTING AWAY.

Please somebody, bake me the awesome retro gingerbread house from the 70s that I promised I'd make myself a month ago. Please buy my gifts and wrap them for me. Please write my thesis. Then put me on a nice cold tray and shovel me into the freezer with an icy beer while I re-combobulate myself. And when I come out give me a new dress, a tan, and a relatively more composed frame of mind in time for December 25th. 


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Ingredients

Black Tahini Icecream

1 can coconut milk

4 tbsp black tahini

5 tbsp maple syrup

1-2 Tbsp castor sugar

few pinches salt

white sesame seeds (for serving, optional)

Anzac Biscuits

1 1/4 cups plain flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

1/4 cup slivered almonds

pinch of salt

1/3 cup caster sugar

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup olive oil

Method

Whisk together all ingredients for the ice-cream until thoroughly combined. Pour into an ice-cream maker and churn until thick and cold. Store in the freezer in a sealed contained until using.

For the biscuits, put flour, oats, coconut, bicarb soda, almonds and salt in a big bowl. Mix well to combine.

In a smaller bowl, mix the maple syrup and olive oil. Pour this into the big bowl and stir until well combined. If the mixture is still a bit dry add a few tablespoons of cold water until it sticks together and can be rolled into balls. 

Roll biscuit dough into balls, place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and press down to flatten slightly. Cook in a moderate (160˚C) oven for 15 minutes, or until they have started to brown. Take out and let cool on a rack before assembling into your ice-cream sandwiches. 

To assemble your ice cream sandwiches, take one biscuit and put a scoop of ice-cream on top, then place another biscuit on top. If you want to make them look fancy, sprinkle a few white sesame seeds around the edges of the ice cream.

Serve and eat at once before they melt! 


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Waldorf Salad's Twisted Sister

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Along with a bunch of lovely food blogger folk, I'm taking part in a challenge to cook an apple-inspired dish (you can check out all their amazing concoctions by following the links below, or by searching the hashtag #aisforalltheapples from October 25th).

It's finally feeling like summer in Perth, and I really wanted to do something light and fresh and crunchy. Enter my cabbage, jerusalem artichoke, walnut and - most importantly - apple Waldorf Salad. The traditional Waldorf salad apparently dates back to the late 1800s and at first was composed only of apples, celery and mayonnaise. By the 1930s they'd started zhushing it up and walnuts had become a standard addition. I think it's time for another ingredient to join the prestigious ranks: salty, crispy, shallow-fried Jerusalem artichoke!

I've made mine a little lighter than the classic version by using a buttermilk, mayonnaise and lemon juice dressing, with sumac for added zing. Something about the purple and white cabbage makes me think of funky witches wearing colourful cloaks and playing jazz saxophone... hence the title of this post (..it's late, I'm sleepy, I don't know). The cabbage also gives it an extra crispiness that goes nicely with the apples, and the fried Jerusalem artichokes are crunchy, salty, and delicious! It works great the next day as a coleslaw with hot chips, vinegar and a nice bottle of white wine too. I know that because I take my recipe testing very seriously, always endeavouring to see which of my inventions pair well with hot chips and wine. Turns out most do.


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Ingredients

2 red apples, halved, then finely sliced

1 jerusalem artichoke

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups shredded purple and white cabbage

1 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp buttermilk 

1 clove garlic

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp sumac

1/4 cup walnuts (roasted)

1/2 a large red onion, very finely diced

1-2 sticks of celery (I used native Australian Celery, but regular celery would be fine too), finely diced

A pinch of salt and pepper

Method

Slice the jerusalem artichoke into very fine slivers. Pour the olive oil and vegetable oil into a small saucepan, and put on moderate heat. One the oil is hot, add your slivers of jerusalem artichoke. Let them fry until they have gone golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, place on a kitchen towel and salt generously.

Roughly chop the walnuts. Spread them onto a baking tray and roast in the oven at 200˚C for about 5 minutes, or until they have started to brown. 

Place the shredded cabbage, red onion, walnuts and apples in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together your mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic, lemon juice and sumac. Pour this dressing over the cabbage, onion, celery, walnuts and apples and toss to combine.

Season with a little salt and pepper to taste, then divide into serving bowls and top with a few of your jerusalem crisps. 


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Looking for more apple-y inspiration? Check out these recipes!

