buckwheat and quinoa granola

GranolaBowl

I prefer variations on a porridge theme for breakfast in winter. But as variety is so important,  I like to have a jar of this delicious granola on hand. This batch is a crunchy mix of buckwheat, quinoa flakes, nuts and seeds, sweetened with pureed dates and enriched with some tahini. As with all my recipes, most of the ingredients can be swapped for tastes you might prefer or half-packets of things you wish to use up.
GranolaBfast

buckwheat & quinoa granola

  • 300g buckwheat, raw
  • 150g quinoa flakes
  • 100g pepitas
  • 150g nuts (I used a mix of walnuts and brazil nuts)
  • 100g dates
  • 75g water
  • 25g olive oil
  • 25g tahini (or a mild nut butter)
  • pinch each of salt and cinnamon

Mix the buckwheat, quinoa, seeds and nuts together. Add the salt and cinnamon. Process the dates, water, olive oil and tahini until smooth. Add 1/3 of the dry mix to the processor and pulse a couple of times until roughly incorporated. Empty the date mix from the processor onto the remaining dry mix and stir until entirely mixed through. Distribute over 2 baking trays and bake in a 150’C oven for 30-40 minutes until golden and toasted. Allow to cool completely.

Kitchen tips: we like this granola with yoghurt and fruit and it is sweet enough for us. If you have a sweeter tooth, you could always add a dash of honey or maple syrup to the date puree.

road trip recovery nachos

nachos

I am living in post-holiday denial. Our bags are unpacked, the washing is done, the fridge has been replenished.  But I am still humming the holiday rhythm of lazy coffees, lunches with a view and no housework. A reality check tomorrow is inevitable. Until then, we shall have nachos and chocolate ice cream for dinner and pretend we have spent the day by the beach.

Nachos

  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • smoked paprika, to taste
  • 1tb chipotle in adobo sauce (don’t fret if you don’t have this)*
  • 1 tin chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 tin refried beans

Saute the onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the garlic, capsicum, celery and paprika and continue cooking until soft and fragrant. Add the adobo chilli sauce if you have it. Add the tinned tomatoes, fill the empty tin with water and add that too. Add the beans and stir well. Season to taste and cook while stirring over a simmer until it thickens slightly.

Serves 6 with whatever trimmings you like.

I like our nachos spooned over sweet potato chips, baked tortilla pieces or decent bought corn chips. A light scattering of cheese, melted, and topped with guacamole, home made tomato salsa and some thick yoghurt is perfect. The nacho mix freezes well and makes the easiest, quickest meal in a flash.

*tinned chipotles chilis come in a rich, smoky sauce. This adobo sauce has much less heat than the chili but still imparts the fantastic spiced, smoky flavour of the chipotle. I use half chopped chipotle and half sauce to give the heat and flavour I like but adjust this as you wish.

 

chocolate ice cream

icecream

I first made this “ice cream” years ago for children I used to babysit. It is simply frozen bananas blended to a creamy iced treat. When I began working as a chef, I used to use this recipe (and it is barely that) or a cashew ice cream to garnish vegan or dairy-free desserts.

Despite the humble ingredients, the finished product is very rich and one scoop is more than satisfying.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

  • 2 large bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1-2 tablespoons cacao
  • 1 tb tahini or nut butter of your choice – optional
  • vanilla, cinnamon, chilli – optional and to your taste

Simply throw everything into a blender or processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Serves 4.

