Monday, November 28, 2011

Black bean chilli cherry cookies

Hello :) I had actually intended to create these delicious (and they really are!) cookies on the weekend, however was missing a few essential ingredients so they get a post all to themselves! Choosing to make this recipe was really quite simple. I saw it on My New Roots and wanted to make them straight away, like all her fabulous recipes. Black beans in cookies? Oh yes.

Here's a link to the recipe :)

Now these cookies are quite marvellous. Not overly sweet, they're soft from the black beans and have a delicious, intense chocolate taste. And after a few seconds you get a kick from the cayenne pepper and a touch of sea salt. So many flavours! I used dried cranberries instead of cherries, which were soft & sweet. They're one of those fabulous recipes that taste oh-so-indulgent, but are really very healthy!

Perfect with rooibos tea...
And a nectarine & good book...

Hannah x

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lots of weekend snaps!

Hello :) Time for a recap of my weekend so far!

Started off with a bowl of quinoa & oat porridge, this time topped with flaxseeds and chopped nectarine and kiwi fruit.
A fresh vegetable juice, I hadn't made one in ageeees! I also added an orange and spinach. Don't worry though, I didn't add all of that ginger!
Lunchtime. I made French onion soup for the very first time after seeing this scrumptious recipe :) The smell of the onion & garlic with the butter was just amazing...! Next time I might add some balsamic vinegar at the end when the onions & garlic are cooking, and possibly add some herbs too, but otherwise it was simply wonderful! 
After an afternoon ballet rehearsal I walked up and met my parents for a light dinner at Sabbaba in Newtown. We shared this falafel plate as well as wholemeal pita bread, corn chips & guacamole and vine leaves. Seriously delicious! And for a sweet treat afterwards we shared medjool dates stuffed with halva and walnuts. Soooo tasty! was off to the Seymour Centre for my sisters dance concert. She was wonderful of course and now I have a sudden urge to learn hip hop, even if it was inspired by 5 year olds dancing to "Whip my hair" by Willow Smith....

Curried soft boiled eggs on toast with alfalfa sprout was an exciting way to start the day! 
All this rain has been excellent for our garden, so guess where these gorgeous looking tomatoes are from? Yep, they're homegrown! I can't believe how many we have (there's a lot more!), and they actually taste really good :) 

Well I better go enjoy this sunshine! I think the rest of my day will involve reading, handing in resumes (did I mention I need a job?) & swimming laps later on at the Ian Thorpe aquatic centre. 

And a quick "Happy Birthday" to Tara, who celebrated her birthday in Brighton yesterday :) :)

Hannah x

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Scrambled tofu with cumin & shiitake mushrooms

Hello :) Well Sydney residents, hasn't the weather gone pear shaped! I was just starting to enjoy going swimming & frolicking in the sun until the rain decided to go little crazy. I have decided to embrace the rain & slight chill though, which I've realised make the perfect doona days.

So today I did just that... lazily woke up around 10 and spent the morning in bed with a big bowl of muesli, several cups of tea and some books I'd borrowed. The book I'm currently reading is 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. I also borrowed Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami because I thought Norwegian Wood & 1Q84 look interesting, so I might see how this novel is first.

About lunch time I decided it was time for...lunch (funny that). Sophie Dahl's cooking to me represents perfect rainy day, delicious comfort food so I trawled through her cookbook for inspiration. I decided to make some scrambled tofu which I found a recipe for & braved the rain to buy some shiitake mushrooms.

Scrambled tofu sounds even to me a bit weird but it's a great vegetarian protein source so I decided to be adventurous. Turns out this dish is a lovely, light lunch! I didn't have any sesame oil, so cooked the tofu in grapeseed oil and topped with some soy sauce to give it that extra oomph! And I substituted the thyme for spring onions.

Recipe: Scrambled tofu with cumin & shiitake mushrooms (adapted from Sophie Dahl). Serves 2
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
75g/1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, chopped
salt and pepper
150g/1/2 a block of firm tofu
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme, plus extra to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a pan and pan-sear the mushrooms. Season and put to one side. Add a little more oil to the pan and crumbled the tofu with your fingers and cook until it looks like scrambled eggs (I cooked mine for 5-7 minutes, until it was slightly golden). Stir in the cumin and thyme with a wooden spoon. Make sure the tofu is evenly coated.

Spoon it onto two plates and pour the mushrooms on top. Serves 2. (although I used similar measurements and had made it just for myself...)

Well that's that! Now I think this evening is going to include cooking zucchini, pea & parsley spaghetti, watching the final of Spicks & Specks (oh my!), and perhaps having a nice foot bath and painting my nails. Fun fun! 

Hannah x

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mushroom risotto

Hello :) I'm just going to put it out there and say, sometimes it's quite difficult cooking vegetarian food my meat eating boyfriend Adrian likes! ....."You don't like quinoa?!"

