Monday, November 24, 2014

camembert and cranberry mini tarts

Sandwiches have their place. They can be tasty and they can be very easy to whip up, but one can have too much of a good thing. Sometimes a sandwich in the lunchbox day after day can lead to very serious sandwich overexposure.

During the school holidays I get to recuperate because I am a teacher. During the school holidays my partner gets to get absolutely annihilated by children and parents on holiday who want to eat free chocolate because he works in chocolate sales in a tourist town. Don't get me wrong, school holidays are great for business, he doesn't at all bemoan the number of people who come through the Gabriel doors everyday. However, this fact doesn't make the whole process any less exhausting for him. He comes home exhausted and in need of a couch and a glass of wine. 

It's nice therefore to be able to make him something a bit different for his lunches (rather than the rushed sandwich he usually throws together in the mornings), seeing as I have the time at the moment and I always have the inclination. Here's one of my quick lunch favourites, you can make a few and keep them for up to a week, providing some variety from the old sandwich lunch mainstay. They also make a great canape or entree for a party because they're so easy to prepare.
You can, of course, put just about anything into these little tarts: blue cheese and caramelised onion, diced tomatoes, ham and cheddar, fetta and spinach. I just happened to want to make something a little special and Blue Ginger had some well priced brie. 



brie and cranberry mini tarts
makes 12 tarts
You need:
2 tbsp dried cranberries
300g brie or camembert, cut into 24ish pieces
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves (shredded)
3 square sheets of puff pastry
4-5 eggs
1/8 cup whipping cream
a pinch of nutmeg
salt + pepper

You:
Preheat your oven to 180C.

Cut the pastry sheets into four squares each (a cross through the middle of the sheet)

Place the squares into the receptacles in a muffin tray and press them down in the middle to make a space for you to put your filling.

Put your camembert, cranberries and spinach into the pastry bases, distributing them evenly between the twelve mini tarts.

(should look a bit like this:)

Whisk the nutmeg, eggs, cream, salt and pepper together in a jug and pour into the tarts carefully (you don't want them to overflow).

Bake for 20-25 minutes (until the egg is set and golden brown).

Eat immediately, have cold or reheat later for deliciousness.

Store in the fridge.

Be happy.

Love to  you all!
-KC

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Margaret River Discoveries - Margaret River Bakery + Swooning over Chickpea Walnut Burgers



Where?

Margaret River Bakery on Urbanspoon

Good for?
Burgers, lunches, cafe style dining, delicious bakery fare, coffee, breakfast

In the immortal words of Dinosaur Jack (aka my partner, Macca), once you start eating a burger you never put it down, you don't even drink anything, you just hold it in both you hands until you're finished eating it. Of course, he only divulged this wisdom AFTER my amazing chickpea walnut burger had exploded onto my lap, the floor and the table. He's right, though. I tried this method 2 days later when I returned to the Margaret River Bakery for a second bout of burger. I still got relish all over my face and probably looked like a pig smashing that pattie almost without pause - WORTH IT.


I realised while I was destroying this chickpea burger that the very reason that this burger was SO delicious was because of it's collapsability. It was full of amazingness. Grated beetroot, carrot, amazing relish. Fresh salad... it was a totally legit burger... and that pattie was sensational. Vegie burgers are kind of hard to get right, often people make the mistake of just replacing a meat pattie with a vegie one and hoping that it will still be delicious. They are usually wrong. The flavours in the Margaret River Bakery chickpea walnut burger are bang on. PLUS they are really well priced. $12 for a gourmet burger and chips? Whatever, that's just amazing.

The Margaret River Bakery has the best value vegie gourmet burger and chips out. Yeah, okay that's a pretty big claim, but I'll throw it out there: do you know of a better deal? And more delicious?

Aside from making amazing burgers (they also have a chicken burger and a normal hamburger for the same price) The Margaret River Bakery has also been quietly going about their business of providing cutesy-kitsch cafe style dining and yummo bakery fare. It's often filled with people, sitting at vintage mismatched tables and chairs.



