I had a muesli craving recently, and rather than head to the supermarket to buy some overpriced muesli that almost always has some ingredient I don't like (I'm looking at you, sultanas!), I decided to try making my own! Best idea!! It was super easy, tasty and left my house smelling delicious! Not the giant hassle I had always imagined it would be.
Obviously it's completely customisable, but mine went like this.
3 cups oats (whole oats, none of that quick oat malarky)
1 and a half cups almonds
1 cup peanuts (raw)
1 cup dried apricots
Quarter of a cup sesame seeds
Quarter of a cupsunflower seeds
Quarter of a cup coconut oil (or olive oil, or whatever oil works for you)
6 Tbsp maple syrup
Quarter of a tsp cinnamon
Quarter of a tsp dried ginger
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, then roughly chop all your almonds and peanuts.
Combine in a big lasagne dish (you know the things I mean, is that what they're called? Is it just a roasting dish?) along with the oats, seeds, spices, and salt.
In a wee saucepan, heat up your coconut oil and maple syrup (just enough to combine them), then pour it over your dry ingredients and mix it all through.
Pop it into the oven for about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the apricots. I really rather like chewy, slightly burnt dried apricots. Not sure what that's about, and I assume it's not for everyone, but there you have it. Don't get me wrong, I don't want them to be black and crunchy, but a few browned edges are pretty close to perfection as far as I'm concerned! If that doesn't sound like your bag, skip this bit, and just add the chopped apricots at the end. If you feel like living dangerously, stir those bad boys through your muesli after it's had 25 mins, then throw it back in the oven.
I think I left it in for about 10 to fifteen minutes, it'll depend a bit on your oven and on how golden you want your muesli to be. Just check on it every couple of minutes, and stir again if you think it needs it.
When you think it's done, remove it from the oven, inhale the delicious aroma, then leave it to stand for a while to cool down and crunchify.
I can be a bit funny about the texture of meat, and often find ordinary burger patties too meaty (for want of a better adjective). I love the idea of a burger, but most of the time I find them a bit meh...enter these tasty delights! I decided to make some half-veg-half-meat patties to see if they were any more palatable -turns out Great Big Yes!
500g beef mince
500g assorted vegetables (I used fennel, carrot, zucchini and onion), grated or chopped very (very) finely
salt and pepper
Olive oil (for frying)
Start by grating or finely chopping your veggies (I chose to throw them in the thermomix for a couple of seconds), then slurp a wee bit of olive oil into a frypan, pop the veggies in there and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the veggies (stirring frequently to make sure they cook evenly) until they are just starting to brown, then set aside.
The veggies need to cool down completely before you combine them with the meat, so the fridge is the best place for them! Shouldn't take longer than twenty minutes or so. While you are waiting, you can start getting all your favourite toppings ready. I used the pickled vegetable slaw I made a few weeks ago, which turned out to be a winning idea!
Once they have cooled, put them in a large bowl and mix through the beef mince and maybe a little pinch more of sea salt. Grab a small handful and shape into a patty, then repeat, and repeat, and repeat some more.
Shallow fry in a bit of olive oil, then build your burgers! I loved these! I had traditional burgers with them a couple of times, then deconstructed burgers (all the burger elements, but with homemade croutons instead of buns) another couple of times. Delish!
On Sunday afternoon, I found myself wondering what to do with a bunch of salad style veggies approaching their expiry. (I tend to shop for vegetables as though I live with several other people, instead of a couple of wee carnivorous creatures.) One of my weekday morning rituals is to read a few blog posts (usually with only one eye open) in bed while I'm trying to wake up and face the day. I remembered recently seeing this post about making pickled vegetable sandwich slaw on Smitten Kitchen and decided to pop on some tunes (I went with the Swell Season) and give it a whirl!
I managed to make a pretty big mess of my fingers while slicing up the vegetables (which my colleagues have been hearing me whinge about all week), but I think it turned out rather well!
Hello all! Once again there's been a giant gap between posts, and once again I have a myriad of excuses reasons why. Notable mentions go to the birth of my new niece, Sascha (who is unreasonably adorable, and allowed me to jump on a plane and head to Melbourne to hang with her, my sister and brother-in-law, my Mum and a couple of brilliant friends) and the death of my Pretendomix. The day my Pretendomix died was extremely sombre (and also pretty frustrating, I was in the middle of something!), but I mourned quickly and can now announce that Pretendomix has now been replaced by an Actual Real Live Thermomix. No catchy name as yet, suggestions welcome.