@cloudykitchen- Salted Caramel and Apple Babka
@Katie_Clova- Maple Apple Cake
@suburbanpiesandtreats- Rosemary Brown Butter Apple Pie
@especiallysouthern- Apple Pie Egg Rolls
@pensive_foodie- Bacon Crusted Apple Pies
@mykitchenlove- Bird's Nest Apple Caramel Cake
@joyosity- Deep Fried Apple Dumplings with Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce 
@dukkah_queen- Caramelized Venetian Bread Pudding
@moreicingthencake- Apple Butter Pretzels with Rosemary Cheddar Dip
@feedtheswimmers- Apple Buckwheat Galette with Halva and Maple Tahini
@thekitchensinkblog- Apple Cheddar Loaf
@whatshouldimakefor- Hasselback Apple Puff Pastry Tarts
@jessiesheehanbakes- Apple Fritters
@farmandcoastcookery- Apple Cider Donut and Cinnamon Apple French Toast Casserole
@smartinthekitchen- Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Crisp
@ful.filled- Milopita- Greek Apple Cake
@thishealthytable- Cardamon Apple Tart
@thegalettegirl- Apple Galette
@piegirlbakes- Apple Pie
@figsandflour- Apple Purple Potato Pizza
@somethingnewfordinner- Savory Bread Pudding with Apples, Sausage and Pecans
@champagneandcookies- Apple Galette
@alwayseatdessert- Apple Spice Scones with Maple Bourbon Glaze
@rezelkealoha- Apple Poached Rose with Rosewater Reduction
@thesoupsolution- Fennel Sausage and Apple Dressing (stuffing)
@lemonthymeandginger- Smoky Maple Apple Dutch Baby
@worthypause- Thanksgiving in your Mouth Paleo Stuffing
@anniecampbell- Popcorn, Cheese and Apples
@cocoaandsalt- Vegan Apple Stuffin' Muffins
@ladyandlarder- Cheeseboard with Apples
@chefdanielagerson- Skillet Caramel Apple Pie
@gobblethecook- One Pan Pork and Sausages with Apples
@allomamanwhatscooking- Apple & Camembert Tarte Tatin
@holajalapeno- Fluffy Apple Chili Biscuits
@friendswhofete- Pomegranate Ginger Apple Cider Punch
@bakingthegoods- Apple Cheddar and Thyme Scones
@whatannieseating- Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Asiago & Sage Croutons
@its_a_vegworld_afterall- 5 MInute Microwave Apple Crisp
@floursinyourhair- Brown Butter Bourbon Apple Pie
@cooksandkid- Apple Cabbage Jalapeno Slaw
@confettikitchen- Fall Kale Salad with Chicken and Apples
@saltedplains- Gluten-Free Apple Crumb Cake
@marypardoux- White Bean and Apple Soup
@plumluckypiepi- Pinot and Cranberry-poached Apple Slab Pie
@easyanddelish- Candy Corn Apple Pops
@thismessisours- Easy Baked Apple Custard
@butterlovescompany- Gingerbread with Brandied Apples
@korekitchen- Green Apple Pie Smoothie
@zestfulkitchen- Puffed Apple Pancake
@sweetpillarfood- Apple Honey Brie
@farmgirlsdabble- Peanut Butter Apple Cookies
@sweetisthespice- Maple, Walnut, Apple Cider Israeli Couscous
@ameecooks- Peanut Butter Protein Dip with Apples


Tahini & Maple Oat Bars

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It's basically Christmas, right? Which, if you're in the southern hemisphere, means two things:

1) One day very soon it is going to be too hot to tolerate eating anything above room temperature, and

2) Once mid-December hits, you're inevitably going to have to deal with a couple of those drop-in-lifelong-friends-with-whom-you're-not-actually-interested-in-continuing-a-friendship, bearing gifts of miscellaneous chocolates, potted plants you don't really want, and candles that smell a little like toilet freshener.

Well, don't be unprepared! Make yourself a few batches of these glorious oat bars, and then you'll have a backup gift ready for even the most unexpected of blow-ins - although be warned, after trying the oat bars they may suddenly decide they want to amp your friendship up to the next level so they can eat them with you all the time. Then you're screwed.

On the other hand, if you get lucky and no one calls to wish you a happy Christmas (you Grinch, you) it means you have a delicious refrigerated snack all for yourself!


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Ingredients

2 cups oats

1 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup hazelnuts (skinned)

1/2 cup pepitas

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup tahini paste

a pinch of salt

1/4 cup dark chocolate

Method

Spread your oats on an oven tray, roast at 200˚ C until they’ve turned a golden brown (should take 5-10 minutes)

Spread your almonds and hazelnuts on another oven tray, roast these until lightly browned (should take another 5-10 minutes). Coarsely chop. 