Recently we've been drooling over their decadent salted caramel and cream filled donuts. Yeah, they have those.

The bakery is great for lunch or for a panini on the run (another fave of ours – try the Into the Wild panini... ohMYGOD), they also do breakfast (big brekkie is only $14[what?]) and good coffee. They're open Monday to Saturday (don't go on a Sunday, you'll be crying all the way home). They're almost always busy and crank those burgers out pretty darned fast, considering how packed they often are.
So that's it, readers, the best value lunch in Margaret River? The (Chickpea Walnut*) Burger and Chips from the Margaret River Bakery.


*I don't know about the others, I haven't tried them.

P.S How apt was the table number I got:


-KCxx

Thursday, July 4, 2013

If you LOVE something, let it GROW - sharing produce, sharing food

You may have noticed I don't post so much anymore. I've been busy doing things I love, readers. I have discovered the most wonderful collection of food growers and lovers and have decided to live amongst them for the rest of my days. And I have decided to contribute to their community. I have decided to love and contribute rather than criticise and question. 



On the 23rd of June, the day after we moved into our beautiful house... My friends and I had a shared dinner at Fair Harvest Permaculture Farm. The food was provided by those who attended the dinner, grown in their own gardens and prepared by a few keen foodies. 

People dropped off their fresh produce (and I mean fresh, some of it still had fresh dirt on it from being picked minutes before) in the morning...


Then we (my friends Luke, Corinne and me) designed a menu around this...


We spent the day cooking, all scarps were saved to be fed to the worms, chickens or pigs...


A shot of the amazing Luke preparing pumpkin gnocchi...



At 5pm some high schools students came to help with the final set up. They waited the whole evening at volunteers. The whole event way done on a volunteer basis...


It was the most beautiful evening. We talked about how we can make a restaurant that deals largely in produce, rather than money, exist and function and grow. I live in an amazing place. I've discovered something new... if you love something, talk about it, let it grow, share it with others, it's the most likely path to its success. 




Monday, June 17, 2013

Chai Crepes and Caramelised Bananas - The June SABH

It's blog hop time again, readers! This month I'm hosting (in this post actually), but more on that later, for now though, let's have a little nostalgia:

I didn't grow up in the kind of house where we got packaged foods in our lunch boxes. My brother and I rarely, if ever, had canteen lunches and I didn't even realise that white rice existed until Year 2 or 3. For a large period of my childhood I felt deprived because of this healthy regime my mother inflicted on us. I watched other kids pulling packets of chips and cheesy biscuit snacks from their lunch boxes and sighed into my carrot and brown-bread filled lunchbox.

Once, when my parents had to go away for a weekend, I stayed at my friend's house. I remember opening the lunch her mum had packed in raptures. This was the lunch (no joke):
- A piece of (store bought) iced chocolate cake
- A handful of lollies
- An apple

Notice something about that list? Yeah, there wasn't a sandwich... or anything savoury for that matter. There was cake instead. I was always jealous of that friend's lunches. Her mum seemed to give her all the things I dreamed of eating and my mum seemed intent on ruining my childhood with healthy, fibre rich food that had little to no refined sugar. I know, what a negligent monster, right?

Nowadays I baulk at the lunch that my friend's mum gave me (which she probably saw as a special treat to make me feel better because my parents were away and we were poor – we were). Nowadays I am grateful to my mother, who denied me so much to give me so much more. I have never been a fussy eater, I have never struggled with my weight, I have so far had a very healthy life. The foods I experiment with now come from the breadth of knowledge I have from all of the flavours I've encountered in my life, flavours many children were not exposed to with their white bread and packet snack diets. I moved schools at the end of that year. I lost track of that friend. Years later I met her again. She was overweight and paunchy, I felt sorry for her. I realised what a gift I had been given by my mother.