*I try to keep 2 or 3 sliced, frozen bananas in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. They are then ready to add to smoothies or blend into ice cream. In the photo, I have sprinkled some nuts and coconut – quite unnecessary garnishes and my ineffective attempt to make brown food look slightly better.

gooey chocolate quinoa pudding

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Warm, soft-centred chocolate pudding is a luscious treat – especially on the grey, grizzly days we have been having this week. My husband makes a gorgeous chocolate pudding at every restaurant he works at and it is one of my favourite desserts. However, I don’t fancy consuming white flour and sugar just to tickle my fancy for pudding. I like to think that my sweet treats can support my nutritional health as well taste gorgeous. So this recipe uses cooked quinoa (yes, trust me!) in place of flour which makes this recipe one of my few gluten-free recipes made without nuts. The quinoa adds an earthy flavour which sits well with the rich cacao and hints of coffee, cinnamon and vanilla. As an added bonus, quinoa provides protein, fibre, iron and magnesium – so you can have your cake and eat it too. Deceptively rich, you would not guess that the pudding contains just over 2 teaspoons of sugar per serve.

I particularly like this mix poured over bananas and baked, although it is delicious made with soft, ripe pears. The bananas do add to this dessert’s comfort factor and, to gild the lily, marry well with a dark chocolate sauce.

chocolate quinoa pudding

  • 1/4c melted butter, olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1c cooked quinoa (from 1/3c raw)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3c rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 1/2c raw cacao powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp instant coffee or finely ground coffee (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 soft ripe pears, peeled, cored, quartered or 3 large bananas, sliced thickly

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Arrange your choice of fruit in a small, shallow oven-proof dish and pour over the pudding batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 175’C until the edges are cooked but the centre is still a little soft. Allow to cool slightly before serving with chocolate sauce or cream or both. Serves 8.

Notes: for a simple chocolate sauce, heat 1/2c cream and pour over 100g of chopped 70% chocolate. Stir until smooth.

vanilla pears with baked nutty crumble

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After years of cooking in restaurants and crafting dishes of increasing complexity, I truly get the most pleasure now from recipes as simple as this crumble. A crumble is everything that is good about winter – warm, ripe fruit, a nutty crumble topping and the contrast of cold cream or ice cream.

pearscrumb

This crumble celebrates the natural sweetness of pears and the spiced topping is a mix of whatever nuts you may have in the cupboard. We had this for dessert a couple of nights ago and I have eaten it for breakfast since with some gorgeous Clevedon Valley buffalo milk yoghurt.

crumble

 

nutty pear crumble

  • 4-5 sweet, ripe pears, cored, diced (I used Buerre Bosc pears)
  • splash white wine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 2 tb (40ml) rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 1/4c almond meal
  • 1/4c oats (traditional or quick) or quinoa flakes
  • 1/4c coconut flour
  • 1/2c nuts (I used half pistachio, half pine nuts)
  • 1/4c pumpkin or sunflowers seeds
  • 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of

Place the diced pears in a saucepan and add a splash of wine and the vanilla. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until the wine starts to simmer. Remove the lid and continue cooking until wine has almost evaporated and the pears have softened. This should take only minutes. Pour into a baking dish. Cool to room temperature.

For the topping, place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mix comes together but some of the nuts and seeds are still in large pieces. Sprinkle the crumble evenly all over the pears and bake at 175’C for 20-25 mins until the topping is golden brown. Delicious served with good yoghurt, cream or ice cream. Serves 6.

Note: If you can’t find coconut flour, simply process some dried coconut until a fine powder. This recipe could also be made with apples but you may need to sweeten them if they are more tart than sweet. The topping is gluten free if using certified gluten free oats or quinoa flakes and would make lovely biscuits, I think.

roast chicken in milk with garlic, sage, lemon, cinnamon

sagemilkchicken

This is just a lovely dish that I cannot recommend enough. Chicken legs are cooked in a milk, fragrant with zest, garlic and spice. Add creamed corn and roast potatoes and this is roast chicken heaven.

chicken cooked in milk

  • 4 chicken marylands (drumstick/thigh)
  • 1 lemon, peeled zest of
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 6 cloves of garlic, squashed a little
  • 4-6 sprigs sage, leaves from
  • 2 c full cream milk
  • salt, olive oil

