Thursday, July 28, 2011

Homemade dumplings!

Hello :) So last Sunday after I made the apple and cinnamon muffins, I decided to make dumplings for lunch with my friend Tara. In the holidays I ended up eating dumplings out (the same as here) quite a few times, so I thought it was about time I made them myself! I  bought a few packets of dumpling wrappers from my local Chinese supermarket (they were only $1.40 for a packet of 40!), a few bunches of bokchoy and that was that :)

I decided to use bokchoy, dried chinese mushrooms and ginger in mine. I've also used beancurd/tofu before but we didn't have any. Here's what some of my mixture looked like. I cooked the dried mushrooms in boiling water for about 10 minutes then added the chopped bokchoy and ginger for a minute, and drained it all.

And here's a step-by-step guide on how I made my dumplings...I didn't use a recipe and kind of made it up as I went, trying to vaguely remember how I used to make them with my Chinese Grandma :)

Lay out a dumplings wrapper and brush the edges with egg white 
Put a small amount of filling in the centre 
Fold in half and press edges together 
Hold the dumpling so the edges are facing you and pull the right side of the dumpling back and the left side forward to they fold over each other. (It's quite hard to explain but you can fold them any way you want- I think thats the fun of it!). 
Isn't it preeeety :) 
And then I simply cooked them in boiling water for one minute in batches. 
Served with soy sauce. And voila!  

I must say I was amazed at how easy they were to make and how delicious they tasted!! They were really really tasty and I loved the zing of ginger! To make it more substantial you could put the dumplings in a broth/soup and also add noodles and more bokchoy (or other vegetables). 

Have you ever made dumplings before? If so, what do you put in yours? 

Other yummy ingredients you could include: spinach, chives, chilli, tofu etc. I'll have to try some new combinations!

Hannah x

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Apple and cinnamon muffins

Hello :) Last Sunday morning I decided to bake some muffins. But why? Well first of all my friend was coming around to make dumplings (more on that later!) so I thought it would be nice to have baked something for morning tea and I also thought it would be nice to take a muffin the following day to uni. Thats right, sadly my holidays have finished :(

I was originally going to make raspberry and dark chocolate chip muffins (mmmmm), but we had quite a few apples that needed to be eaten so I settled on apple and cinnamon muffins. Great!

Recipe: Apple and cinnamon muffins (adapted from "Afternoon Tea"- Frankie magazine)
3 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, deseeded and chopped
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Generously grease two 6-hole muffin pans. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sifted flours, sugar, cinnamon and apple. Add the milk, eggs, oil and vanilla and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Divide the mixture evenly between the holes and bake for 30 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown.

First of all, the quantity of ingredients seems like a lot, so I simply halved the recipe and the mixture still made 12 muffins! So I suggest you do that too, unless you want larger muffins. 

I loved these muffins, they were very wholesome! The small, soft apple chunks inside were delicious, the cinnamon gave it a boost and I also added a handful of walnuts! This is a great base muffin recipe, and you can basically add anything you'd wish. Raspberries, blueberries, chopped nuts, dried apricots, coconut, chocolate chips, lemon juice...etc. 

What kind of muffins do you like baking? 

Hannah x

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Olive oil and polenta cake

Hello :) So first of all I have a confession to make...these holidays I've  kind of been watching The Circle. I mean, only when I'm home and have nothing better to do ;) Well I mean we all have our guilty pleasures! Throughout my exams last year I used to watch "the bold and the beautiful" religiously...but anyway!

Well on The Circle a few days ago they had a recipe (see, good segments!) for olive oil and polenta cake which looked: yummy! I thought it would be nice to make a healthier version of the orange yoghurt and polenta cake (i.e. no butter) I made not so long ago. Although I was a little cautious about using olive oil in the recipe because once I made this super healthy cake with olive oil (and pumpkin...) and the taste of the oil was really overpowering!

After watching the segment, I searched for a similar cake and came across this recipe from the Gourmet Traveller and decided to give it a whizz this afternoon...

Look at that fabulous yellow colour!
Where's has it all gone?!

This cake is delightful :) It has a real lemony tang to it as well, courtesy of the rind and juice of 2 lemons! The polenta gives it a bit of a gritty, almost nutty taste, which I liked! And it's quite healthy too. Two thumbs up! 

Hannah x

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baked oatmeal for brunch!

Hello :) This morning I finally decided to make the baked oatmeal, from Heidi Swansons popular food blog I am quite keen to get her book too! I've seen this recipe on a few food blogs recently and it just looked so scrumptious I had to make it myself!! I love eating oats for breakfast , so why not bake it for breakfast with milk, berries, nuts and other yummy ingredients?

