Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pear & Ginger Muffins

Hello :) A few days ago I made these delightful muffins! Pear & ginger, what a fabulous combination! After I spent the morning in Newtown with my sister opshopping and having coffee and custard tarts at Luxe Bakery, I had the afternoon to do some baking! These muffins do need quite a few ingredients, including pear puree, which I totally bought as baby food (like she suggested!).

I was going about to copy out the recipe, but it would appear someone already has :)

Recipe: Pear & Ginger Muffins

Look at these super cute measuring cups I got for Christmas! They made baking these muffins that little bit more fun!
You can see the pear puree baby food I bought, oh yeah...
So many ingredients! 
 Ok, so they weren't perfect because silly me only added 1/2 cup of oats instead of 1.5 cups and forgot to add the bicarbonate soda. I also used this sandwich wrapper paper instead of baking paper so the muffins kind of stuck to that. But in the end, they still tasted really good! They're quite dense and full of yummy flavours from the pears, raisins (I used sultanas though) and ginger. I added some grated fresh ginger too, because it's just such a nice, comforting flavour. 
Here are some fun things I bought in Newtown. First of all I finally got around to buying Seeker Lover Keepers album, which is totally lovely and awesome! And my 2012 diary, which is the third I've bought from Pentimento. I just love the simple layout and there's lots of different covers too. 

Well this will be my final post for 2011 !! 

Happy New Year everyone! How will you be celebrating? 

Hannah x

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Hello :) This year for Christmas, I decided to make Adrian some homemade strawberry jam. Like any hip guy, he recently bought himself a crepe pan so it only made sense I made him jam! And I'm all about practical, handmade (& usually edible) gifts. As I'd never made jam before,  I wanted it to be very simple and using only one kind of fruit. I also didn't want there to be to be too much sugar because  sickly sweet jams aren't nice!

Recipe: Strawberry Jam (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
1kg strawberries
150g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1. Wash & hull the strawberries 
2. Place in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the sugar on top. Scrap the seeds of a vanilla pod into the mixture or add a teaspoon of vanilla extract 
3. Wash your hands and mash/scrunch the strawberries into a rough pulp. Really get into it and make sure the sugar is dissolved
4. Pour into a sauce pan and bring to the boil
5. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam during the cooking process
6. Let cool and put it in a sterilised jar. This recipe makes enough jam for approximately 2 jars. 

I used a jam label, from an issue of Frankie a few months ago & secured fabric on top with some kitchen string. The fabric is actually from the sleeve of a men's shirt! I used the majority of the shirt to make a cushion cover for him a while ago (here). 

We tested the jam out by of course, making some crepes! Luckily the jam tasted super delicious, if I do say so myself :) 
This is what the jam consistency looks like, when I made pikelets on Christmas morning. As you can see, the jam doesn't really gel as there isn't much sugar used or lemon juice (pectin). 

Have you made jam before? Next, I'm finally going to make the strawberry, nectarine & apple jam from Frankie!

Hannah x

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas morning brunch...

Hello :) Christmas went so fast! It was lots of fun though. Around lunch time I went to my Grandparents for lunch with family, then on Boxing Day went around to Watsons Bay/Camp Cove with family to see the yacht race, which we usually do. Then it was off for another family much good food!

On Christmas morning though, we woke up late, opened presents & relaxed! And we had a delicious brunch too, which I took a few snapshots of...

We kind of had 2 brunches! So first of all we all had some baked oatmeal with chai tea. I like getting out all the pretty plates & teacups.
I put lots of berries and walnuts on top. It was the perfect start to the day...
 Brunch number two! We had a fruit salad with pear, nectarine, strawberries & blueberries and pikelets with homemade strawberry jam. The whole point of making the pikelets was really so I could show off my jam :)
 Look at the T2 teacups I received! They're so gorgeous and are actually a decent size too. And my sister bought me some herbal tea!
 It sounds so yummy and refreshing!

I also got a yoga mat (which I asked for), so now I might start going to yoga or pilates classes. I'm not sure whether to start a 6 week course or something or to attend casual classes? Any yoga or pilates class recommemdations around Inner West Sydney? 

How did you celebrate Christmas?

Hannah x

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Red & Green vegetable juice

Hello :) With Christmas tomorrow, I thought I'd whip up something kinda of festive. A big vegetable juice using vegetables and fruits, which & green. How fun! Despite it being the festive season & a time for indulgences, I thought I'd make something fresh and full of nutrients! I know lots of you are probably baking up lots of delicious baked treats, so I suppose I feel a little sad whizzing up a vegetable juice, but yeah...