In a hot pan, brown the chicken legs till golden. Pop into a baking dish with the lemon zest, cinnamon, garlic, sage leaves and milk. Cover with foil, bake at 190’C for 20 mins, discard foil, baste, cook 15 mins more. Remove from oven. Drain off milk into a pot. Reduce over med-high while stirring until curds develop (see white lumps in photo?) and the milk is saucy. Pour sauce over chicken before serving.
Serve with creamed corn or polenta and some roast vegetables. You’re welcome. 🙂

lemon pine nut cream and nicoise salad

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I bought a bag of little sweet potatoes at the markets last weekend with plans to make a herby potato salad of crispy bacon, spanish onion, capers and gherkins. However, I had some of this lovely lemon pine nut cream in the fridge and it, and this gloriously sunny winter weather, called for something a bit brighter.

The pine nut cream was left from some gnocchi that we had earlier this week. It is incredibly versatile and and lifts a dish from everyday to elegant. Some inspiration…

  • sweet potato gnocchi, lemon pine nut cream, dill, smoked salmon
  • roast chicken, lemon pine nut cream, tarragon roast potatoes
  • charred brussels sprouts, crispy bacon, breadcrumbs, lemon pine nut cream
  • linguine with peas, leeks, lemon pine nut cream
  • herb crusted-fish, lemon pine nut cream, iceberg lettuce salad
  • stuffed baked onions, breadcrumbs, lemon…       Well, you get the idea.

For the nicoise salad above, I simply combined the roasted potatoes with excellent tinned tuna, green beans, semi-dried tomatoes, olives, spanish onion and chopped anchovy. Topped with the cream and a boiled egg, it was a lovely mid-week lunch.

Kitchen Tip: make a double batch of this sauce and use it through the week to dress up a quick week-night dinner.

 

lemon pine nut cream sauce

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 1/3 c pine nuts, processed to crumbs
  • 1/4 lemon, zest of
  • 1/3 c white wine
  • 1c thick cream
  • thyme or tarragon, optional

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil on med-high heat.  Add minced garlic and cook while stirring until fragrant.   Add ground pine nuts and herbs (if you have them) and cook while stirring until fragrant and golden. Add white wine and bring back to boil. Add cream and zest and simmer for 2 minutes .  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I like to puree the sauce after cooking to obtain a silky smooth cream but this isn’t essential. This serves 4 as a garnish.

 

pulled pork belly, sweet potato skins and avocado

sweetpotpp

There are few things more satisfying to cook and eat than pulled pork. Requiring little effort to get into the oven and yielding to the gentle prod of a fork when done, slow-roasted pork is juicy, smoky, spicy deliciousness. Throw it into a soft bun with coleslaw or toast it in a quesadilla with cheese and pickles. We loved it with black beans, sweet potato and guacamole.

Many pulled pork recipes ask for chipotle and piquillo chilies which are not always easily found. It is not uncommon to see up to a cup of sugar listed as an ingredient. The recipe below is made from things I always have on hand and goes lightly on the added sugar.

porkbellyforkedpork

pulled pork belly

  • 750g pork belly, skin on
  • 1tb fennel seeds
  • 1tb cumin seeds
  • 1tb smoked paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 semi-dried tomatoes
  • 1tb rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 1tb apple cider vinegar
  • 1 leek or large onion, finely sliced

Oven at 200’C. In a food processor, blend the spices, garlic, tomatoes, syrup and vinegar with a little water to make a paste. Rub all over the pork belly with a good amount of salt. Spread the sliced leek or onion over the bottom of a baking or roasting dish and place the pork on top. Pour half a cup of water in the bottom of the dish. Place in the oven and turn the heat down to 130’C. Roast for 30 minutes then cover with foil. Continue cooking for 5-6 hours until pork falls apart when prodded with a fork. Pull pork apart with 2 forks while still warm. Chop up the skin and mix through the meat. I froze half of my pulled pork.