Anyway. I have to move on from my births and deaths announcements and tell you about this incredible soup. It's another one of those soups I'd eaten a few times and threw together based on what I believed to be the ingredients. It totally worked. I had one mouthful and promptly proclaimed myself to be Some Sort of Soup Making Genius (I'm all about the capitals today, it appears). I used a store bought curry powder (it was post Pretendomix death, pre arrival of Thermomix) but promised myself I'd grind up a proper spice mix once my new machine arrived. That is not going to happen. I am not messing with the way I did things one little bit, lest it interfere with the magic.
2 chicken breasts
Olive oil (about a tablespoon)
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 medium sized sticks celery, finely chopped
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 long red chillies, finely chopped (optional)
1 Granny Smith Apple, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 and a half Tbsp hot curry powder (the one I used is made by Master Spices, and comes in a wee packet)
1 tsp sea salt (and extra to sprinkle on the chicken breast)
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup red lentils
270 ml coconut milk
Juice of three quarters of a lemon (I always cut it into quarters and strain it through my fingers directly over whatever I'm adding it to. Half didn't seem enough, a whole one would have almost certainly been too much!)
Start by browning the chicken breasts in some olive oil with some sea salt. in a large soup pot. Once brown, remove and set aside.
Then add your chopped onion, and saute it with a splash of olive oil for a few minutes until it starts to become golden. Add the chopped chilli, carrot and celery (are you as sick as I am of these vaguely steamy photos of chopped vegetables in a pan? Maybe I should just assume you all know what chopped vegetables look like and start skipping these photos. I'll think on it).
Once the veggies have started to soften, add the curry powder, (and a little more oil if it's sticking at all) and stir for couple of minutes. Then add the chopped apple, tomatoes, and the ginger. Stir for a couple more minutes on a medium temperature, then add the chicken stock, coconut milk, red lentils, cooked chicken and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about thirty minutes, stirring regularly to make sure the lentils don't stick. After thirty minutes, remove the chicken breasts and shred them (this should be pretty easy after all that cooking, but if it isn't, chop them instead), then add them back into the soup. Have a wee taste to see if it needs any more salt, and serve! I think it'd be rather nice with naan.
I remember my lovely friend Casey telling me about this soup years ago, and I am ashamed at how long it has taken me to try it! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the recipe she gave me (I suspect I filed it somewhere safe...) so I was left with trial and error! I had a fair idea of the core ingredients, and just did some tasting as I went, adding bits and pieces here and there. The result was pretty tasty, but I imagine they would treat this soup rather differently in West Africa.
Fresh ginger (about 2.5cm square), grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin
Half tsp ground cloves
Half tsp ground cinnamon
Half tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes (adjust depending on your chilli threshold)
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 tin diced tomatoes
Three quarters of a cup of unsalted, roasted peanuts
Half a cup of peanut butter
5 or 6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (I started with about 4 cups, thought it was fine until I got to the blitzing stage, then I added a more until I was happy with the consistency)
Spinach (I used English, about three big handfuls)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Poor a slurp of olive oil in a large saucepan and heat up at a low to medium temperature. While it's heating up, roughly chop an onion and throw it in the pan to brown, stirring regularly. When it's looking lovely and golden, lower the heat and throw in all of the spices, as well as the garlic and ginger. Stir, then leave to saute for a couple of minutes. It should smell pretty incredible.
While that's happening, chop up the sweet potatoes (keep an eye on the spicy oniony goodness though, you don't want it to burn...). Add them to the pan, along with the tinned tomatoes and stir for a few minutes, before adding the peanuts and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the saucepan, and leave it to simmer for about half an hour.
Add the peanut butter, and salt and pepper to taste before blitzing it! I used a stab-mix type device (you know the ones I mean, right?) to save me from transferring it to the Pretendomix. I had a taste at this point, and felt it was still lacking a bit of sweetness and tang, and after a bit of deliberation, decided to add some balsamic vinegar. I feel it was the right move, but maybe have a try without it first, and see what you think?
Chop the spinach, and scatter some on each bowl, topping with a few peanuts. C'est tout! I'd be super interested in hearing your variations...this was lovely, but I'd like to keep tinkering with it...
Well hello there! I've had quite the hiatus, haven't I! Much has been going on while I've been absent, notable mentions being: my birthday and associated spoiling (thank you again for my kitchen shimmy apron, Faysie, you rock!!!!), craziness in the workplace, a visit to Melbourne to spend time with my beautiful friend and my amazing sister (and to eat myself silly!), much faultiness of self (highly, highly overrated), a visit from not one but two of my loveliest friends, the rapid onset of cold weather, the release of that James Blake album I have been anticipating for so long (Retrograde is still the highlight, in my opinion), a heroic pantry moth removal/pantry cleansing (which was an arduous process, improved hugely with the addition of champagne) and the purchase of the Flavor Bible (it actually hurts me to spell flavour that way, but it's by American authors...what can you do?). No wonder I haven't found time to blog!!