Here's the recipe! It made about 4 cups

Red & Green vegetables juice, ingredients- 
celery sticks x2
beetroot, peeled and sliced into 4 x2
red/green fuji apples x2
carrots, peeled and sliced x3
organic barley grass powder (optional)
Juice all ingredients, except barley grass. Mix in 1 tablespoon of barley grass at the end, if using.

The organic barley grass is my latest purchase from the health food market stall at Bondi, the stall next to where I work. I like looking at the green section, which has lots of spirulina, chlorella, chlorophyll etc.

The carrots were a last minute addition, as they're not technically red or green. But hey! We had so many and they're just so yummy & sweet. I stirred in about 1/2-1 teaspoon of barley grass powder to each of our 4 glasses, and was proud that everyone liked the juice and couldn't taste the barley grass.

Has anyone tried barley grass powder or any other green superfoods such as spirulina, chlorella or liquid chlorophyll? If so, how do you take it? I tried adding a teaspoon of barley grass powder to a glass of water, which was pretty disgusting! I then added a teaspoon of honey which tasted better.

Well I'm off to make crepes with Adrian for lunch, using homemade strawberry jam I made him for Christmas (an early gift). There may be a post about the jam in a few days...

Have an awesome Christmas everyone!! 

Hannah x

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Emma's on Liberty

Hello :) Yesterday evening, I went out to dinner with my parents & sister to celebrate my parents 20th wedding anniversary! They decided we'd go a Lebanese restaurant called Emma's on Liberty in Enmore, as they used to live just around the corner & really like the food. We shared all the meals and I took my camera for a few sneaky shots...

We started off the evening with smokey baba ganouge. I always love the smokey eggplant flavour!
Eggplant oven roasted with onion, tomato, garlic and spices. Some of the best eggplant I've ever had, it was super soft & fragrant. 
Fried cauliflower served with a tangy tahini sauce and parsley. Such a nice combination, love the tahini on top! 
My sister enjoying some homemade rose lemonade. 
Aromatic spiced fish rubbed in spices and fried with tahini, walnuts, coriander and sumac. Such flavour! The fish was beautifully cooked and even though it was fried, it wasn't greasy at all. 
Filo pastry rolls filled with lamb, pine nuts and pomegrante molasses. Again, amazing flavours! As you can see, I've been eating meat occasionally when I'm out although I have no intentions of cooking it!  
Sweets to share! Baklava & turkish delight. 
My mum ordered Lebanese coffee. Super strong but it tasted so really did need some sugar in it though! I loved the pot it came in! 

Yummo! We had such a nice time & I'd definitely go back! Even though the restaurant is small, it was so busy and lively. The flavours were spot on... all the herbs, spices and tahini dressings. 

I gave my parents a little gift of T2 tea called "White Monkey Jasmine", a mixture of green and jasmine tea. The trick to buying gifts I find, is to buy something you can use as well ;) 

Hope you're having a lovely week! 

Hannah x

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Medjool dates stuffed with goats curd & orange peel

Hello :) I'm not really into making fancy desserts. After dinner I'm usually not hungry and if I am after an our or two, I'll simply sip on herbal tea or graze on nuts, fruit, or vitaweats with almond butter. This evening however, I felt like having some sweet after dinner. Call me weird, but medjool dates were my first thought. And since we had plenty of goats curd, which I bought yesterday I decided to stuff them with that.

Ok, so medjool dates stuffed with goats curd. So rich and creamy! What could I add that would give a little fruity or fresh bite? Grated orange peel, that's what!

So medjool dates stuffed with goats curd & orange peel were enjoyed as an after dinner treat. I can imagine they'd be great to take to parties or picnics and could jazz up any cheese platter! Don't have any goats curd or orange peel? What about stuffing them with pomegrante seeds for a delightful, fruity crunch or nut butters. How versatile!

Have a lovely week everyone. It's Christmas in week, oh my!

Hannah x

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seeded rye sourdough with goats curd & rocket/mint/avocado pesto

Hello :) My Saturday morning involved going to Eveleigh markets with my sister. I always love the atmosphere of the markets & it was especially busy this morning, with everything stocking up of gourmet goodies in time for Christmas!