Served with delicious strawberries :) 
I invited A over, as he'd be the real test, not really liking porridge/muesli. But that him going back for seconds?
...Oh yeeeeeah ;) 

Here's a link to the recipe :) 

I used raspberries and flaked almonds in mine, which turned out very well! It was so scrumptious, I'm sure it's bound to become a classic weekend breakfast at my house! Hang on a sec...breakfast? I could eat this at any time of the day ;)

Hannah x

Monday, July 18, 2011

Baked butter beans with tomato and feta

Hello :)  So this morning, as I previously mentioned I went to an adult ballet class. I'm so glad I did (and wrote it in my 3 goals!), because I really enjoyed it!! Sure I was the youngest person there by about 10-15 years but it was quite challenging ;) I especially liked how the exercises really made you stand tall and focus on posture, something I really needed! Hopefully I'll continue a class once a week...exciting :)

After my class, I was inspired to continue treating my body well and didn't end up buying a coffee which I had planned to as well as snacking on walnuts and an apple after my class! Do you feel inspired to eat well after exercise? 

Continuing with a day of eating well, I decided to finally make Baked butter beans with tomato and feta, a recipe I've had bookmarked for a few weeks. I even bought a few cans of butter beans the other week but didn't end up making it until tonight! The recipe is very easy and is one of those ones you can tweak, pretty much adding any beans/legumes (red kidney beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans for example) you like, with the base of it being the classic onion, carrot, celery and can of tomatoes combination! I loved the addition of feta too, it was soft and moreish!

Here's a link to the recipe :)

So thats how mine turned out! Pretty darn delicious in my opinion. It's the ultimate healthy comfort food :) Someone commented on the recipe from the blog I linked saying that it would be yummy the next day for breakfast topped with a poached egg and I think thats what I shall be having tomorrow morning! Just perfect. 

Hannah x

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Slow-roasted beetroot with feta yoghurt

Hello :) How's your weekend been? What have you been up to? I saw Miami Horror last night at the Metro (very good!), and today I went to see the (last!) Harry Potter film at the Dendy. Ah it was such a good film, although the ending was rather...hilarious, in my opinion. Has any one seen it? Thoughts?

Well anyway, the other week when I was reading Good Living (July 5th edition) I came across a recipe called "Slow-roasted beetroot with feta yoghurt" and I tore it out straight away and stuck it on the fridge, hoping to make it soon! And I did, the other night :) Here is the recipe...

Recipe: Slow-roasted beetroot with feta yoghurt (serves 4) 
1kg (4 large or 6 medium) beetroot, unpeeled
2 red onions, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water
sea salt and black pepper
100g feta
150 natural yoghurt
3 tbsp dill, roughly chopped
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh walnut kernels
1 tbsp mint leaves
Heat oven to 170 degrees. Scrub beetroot well and chop off stalks about two centimetres from beetroot. Cut each beetroot in half lengthways. Cut onions in half and each half into three wedges. Place beetroot and onions in a roasting pan lined with kitchen foil and drizzle with oilve oil.

Add water, sea salt and pepper and completely cover and seal with extra foil. Bake for two hours, until beetroot is tender. Mash feta and beat into yoghurt with two tablespoons dill, sea salt and pepper. Remove beetroot from the oven.

Using gloves, rub off and discard skins and stems and cut each half into two. Arrange on a warm serving platter with red onions. Add vinegar to two tablespoons of pan juices and pour over the top. Add spoonfuls of feta yoghurt, scatter with walnuts, mint leaves and dill and serve warm.

Close up...
Very close up...
Oh so close up...

Mmmm and there it is. To me it seems like a rather gourmet, grown up salad. Love the idea of mixing the feta with the yoghurt. Our feta was a greek style though so it was a little bit more chunky didn't 'crumble' as such. The beetroot and red onion was oh so tender courtesy of the slow cooking. And dill (I didn't have any mint) was a great addition- I'd forgotten how nice it tasted! 

It does take a little longer than 2 hours, so during the week it might be too time consuming to make, but it makes for a perfect weekend dish in my opinion when you have more time and what to make something wholesome, nutritious and a little bit fancy pants ;) I made this for dinner the same day I made the orange yoghurt and polenta cake for afternoon tea and my mother was impressed to come home to cake and dinner in the oven! 

Have a great week! I'm off to a ballet class tomorrow morning...early wake up!! 

