I’m totally obsessed with creating, cooking and consuming. When food is involved I find myself completely hypnotised by the flavours and sensations that it evokes in me.I’m particularly partial to salty, tangy and complex flavours.My second child has taste buds that are a carbon copy of mine.She is always prepared to try new foods, bewildered by diverse tastes and yet completely drawn to them.Bless her.I first realised her mature taste when I made broccoli soup spiced with loads of fresh ginger, kafir lime and garam masala.She devoured it.Right then I knew my child was an eater just like me.
It’s a different story with my first child, who is not by any means fussy, but she is no where near as adventurous as Miss No. 2.
This recipe page is real stuff that I cook regularly.Most of my recipes are healthy and nutritionally focussed. They’re based on intuition, likes and dislikes of each member of our family and sometimes a little of my special love that makes everything yummy.I do hope you try some of these recipes.I tend to ‘free style’ my food a bit, with little room left for measuring ingredients.So, please forgive me in advance if some of my measurements are vague.
Soba noodle and edamame bean salad
Currently, I am obsessed with Soba noodles. I think I eat them at least 4 times a week. Made from buckwheat, they are incredibly rich in antioxidants, contain all the essential amino acids and rich in magnesium. They are superb and filling and go with everything - tonight I had them with my delish Swedish meatballs. Last night I had them with Salmon skewers and tomorrow I will undoubtedly have them with something else.
But I'm still on my bean binge and also I wanted something 'raw' rather than cooked. In Australia, our summers can get real hot and slaving over a stove in the kitchen does not appeal at all. But when it's something quick and cool and delicious I am happy to spend 10 minutes in the kitchen. I wanted something sweet and crunchy with loads of flavour. Enter Soba noodle and edamame bean salad. Seriously, no more than 10 mins prep and cooking, and you're able to eat in no time. This is a vegetarian (actually vegan) dish packed with protein, magnesium, calcium and fibre.
Let's get cracking...
Ingredients - serves 4 1 pack organic Soba noodles 1-2 carrots thinly sliced batons (depending how 'carroty' you like it) 2 cups edamame beans removed from pod 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (I toast them myself and add them to almost all my salads now). 2 tablespoons tamari 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 2 tablespoons sesame oil 2 teaspoons miso paste or powder
cook the noodles as per the instructions
In a large bowl, prepare the dressing – tamari, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and miso - whisk together well.
Add to this the carrots and beans and when ready, the noodles.
Serve in a bowl topped with the toasted sesame seeds.
Luckily, soba noodles are even better the next day, so if there are any leftovers, it will still taste amazing the next day. I like always add chilli and a tiny bit of grated ginger for a little zing.
Persian Bean Soup
Persians are big on herbs - and I mean huge. I cannot recall a time at my Aunty's home where a massive bowl of herbs was not on the sofreh (table spread). Every meal is accompanied with salad and herbs. It's the life blood of this race. I swear their colons must be so clean, as the amount of greens they consume is out of this world. Mint, coriander, parsley, chives, radishes, you name it. So when it comes to soup, the Persians make no exception. They add cups of herbs to their soup. Whilst originally, Persians didn't consume much meat, favouring casseroled legumes and pulses with rice or bread (much like the Indians), as time has passed the addition of too much meat has crept in. However, regularly, most families opt for vegetarian days and this soup is a perfect example of a protein packed, high fibre, vitamin rich dish. It is ideal for any seasons, but I particularly enjoy it in spring.
Here is my take on the Persian Bean soup. You can add more spices if you like, but my family prefers is plain (I prefer HOT! but as Mick Jagger said, 'You can't always get what you want'.)
Asheh Hoobebat (Bean Soup) - makes a lot! About 6 serves.
1 cup mixed beans, washed and soaked overnight 1 large onion finely diced 6 cloves garlic 1 tsp turmeric 1 bunch spinach 3 cups parsley 3 cups coriander 1 cup chives 1 cup mint olive oil salt & pepper
1. Saute diced onion and minced garlic in some oil until just past translucent. Add turmeric and mix well. Add beans and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook covered for 1 & 1/2 hours 2. As the beans are cooking, get your greens ready - wash thoroughly and chop well. (but not minced, just chopped). The key to this dish is to ensure that the herbs have no stalks. Remove the leaves from the stalks entirely, except for the chives of course. This is time consuming but worth the effort. It makes for a lovely consistency. 3. Add the greens to the soup and cook on a gentle medium heat for another 1 & 1/2hrs with the lid on. Check the soup after this time and make sure the beans are cooked through. As you will have many different beans - make sure they're all soft. Now season to taste. 4. Serve with a dollop of yogurt (the way I like it) or with some cooked onions.
This soup is so versatile, you can add root veggies or some chicken pieces, even some quinoa. The possibilities are endless. But it's the herbs that make this dish. It's superb!