This recipe came about shortly after the afore-mentioned pantry cleansing (how evil are pantry moths!?! I can't stand those guys!!), when I discovered a few bottles of pear cider in the back of the cupboard. I'm not a massive cider fan, these bottles must've been been leftover from a phase I went through a while back. Anyhow, I wasn't keen on drinking them, and on the rare occasions that I have someone in my abode other than myself, we tend to share a bottle of wine, so I couldn't see myself getting rid of them that way. I figured cooking with alcohol is yet to fail me, so I threw them into a casserole! It worked out rather well!
200 ml alcoholic cider of your choice (a fairly sweet one)
500g chicken pieces (bone free)
Half a cup of flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
Chopped parsley (garnish)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grab a casserole dish, slurp a bit of olive oil into it, then heat it over a medium heat. Throw your flour and a pinch or two of salt and pepper into a freezer bag, then add the chicken and shake it around until it is nicely coated. Brown the chicken in the casserole dish, setting aside the flour that remains in your freezer bag.
While you are waiting for the chicken to brown (it doesn't need to cook through at this stage, it'll have plenty of time for that in a wee while), chop your vegetables.
Once the chicken is nice and golden (or slightly burned in my case, as I got distracted by both chopping of vegetables and a particularly good song), remove the chicken, and deglaze the casserole dish with the cider.
From here, it's really easy. heat up your chicken stock, and mix in the remaining flour and the tomato paste. Then add the chicken back to the casserole dish, along with all of the vegetables, and four or five sprigs of thyme. I started off trying to layer them neatly, but it didn't go well, so I just made sure everything was in there.
Pour the chicken stock mixture over your ingredients, and pop it in the oven for around two hours. (Once again, can I suggest you check on it regularly, because of the age and inaccuracy of my oven? I'd hate for it to end up under or overdone!) Then pull it our of the oven, scatter some parsley over it, and enjoy! I felt a little wrong drinking red wine with my cider based meal, but it was really rather lovely!
I haven't had a lot to post of late! I've made a few things that I've seen on other blogs, but mostly lots of quick dinners so that I can put my poor exhausted self to bed early. Work insanity will do that to a person. I did however, find time to make this Zucchini and Tomato Tart (it was definitely a procrastination tool, I was actually disappointed that it didn't take longer!). I'm already keen to make it again!
Handful of pitted kalamata olives
Small handful of raw cashew nuts
Giant handful of English spinach
1 clove of garlic
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 zucchini (or two, if they're teeny)
Handful of bocconcini balls
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
Throw the olives, garlic, cashews and spinach in a food processor with a decent slurp of olive oil, and blitz for a couple of seconds, until you get a chunky olive tapenade-ish sort of consistency.
With the back of a butter knife, make a border around a centimetre in from the edge of the pastry, then with the back of a fork, press the pastry inside the border. This seems to make it more inclined to puff around the edges only, once it's in the oven.
Spread the olive/spinach tapenade on the pastry, keeping it inside the border.
Finely slice the zucchini and tomatoes ( I used a mandoline for the zucchini, which made things masses easier), and slice your bocconcini balls, aiming for about four slices per teeny, tiny ball.
Layer tomato and zucchini slices alternately inside the border on the pastry, popping a slice of bocconcini in between every third slice-ish (or more, or less, depending on the depth of your love of cheese).
Season the tart/s with salt and pepper, and add some finely grated parmesan. Oh! I also sprinkled some dried thyme over it, I think fresh herbs would be even lovelier -I just didn't have any...
If you feel that way inclined, drizzle some caramelised balsamic vinegar over the top...then please report back to me how this went! I tried it for one of my tarts, it tasted delicious but it got pretty soggy, which I didn't really care for. Pop the tarts in the oven for about 45 minutes (but keep checking...my oven is really rather ancient, so I never feel sure I'm giving concrete advice for times and temperatures).
Soup season is almost upon us!! I couldn't wait a minute longer, at the first sign of cooler weather (which turned out to be pretty short-lived) I baked bread and made soup. Food doesn't get a lot more comforting than a piping hot bowl of deliciousness...