Isn't my sisters silk shirt stunning!
The goodies we took home from the markets included seeded rye sourdough, fresh goats curd, pumpkin falafels & extra virgin olive oil. It was my first time buying fresh goats curd, and even though it was a little pricey, I just had to buy a small tub after sampling some on bread. Super creamy!
I decided to make a light lunch for myself using some ingredients I'd just purchased. I knew I wanted to have the goats curd on the seeded rye sourdough and thought something green would look nice on top. Pesto was the immediate thought, however we didn't have any basil, so I simply made one up with the ingredients we had. 

Rocket, mint & avocado pesto. 
1-2 handfuls of rocket
small handful of mint
1/4 avocado
handful of pinenuts 
a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil 
Lightly toast the pine nuts then blend all the ingredients, using as much olive oil as necessary. I pour a little at a time until it all comes together.

Even though I bought extra virgin olive oil at the markets, I use a cheaper one in pestos and hummus etc and use the more gourmet & expensive one in salad dressings and on bread with dukka.

Light lunch.
Seeded rye sourdough with goats curd & rocket/mint/avocado pesto. 
Fresh, vibrant & wholesome. 
And after the markets, we headed off to Anglicare where I found this beautiful mug! I love that there is a decent amount of room between the cup and handle, to grip. It sounds silly but these things are necessary! It's the kind of cup I imagine having a robust loose leaf black tea, like an english breakfast or darjeeling! 
I really need to stop reading simply breakfast, because I want to copy her layouts!
And here I am, relaxing with my Saturday reads...
I've had to stop reading The Hobbit for a little while, because I've started Norweigan Wood which I had reserved at the library. Has anyone read any Haruki Murakami? So far I love the book & I'm hoping my library has a copy of 1Q84, I can read afterwards.
Oh and Frankie is out! There's an article about growing your own herbs. Guess who's going to be sipping on fresh rosemary tea a little later on :) 

Hannah x

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Healthy market finds...

Hello :) Let's get to the point. Why am I showing a few fabulous finds I have from the markets? Well you see, I have been lucky enough to score a job assisting at an Ethiopian food stall at markets, two days a week. On Wednesday I work at the Entertainment Quarter (next to Fox Studios) & on Thursday at Bondi Village markets. It was by chance that we had a mutual friend, and she knew I was looking for a job. So far it's been great- I help set up the stall, prepare the curries by washing the rice & lentils (there are 2 lentil, 2 chicken, 1 beef and 1 salsa), serve food, collect money & clean/pack up.

To be honest, I'm just so thrilled I'm working somewhere I want to work and enjoy working, and the fact it's a food stall where I get to learn about Ethiopian cuisine is too exciting!

I've been learning a lot about the amount preparation and cleaning that goes into the stall & just how tasty Ethiopian food is! All the large pots of bubbling, fragrant curries...I very much look forward to my lunch break, where I usually have a flat bread/pancake (injera) with various curries. Yum :)

Now I just love looking at food market stalls with homemade cheeses, breads, fresh fruit & vegetables etc. And for these past two weeks, I've been quite happy to spend some of my money on a few products that have caught my eye so far...

Green drink. I know, it looks a little scary! But it's full of organic greens (kale, broccoli, silverbeet) as well as grapefruit and orange and honey which gives it a nice sweetness. It's delicious- very energising indeed! I've seen the stall at uni, where they sell kale bars too.

Goji berries. I thought it was about time I tried some goji berries, after reading so much about them! Luckily I got a bit of a staff discount too ;) I really like the taste of them & grabbing a handful to snack on. I think they'd go very well in a mix of raw nuts, shredded coconut and dried fruit :) 

The guy who sells these also sells Loving Earth products, such as activated nuts, which means they've been dried in the sun then dehydrated- and he said to think of them as "pre-digested", as the enzymes have been released. Good stuff :) 

Tamari almonds. The perfect snack- and something a little different and more interesting than raw almonds. I adore the salty taste...mmmmm! 

It's fun being a worker at the stall! Serving lunch to staff, who'll give us delicious cherries in return & buying fresh apples to snack on. And working, even if it's just two days so far means my dreams of travelling to Europe next year around June are becoming a little bit more of a reality ;) 

Have you tried these products or Ethiopian food before? 

Hannah x

Monday, December 12, 2011

Homemade baked black beans with feta & dukka

Hello :) As you can see from my previous post, I love recreating fabulous dishes I have at cafes. They always come up with awesome combinations of foods I think "wow, I want to make this!". A little while ago I went to Single Origin cafe in Surry Hills (so hip, you must go!), and had their persian spiced beans with feta, dukka & flat bread, which just wonderful. Here's a visual...