Sweet beluga lentil salad
This week the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement suggesting that cured meat has been linked to cancer (duh!). Some of my smug vegetarian friends have been rubbing it in my face on social media, which has irritated me. As I smile through gritted teeth, I know that my iron and protein levels are higher than most of them however I do give my body a rest from animal meat at least twice a week. This week is slightly different, as for some reason I don't feel like consuming meat (and this was before the WHO released their scare statement). It's Wednesday night and I decided to try something totally different as my husband is away and thought I could create something without fearing criticism. Originally it started as a warm carrot and lentil salad but after raiding my fridge I freestyled further and added other goodies. It's a sweet salad but you can alway omit the fruit and replace with other root vegetables.
I am a fan of sweet meals, anything from tagines riddled with prunes to rice laced with barberries. You get the jist, that hint of sweetness to cut through some of the heat really appeals to me (but not my husband). This dish is just that - spicy but sweet. Looking back, I really could have added more freshness like thin slices of radish but I will do it next week! Enjoy this scrumptious warm salad.
Ingredients 1 cup Beluga Lentils washed 1 Tbsp coconut oil 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced in 3/4 cm slices 1 large onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed 1.5 tbsp freshly grated ginger 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp garam masala (or ras el hanout) 1 ripe mango, coarse diced (1.5 cups) small bunch of coriander, chopped 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 1/4 cup pistachios or cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped
1. Place washed lentils in a large pan. Ensure water covers the lentils by an extra 3-5cms. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain then put in a bowl (don't leave in colander as they tend to go soggy). 2. Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add carrots and cook in a single layer – they’ll give off a bit of water at first. Keep cooking, tossing gently every three or four minutes until the carrots are deeply browned, about 12 minutes. 3. Push carrots to the side, add a bit more oil, then add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes. 4. Add in your drained, cooked lentils with the cinnamon and garam masala. Stir to toss and cook until heated through. 5. Carefully add in the mangoes, stirring to combine well and keep heated. 6. Stir in coriander and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. If your mango is not that sweet, you may need to add agave/honey. Sprinkle with nuts just prior to serving.
Dal is the soulfood of India, prepared with different spices to accommodate the varied flavours around the nation. How ever it is made, there's something comforting about an amazing dal on a cold evening. Some nights my husband will come home from work, expecting a wonderfully elaborate meal, and more often that not, he will be pleasantly surprised, and other times all he'll see is a pot of lentils on the boil. Though when I serve the dal, as much as he may be disappointed, he always licks the bowl clean - tremendously satisfied by the warmth in his belly. My favourite way to inhale a bowl of dal is with a couple of dosa's or some basmati rice; accompanied with yogurt and drizzled with ghee. It's a staple in my home, and yet I totally dismissed putting on here, until a lovely friend asked for a 'healthy' recipe. I love that term 'healthy', because everyone assumes that I am 'healthy' but in reality I'm naughty like everyone else. Nonetheless, he asked for a recipe and whether or not I delivered on his expectations, I am unsure - but one thing is certain - he ignited an idea inside me. I am going to start a pulse recipe page for a little while. So for the next few weeks I will share some of my favourite legume &/or pulse recipes.
With this recipe, you can adjust the 'heat' as much as you like. This is the way I like my dal but adjust to your taste. You will need...
1 cup red lentils
1 or 2 green chillies, chopped or slit lengthwise
1 medium sized brown onion, finely chopped
2 medium sized ripe tomatoes, chopped (you can use a can of tomatoes too)
1 teaspoon ginger finely chopped or grated – more if you like the zing. I like zing.
salt as required and added only in the final stages of cooking
1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
Using either ghee or coconut oil, heat in a pot, and add onions and cook until soft. Then add the chilli, ginger, and all the spices and warm them until your house smells amazing. The idea is not to burn the spices, but rather just temper them and gently tease the fragrances from them.
Next, thoroughly rinse the lentils and add them to the pot and coat them with the spices, then add water and tomatoes. Bring to boil then reduce to a slow simmer. As this bubbles away, you will notice a film developing on the top, skim this off during the cooking process. Make sure you check the pot regularly as the lentils soak the water pretty quickly and it will end in disaster. Top up water as necessary, but you are aiming for a porridgey consistency. This may take 45m to 1hr depending on the quality and age of the lentils.
Using a fork, slowly mash the dal, if the dal looks thick; add some water to get a medium consistency. simmer the dal for 3 to 4 minutes
Once you have the desired consistency add coconut cream (optional) and season with salt to your liking. Remove from heat.
Serve and top with coriander and chutney and authentic yogurt….or something more decadent – see final note below.
