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.

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.

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.

good is good enough – a baked ricotta

 

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I found these gorgeous flower sprouts at the markets a couple of weekends ago. They are a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale and are soooo beautiful. The size of Brussels sprouts but with purple-tinged, frilled leaves, they inspired so many recipe ideas. The problem was, I thought these little babies were so lovely that not just any dish would warrant their sacrifice into the pan.

A warm salad with hazelnuts and speck?  Tossed with mushrooms and ricotta through buckwheat pasta? Baked into a gratin with gruyere? Nothing seemed perfect.

So my lovely little sprouts sat in the fridge for a couple of days until I stopped letting perfect get in the way of  good. And baked a simple ricotta.

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Baked Ricotta, Flower Sprouts, Bacon

  • 2c fresh, full-fat ricotta (500g)
  • 1c finely grated parmesan (about 100g)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • OPTIONAL: lemon zest, chopped chili
  • 2 bacon rashers, diced
  • 10-12 flower sprouts or Brussels sprouts, core removed and pulled apart into “petals”
  • handful pine nuts
  • handful fresh basil leaves

Mix the ricotta, parmesan and eggs together. Season and add the lemon zest and/or chili if using. Scrape into an oven-proof dish and bake @200’C for 20 minutes or until golden and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place the bacon and sprouts on a lined oven tray and bake for 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts to the tray and bake a further 2-3 minutes until bacon and sprouts are cooked and nuts are lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and mix bacon, sprouts and nuts so that the bacon fat coats everything well. Season with salt, pepper, basil and a squeeze of lemon juice and scatter over the baked ricotta.

Kitchen notes: any leftover ricotta is delicious the next day. Crumble it through a salad or slice it and serve as part of an antipasto plate. In fact, I prefer this ricotta at room temperature so feel free to bake this ahead of time.

 

 

lazy braised lentils, ham hock, mozzarella & pesto

hocklentils

This is comfort food in its purest form.  A humble pork hock is slowly cooked in a hearty tomato sauce and finished with lentils and herbs.  Unchallenging to cook and soothing to eat, this simple dish offers delicious variations to enjoy for a warming breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Honestly, the only non-negotiables here are a daggy bag of dried lentils, a bacon or ham hock and tinned tomatoes. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. I had mushrooms and half a bunch of parsley in my fridge but you could just as easily use carrot, celery, thyme, bay or basil. Don’t have a leftover fennel stalk like I did? Don’t worry. Simply throw whatever you have in a pot and let this delicious braise become oh-so-much-greater than the sum of its parts.

Lazy lentils, tomato, fennel & pork hock

  • 2tb olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • 1 fennel stalk, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2t smoked paprika
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 bacon or ham hock
  • 2 tins diced tomato
  • 4 tins water
  • 500g dry lentils (I used the pretty French-style lentils)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot that has a lid. Saute the onion, mushrooms, fennel and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the spices and cook, while stirring, until they are also smelling fantastic. Add the hock and the tinned tomatoes. Using one of the empty tomato tins, add 4 tins of water. Cover with a lid. Simmer very gently until the pork meat is falling off the bone, roughly 2 hours. Remove the hock from the sauce and pull the meat from the bone into bite-size pieces. Add back into the sauce with the lentils and herbs and simmer for 20-30 minutes until lentils are cooked.

Note that I haven’t mentioned adding salt – don’t. The hock is sufficiently salty that you will want to taste the final product before adjusting the seasoning.

What I did next: this dish yields 6-8 hearty serves. I froze 2 serves for a future awesome easy meal. I divided the remaining cooled pork and lentils in half. I put one half into an oven-proof dish and sliced a 125g ball of mozzarella on top. I baked this @ 180’C for 15-20 minutes until the lentils were hot and the mozzarella was gooey. I drizzled pesto on top and served it with a green salad for dinner. We had the other half for breakfast a couple of days later – baked for the same amount of time but topped with 2 eggs, fresh chilli and herbs and served with bread. Delicious!

Instead of finishing the pork and lentils in the oven, you could quite easily heat them in a pot and serve them scattered with toasted breadcrumbs and crumbled parmesan or fresh ricotta and gremolata.

Kate xx

 

spice essentials and chicken with yoghurt, prunes and coriander

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I had a huge spring clean recently and culled my pantry with all the zeal of Martha Stewart on steroids. Amongst some forgotten treasures (ooh, chestnut cream!) and some obscure, barely used ingredients (asafoetida, anyone?), I was appalled by my stockpile of unused spices. Little jars and bags accumulated through the discovery of new dishes but which had sadly lost their magic and fragrance. So I threw out my dusty little collection and replaced them with fresh jars of the spices I use again and again.