As you might have guessed, we didn't get a lot of treats in my house. Certainly not the same kinds of treats that a lot of other children appeared to be having. However, most nights, my mum would serve us dessert after dinner. Dessert served the double purpose of being a treat and a bribe to finish our vegetables. Usually, it was the only refine d sugar we got all day Most nights it was yogurt or ice cream, but SOME nights, when the bananas in the fruit bowl were looking a little questionable, Mum would make us caramelised bananas. Caramelised bananas, which she prepared in a frying pan in a matter of minutes, are and were inexplicably delicious. Soft, sweet and with a gooeyness to them that is hard to describe, caramelised bananas were a serious comfort food of my childhood. They are also very easy to make. 


In a week where I feel like my world is spinning faster and faster and there's nothing for it but to hold on, grit my teeth and try to enjoy it, caramelised bananas fitted the bill perfectly for this month's Sweet Adventures Blog Hop... which I'm hosting (right now, incidentally).

The theme for this month's hop is:


That means you can link up anything sweet/desserty that requires cooking in a pan and is posted during this week (between 17th June 9am AEST and 24th June 11:59 AEST). To join up, just post up your recipe and link it up to this post following the instructions outlined below. I can't wait to see what people make and to start to try these recipes in my new kitchen (which I'll be using by the end of the week!!) I'm also on the look out for ideas of stuff to prepare for another one of my side projects (hello over-commitment) which is happening THIS SUNDAY at Fair Harvest Permaculture (this is the poster I designed):

With the desire to create caramelised bananas as delicious as my mothers, I headed out to my favourite food haven, Blue Ginger to be inspired... I didn't know what to serve WITH the bananas. Inspiration WIN:

Think about it, chai with caramelised bananas? Oh lordy. So, because this is a frying pan hop, I decided to make Chai crepes with my caramelised bananas. For this hop I used 2 kinds of frying pans (I know, what a suck up, right?) I used a deep, non-stick pan (for the bananas) and a crepe pan (for the crepes). If you don't have a crepe pan a normal non-stick pan will work almost as well.


Now, without much further ado, here's my recipe for this month's hop:


Chai Crepes with Caramelised Bananas
Serves 4
You need:
Crepes:
1 ¼ cups of plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
1 ½ cups milk (I used almond milk, but cow's milk will work too)
2 eggs
1 tbsp (or to your taset) of chai elixir (or similar product, you could also use chair powder, but straight chai tea WILL NOT WORK)
some extra butter or oil for frying

Caramelised Bananas:
You need 2-3 bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
25g butter
½ tsp cinnamon powder
a pinch of nutmeg
1/8 cup water

You:
NB: Once upon a time, you had to be very careful with adding wet and dry ingredients together in a crepe batter because if you're hand mixing it, it can go lumpy really easily. These days, however, with electric hand beaters, you can be pretty slap-dash and the beater will work out most of the lumps for you. If you don't have a hand beater or stand mixer, read this first for some information on how to avoid getting lumpy batter when hand-mixing.

Melt the butter over a low heat on the stove or in the microwave.

Place the dry ingredients for the crepes into a large bowl or jug.

Add the milk, eggs and elixir. Mix together until there are no lumps with the hand mixer, add the melted butter as you do this.


Cover the bowl or jug and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours).

When ready to serve, prepare your bananas first.

Cut your bananas in half length ways. If you have quite large bananas, you could also halve them horizontally.


Place the sugar, water, butter, nutmeg and cinnamon in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, mix occasionally, allow the butter to melt and the sugar to dissolve.



Add the bananas, fry them until golden, cooked through and caramelly. The liquid arounnd the bananas should reduce to a caramel like substance. Remove from the heat and set aside while you prepare the crepes. 


Remove the batter from the fridge, give it another quick mix with the mixer to ensure it's still well combined.

In a crepe pan (if you have one) or a frying pan (preferably non-stick), fry a little butter or oil.
Pour about ¼ of a cup of the mixture into the pan, turn the pan on a slight angle to try and coat the entirety of the bottom of the pan in batter.