Naturally I wanted to make it! Now I'm all for using up grains & legumes that we already have instead of purchasing packets and then thinking "what am I going to make with these?", so luckily I'd recently bought black beans recently for this cookie recipe & I remembered my friend had sent me a recipe for baked beans, which she found on the Masterchef website. 

Recipe: George's Homemade Baked Beans (adapted from George Calombaris) Serves 4. 

2 cups (400g) large dried beans (mixture of large white lima beans and black beans)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled, diced
1 stick celery, strings removed, diced,
2 bunches thyme, secured together with kitchen string
2 dried bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
400g can diced tomatoes
3-4 slices crusty bread
1 garlic clove, extra, halved
100g feta cheese
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves

1. Place beans in a large ceramic bowl, cover with cold water and set aside for 12-24 hours to soak. Drain well, rinse and drain again
2. Cover the base of large frying pan with extra virgin olive oil and heat over high heat, add beans, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, thyme & bay leaves, stir to coat. Pour over chicken stock and add the tomatoes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender. 
3. Drizzle both sides bread with olive oil and char-grill until toasted. Remove hot toasted bread to a board and rub with cut side of the garlic. 
4. Taste the beans, adjust the seasoning as required. Remove the thyme and bay leaves. Crumble over the feta, scatter over the mint leaves and parsley. Serve with bread. 

Such a comforting dinner :) I just loved it- the soft beans, creamy feta, hint of thyme, sprinkle of dukka & super fresh herbs picked from our garden...good stuff instead! 

And I think this will be my breakfast tomorrow, topped with a poached egg and wilted spinach. Scrumptious! 

Hannah x

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fennel, caramelised onion, ricotta, toasted almond & rocket sandwich

Hello :) You know those enticing words that cafes use, to make a dish sound a little bit fancy? Here are some examples:

...slow oven-roasted tomatoes
...biodynamic muesli
...macerated strawberries fruit spelt bread
...heirloom carrots

Well yesterday, before my ballet concert rehearsal at the Seymour centre I was walking along King St, Newtown in search of lunch. Since I was going to be dancing quite soon after, I wanted something light yet satisfying if that makes sense. I came across Luxe bakery and had a look at their sandwich options- and decided I shall have one for lunch!

Shaved fennel, sweet & sour caramelised onion, fresh ricotta, toasted almond & rocket is the option I decided to have. Doesn't it just sound like an amazing combination? I'm one to be enticed by those words such as "caramelised" and "toasted" turns simple ingredients such as onions & almonds into something totally scrumptious!

The toasted sandwich was totally scrumptious, although I realised after I'd eaten half, I had to rush off so I ate the rest on the way. I did manage to take a quick snapshot of it...

A fresh loaf of bread is always the perfect way to start the weekend in my opinion anyway, so I decided to recreate my delightful lunch I had yesterday, today using some wholemeal spelt bread. 

~ Fennel, caramelised onion, fresh ricotta, toasted almond & rocket on wholemeal spelt bread ~

Serves 2 

What you'll need: 

1. Wholemeal spelt bread (any kind of fresh bread is fine)
2. Fennel, fresh ricotta, a small brown onion, handful of rocket and small handful of almonds 

How to make: 

1. Caramelise a small brown onion. On very low heat add about a tablespoon of butter in a pan and add sliced onion. Cook for about 10-15 minutes (adding a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to the pan), or until the onions are brown and cooked well. 

Whilst you're waiting I suggest you enjoy some bread with extra virgin olive oil & dukka :) 
2. Let's arrange our sandwich! Lay two slices of bread on a board
3. Add fresh ricotta to both slices and add half the caramelised onion
4. Next, add toasted almonds (simply chop almonds and toast under the griller for a few minutes) and sliced fennel 
5. And add a handful of rocket 
6. Toast lightly under a griller, a few minutes of each side until slightly brown or crisp around the edges 
7. Cut diagonally & serve. 
8. Repeat this process to serve another! 

This was a seriously good toasted sandwich! I can't say I've ever used fennel before, but I really like the subtle liquorice taste! I did used to drink fennel seed tea in the past which is lovely & good for digestion, as is fresh fennel.  

I'm wondering what sandwich combination have you been loving lately? Perhaps you had it in a cafe or made it yourself!

Hannah x