Hannah x

P.S. Whilst I've been writing this post I've been listening to the new Bon Iver album. It's just beautiful! I am in a very peaceful mood.... 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Orange yoghurt and polenta cake

Hello :) This morning I went to the local library I was rather excited to find a cooking DVD from Sophie Dahl (I borrowed it straight away!). Can you guess what I'll be watching later on tonight... ;)

Well it reminded me that I own her cooking book and haven't looked at it in a while. So when I got home, I flicked through the book then came across a recipe I thought would be gorgeous to have for afternoon tea. Orange yoghurt and polenta cake. How divine does that sound?! In a haste I went out and bought a few ingredients and whipped up the cake pronto!

Recipe: Orange yoghurt and polenta cake (adapted from Sophie Dahl)
100g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 cup caster/superfine sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup spelt flour (I used wholemeal flour)
1/2 cup self-raising flour
3/4 cup polenta
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup full-fat Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons runny honey
4 tablespoons of orange juice
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line the base of a 23cm/9-inch cake tin/pan with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together and whisk in the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, mix the flours together and then add them to the egg-and-sugar mixture. Whisk in the polenta, almonds, Greek yoghurt, honey, orange juice and orange zest. Pour into the prepared cake tin/pan and bake for about 45-60 minutes. Check after 45 minutes by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, cook for a few minutes longer.

You can make a lemon-sugar drizzle with it. (I personally didn't make this).
Put 100g/1/2 a cup of caster/superfine sugar into a bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Pour over the cake when it comes out of the oven.

And guess what? I'm kind of in love with this cake! It's just divine and deliciously dense. The polenta (which may I add I've never cooked before) gave it a beautiful texture, as well as the almond meal and the yoghurt and 3 eggs gave it that moist and richly dense taste. And the orange juice and zest, just lovely!


So I suggest you all get out your apron, baking mitts and mixing bowls (heck, pop on some red lipstick while you're at it) and bake this amazing cake ;) 

And because I like being thrifty with cooking, I'm going to use some more of that polenta tomorrow morning to make porridge. I shall keep you all posted :)

Hannah x

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3 health goals.

Hello :) Lately, especially with this cold weather I've noticed there are a few changes I want to make to improve my health and wellbeing...

1. Improve my posture. I've noticed lately I've been slouching a lot, particularly because it's so cold! Also, with travelling to uni (Sydney to Wollongong), its very easy to slouch on the train for 1.5 hours so I noticed my back starting to become sore after a while. As well as this I've realised I use my laptop in bed, which usually means my back is curved over. So! Here's what I want to start doing:
- Only using my laptop on my desk
- Have a professional massage (I've never had one before but my back has been aching lately, so I think it'll be worth it)
- Start doing yoga or adult ballet classes. I think I might start doing some gentle yoga (near my heater!), which will help improve my posture. I also want to look into doing ballet classes, as I use to dance for quite a while (anyone know of adult ballet classes in Sydney- preferably the inner west/city?)

2. Drink more herbal tea. When it's cold I always seem to reach for black tea, so today I bought some green tea bags. I'm going to try drink black tea only in the morning, and then sip on green tea (or other herbal tea) for the rest of the day.

3. Start skipping. This is going to be a bit of a challenge, but I used to do skipping for fitness, and then stopped after a few weeks. Now the only exercise I do is walking, so I want to try incorporate skipping into a routine. My aim is to do 5 minutes of skipping most days and slowly build up!

(This picture was taken in Melbourne. Aren't the roses gorgeous?!)

And they're my 3 current health goals! Do you have any health/fitness goals at the moment? 

Hannah x

Monday, July 11, 2011


Hello hello :) Last week as I mentioned previously, I went to Melbourne, on holiday with family. After an initial drama of booking with Tiger Airways (our first and probably last time) we managed to re-book with qantus at the last minute!

On our trip we went to the Vienna exhibition at the National Gallery, did a lot of opshopping/vintage shopping (mainly Chapel street!), caught up with my dads friends ("yes of course I remember going to your wedding 10 years ago..."), explored the laneways, went on many trams and ate some really really good food!

Here are some photos of our trip (although mainly of food...of course!)