Notes * If you’re not used to consuming pulses you may find you get a little gassy or have abdo discomfort. The phytates and high levels of fibre cause the issue. If it bothers you, next time you make it, soak the lentils in water (to completely cover them) and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (as a side note, it’s supposed to be a lactic acid of some sort – but acetic acid will do fine). Allow to soak for about an hour or two. Rinse really well and then use as normal. Soaking reduces the phytic acid content substantially which not only helps with gas, but ensures that that your body can absorb the other important minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium which would otherwise by inhibited. Traditionally lentils are consumed with yogurt (loaded with lactic acid and probiotics) and helps naturally alleviate tummy concerns….
*As lentils are not a complete protein source, if you want to get more bang for your buck, try mixing with rice or quinoa. I like mine with freshly made dosa (freakin’ heavenly!!) For a healthier alternative you can also try brown rice. Also, this meal is really delicious as a left over, and wrapped in roti bread with some paneer or haloumi, and slugged down with a mango lassi.
* Sometimes I add mouth sized morsels of sweet potato, potato, zucchini, cauliflower etc for extra oomph. In my experience, these are best added pre-steamed in the last couple of minutes of cooking rather than at the beginning as they tend to get too mushy and the lentils lose that gorgeous silky creamy finish. Plus, I enjoy tasting each individual vegetable.
*Completely optional – but makes all the difference in taste – is to get about 1-2tbsp ghee, melt it lightly add a pinch of cumin seeds and when they become aromatic and ‘pop’ add some chilli (any type you like), some crushed garlic. When the garlic has just started to brown, remove from heat and drizzle over the dal.
Fresh fregola salad
We are big raw foodies in our home.We much prefer raw veggies than cooked (unless it’s potatoes, pumpkin, Jerusalem artichokes etc).My kids devour at least 4 different vegetables everyday.It’s something I instilled in them from a very young age.When my daughter comes home from school, awaiting her in the lounge room is a bowl of vegetables and some cheese to tie her over until dinner time. I mix it up, but it can be anything from carrots, celery, corn, cabbage, broccoli stalk, avocado (okay, technically a fruit), capsicum etc.Both my girls love it.And over time, I have introduced to them a little dressing or dip to go with the vegetables.This meant that the introduction of salads with dinner became easier and more palatable.
Some busy nights, I will have just a salad with a little cheese and a hard boiled egg or a tin of tuna.But salads can get boring and sometimes tasteless. I love tabouli, but find burghul (cracked wheat) quite harsh and over powering.Then I discovered Fregola.It’s a tiny toasted pasta, incredibly low GI and really nutty and tasty.It’s so delicate and filling which is why it’s my number one choice for adding to salad dishes in place of burghul.
Ingredients ½ cup cooked and cooled fregola (cooked according to instructions – and you could use more if you want) 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley 1 cup chopped coriander ¼ cup chopped mint ½ capsicum roughly chopped ½ avocado chopped 1 tomato chopped 1 Lebanese cucumber peeled and chopped 1-3 tablespoons chopped Spanish onion or spring onion (depending on taste)
Dressing ½ a lemon juiced ¼ cup top quality olive oil (I like Rosto’s olive oil from Toscano’s) Salt and pepper to taste
Method Mix all ingredients together and consume immediately.
Notes : This salad is not really crispy so it will go even more soggy if you leave it over night. If you, like my husband want protein with every meal, then add what you like but I find shredding left over roast chicken through this salad works really well.My girls like it with chicken or some cooked lentils.I can have it with nothing added and always find myself satisfied because of the fregola.
So I found a ‘purette’ electric pureeing system in my cupboard, which I believe to be my husband’s pre-marriage’ purchase as I have no memory of ever buying something so useless.Sure, I bought things that I have used maybe a handful of times, like my electric knife and meat tenderiser. But they were donated to my local Salvo’s many years ago.I digress; I found a purette system thing which had a ‘ricer’ function.Immediately I had fantasies of making amazing gnocchi like they do in Master Chef. I thought to myself, ‘I am so going to rip into making loads of gnocchi and I will freeze some, it’s going to be awesome’.After spending a good hour scouring the internet for the best potatoes to make gnocchi with I armed myself with a list of ingredients and headed for Toscano’s (a great fruit and veg store in Melbourne).I purchased 3kg of Royal Blue potatoes, baby kale and some cream and rushed back home to attempt using the ricer.
With the potatoes on the boil, I decided to start putting the purette system to work. I opened the box, and unpacked the bits and pieces, which clearly had not been done in the entire time I have been married.As always, I read the manual and put it all together only to realise the damn thing didn’t work.ARGHHH!! I have 3kg of potatoes on the boil and I have a non functioning piece of rubbish – my hopes of the perfect gnocchi were destroyed.At this point I really could have given up, and that would have been a much easier option, but my eldest daughter had her hopes on having these gorgeous fluffy morsels of potato dumplings generously coated with sauce for dinner. This is what I call love, when you will go through excruciating pain just to make someone else happy.