Add the chopped nuts, pepitas and salt to the oats, mix until combined. 

Blend the dates in a blender until they resemble a squishy dough, break this into bits and rub it into the oat mixture until it’s well combined. 

Warm the maple syrup and tahini paste briefly in the microwave, and pour over the oats mixture. Mix thoroughly, then press into a dish lined with baking paper. Put in the refrigerator to cool for a few hours, then chop into bars. 

Melt the dark chocolate, dip the end of each muesli bar into the chocolate, then put on baking paper, and put back in the fridge to set. 


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Caramelised Onion, Date, Goat's Cheese & Olive Linguine

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I am in a committed and monogamous relationship with pasta: it is fulfilling, it warms and nourishes me, and I'm never left wanting for more. I could come home to pasta every night of the week and still my eyes wouldn't stray over to white rice, bread loaves or potato. Actually, that's a lie. I enjoy mornings spent in bed with a nice slice of sourdough, and I'll never turn away a hot potato. But the fact of the matter is that my heart remains in the possession of pasta. 

Fettucini, bucatini, linguini, spaghettini - the list is practically endless, and I'm aware that I often slip into discussing food in borderline inappropriate ways, but c'mon. It's pasta. You understand. 

The problem with having a committed and monogamous relationship with pasta is that - delicious though it is - you may find yourself, like me, in something of a rut. My sauces are so safe, so familiar. I open a can of tomatoes, I chop up an onion, crush a bit of garlic. Sometimes if it's a really special occasion I'll put on high heels, red lipstick and chuck in some capers and olives. But really, I'm sad to say it's starting to feel like we just don't put in the effort that we used to. There's only so much that a liberal grating of parmesan can do to distract you both from the fact that the routine is static, and you're just getting older, more wrinkled and more predictable. It's upsetting (even if you are primarily composed of wheat and gluten).  

So I'm jazzing things up. I'm still the same old me, the linguine is the same linguine I've always loved and revered, but the can of tomatoes is staying in the pantry, and I intend to get saucy with some novel ingredients. Like this slinky, sultry, buttery, salty-but-ever-so-slightly-sweet caramelised onion, Medjool date, goat's cheese, pistachio and olive linguine. And yesss I still love pasta no matter if it's covered in butter, salt and garlic, or if it's bare naked, cold, tired and caked onto the side of the colander. I'm not shallow, but there's nothing wrong with spicing things up a little.

A bit of experimentation never hurt anyone. 


Ingredients

(serves 2)

1 red onion, cut into slices

2 garlic cloves

1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

4 Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped

1/4 cup soft goat's cheese

A glug of olive oil (or a stick of butter if you're feeling decadent)

1/4 cup black kalamata olives, halved

3 Tbsp capers

A sprinkling of chilli flakes

 

A handful of parsley, roughly chopped

Enough linguine for 2 serves

Method

Caramelise your onion by frying it with a little olive oil and the balsamic vinegar on medium heat, stirring often until the onion goes translucent and then starts to brown. It should taste sweet. If it doesn't, add a little more balsamic vinegar.

Meanwhile, cook your linguine as per the instructions on the packet. 

To your caramelising onions, add the garlic, olives, capers, chilli and Medjool dates. Let cook for another few minutes.

Drain your pasta and toss it along with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the frying pan, and toss so that it mixes together with the toppings. 

Just before serving, stir through the chunks of goat's cheese and top with the parsley and pistachios. Add salt and pepper to taste. 


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Roast Pumpkin & Rye Quiche

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This was the most exciting quiche to make! My friend Naomi's mum GROUND THE FLOUR that I used for the pastry. My Mum GREW THE PUMPKIN I put in the filling, and my brother's chickens LAID THE EGGS that made the quiche mix! I can't even get over it! It's clear I'm about to go full on hippy if this pattern continues, so please excuse me while I go and find myself a dream catcher, some jingly jangly anklets and a rainbow skirt made out of hemp. 

Also, go buy yourself some rye flour because it's DAMN good! I've never used it for a pastry case before and it was nutty and incredibly flavoursome and crunchy! I'm sure the fact that it was home ground helped too, but from now on I'm planning on getting much more adventurous with the types of flours I use. Wheat, you smug bastard, move aside and share the spotlight! 