Cook the pancake over a medium heat, until it starts to bubble up or brown on the bottom, then flip. Try using your a flick of your wrist to flip the crepe without a spatula if you're game, otherwise, flip it gently with a non-metal spatula. Cook on the other side until golden, then remove from the pan and set aside on a plate while you prepare the rest of the crepes in the same manner.



When you have as many crepes as you want, or the batter's all gone, reheat the bananas until the sauce is hot again. Serve the crepes with the bananas, you can fold them however you wish, but I chose to fold them in half and then half again, across the diameter, of the circle. Put the bananas where you like, on the crepes, in the crepes, on the side... it's up to you!

I served these with some crème fraiche, but they're delicious on their own... or for a decadent splash, ice-cream or mascarpone would be amazing.



The SABH is brought to you by Dining With a Stud84th & 3rd and me, The Kitchen Crusader. This blog hop is open to all food and lifestyle bloggers.

This hop is open from 9am 17 June 2013 – 11:59pm 24 June 2013 [AEST Sydney time]. Please only link-up new posts published on or after 17 June.
IMPORTANT - The instructions below cover how to link up but if you aren’t sure of something leave a comment or send me an email and I will help where I can.

  1. Add a link to THIS POST from your post.
    * You can create a text link or link the hop badge in your post. Save badge by right clicking on the image to ‘save as’.
    * Providing a link to this post means others can view the instructions and join in!
  2. Click here for the Thumbnail List code – Copy the code and add it to the bottom of your post, you will need to do this in HTML view.
    * Adding the code will create the thumbnail link list on your post so people can hop from one entry to the next.
  3. Click here to Enter the Hop – Make sure to enter the hop so you appear in the list too.
    * On the entry screen, please add the link to your SABH post [NOT your homepage].
    * Your entry will be submitted when you click ‘crop’ on your photo.
NOTE – your linked post WILL NOT appear straight away in the blog hop thumbnail list.To combat spam this is a moderated hop. Your post will be visible in the list after approved. Entries are approved in the order they are submitted during waking hours in Perth, after all, I'm not a vampire. 

If you are on Twitter use the #SABH to tell the world about your post and follow us@SweetAdvBlogHop for new hop announcements and general deliciousness. Thanks for joining!



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

tex mex pulled pork

Our friends, Luke and Corinne have a lot in common with us. They share our passion for food, sustainable living and talking smack. We have spent nights just forgetting to keep track of the time with them, discussing the kinds of topics that most people would consider bland and boring. Examples of such topics include: keeping quails, building chicken coops out of old swing sets, how to slaughter different kinds of livestock and how to use make kefir cheese. Suddenly someone will realise it's nearly midnight or 1 am and we're supposed to be being grown-ups, or something and should all actually go home to bed and sleep like normal serious people. I think this is a good sign, time gets lost track of when I hang around with people who I don't feel the need to put up a pretence in front of. 

On Friday night Luke and Corinne came around for dinner. I had been dying to try JJ's recipe for Tomaillo Salsa Verde since I'd seen it and... a week earlier had swiped the last tomatillos of the season at the farmer's market for that very purpose. This summer coming, Luke and Corinne and Macca and I are planting tomataillos from seeds that we were gifted by a local lady who grows them... so it seemed kind of perfect to make something that involved them, give them a trial run of sorts. I also knew that the salsa verde would go amazingly with one of my signature dishes, cola pulled pork. 


Pulled pork, for those who don't know, is one of the easiest, yet most impressive dishes you'll ever discover. Seeing as Macca and I eat very little meat, a dish like this that really makes the meat sing delicious songs is perfect. Plus, tex mex is just such social fare... there's something about eating with your hands and being able to pick and mix to your taste from a variety of fillings for tacos or tortillas that just invites casual conversation... or maybe that's just me. I'm pretty big on casual conversation. This dish has never failed to impress and the recipe for it has been requested frequently, so I thought it was about time I shared it with everyone.
So today I'm going to share with you my recipe for pulled pork, which I serve with Mexican food but also works in some Vietnamese dishes (Vietnamese pork rolls for example) and some Chinese dishes (pork buns for example). I recommend serving it with some of JJ's very spicy, but oh-so-deilicious salsa verde, guacamole, some lettuce, cheese and spur cream (we used kefir sour cream- which I MADE). I adapted this recipe from Sandra (or The $120 Dollar Food Challenge fame)'s recipe for the Potluck Club. She is a genius, I am only the adaptor of the genius's work. The recipe is a slow cooked one, so it takes about 6 hours to cook, but very little involvement of the cook during that time.