And so my journey began, pushing the potatoes through the ricer – manually.The burning agony in my hands – it took me nearly an hour.I won't be surprised if I develop a ganglion on my wrist. As a final note, please do not attempt this unless you have an easy way of ricing potatoes.
Here is my super easy recipe for gorgeous gnocchi that will make everyone feel warm and loved.
In a large saucepan add washed potatoes and cover with water.
Bring to the boil and cook until soft and the skin just starts to want to peel away.
While still hot, peel the potatoes and using a potato ricer (or a purette system that actually works) push the potatoes through.
Add flour to the ‘mashed’ potato and knead until you form a light dough. Avoid over working this dough. It's intened to be soft.
Now, get that large saucepan again, and fill with water and a good amount of salt (so it tastes like the ocean) and bring to the boil
In the meantime, take the dough and pinch off handfuls and roll it out into a log shape about 2cm thick.
Cut them into small pieces, and with a fork, very gently press into the gnocchi
In another pan (I use a fry pan), get your sauce ready.It can be any sauce you like, but my kids like creamy sauce (see notes below).
Place the gnocchi in the boiling water and cook until they float.Then remove them and add them to your pan with the sauce. Cook for about a minute and serve immediately.
Notes :My sauce is really simple just crushed garlic in a pan with butter, then add either baby kale or baby spinach and cream (or for a low fat option, evaporated milk).I season with meat essence (recipe at the very bottom of this screen – or you can use a stock cube) and loads of grated parmesan or pecorino.
Now I'm going to a shop to buy a WORKING ricer. Seriously it took me half a day to make this batch of gnocchi. I'm exhausted.
Before you go all ‘ewww’ on me, hear me out.Ghee is amazing.I promise you, once you try it, you will wonder why you never gave it a chance before.For those who are already ghee enthusiasts, you will know how delicious this nutty oil is.I think those who are not into ghee, may have a thwarted opinion of what it actually is. Maybe they have conjured up images of rendered offal fat or beef tallow.Who knows what bizarre images people have of ghee?But I’m here to tell you, ghee is essentially butter, and we all know how much I lurrrrve butter.Did I just partially purr like a cat?Yup, that’s how much I love it.Paleo fanatics no doubt will agree ghee is the way to go.Before I go on, I must state that there is some confusion surrounding ghee and clarified butter.Clarified butter is when the water has evaporated from the butter fat.Ghee takes clarified butter further and allows it to bubble for a while so that the butter caramelises.It’s essential that the butter simmers for about 30-40mins. Not boil, just simmer gently until the bottom of the pan with the milk solids starts to caramelise but not burn.You will recognise this step, because your kitchen will fill with an exhilarating aroma.
I make my own ghee and use it in a wide variety of cooking.It’s scrumptious when making scrambled eggs, delectable in curries and luscious on rice or with a warm dosa.Totally salivating like a Pavlov dog.
Ingredients – makes about 450gms 2 x 250gm best quality unsalted or salt reduced butter (I like organic ones from Gippsland Victoria) Cheesecloth to strain and separate the milk solids from ghee 1 x 500gm Mason jar
In a large stainless steel saucepan melt the butter over a low heat
once completely melted allow pot to simmer for about 30-40 minutes
What you will notice is two things, a layer of milk proteins at the top and bits at the bottom.You can skim the top layer off, but leave the bottom layer to turn a pale brown.The longer you let this cook, the more intense the flavour.However once it burns, it doesn’t taste great. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Using a cheese cloth strain the golden deliciousness into a mason jar. Discard the brown bits. << Totally not compulsory, but it’s at this stage that I grab some bread and dunk it in the ghee and devour it like a crazy animal.
Notes: I store my ghee at room temperature, no need to refrigerate.It can last for months but mine rarely lasts beyond 3 weeks.Ghee has a really high smoking point which makes it ideal for cooking.People who have dairy sensitivies can enjoy ghee as there is no lactose or casein.
Before we got married, my husband was used to having his eggs scrambled with olive oil.Now, it’s a different story.It’s all ghee ghee ghee!The taste is sensational.
Fabulous lamb shasliks
I love super tender and trim lamb.There’s no stopping me when I shop for quality meat.I am of the mindset, that if my family and I are going to eat something it has to be of high quality.Meat is no exception.Shasliks need to be tender and soft and melt in your mouth.No one likes chewy, sinewy meat.So when you decide to make this dish, use the best quality lamb fillets you can find (the real fillets, not backstraps).
The art to an amazing shaslik is the marinating stage. The lemon juice helps to tenderise and gently relax the meat. Both my girls enjoy devouring these succulent morsels of meat straight off the skewer.And because they are so tender, they can chew and eat them easily.