This is another super easy recipe. Perfect for cold nights when you're feeling a bit average. I try to make sure I always have the ingredients on hand (all are crucial except the zucchini).
2 tins of diced tomatoes
1L chicken or vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 looong rib of celery, finely diced
Half a zucchini, finely diced
1 cup of red lentils (or split peas)
1 pinch of dried thyme
Zest of one lemon
Handful of Italian parsley
Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, saute the onion (with the thyme) on a low heat until browned. Don't hurry this step, caramelising the onion slightly gives the soup a sweet base, which is just lovely! I sometimes add a teaspoon or so of honey during this step, but I'd try it without first, you don't want sweet overkill...
Increase the temperature, and add the rest of the vegetables, cooking until just softened. Add your tinned tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil.
Reduce the temperature to low and add the red lentils (aren't they pretty!). Pop a lid on the saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes, (stirring occasionally so that the lentils don't stick to the bottom) or until the lentils are soft, but with a very slightly nuttiness to them. They'll continue to cook way after the soup has been removed from the heat, and you don't want them getting mushy.
Stir through the lemon zest and parsley and season to taste.
Let it sit for five minutes or so (if you can stand to -I rarely can, but it always tastes better when I do) to let the flavours mingle, then you're done! I told you it was easy :)
I cannot tell you how frequently I eat this in summer! I get home from work, ravenous and brain-dead, throw this together and still have time for a lovely long amble around my hood with the wee hound before it gets dark! Perfect!
The juice (and a little of the zest) of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic (more if you're fighting off a cold or a vampire!)
Herb of some variety (more often than not, I use a pinch of dried oregano, but I've thrown in all manner of other herbs before, and haven't yet found one that doesn't work...)
Little glug of olive oil, maybe a little less than a tablespoon?
Salt and pepper
Pop some spaghettini (enough for one, generous serve) in boiling water with a pinch of salt, and keep an eye on it while you're throwing together the sauce so that it doesn't stick together or overcook!
While that's happening, put everything else in a blender and whizz it up! I rather like the idea of leaving chunky bits of avocado, but I'm less keen on chunky bits of garlic so I blend until it's completely smooth.
Drain the pasta, and remove it from the heat. Stir the zingy, bright green scrumptiousness through it, and devour.
This sauce was so damn good!! It turned out exactly how I hoped it would (which, after a fairly decent sized investment of time, I was pretty relieved about)! It was time consuming, but not difficult, leaving me free to concentrate on the Hottest 100 (which I thought was a bit of a fizzer this year, incidentally) and to procrastinate about making pasta to accompany the sauce. Let's not dwell on what happened with the pasta.
3kg (approx) tomatoes
10-15 cloves of garlic (skin on!)
2 brown onions, cut into wedges
2 red chillies
3 spring onions
Big handful of cherry tomatoes
4 or 5 cherry bocconcini balls (Balls? Is that right?)
Rapadura or brown sugar (about a teaspoon and a bit)
Slurp of Balsamic Vinegar (I'd guess somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. You'll need to do some tasting)
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 150°. Cut all of your tomatoes in half, and pop them curved side down on a couple of baking trays. Throw your garlic cloves and onion wedges in amongst the tomatoes with a slurp of olive oil, salt and pepper, and about a teaspoon of dried oregano, then put the trays in the oven for about three hours. (Keep an eye on them, oven temperatures vary a fair bit and you don't want them to burn!)
Let the roasted tomatoes cool, then peel the skins off, and throw the tomatoes in a food processor of some sort (I used my pretendomix!). Any of the garlic cloves that didn't get dried out should be squeezed out of their skins and into the processor with the tomatoes. Add three of the onion wedges (with no burnt or dry bits). I was tempted to put more in, but was worried about the onions stealing the show from my tomatoes. It was the right call. Throw in about six fresh basil leaves, the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and a fairly hefty glug of olive oil.
Blend it all together!
What you've made at this point will already taste pretty damn incredible, so feel free to call it quits. I wasn't quite at that point, (and the Hottest 100 was still going) so I persevered.
Chop or crush a clove of garlic (I know there's already heaps of garlic in there, but fresh garlic is so much zingier than roasted! Totally different flavour, and I wanted it), finely slice the two chillies and the spring onions, and dice a big handful of cherry tomatoes. Throw them all in a saucepan with some olive oil, and a little salt and pepper and saute until everything is just softening, but is still holding its shape.
Add your blended tomato concoction, the bocconcini, chopped, and some more fresh basil, torn up. Serve with pasta. Consume, and try to keep from voicing smug thoughts of how impressed you are with yourself. No one likes a show off.