So when he came over for lunch today I contemplated what to make. And then bam! Mushroom risotto it was. I'd actually made this for him once before and he loves mushrooms, cause lets face it they're kind of 'meaty' looking! Perfect. Risotto isn't something I'd usually make, but occasionally the mix of arborio rice, white wine & parmesan sounds quite scrumptious & comforting! Add in some onion, parsley, vegetable stock, a heap of mushrooms and a touch of butter...yum :)

Easy Mushroom Risotto (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
approx. 500mL of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200g arborio/risotto rice
50mL dry white vermouth or dry white wine
knob of butter
handful of parmesan
a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms (any kind)
1 small handful of parsley
1 small handful of thyme (optional)
sea salt & pepper

1. Heat the stock. Then in a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the shallot or onion and a pinch of salt, and sweat for a few minutes (...the vegetables, don't go & exercise!). After about 3 minutes add the garlic and stir for another 2 minutes. When the onion and garlic have softened turn up the heat and add the rice. This begins to fry the rice. Keep the rice moving and after 2 or 3 minutes it will begin to look translucent as it absorbs all the flavours of the base.

2. Add the vermouth or wine and continue to stir. It will sizzle around the rice, evaporating any harsh alcohol flavours and leaving the rice with a tasty essence.

3. Once the vermouth or wine seems to have cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a highish simmer (you don't boil the heck out of it, because then the rice will be cooked and fluffy and the inside will be raw). Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes.

4. When the rice is soft but with a slight bite, remove from the heat and add the butter and the parmesan and stir gently. Serves 2-3. 

Ta-daaaa! The risotto was a hit, and was a very comforting lunch on a rainy day. I should really get more creative with risotto though, as I've seen recipes using wild rice, brown rice & all sorts of wonderful grains! 

Do you like making risotto? 

Hannah x

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nectarine Tart

Hello :) I have just had the most loveliest day! It started with a ballet class, which I'm so glad I can now attend twice a week since I don't have uni. A very nice way to start the week. We're working on our concert performance (exciting!), and it's quite tiring running through the dance over & over again I must say! Afterwards I met a wonderful friend (I <3 you Sabeth!), and we had a late brunch at a place called Silverbean on Enmore Road. It was a very cool cafe, and the staff were just so friendly. We also browsed along King St for a little while, how fun it was to be out...on a Monday!

Going back a day to Sunday, and I was in the mood for baking (well when am I not?). I thought I'd attempt making pastry for the very first time, with a recipe that caught my eye straight away in the Good Living a week or so ago. A Nectarine Tart. I'm so in love with nectarines at the moment actually, they're my go to snack! The recipe is actually gluten free too, although I used regular white flour instead of quinoa flour as suggested.

Nectarine Tart (adapted from Rowie Dillion, in the Good Living 08/11)
Ingredients: for the pastry
65g (1/2 cup) quinoa flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
65g unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
for the topping
6 large nectarines, halved, stoned and sliced
1 tbsp castor sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
80g (1/4 cup) apricot jam, warmed

Grease & line a baking tray. To make the pastry, combine the flour, cinnamon, egg yolk and water in a food processor and pulse for 15 seconds until the dough just comes together. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a two-millimetre thick rectangle to fit the size of your baking tray, leaving a two-centimetre edge.

Place on the prepared baking tray and crimp the edges neatly using your fingers. Return to the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. For the topping, cover the pastry with the nectarine slices, leaving a smidgen at the edge uncovered.

Sprinkle with sugar, dust with cinnamon and bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden. Cool slightly and brush with the jam. Serve warm. Serves 6. 

Yummmmm! There's something so rustic & fulfilling about making pastry. I was very pleased with how it turned out! It tasted like crumbly delicious shortbread & I like how the sweetness came from the nectarines and touch of jam. Spreading apricot jam over the top is quite genius! 

A fabulous recipe to test out pastry making skills :) I think I'd like to make a sweet pie next perhaps or a spinach & feta quiche. I'm keen to find a recipe without too much butter (like this one). 

Does anyone have a great recipe using pastry? 

Hannah x

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Coconut & chia pudding with raspberries

Hello :) I'm loving these holidays so far! Today the weather was gorgeous, and I went swimming at Coogee beach with a few friends and had a delicious vege burger from a cafe nearby. We also walked around and went swimming in Gordons bay, on the way to Clovelly. Sooo nice! I think my friend and I plan on living there this summer and next time taking cider, books, delicious food etc to make a fun day of it! Shall be grand...