Apologies in advance, I didn’t have a finished product image, as everyone finished the pile of skewers before I had a chance to take a pic.That’s the problem with these shasliks, they are awesome and a winner every time.
Ingredients – serves 2 adults and 2 kids 8 lamb fillets ½ lemon juiced 3-4 tbsp GOOD quality olive oil 2 cloves garlic crushed 1 medium onion very thinly sliced 1/2 teasp each – oregano, rosemary, salt, sumac (if you have it great, if not, no big deal) A little pepper
Cut lamb fillets into cube portions, roughly 2-3 cm cubes
In a medium bowl add lemon juice, oil, garlic, onion and herbs/spices and mix well.
Add meat to marinade and cover all the pieces of meat, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
½ hour before cooking, grab skewers and thread meat onto sticks, but don’t pack too tightly.Allow the meat to sit on the bench top at least 15mins prior to cooking.
Heat grill, bbq or fry pan and cook the skewers, rotating to cook on each side.
There’s no need to over cook these.But cook to your liking. They don’t take too long.
Serve along side a garden salad and flat bread, yogurt or hummus.
Notes:I make a lovely tzatziki to go with this dish and serve it wrapped with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and chilli.My kids love it with some home made chips and salad.I promise you, this dish is a ripper and so lean, full of iron, protein and essential vitamins.It’s totally revitalising.I’m not even hungry right now, but I could go a shaslik.Come to think of it, I will make it for dinner tomorrow night.
Super easy, Super Moist, no fail Chocolate cake
I don’t know why it is, but our family loves chocolate cake, or maybe the chocolate icing. Whenever I make this cake, my kids, husband and friends are silent for five minutes.I am not sure if it’s because the cake is so sticky in their mouths and they can’t break the suction between the tongue and palate to speak, or they are just in heaven savouring each mouthful. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
I have made so many chocolate cakes over the years, listened to countless criticisms, tried different flours, sugars, cocoa’s, butters …. And finally I have a recipe that is a winner every time.Make this one Sunday arvo and enjoy it for dessert.It’s superb served with crème fraiche and raspberries or just on it’s own lathered in thick icing.
Ingredients Cake 1 ½ cups plain flour (this can be standard white flour or white spelt flour) 1 cup caster sugar 1/3 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa (preferably of high quality) ½ teaspoon bicarb soda 1 teaspoon baking powder (I use Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder – it’s aluminium free) 180gms melted coconut oil (preferably Thai coconut oil it has a much nicer taste) 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2/3 cup either plain yogurt or sour cream 1 shot espresso (about 40ml)
Icing 180gm melted dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) 2 – 2 ½ cups icing sugar ½ cup sour cream OR ¾ cup Philadelphia cream cheese
Preheat oven to 180C.Butter and line a 20cm spring form cake pan
Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, and in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream/yogurt, coconut oil and espresso.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in a mixer and mix until you have a creamy batter
Pour batter into the lined tins and bake for 35 minutes – check to see if cake is done.Depending on the flour you use, the cake may need more cooking time.Check using the ‘clean skewer method’.
Allow to stand for 10mins then remove from pan and pop cake in the freezer for 20 minutes (Yes, that’s right the freezer.)
Remove from freezer and let stand until completely cool (about a further 30mins)
Now for the icing.Add all the ingredients in a mixer and blend until smooth.If the icing is too runny, add more icing.I find with the cream cheese, the icing sets much better.
Be generous with the icing. No one likes a cake with paper thin icing. One of the greatest pleasures of chocolate cake is that damn icing.
Notes : The freezer stage helps to keep the cake moist as does the espresso. When you add the melted coconut oil – make sure it’s not hot otherwise it will scramble the eggs.Sometimes I spike the icing with espresso or Kahlua if I’m serving to adults only.
I have a confession to make.I am crazy about Madeleine’s.I first attempted making them about 4 years ago, with little success.They turned out flat or gooey, or tasteless.Now, I have this seemingly easy biscuit, mastered.Unlike a lot of my other dessert/sweet recipes, which are easy and require little time in preparing, I find Madeleines fussy and temperamental.It took me about half a dozen attempts before I got it right.So here is my recipe.I have many variations which I have added in my notes below, but this recipe is for the plain variety.Get your cup of tea ready – I am already salivating.
Ingredients – makes 12 medium sized Madeleines. ½ cup plain flour 1/3 cup caster sugar ¼ cup melted butter 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt ½ tablespoon lemon zest 2 cardamom pod seeds crushed to powder
Set your oven to 190deg C (fan forced). Melt all the butter and set aside to get to room temperature. This is so important.
Grease your Madeleine tray with butter and pop in the fridge.This step is also so important.
In a mixer, beat the two eggs with vanilla and salt until it’s pale (this will take about 5 minutes)
As the mixture is still beating away, add the sugar gradually and continue to mix for a further 7-10minutes.It will be thick and pale and bubbly and fluffy. (See image below).