Ingredients

For the pastry

125g rye flour

a pinch of salt

55g butter, chopped into cubes

2 Tbsp cold water

 

For the filling

1/2 a butternut pumpkin (around 400g), chopped into chunky cubes 

1 tsp smoky paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

6 eggs

1-2 tbsp milk (or whipping cream, if you want to be indulgent)

1 Tbsp pepitas

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp pinenuts

1/4 cup pecorino cheese (sharp Parmesan would work too)

A few sprigs of thyme

Method

For the pastry, combine the flour and salt, then rub in the butter until the whole thing forms the consistency of breadcrumbs. Then add the water and knead until a smooth dough forms. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the refrigerator for half an hour. 

While the pastry is chilling in the fridge, toss the chopped pumpkin in the olive oil, smoky paprika and salt, making sure it's well coated. Spread it on baking sheets and roast at around 180-200˚C for about 40 minutes, or until the pumpkin is cooked through and has started to caramelise a little on the outside. Remove from the oven and let cool a little. 

Rub some olive oil around the base and edges of one of those quiche pie dish things. Roll out your pastry into a thin sheet. It might break up (mine did) but don't stress! Put it in the pie dish and press it down so that it's covering the whole dish evenly and goes all the way up the sides. Then you want to 'blind bake' it*, which means you put some baking paper on top of the pastry, and pour some rice or pastry 'beads' on top of the baking paper. These are to weigh it down. Put it in the oven at around 180˚C and cook for 10-15 minutes, then remove the rice and baking paper and put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry looks crisp and slightly browned all over (make sure it's definitely cooked at the bottom because you don't want it to get stodgy once you add the filling).

Whisk your eggs and milk with salt and pepper to taste. Once the pastry shell is cooked, fill it with your roast pumpkins, pour your egg-milk mixture over the top (it should rise up to around the level of the edges of the pastry). Top with the grated cheese, sprinkle over the pepitas, pine nuts, sunflower seeds and the sprigs of thyme, and put in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. It might take longer - you'll know it's ready when it doesn't look liquid-y anymore^.

Serve warm from the oven with a nice fresh side salad to add some extra crunch. Feeds four hungry people.

*Side note 1: I learned the other day that blind baking is what stops the sides of the pie shrinking down as the pastry cooks, so you do it to make sure you still have good height to your quiche!

^ Side note 2: Cooking time varies because of heaps of things, like how watery your fillings are, your egg-mixture-to-pumpkin-ratio and a heap of stuff, so don't worry if it takes a little longer, just keep an eye on it and take it out once it looks firm and you can't see any liquid in the centre. 


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Pasta Primavera

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It's arrived! August 31st: the last day of winter!

The clouds have been hanging around all morning like an irritating cough that won't go away. But I know something they don't (...well, obviously, because they're just clumps of water vapour); I know that tomorrow is the first day of spring!

I'm aware that I complain a lot about winter. Which is a bit bratty really, given that I'm an Australian and we don't even know the meaning of the word. It's just that spring and sunshine and blue skies are the happiest things! The food is so much more exciting too - salads full of pomegranate seeds, grilled zucchini and handfuls of rocket, bircher muesli topped with fresh mango and strawberries, brightly coloured watermelon smoothies, peach ice-cream, lemon sorbet, gin-soaked fruit! The list goes on, and I'm getting overexcited. 

For now, please enjoy this Pasta Primavera (literally 'Springtime Pasta'). You can make it out of whatever seasonal vegetables you like really, but I think fresh peas are always an essential. Stick it in a giant bowl, put on a big floppy hat, a floaty dress, find a deck chair to lounge on and welcome in the next 6 months of sunshine and beaches and  'Screw-it-I-don't-HAVE-to-be-working-and-oh-yes-thank-you-I-WOULD-like-that-cocktail'. 


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Ingredients

4 brussel sprouts

4 spring onions, cut in half

10 snow peas, ends removed

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 baby zucchinis, sliced lengthways

2 serves penne pasta

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp natural yoghurt (you could also use cream cheese)

Juice and grated rind of half a lemon

2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

Handful of rocket

Method

Remove the outer leaves of your brussel sprouts. Place in a strainer and briefly pour over boiling water to blanche them. Set aside. 

Cook the pasta 

While the pasta is cooking, fry the spring onions, baby zucchinis, and half the garlic in 1Tbsp of olive oil until their skin has gone golden. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper. Add the snow peas and fry for 1 more minute, then remove from heat and set aside. 