Well yesterday evening I decided I wanted to make something light & healthy for dessert. That is when I remembered I'd bookmarked a recipe that was exactly that! Coconut & chia pudding with raspberries. I came across the recipe via Wellness WA, when Annette had done a healthy cooking class with Michelle. The recipe itself is so simple, all you do is mix the ingredients (coconut milk, chia seeds, agave and vanilla extract) and leave it for one hour. I'm sure you could substitute the agave for honey or maple syrup etc. The chia seeds expand in the coconut milk, it's really quite cool!

Without raspberries...
With raspberries...

Yum! I was so impressed with this, and everyone in my family liked it too, score! Such a super healthy, light, and creamy dessert. 

Hope you're all enjoying the weekend :) I better go and get my brown rice tart out of the oven!

Hannah x

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thai salads with Martin Boetz

Hello :) On Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of learning how to make Thai salads with Martin Boetz, executive chef at Longrain in Surry Hills (there's another in Melbourne too). It was an event held by the Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine at the Harvey Norman store in Mascot and was a belated birthday gift from my Uncle John & Karen!

...Now I'm just going to mention that I decided because it was a special event I wanted to be adventurous and try everything! This includes meat & seafood! I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm not strictly vegetarian although I'll choose that option 95% of the time as it's what I'm most comfortable eating and cooking...

We were there eagerly at 6pm, for a 7pm start and were given a glass of champagne & a goodie bag on arrival. We were actually the first to arrive so naturally sat in the front row. I didn't really know what to expect and I thought the chef would be a on a mini stage or something, but there was only room for about 50-60 people, with Martin only a metre or so away!

So many fresh ingredients! You could really tell lots of preparation went into the event.
After about 15 minutes, when others started to arrive canapes were served which were sooo delicious! My favourites were the balsamic glazed fig tart with prosciutto and dolce latte gorgonzola and the blini with ocean trout and smoked herring caviar. I'd never tried beef carpaccio before and was a little hesitant knowing it was raw meat (well I haven't actually eaten any beef for a few years!) but I really enjoyed it ;) 
Martin in action preparing our first salad which was... 
Poached ocean trout with fresh coconut, mint, chilli and peanutsThis was probably my favourite! He made an amazing broth with coconut cream, chicken stock and fish sauce which he poached the ocean trout in. The salad was really fresh and full of flavour and I loved the green mango!
And onto our second salad! The lady on the left of Martin he explained was an apprentice chef as part of a Tafe initiative encouraging young female chefs, by letting them work with a top chef for a one week. 
This salad was vegan and so fresh! Chinese broccoli, baby corn and snow pea salad with yam pak dressing. The dressing really made this salad, and he explained how he made tamarind water which gave it a sour/aniseed taste. 
Our final salad was beef carpaccio with sticky rice. We were told to eat this one with our hands, as that's how it's supposed to be eaten. This salad was very hot! He put heaps of chilli powder and sweet chilli sauce in, almost overwhelming! It was quite funny looking around, everyone was fanning themselves and getting a little sweaty! 
Luckily were were given little tubs of icecream straight afterwards which was greatly appreciated. I opted for classic vanilla, yum! 

Obligatory photo with John, Martin & myself :) 

I had such a wonderful evening! Martin was very entertaining and often very funny too. He really knew what he was talking about and took the time to answer any questions. I felt like we were very spoilt, having our wine/champagne filled throughout the evening and given canapes and generous portions of the 3 salads. There were leftovers at the end where people could help themselves to more if they wanted, although I think I had, had enough chilli after the final salad! 

And as I mentioned we were given goodie bags :) Here's what they had inside...

The current issue of the Australia Gourmet Traveller, a list of the canapes served, chocolate, cards with the recipes, hair products and chocolate truffles. 
Now if you'll excuse me I've got chocolate truffles to eat... 

Thanks John & Karen for an awesome, informative and very delicious evening :) 

I'm now eager to recreate these yummy salads and learn more about Thai cooking!

Hannah x

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sculptures by the Sea...

Hello :) Yesterday was my first day of freeeeeedom! Why yes I am on a 3-4 month holiday :) It's quite a spectacular feeling! So on my first day of freedom I decided to see Sculptures by the Sea although I can't say we chose the best day to go as it was really windy and half the time we were trying to get sand out of our eyes!

I woke up bright and early (well 8:30...) and made some yummy mini cupcakes for Adrian and I to munch on. They're the perfect little treat, although we had about 5 each!
Hello there funky Zebras!
We didn't have a program so we didn't really know what the sculptures were about, but a friend told me this was called the heavenly kiss. How sweeeeet ;) 
I liked this house, although a tad unfinished!
This was a pretty cool elephant! And Tara if you're reading this, I thought of you when we took this photo because I know you like elephants!! 
We didn't stay too long as it was very windy and raining a little so we tried to find somewhere to have lunch. I stumbled across Miss Chu in Bondi, which I'd heard has delicious fresh spring rolls etc so that's where we ate! It was a very cool eatery, and we both had steamed dumplings and fresh spring rolls. I also had coconut water which I thought was delicious & refreshing. Fun fact: the waiters were very good looking in case you're interested (Adrian however did not notice this). 