Now you are ready to sift the flour to the mixture and very gently mix until combined.Don’t be too hard or fast with this step.We are trying to preserve all the air in the mixture.
Add the lemon zest and cardamom powder and the melted butter.Again gently fold into the mixture and pour into the cold Madeleine moulds.
Bake for 12-15minutes.They should be golden in colour and when you gently touch the centre of each cake, it should spring back.
Enjoy with a cuppa!
Notes: Sometimes I melt white chocolate, and dunk half the Madeleine into the chocolate, and before it has a chance to set, I sprinkle crushed pistachios over the top.These are so decadent and perfect served after lunch. My kids like orange blossom, so I add 1 teaspoon but omit the lemon zest. You can get so creative with these. But sometimes the simple stuff is the best.
Dad's Tomatoey Chicken
Growing up in our home meant that when mum was working night shifts at the hospital, dad would cook.And it was always a choice of three things.Omelette riddled with tomatoes, tuna with orange rice (which is just rice cooked with tomatoes) or, chicken cooked with tomatoes.Are you picking up on a theme? After a few years he finally mastered the dish and I have taken it and added some other goodies.My kids love it, and my husband inhales it.Interestingly, the only reason I’m adding this to my recipe list is because my sister rang me up earlier this week and wanted the recipe.I asked her to send a pic of her finished product so I could pop on here.
This dish is perfect in winter, and it’s so tasty with the meat just falling off the bone.
Ingredients- serves 2 adults and two kids
6 Chicken thighs and/or legs (bone and skin on) 1 Can crushed tomatoes or passata 1 medium onion finely chopped 2-3 cloves garlic chopped Handful of olives pitted and quartered 10-12 mushrooms sliced or quartered 2 tablespoons olive oil Parsley and basil
Get a large pan (that has a lid) on the stove top on a medium to high heat.Get it hot before proceeding
Add olive oil, and then add chicken pieces and brown on each side for about 2 minutes.Remove from pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add onion and garlic and sauté until soft.
Add tomatoes and cook, stirring continuously for about 2 minutes (this is to cook off the tomatoes and gives it a richer taste). Add about ½-1cup of water.Bring to boil.
Add the chicken pieces and reduce heat to simmer
Add mushrooms and olives and season to taste. Cook covered for about 45 minutes
Remove lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Once ready to serve, add chopped parsley and/or basil
Serve with either white or brown rice, crusty bread or salad.
Notes: This dish is so easy to adapt to your tastes.If you like anchovies or capers, add them. My family enjoy this with potatoes, so I add quartered potatoes in the last stage of cooking.Do try to use chicken on the bone, otherwise it will be quite dry.
My husband and I enjoy this dish in winter with loads of chilli and served with yogurt on the side.
Quinoa and roasted vegetables
As a crazy carnivore, I really do try to have vegetarian dishes at least twice a week.Either in the form of a soup or something more hearty and protein packed like my favourite quinoa dish, served with roasted vegetables.This can be served warm or cold, it’s delicious either way. In fact, it tastes better the next day, which is why I always make a large batch and save some for my lunch the day after.That is, unless my little girl decides to devour it all. I promise, you won't miss the meat.
Quinoa & Roasted vegetables – serves 4
Ingredients Vegetables to your liking that roast well.In this instance I have used 1 Medium potato peeled and diced 1-2cm cube ¼ Butternut pumpkin peeled and diced 1-2cm cube 1 handful of green beans chopped 2cm long 1 Spanish onion sliced ¼ red capsicum diced 1 celery stalk chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large bunch of enokitake mushrooms 1 cup shredded cabbage 1 cooked corn, kernels sliced off the cob 2 cups cooked quinoa (I use the mixed colour quinoa, use whatever you like) Herbs of choice to finish and dress. I used chives and coriander.
1 teaspoon sesame oil 3-5 tablespoons tamari Juice of half a lime 1 clove garlic very finely grated 1 teaspoon ginger very finely grated ¼ teaspoon chilli sauce ¼ teaspoon honey or maple syrup or ketjap manis to balance flavours
Preheat oven to 180C degrees
To a large baking pan add everything that will cook at the same rate, in my case I added only potatoes, pumpkin, beans, onion, capsicum and celery. Mix with olive oil and roast for about 40minutes, but mix at the half way mark.
Now add the softer ingredients like cabbage, mushrooms and cooked corn and cook for a further 15minutes
In a large bowl mix all the cooked vegetables with the pre-cooked quinoa
For the dressing, in a separate bowl add all ingredients and mix – taste to ensure flavours are well balanced.Sometimes I find a lime that is too strong and need to add more sweetness. Add about 1/2 the dressing to the mix and adjust to taste. You may prefer more dressing or less, so best to start with 1/2 the amount and work your way up.