In the same frying pan, put the cooked pasta, 1 Tbsp olive oil, natural yoghurt, lemon juice and rind, the remaining garlic, and parmesan cheese. Fry on moderate heat for around a minute until the cheese has melted, then add the fried vegetables and blanched brussel spouts.

Toss gently to combine, then serve with extra parmesan cheese and a handful of rocket on top, and some fresh chilli if desired. 


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Mandarin and Coconut Icy Poles

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I was going to make the title of this blog post 'Yes, I knowwww... But it's summer in EUROPE'...then realised that's not a hugely informative name for a recipe.

In my defence, I am already a little sleep deprived, and when your Facebook newsfeed is almost entirely populated by pictures of people lounging in the Spanish sun and frolicking in flower-filled English fields, you may find that you too get the sudden urge to make mandarin and coconut ice-creams.

I'm not saying it's logical. In fact, it is the epitome of wishful thinking. Another miserable raincloud has just flopped over my house, and those poor zesty, chocolatey, vanilla bean-y ice creams are left waiting patiently in the freezer.

However! Soon the clouds shall roll over YOUR cities, my northern hemisphere friends! Heheh. And I don't mean that to sound vindictive, and I swear I'm not really bitter... but you've had your time in the sun. I'm done with winter, it's time for the Earth to spin on its tilted axis and give us a little bit of that good stuff! And sadly we can't both have summer at the same time, so you'll just need to learn to share! I estimate you've got another month of lolling on beaches and margarita-sipping, and then it's my turn. 

Until then, may your freckles deepen, may your slushies be perfectly chilled, your sunscreen judiciously applied, and may your own freezer be full of these icy, delicious (and vegan!) treats! 


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Ingredients

1 can coconut cream

2 Tbsp castor sugar

1 vanilla pod

a pinch of salt

5 sumo citrus mandarins

1/2 cup dark cooking chocolate

1/2 tsp olive oil

6-10 popsicle sticks

Method

Scrape the seeds out of your vanilla pod, and whisk together with the coconut cream, castor sugar and salt. Pour into icy pole moulds, filling them a little over halfway up. Put in the freezer.

Peel your mandarins and place in a food processor. Blend on high until thoroughly blended. Strain through a sieve and discard the pulp. 

Once your coconut ice-cream has partially frozen, gently press the popsicle sticks into the ice-cream, then pour over the mandarin juice until the mould is full. Leave to freeze for ~5 hours or overnight. 

The next day, melt your dark chocolate and stir through the olive oil until thoroughly mixed, let cool slightly. Dip the tip of each popsicle in the melted chocolate. Eat immediately or put on a tray in the freezer to keep cold until serving. 


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My Mum is a Jar of Pesto


My Mum is a jar of pesto. Hey Mum, are you reading this? I'll email you the link so you can read it and find out why you are a jar of pesto. There are five reasons:

1. You are shrewd and quick-witted, like an especially sharp hunk of pecorino cheese.

2. You are dependable, reliable and of a consistently high calibre. You're great in a crisis (for instance, when I get home after a long day, tired, hungry and grumpy, and can't be bothered cooking an elaborate meal)

3. You sometimes struggle with technology. As would a dollop of pesto atop a bowl of spaghetti. 

4. You're always there for me when I need you, frozen solid in 2-portion servings in my freezer (I know that sounds psychopathic... but it's a figure of speech, I promise), and most importantly...

5. You're one of my all time favourite things!

This is my Mum's pesto recipe, although she'll tell you it's not really. She'll tell you she just got it out of a recipe book somewhere, and that she can't really cook, that she just follows the instructions. Bollocks! My first memories of cooking are with my mum. We used to make pancakes in the mornings before my big brother and sister went off to school. Mum would let me fill up measuring cups with milk and olive oil, and - little angel that I was - I'd always make sure to fill each cup right to the brim, so that it was impossible to move them without their contents overflowing all over the bench top. For her own inscrutable reasons, she tolerated my madness. 

I've since grown up and become much more mature and selfless. Now I just steal her recipe books... and her lemons...and any avocados that she doesn't explicitly forbid me from touching. 

Thanks for the pesto ma ...and for the recipe books, lemons and avocados. And for everything else you buy that I inevitably eat without asking. And for teaching me to cook. And for being my Mum xxx



Ingredients

3 cups basil

2-4 garlic cloves

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese (you can use Parmesan too, but Pecorino is AMAZING)

1/2 cup olive oil

Method

Erm...Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend.