After lunch we ended up going to the city and having coffee & reading the paper (like any normal 19 year olds) at the Art Gallery of NSW. We didn't see the Picasso exhibition, although I would like to at some point. 

A lovely day to kickstart my holidays! 

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another post, because later that evening I went to a very fun & delicious foodie event. Did someone say Thai salads with Martin Boetz???

Hannah x

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Signs of a good weekend...

1. Deli delights! Baguette, French olives, South Australian muscatels & ricotta. These divine goodies inspired a gourmet platter for lunch, I made for my mother and I. Muscatels are oh so delicious! 
2. Finding a perfect pair of black boots. It was on Friday when I saw one of these shoes but couldn't find the other (there were 3 baskets full of lots of shoes!) and many of the pairs were not in the same basket! After searching for 20 minutes I gave up, but went back on Saturday morning. And another 15 minutes later and with the help of another lady I found the other. For $4 it was certainly worth it :) 
3. Getting excited about summer while reading Yen. But why must gorgeous swimmers be so expensive! If only that Zimmermann vintage inspired floral swimsuit wasn't $375...

Enjoy the sunshine!

Hannah x

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yummy homemade face masks...

Hello :) Lately I've been all about natural skincare. And recently I've been having fun making my own  face masks! Why pay lots of dollars for products, when you can whip up something just as effective in your kitchen? So on the weekend, on each day I decided to do just that.

On Saturday the ingredients I used were oats, rosehip oil, lemon, a used rooibos tea bag & yoghurt. The oats and rooibos tea acts as an exfoliant, whilst the lemon helps to brighten and contains natural exfoliants (AHA's) and the rosehip oil and yoghurt help to soften and nourish.
I crushed the oats in a mortar & pestle, removed half the contents of the rooibos tea, added a few drops of lemon juice and rose hip oil and mixed it together with the yoghurt. 
Then applied this to my face, massaging gently too. Steaming your face prior to this is probably best, although I didn't. My sister said it looked like I had mustard on my face, which is kind of true. 

On Sunday I made another. Although I'd usually do this only once I week, it was a perfect way to relax and take a break from study. I used almond meal, honey, milk & jojoba oil. This time the almond meal  was used as a gentle exfoliant, and the honey, milk & jojoba oil helped to moisturise. 
I basically mixed all the ingredients together into a paste. I must say this smelt really good, especially with the honey!

So after I left my masks on for about 10-15 minutes, I rinsed my face with warm water and popped on some moisturiser. My skin was all soft and glowy :) At the moment I'm using the acne cleansing cream (a moisturiser) from Moogoo, which is light and wonderful. I've also started to use their deodorant too, which doesn't contain aluminium and smells really good! You can read more about it here if you like :) 

Sometimes just adding some crushed oats or almond meal to your cleanser every now and again, is a nice way to exfoliate. 

And some other ingredients to use: olive oil, rice flour, clay, berries, sweet almond oil, avocado, tahini.

 I actually got some of these ingredient ideas from a book I'm so happy I purchased a while ago called Feeding your skin (by Carla Oates). It's a fabulous book full of DIY skincare ideas. I think I might look out for some clay...perfect for facial masks & drawing out impurities. Fun! Maybe I'll post some of her actual recipes if I try them out...

Do you like creating your own skincare? Body scrubs are also fun & easy to make (olive oil and sugar, that's it!). 

I think making your own face masks are such a fun & inexpensive way to take time out & pamper yourself! 

So go on now... smoosh some berries on your face already ;) 

Hannah x

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My weekend...

Hello :) Here we go! Snapshots from my weekend so far.

After my mother went to yoga on Saturday morning, she went to the deli to buy fresh bread. The lady had just baked this that morning. An olive & oregano loaf. Super fluffy deliciousness & perfect with fresh ricotta!
Painted my nails a bright coral colour, makes typing study notes that little bit more interesting...
Snack time! And reading about energy balance about that! 
30 minute study breaks are always welcomed. Especially with a cup of rooibos tea & novel. I'm loving the Sunday Philosophy Club series at the moment, and I'm on book number 5! 
Fresh mango and rockmelon for afternoon tea. We shared this while out in the garden enjoying the sunshine. Lovely. 

And mandatory Sunday crepes :) This is one of the best combinations I've had...ricotta, raspberries, peach and maple syrup!! The ricotta makes them more substantial too. Just terrific! 

Anyway. I should get back to studying & drinking tea!

Have a great Sunday!!! Has anyone been to Sculpture by the Sea yet? I think I'll be looking forward to going after exams, woo! 

Hannah x