Serve in a deep dish and top with wakame (if you like that flavour), chopped chives and coriander.Heaven.
Notes –My husband always wants extra protein, so I add a scrambled egg .For my youngest child, I add chopped cashews. On a couple of occasions I have added cooked prawns at the end.It’s superb in summer. If you don’t like a citrus influence, feel free to omit the lime. You can always add more greens like broccoli, beetroot leaves, baby spinach or more root veggies like parsnips, sweet potatoes or turnip.
Protein packed ricotta hot cakes
Sunday mornings in our home is abuzz with my girls who are eagerly awaiting breakfast. Every ten minutes they will come into our bed and attempt to lure me into the kitchen to start the hot cake tradition that has been going on since Soraya was born. It's an odd tradition, but one that we take with us regardless where we stay. Even when I spend time with my parents, they know that Sunday mornings are set aside for me to prepare these fluffy pancake towers. In this recipe, I really don't measure anything. It's all in my experience, however I've outlined a rough measurement guide below. After a couple of attempts yourself, you can adjust to suit your family. This recipe will serve at least 4 people. They're quite filling!
Batter 250gm full fat ricotta 3/4 cups plain flour (as a side note, I use 1/2c white spelt flour and 1/4c oat flour that I grind myself) 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 3 large eggs 1/2 cup milk 1/4 teasp salt (if you like you can add cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter) coconut oil or butter for the pan
1. In a large bowl, mix eggs and ricotta together to form a mixture that doesn't have too many clumps of ricotta (though it will not be entirely smooth) 2. Add all other ingredients and mix with whisk ( or mixer) 3. Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan with a small portion of the butter or coconut oil and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per hotcake into the pan (don't cook more than 3 per batch). 4. Over a low-medium heat cook the hotcakes until the underside is golden then flip and do the same to the other side. 5. Serve with maple syrup and marscapone or jam and butter :)
Notes - Sometimes I add protein powder for extra oomph. It just means that the batter will be denser than usual. But still delicious. My kids like it when I add pureed banana to the batter (just one will suffice). You can add blueberries, raspberries, etc. If you don't like marscapone feel free to use cream, yogurt or butter. Believe it or not, these little beauties still taste great when cold. So if there are some left over, don't throw them out. I like the idea of giving them as a snack to my little girl when she's in the pram.
Something extra - sometimes I make this for dinner. However the batter differs just a little. I add grated zucchini, some corn kernels that I may have left over from the night before, and a little grated cheese (whatever I have in the fridge), then serve it with an avocado and cucumber salsa. It is magnificent. Salsa : cucumbers, halved and chopped roughly, an avocado peeled seeded and cubed, fresh coriander leaves, spring onions chopped, chilli, lime juice, a couple of drops sesame oil and a little honey to balance the flavours.
creamy broccoli soup
Serves 4 hungry people Ingredients 1 medium organic broccoli washed and cut into pieces 2 – 3 teaspoons coconut oil 1 medium onion chopped 2 cloves garlic smashed 2 cups stock (use whatever flavour you like. In our home we use meat essence or home made chicken stock - recipe further down the page) Grated ginger (most people would be happy with 1 teaspoon, but adjust to taste) 1 kafir lime leaf 2-3 tablespoons brown rice flour (make this yourself in a food processor) 1 teaspoon good quality curry paste or curry powder or garam masala ¼ can coconut cream (full strength, none of this fancy low fat stuff) Coriander and lime to finish
In a heavy based saucepan, sauté onions, garlic and ginger in coconut oil until softened. Then add curry/garam masala and gently fry until fragrant
Add the broccoli and cover with stock.
Add kafir lime leaves and gently bring the pot to the boil
Next, reduce to a simmering heat, add the rice flour and allow to cook for 15 minutes or until broccoli soft.You will need to stir this every couple of minutes so that the rice flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.Then add the coconut cream and cook for a further 5 minutes.
When broccoli is cooked and soft (mashable) – remove from heat and discard the kafir lime leaf.
With a stick blender, blend until smooth.
Serve hot with a generous squeeze of lime and chopped coriander and season to taste.
Variations Really you can add any vegetable you like, but keep the broccoli as the hero.Parsnips, pumpkin, potato, leek, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower. If you’re game, add some chipotle sauce at the end for an intense smokey flavour.
I do the 5:2 diet 1-2 times a week, and with winter approaching I find I need something warm and filling for dinner.By omitting the coconut cream this makes for a really healthy dinner with minimal calories. This recipe has been adapted from Lauren Burns Food From a Loving Home cookbook.