Blend! Blend until it's a nice pesto-y consistency, you can make it reaaaal smooth if that's what you like, or leave it with a little bit of cheesy chunk. Up to you. 

Put your pesto in a clean jar, and add a little olive oil on top to seal it.

Serve dolloped on top of freshly cooked spaghetti, with plenty of cheese and maybe a side salad for some extra crunch. 

It will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days, or you can freeze it like we do so you can eat giant jarfuls of it all year round!


Beetroot, Cherry & Goat's Cheese Salad


This was a lucky accident. Which I've heard you're never supposed to say about your children....but if you are a beetroot salad, and your mother tells you that you're a lucky accident I think you should feel proud, because you could not possibly havebeen predicted, and you're more bloody delicious than anyone could've imagined if they'd tried! 

Some friends and I are doing a weekly challenge at the moment, where we all have to create a different coloured dish each week. This week's colour was red, and so I roamed the supermarket looking for red things. Without that as an incentive I'd never have thought to combine cherries with beetroots, rocket and goats cheese, and thank goodness I did!

It's weird in all the right ways. In fact, I think it's fantastic! Give it a go!



Ingredients

4-5 small beetroots

2 handfuls of rocket leaves

2-3 Tbps goat milk feta

1/4 cup cherries, quartered and seeds removed

1 large red chilli, thinly sliced

1 tsp pink peppercorns

Method

Cut the stems off the beetroot, place in a saucepan of boiling water (fully submerged) and let boil until they feel tender when you poke them with a knife. Drain and leave to cool

Once they've cooled down a little (so they don't burn your hands at the slightest touch) peel the outer layer of skin off the beetroots - it should come off nice and easily, leaving a pretty, smooth and shiny beet underneath! Cut these into halves or quarters

Put a splash of olive oil in a frying pan, and place your beets cut side down into the pan. Season with a little salt, and fry on each side until they go a lighter pink colour and look a little crispy (about 3-5 minutes)

In a salad bowl, combine your warm fried beets, fresh rocket leaves, quartered cherries, chilli and peppercorns. Toss gently to mix.

Serve with chunks of the goat milk feta torn on top



Congee in a Storm


There's a cold front moving in from the ocean tonight and if you live anywhere in the Perth metropolitan area you should probably abandon all plans, buy a bottle of red wine, and barricade yourself in for the night with the entire series of A Handmaid's Tale. And cook this dish, obviously. 



The most amazing and wonderful thing about this bowl of hot deliciousness is that you basically can't screw it up. It's fundamentally impossible. And that's coming from someone who is always intimidated by meals involving rice. You pretty much don't even need to measure anything, which makes it even more perfect in case you bought two bottles of red by 'accident' and have already got through the first before you start cooking. Also a handy hint: even though it requires minimal effort, this meal does take an AGE to cook, so best not to wait until you're already drunk and hungry before you start making it. 


Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 stock cubes

1-2 tsp grated ginger

6 garlic cloves (dice 2 cloves very finely, slice the remaining four into thin slivers)

4 spring onions, finely chopped

A handful of coriander, roughly chopped

A packet of firm tofu

A handful of Enoki mushrooms

Tamari sauce

Sweet soy sauce

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

Fresh red chilli, finely diced

Olive oil

Method

Put your rice, stock cubes, ginger, the finely chopped garlic and half of your spring onions into a saucepan, along with about 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer with the lid on (but leave a little gap so the steam can escape... you know?)

Your rice will take at least an hour to cook and break down into its porridge-y deliciousness, stir it fairly often during this time, and make sure that the rice doesn't start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Have a jug of water next to the saucepan, and add extra water as the rice cooks, to keep it at the consistency of porridge. 

You'll know the rice is nearly done when the grains are soft and have lost their bite, and the remaining liquid in the pan starts to thicken. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a bit more than an hour, but it's very hard to overcook the rice or ruin the dish as long as you keep stirring the pan and adding more water so it doesn't dry out. 

When your rice is just about done, chop your tofu into chunky sticks, and fry it in a little oil, 2-3 tsp of Tamari and 1-2 tsp of sweet soy sauce. In another pan, fry your Enoki mushrooms with a little more Tamari and olive oil. 

Serve your congee rice into bowls (it should make 2-3 portions), and swirl 1 tsp Tamari through each bowl of rice. Top with the tofu and Enoki mushrooms. 

Briefly fry your garlic slivers in 2 Tbsp olive oil until they go crunchy and golden. Pour the garlic infused oil, and the crunchy garlic over your rice bowls, and top with the fresh coriander, remaining spring onion and sesame seeds. Add some fresh chilli if you are so inclined. Enjoy!