My favourite ones are…

fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, black pepper, smoked paprika, coriander seeds, star anise, ground cinnamon, whole nutmeg and cloves.

With these little lovelies, I can flavour Moroccan or Indian dishes, brew a pot of chai tea, make a Chinese master stock or enhance my baking.

Making use of 3 of my essentials, tonight’s dinner was deliciously spiced chicken in a fragrant broth.

Spiced Chicken, Yoghurt, Prunes, Coriander

  • 6 chicken thighs, preferably bone in, skin optional
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice of
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/3 c prunes or dates, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 2c chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½-1c yoghurt (or coconut cream)
  • 1/4 c toasted almonds or pine nuts

Blend the lemon, garlic, ginger and coriander to a paste in a food processor. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot on medium heat. Add the onions, cover with a lid and cook until soft (about 10 minutes).

Add the butter, spices and a big pinch of salt and cook while stirring until fragrant. Push the onions to one side and add the chicken, skin side down. Cook the chicken thighs until golden brown. Turn over, season with salt and pepper and add the coriander paste and the stock. Stir well. Add the prunes (or dates), the capsicum and sweet potato. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through and the chicken is tender. Turn the heat off and stir through the yoghurt.

Serve with fresh coriander, the toasted nuts and an extra dollop of yoghurt if desired.

Make it your own: add a tin of chickpeas when you add the yoghurt for a more robust meal and great leftovers.  I particularly like this dish with wholemeal couscous and wilted spinach but steamed brown rice, barley or quinoa would also be delicious. If you can’t find chicken thighs with the bone in, use marylands, drumsticks or a mix of thighs and drumsticks.

 

 

zucchini buckwheat bread

 

zuccbread2

Once or twice a week I like to bake something with my 2 year old son. He loves mixing, cracking eggs and, of course, licking the bowl. We originally baked this gorgeous buckwheat loaf to have with breakfast one weekend.  This delicious bread is so good it is now the only bread we eat! We bake a loaf every Sunday.

It is absolutely divine…                                                                                                                                                            spread with avocado or sunflower seed butter.                                                                                                                     with poached eggs and smoked salmon.                                                                                                                                   with leg ham and chutney.                                                                                                                                                          with sliced tomato and ricotta.

I am keen to experiment with this recipe. I am sure that this loaf could become a beautiful Spiced Carrot and Raisin loaf, more suited to a sweet but nourishing morning tea loaf. This recipe is free of gluten and dairy.

Zucchini buckwheat bread

  • 2 c buckwheat flour
  • 1 c almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c walnuts, toasted, crushed to coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c rice malt syrup, honey or maple syrup
  • scant 1/3 c coconut oil or olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 medium-large zucchini, grated

Whisk the syrup, oil, eggs and zucchini together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake for 45-60 minutes at 170’C.

Shopping the pantry?  The buckwheat flour imparts a lovely earthy, nutty flavour to this loaf but you could use wholemeal flour (spelt would be perfect) as a substitute. I have used other nuts instead of walnuts – and they were sorely missed. The walnuts give such a beautiful depth of flavour that I haven’t found in other nuts.

 

call me converted (cauliflower pizza)

caulipizzaphoto

Cauliflower pizza is the pizza you have when you’re not having pizza. Because, let’s be honest, it doesn’t bear much more than a passing resemblance to a thin and crispy margarita. It does, however, deserve to be appreciated for its own deliciousness.

A cauliflower pizza carries your favourite toppings beautifully and offers a rich, golden base, crispy around the edges. And if you are trying to eat more vegetables or get your wee ones to eat them, this is the perfect nutrient-dense meal for a quick week-night dinner. The base can be mixed the night before, ready to be baked when you get home from a busy day.

Cauliflower Pizza

Makes 2 large single-serve pizzas.

  • 260g (2c) riced cauliflower, cooked, cooled
  • 60g ( ½c) almond meal
  • 15g ( ¼c) nutritional yeast flakes or ¼ c grated parmesan
  • 1                 egg
  • fresh thyme leaves or dried oregano
  • salt flakes and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread out into 2 circles approx. 16cm diameter. Bake in an oven at 200’C for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Top with desired toppings and place back in the oven to heat through, another 5 or 10 minutes.

My favourite toppings? Per pizza – 2tsp tomato paste, roast eggplant, Sicilian olives, marinated mushrooms or red capsicum, anchovies, feta.