Persian fruit straps (lavoshak)
Everyone in our family is obsessed with fruit straps.For me, my experience with fruit straps started in Iran.The first time I tried a fruit strap (mind you it wasn’t a strap it was the size of Tim Tam but half the depth), I was about eight years old.My parents had left my sister (aged 3), my brother (aged one) and I with my aunt for the day.My brother was too young to eat fruit, so my aunt offered him a fruit strap made entirely of pomegranate juice. It is common practice in Iran to give a child fruit straps instead of fruit as they are so much easier to ‘suck’ and soothing for the gums. The Persians call fruit straps ‘lavoshak’. I was intrigued by the look of this dark red sticky rectangle thing, and asked to try one.What an absolute taste sensation.Salty, tart, sour and sweet all at the same time.What the hell was this stuff?I had about 3 more pieces of lavoshak before my aunt suggested that I should slow down or else suffer stomach aches.Reluctantly I stopped, but later that day when my parents picked us up, I could not stop talking about lavoshak.Since then, it has been a staple in our house and now my kids and husband share my passion for lavoshak.
Always keen to support local farmers and try cooking new things, I decided to embark on the lavoshak creating journey myself.Incredibly easy to make, but very time consuming, here is my rendition of the stuff that my kids succumb to everyday…..
This recipe is for strawberry and grape but you can use any fruit you like.My only caveat is that it’s best to choose sweet, RIPE fruit.This includes stone fruit, apples, pears, bananas, pomegranates….the combinations are endless.
The stone fruits, apples and pears need to be poached before hand; however the bananas, grapes and berries can be blitzed raw.
Strawberry and Grape 2 punnets organic strawberries washed and de-stemmed 300-500gm organic sweet seedless grapes (green or purple) washed thoroughly 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Turn your oven to 70-75C
Line a baking tray with baking paper and very lightly grease with a non flavoured vegetable oil (canola/sunflower).
In a food processor, blitz the fruits and juice together until it is very liquid.
If you like the seeds and don’t mind the coarseness, proceed to the next step.However if you prefer a smoother consistency, you will need to sieve this liquid into another bowl.Keep mixing and pushing the juice through the colander and you will be left with a very much pulp.I tend not to throw this pulp out.I put it in my orange juice and drink it all.It’s just extra fibre
Now gently pour this liquid onto a baking tray making sure that it is evenly distributed so it can dehydrate evenly.
Put in the oven and leave for at least 3 hours.After this time check to see if it has set.As this sets from the outer edges first, dip your finger in the middle of the tray.If it’s still liquid, continue ‘cooking’.The rate at which this cooks depends on the depth and runniness of the liquid as well as the type of fruit you choose.
Once done, remove from oven and allow to sit for about an hour before you cut into strips.These can be stored in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about a month.
Suggestions : get a dehydrator – so much more economical than using an oven.Use fruit in season that is very sweet and ripe. Always add lemon juice!!Taste your mixture before cooking, and if it’s not sweet enough you can add sugar, agave, maple syrup or coconut nectar.Don’t let the baking paper overlap onto the mixture as it will not dry/cook. Get creative and add cinnamon, chilli, cardamom, vanilla or other flavours to your straps.
If you use apples, stone fruits or pears, make sure that you poach the fruit until they are completely soft and mushy.Separate the liquid from the fruit.Blitz fruit first, and then add the liquid that you poached the fruit in TINY AMOUNTS to create a liquid that is easy to spread on the tray.If you make it too runny then it will take longer to cook.The combinations my kids like are apple and apricot; apple and cherry, strawberry and grape.
Have fun and don't get a tummy ache :)
Okay, so this is where you may think I'm crazy. However in winter, every week I make an insane stock of some sort. And use this stock to flavour my rice, soups, Israeli cous cous, ragu etc.... I'm not a huge fan of stock cubes if I can make something tastier myself. I change it up with whatever is available, - chicken, beef, lamb or veal.
Ingredients Chicken carcasse and/or bones of veal, lamb, beef with the marrow exposed (get the butcher to cut it lengthways or in pieces) 2 Carrots whole 2 large onions chopped 2 celery stalks halved 2 bay leaves 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (optional) 4-6 cloves garlic whole salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, add all ingreidents and boil covered for at least 5 hours. You may need to add water to cover bones during the course of the day. in the last hour no need to add liquid. This will intensify the flavour. The longer you cook this, the better the taste. But the minimum is 5 hours. I have been known to gently simmer my pot for nearly 24hours. All I can say is OH-MY-GOSH to the flavours. Cool completely, and separate liquid from everything else. Store liquid in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, freeze portions and use whenever needed.
Variations: I have baked all the ingredients for an hour prior to boiling for a more intense flavour. It's completely up to you. But be sure that your large bones have the marrow exposed when you boil them. Once cooled feel free to remove some of the fat if you're worried about calories. But keep in mind a lot of nutrients are stored in the fatty part. Especially vitamins A and D.