Note: Tamari is a lot like soy sauce, but it has a subtler flavour and I think it's wayyyyyy better! It's no more expensive so go get some. You can even lap it up in little sips from a teaspoon when you're feeling a little rough on a Saturday morning.



Turmeric Spiced Pikelets


Winter is clearly never going to go away and leave me to live happily in the sunshine. In the absence of all things warm, and bright and orange (like the sun), I'm just going to have to cook foods that are warm and bright and orange. Like this one! Turmeric spiced pikelets!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pikelets, check out my last rant about them. They're delicious, and apparently a little-known Australian obsession. 

I've made a new version - Turmeric Spiced Pikelets, served with honey roasted oats and a berry compote. It's a treat and a half!



Ingredients

3/4 cup of milk

1 egg

1 cup plain self-raising flour (I've tried these with wholemeal self raising flour too and it works just as well!)

1 Tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper

1 Tbsp orange/mandarin juice

Butter (for frying and serving on top of the Pikelets)

Maple syrup (for serving) 

For the berry compote

1/2 cup frozen berries (e.g., blackberries, raspberries,  blueberries)

1 tsp icing sugar

For the honey roasted oats

1/2 cup rolled oats

2 Tbsp butter (melted)

2 Tbsp honey

What to do

For your roasted honey oats, melt the butter and combine with the honey. Pour over the oats and mix well. If it looks a bit dry you can add some more melted butter and honey until the oats look well-coated. Spread oat mixture out on baking paper, and roast in the oven at 200˚C until the oats have turned a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For your berry compote, heat the frozen berries in a saucepan, with the icing sugar. Heat gently until the berries are warmed through. Set aside.

Now for the Pikelets! Whisk together your milk, egg, flour, caster sugar, spices and juice. Keep whisking until all the lumps have gone and the mixture is well combined

Melt some butter in your frying pan (around 2 tsp). Pour dollops of your Pikelet mix onto the pan.

Watch them carefully so they don't burn. They're ready to flip when they have lots of little bubbles on the surface.

Flip 'em over, and let them cook until both sides are nicely brown. If you do a couple and the inside doesn't seem to cook through, add a little more milk (around 1 Tbsp) to your mix to thin it out. This will make it spread more thinly in the pan and cook through. 

Cook the Pikelets in batches, adding more butter to the pan with each new batch (its not exactly healthy, but it is delicious!) 

Serve topped with butter, berry compote, a handful of your roasted oats and plenty of maple syrup. 



The Australian Pancake of your Wildest Dreams


Say hello to the Pikelet. Hello Pikelet!

If you're not Australian you may not know what a Pikelet is. It's basically a pancake. A teeny, light, fluffy, delicious, buttery pancake! You know how babies are small humans, with extra smooth skin and they're kinda pudgy and fluffy? That's what a Pikelet is like - it's a baby pancake! And you gotta eat it! Slather it in butter, teach it a few simple words, tell it life is fleeting and meaningless, and then eat it!


Ingredients

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

1 Tbsp caster sugar

1 cup self raising flour

A few sticks of butter (for melting on the pan and for slathering on top of your warm pikelets in five minutes' time)

Maple syrup (or fresh lemons and more caster sugar) 

Method

This is too easy! Whisk your milk, egg, caster sugar and flour together in a big jug until it's well combined and there are no lumps

In a non-stick frying pan, melt a little butter (around 2 tsp) 

Pour dollops of your Pikelet mixture onto the pan. Watch them closely so they don't burn. They're ready to flip over when they have lots of little bubbles on the surface.

Cook on each side, until both sides are brown and delicious looking. 

Serve hot, topped with more butter and maple syrup! 


Mandarin, Almond and Poppyseed Muffins


I made mandarin, almond and poppy seed muffins! 

I've been thinking about frying mandarins for a while. I'm not saying that's an especially normal thing to contemplate for an extended period of time, but what can you do. When an idea ensnares you it ensnares you, and the idea of slowly caramelising mandarin pieces had ensnared me. Ensnared. Ensnared. That doesn't even look like a real word does it.

So this morning I gave it a go! I put some mandarin bits in a frying pan, with a cheery yellow lump of butter, a few sprinklings of cinnamon, and I let it bubble away while I watched, entranced. Entranced. Entranced!