sweet potato skins

Roast 2 halved smallish sweet potatoes at 200’c for 45-60 minutes, flesh side down. Scoop out the soft flesh and reserve it for another meal (I made gnocchi with mine). Drain and rinse a tin of black beans and mix them with diced onion, tomato and grated cheese. Fill the 4 potato skins with the bean mix, top with pulled pork and pop back into the oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through. Top with avocado puree and coriander.

mushroom ricotta quinoa bake with hot smoked salmon

quinoabake

I do a bake of some sort every couple of weeks.  I love the simplicity of a “one bowl & bake” dinner and the resulting ready-made lunch for the next day. Pasta and rice are obvious choices for this dish but I used quinoa for our dinner last week. You could just as easily use brown rice, freekeh or couscous. Don’t have ricotta? Use sour cream or cream cheese instead. Some bacon, anchovies or chorizo sauteed with the mushrooms would be delicious if you choose. Like most of my recipes, this one is so easily adapted to what you have in your fridge or cupboard so make this meal work for you.

mushroom ricotta quinoa bake

  • 2c cooked quinoa (from about 1c raw)
  • 300g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 sprigs lemon thyme (or chopped parsley or basil)
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2 big handfuls kale or spinach
  • 1c frozen peas
  • handful of olives
  • 250g ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • about 1/3c grated parmesan (or cheddar)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180’c. Saute the mushrooms on high heat in some olive oil until golden and cooked through. Add the garlic, thyme and zucchini and cook until aromatic. Season well. Throw in the spinach and peas and stir over the heat until the spinach is wilted and peas are hot. Tip this mushroom mix into a large bowl and add the cooked quinoa and the olives. Leave to cool a little and adjust the seasoning. Whisk the ricotta and eggs  together and add to the quinoa mixture. Mix until combined. Place mix into a 20cm baking dish, sprinkle with 2 pinches of parmesan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmesan and crisp green salad. We enjoyed this bake all warm and cheesy for dinner and then the next day with hot smoked salmon and a lemon mustard vinaigrette.

deep, dark chocolate beetroot cake

chobeetslice

I am so pleased to share this gorgeous one-bowl recipe with you. This is a special occasion cake, decadently rich with dark chocolate. Even if the special occasion is simply that you made it through a craptastic week, then curl up on the lounge with a cup of tea and congratulate yourself.

The beetroot isn’t here to make you feel virtuous. It adds the earthy sweetness that makes beetroot so beautiful and keeps the cake deliciously moist. This cake can be served topped very simply with creme fraiche but I strongly recommend gilding the lily with a dark chocolate ganache.

beetspoon

I use a rather small (16cm) cake ring for my weekend baking.  This gives me 8 elegant portions and means our weekend treat remains just that. If you are using a larger cake tin (20cm) then increase the recipe below by a third and allow 10-20 mins extra baking time. This recipe is also divine baked as individual gooey-centred chocolate puddings.

deep, dark chocolate beetroot cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2/3 c beetroot puree   (1 large beetroot, baked in foil until soft, peeled, pureed)
  • 160g chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, melted
  • 1c almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180’C. Whisk the eggs, syrup and olive oil together. Add the beetroot puree and whisk until combined. Add the almond meal and baking powder and mix until combined. Scrape the batter into a lined 16cm cake tin/ring and place into the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 160’C and bake for 30-40 mins. The cake will be ready when an inserted skewer or knife comes away with very moist crumbs – the centre should only be just cooked. Serves 8.

dark chocolate ganache

For a 16cm ring, heat 1/3 c cream or coconut cream with a pinch of salt and pour over 80g chopped 85% chocolate. Whisk until smooth and allow to cool before spreading on top of the cake. For a larger cake, use 1/2 c cream to 120g chocolate.

If the 85% chocolate is too dark for your taste, you could use 70% – but I love the bittersweet intensity of the darker chocolate against the sweetness of this cake.