Yummy vegetarian steamed dumplings in Chinatown 
We ate dinner twice at a place called Lentil as Anything, a 'pay as you feel' restaurant which serves delicious vegetarian food. We luckily were staying a 5 minute walk from the Abbotsford location, and really enjoyed sitting there listening to live South American music (on every Friday night!) and soaking up the atmosphere. It was a buffet dinner, offering some biryani type rice dishes, vegetable curries, dahls and salads. 
An eggplant and beancurd dish I ordered for dinner. The eggplant was amazingly soft and flavoursome and the beancurd was super soft too, the texture reminded me of egg custard! We ended up eating at this Vietnamese restaurant called Vinh Vinh (in North Richmond) two nights in a row, it was so good!
Lunch at a place called "Soul food" in Fitzroy. Luckily I stumbled across this vegetarian cafe a few years ago when I went to Melbourne with a friend and remembered to go back. I had this yummy thai rice patty with a wild rice salad and mango salsa dressing! 
My sister had a chickpea tagine with cous cous, yoghurt sauce and roti bread. Mmmm. 
Eating lunch at a place called 'Hooked' on Brunswick street. I had this vege burger with grilled eggplant, guacamole, cheese, cucumber, salad leaves and sweet chilli sauce as well has hand cut chips. This was one of the best vege burgers I've ever had and I'm not usually a fan of hot chips but these were an exception! My sister ordered grilled fish and I was very impressed as a side they offered sticky or brown rice with bok choy, which she chose. 
We were lucky enough to stay at my dads friends flat and so we made our own breakfast most mornings (muesli, toast and avocado, simple!), but one morning I decided we'd go to Three Bags Full, which I remember seeing on Heidi's blog here, and when I looked it up realised it was a 5 minute walk from where we were staying!! I'm so glad we went because it was a seriously hip cafe with amazingly good food. 
I ordered roast mushrooms with goats cheese and almond dukka. Oh my, so delicious...loved the nutty dukka sprinkled on top! 
My sister had the porridge with rhubarb and pistachio and said it was the 'best porridge she's ever eaten'! I had a few spoonfuls and had to agree with her! How do they make it so delicious? It seemed slow cooked and deliciously creamy. Wow, it was just divine. 
One morning when we were travelling on a tram my dad spotted a sign for a student cooking school called Angliss. We got off to check it out and it turned out they offer lunch cooked by students of the school! We were fortunate enough to make a booking for the next day and were very impressed by the food! Because it's a student cooking school, we only payed $15 for 3 courses! 
This was my dessert. Vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberries, sweet balsamic vinegar (kind of weird..) and a toffee type thing. It was all very scrumptious and we left with very full stomachs! If you're in Melbourne, I'd recommend trying it out :) 
Outside Rose Street artist markets, open every Saturday. Lots of crafty things/hats/cards/jewellery all made by local designers. I bought a lovely headband and some clips! 
Moi (pretending I'm a fashion blogger) and wearing some purchases from Melbourne! French connection dress from The Red Cross (opshop), shoes from a garage sale we stumbled upon and a headband from Rose Street markets :) 
Close up of the headband ;) I rather love fabric covered buttons! 
A very cute bike we spotted on the street :) 

And that was my trip to Melbourne!! :) I feel very inspired now to try and recreate some of those dishes! 

Hannah x

Friday, July 1, 2011

Semolina Slice

Hello :) This morning I walked to my friend Tara's house (she conveniently lives 10 minutes away) to make a semolina slice + watch a movie! We decided to make the slice first. I've never actually used semolina before and was interested to cook with it. It seems similar to polenta (which I have never cooked with either!), kind of like cous cous. The slice itself didn't take long at all- although the mixture needed to rest for an hour. We did get a little panicky however when we realised we had no rose water/essence, a 'pivotal' ingredient to the slice Tara believed and so we rushed to a nearby Indian supermarket where they thankfully had some.

Recipe: Semolina Slice
Ingredients (slice)- 
450g coarsely ground semolina
1 tsp bicarb
1 cup milk
1 cup yoghurt
120g butter (melted)
2 tbls tahini
almonds, blanched
2 cups water
400g sugar
1 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls rosewater
1. Place semolina + bicarb in bowl and combine
2. Pour in milk, yoghurt, and butter and mix throughly. Work quickly as mixture tends to thicken. Brush a 20cm by 30cm tray with tahini. Pour in semolina mixture, smooth top and allow to sit for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Slice semolina diagonally into diamon shapes + top each with one almond.
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes- or until browned.
Method (syrup)- 
In a medium saucepan bring the water + sugar to the boil. Add lemon juice and continue to boil for 15 minutes or until syrup is thick. Stir in rosewater and remove from heat. Pour warm syrup over slice and allow to cool.

It was a bit of a workout mixing everything! I wouldn't recommend tasting the mixture before it's cooked though, not too pleasant ;)
Ready to go in the oven! 
Mmmmm. Perfect!

I was very impressed by this slice! It was scrumptious :) Light, and the texture of the semolina was really nice. Loved how the tahini was used to coat the tray! We didn't blanch our almonds as you can see though, which turned out fine. And I know it seems like a lot of sugar, so you could easily halve the syrup recipe, although it does soak in and moisten the slice. 

We enjoyed a few slices whilst watching Bright Star... :) 

Have you ever cooked with semolina?

And as I mentioned I'm off to Melbourne next week (well I leave on Sunday), so I'll see you all in a week or so.

Hannah x

P.S. Wow, it's July already! Where has this year gone... ??