Cola Tex Mex Pulled Pork
Serves 4-8 (depending on how many other fillings you have)
you need:
1kg leg of pork (boneless or boned) cut into 2-4 pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
200ml cola
2/3 cup tomato sauce/ketchup
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes and their juice
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp mustard powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
1 chilli, finely chopped
a couple of good pinches of salt

you:
Fry your onions with the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until they're softened.

Add the spices and chilli, turn through the onions until fragrant.

Place in a slow cooker (or if you don't have one: in a large oven dish to be baked at 120C), put the pork in on top.

Pour the cola and tomatoes over the top, mix through, add the tomato paste, salt and sugar. If you're cooking in the oven cover with alfoil.

Slow cook for 5-7 hours (same time if you're cooking it in the oven), until the meat pulls away from itself easily.

Remove the meat and put into a deep dish/bowl. Pull the pork apart with forks until it's shredded.

Reduce the juice from the cooking process in a frying pan until it's reduced to about 1/4 of it's initial volume. Stir it while this is happen to avoid burning.

Pour the liquid over the shredded pork and mix through. Allow the juice to soak into the meat for a few minutes.

Serve with tortillas and any sides you want (if you're doing Mexican). Or just enjoy it in a sandwich.

This pork keeps well for several days in the fridge and improves... because the juice infuses MORE into the meat. OHMYGOD.

This is one of the best things you'll ever discover, so don't blame me when you get addicted.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Out of the fry pan and onto my plate! (June blog hop announcement)

lavender and honeycomb with oat crumpets
deep-fried chocolate wantons
As you can probably see, I'm in favour of sometimes foods. I like eating healthily, but I also love a treat every now and then. After all, it's June. The cold weather has assaulted our part of the world very suddenly. "HELLO," Cold yelled, barging unexpectedly in under doors and through uncurtained windows. "hope you've organised your firewood stocks."
We, of course, have not adequately organised our firewood stocks. We've spent the last few nights building fires out of a friend's old jarrah outdoor chairs that she donated for the purpose.

We also are decidedly not organised for our move into proper grown-up-hood, which is happening in 3 weeks. The move into a house we own. GROWN-UPS: we are them. So, it felt like with Winter's arrival and the thorough disarray of disorganised pa(ni)cking happening in our house... that all I really wanted to do was sit on the couch and eat comfort food.

The theme for this month's Sweet Adventures Blog Hop (which I'm hosting) comes out of this particular scenario. I want to curl up into a ball and eat pancakes or doughnuts or crumpets with jam and honey. These foods all have one thing in common. They're FRIED. And so:
What qualifies?
Anything cooked in a frying pan whether it be par stove-top, par-oven, shallow fried or deep-fried will qualify for this hop. Basically, if it involves cooking in frying pan, we'll accept it. In the words of JJ, "everything from a crepe cake to a tarte tatin to fried doughnuts is fair game." It must be a sweet treat/dessertish and it must be posted in the week from Monday June 17th (from 9am AEST) to Monday June 24th (ends 23:59 AEST). If you're worried about whether something will qualify for the hop, just send us an email (sweetadvbloghop@gmail.com).

Sweet pan-fried gnochhi
If you're a food or life-style blogger and have a great recipe that involves frying... I'd love to hear about it. Post your recipe up and then follow the instructions from my entry (up on the 17th at 9am AEST) on this VERY BLOG to link your entry up.