Tastes good! Made me some muffins! Here's the recipe:


Ingredients

~ 5 large mandarins without seeds

~ 5-10 more mandarins, juiced. You'll need enough to make 3/4 cup of juice (I used about 10 really little, really sour ones for this and they were delicious! The more tart the better. Get the ones off the tree in your grandma's backyard, they'll be perfect!)

1 1/2 tsp butter

2 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour

1/2 cup castor sugar (I tend to go easy on the sugar when I make muffins, but if you're more into the traditional, sweet, indulgent kinda muffin then I'd ramp this up maybe 3/4 of a cup)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs, whisked

juice and grated lime from 2 lemons

1/4 cup slivered almonds

What to do

Put the mandarin pieces from your large mandarins into a frying pan, along with your butter and cinnamon. Fry gently, stirring occasionally, until they've started to go brown on both sides and look all gooey and caramel-y. After you've fried them for a few minutes, pour in 1/4 of your mandarin juice, and let it continue frying on low heat until the juice starts to look syrup-y and delicious. 

In a bowl, combine your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.

In a jug, mix your milk, eggs, lemon juice, lemon rind, and the remaining 1/2 cup mandarin juice.

Pour your milky-eggy-citrus-juice into the flour mixture, and stir until well combined (make sure there are no pockets of unmixed flour-y bits). 

Gently fold through the fried mandarins and mandarin syrup. Don't overmix it at this stage, it's nice to find those gooey, delicious pockets of mandarin in your muffins!

Spoon into muffin tins. Before you pop them in the oven, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with your slivered almonds.

Bake at 180 for 10-15 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean (keep in mind, if you stick the knife into one of your delicious mandarin pockets it might not come out entirely clean, but you just need to make sure the muffin mix itself is cooked through) 




Turmeric Chai Cookies


I thought I forgot the recipe for these but would you believe it I bloody wrote it down! Hooray for everything! Cookies for all!

I wanted to make a biscuit that tastes like a turmeric chai latte, because in high school I was in the stage band. I practiced every evening after completing my homework, wore fluorescent lime-green collared shirts, and played 'feelin hot hot hot' at assemblies. Obviously I peaked too early. So it's about time I do something cool again. In this case, it is making turmeric chai biscuits, with a pistachio and cracked pepper icing. 


Ingredients

200g butter

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cardamom pods

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp black pepper corns

3 cups flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs, whisked

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

For the icing

1/4 cup pistachio nuts

1/2 cup icing sugar

Cracked pepper

What to do

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, turmeric and pepper corns. Stir on the heat for another 30 seconds or so, take it off the heat, let it sit to infuse for 5 minutes, and then strain the infused butter into a bowl.

To the butter, add the flour, sugar, all the spices, salt, pepper, eggs and vanilla essence. 

Kneed until it forms a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film, and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While still cold, roll out the dough to about 1cm thickness, and cut out cookie shapes using a cutter.

Place on trays lined with baking paper, and bake at 180˚C for 20 minutes, or until they start to brown.

To make the icing, blend the pistachios until smooth, mix in the icing sugar, add water 1 Tbsp at a time - while mixing - until a smooth paste forms. Spread on top of the biscuits, and sprinkle with a little cracked pepper.



A Serenade to Salads

How complicated do salads need to be before they deserve their own recipe? I don't have recipes for these salads. But each of them is kinda interesting in it's own way, so if you want to break free from the regular-old-salad mould then these might provide a little direction! 


Salad One

This salad has a yummy Japanese dressing, with garlic, soy sauce, miring, rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds. The broccoli absorbs all the delicious dressing flavour, and the crunchy garlic flakes and sesame seeds chucked on top add a tasty crunch!


Salad Two

This salad is interesting because of the greens inside it! Also, these are all things you can quite easily grow yourself with a little sun and plenty of water. Fun! So, this salad has:

French Sorrel 

Bok Choy

Japanese mustard greens 

Lettuce

Fennel leaves

Cherry tomatoes

Chop 'em up, toss 'em together.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice or a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

It goes really well with this quiche too!


Salad Three

This is one of my favourite salads EVER! It's tantalising because I can only ever make it properly in summer, when the figs and tomatoes are perfect and ripe and fresh. This one has roasted cherry tomatoes, roast pumpkin cubes and lightly blanched silverbeet. It's served with avocado, fresh figs, lettuce leaves, and a lovely garlicky vinaigrette that my Dad taught me to make years and years ago. You'll smell like garlic for days, but you won't even regret it because this salad IS KING!