Friday, June 29, 2012

Vegan Cooking Class, Berkelouw

Hello :) Wednesday was certainly busy. After my usual 9-5 job at EQ markets, it was off to help out at a Vegan Cooking Class. The class was hosted by Lydia & Carly, who had led previous classes (here) at Alfalfa House, just down the road. This pilot class was held in a new location at Berkelouw book shop/cafe in Newtown, which I often go to, to sit upstairs with a good book and pot of chai. The cooking class was held downstairs though, using the kitchen space of a vegan cafe which is open during the weekend.

I was there a little earlier to help set up the table, prepare the veggies etc, although it would seem from this post, I spent most of the time being a photographer ;)

Table preparations. Aren't the candlesticks with mandarins and flower filled pumpkins awesome? The first meal was a raw nori roll, so Lydia decided to hang the nori using some string and pegs. Love this idea, it was so fun and inventive. Dinner party idea anyone?
When everyone arrived (the class was limited to 10) we served a hot chocolate, by heating up rice milk and whisking in some raw cacao and chilli flakes. Super warming, I think I shall be making that soon! The rice milk gives it just the right amount of sweetness. So while people were busy sipping their warming drink we prepared and served the filling for the nori rolls. There was a raw carrot and cauliflower salad as well as fresh spinach, lettuce and a pumpkin & almond dip.
I think what was really showcased in this recipe, is that cooking is really about creativity. The sushi was delightful: fresh, healthy and simple. Sushi doesn't always have to be with rice. Raw veggies and dips work perfectly as well. Yum!
Now onto the main course. An aromatic moroccan hot pot. Everyone crowded around the kitchen, as Lydia gave instructions and we all helped prepare and write down notes. There were lots of spices, onion, garlic and tomatoes used in the base. Snow peas and broccoli were steamed, buckwheat and brown rice were cooked to accompany and roast apple and pumpkin were also added to the hot pot.
The roasted apples and pumpkin were definitely a highlight. They were roasted with their skins on and were super sweet, soft and incredibly nourishing. The buckwheat and brown rice were great. I've cooked buckwheat once, although it got a little gluggy, so I think the secret is to rinse it well, keep stirring and rinse in a sieve if needed. Any other tips?
I was also there to provide the tea, you see. Little China Teas to be specific. Exciting! I served Bo He, which is a fabulous field mint, and the Slimming tea which has a ginger and ginseng base. They were served with the moroccan hot pot as I thought the flavours of the mint and ginger would work well with the dish. It was nice having a warming cup of tea. Although my opinion is quite biased ;)
Dessert time! Beetroot and chocolate tarts :) The vintage plates were so pretty. The base was a gluten-free pastry with chia seeds and was just so dense and delicious. The beetroot and apple were perfectly caramelised, and you can never go wrong with chocolate!
We were also treated to a slice of a chocolate pie, the base made from nuts and dates. Must. Get. Recipe. All I'm saying...

 No, I'm not vegan, and heck I'm not even vegetarian anymore, but I definitely came away from the class inspired. Lydia & Carly both shared their passion for wholesome, creative and nutritious eating. What I got from the class, was that cooking, which focuses on organic and local produce, creativity and community is really the way to go. And I love it.

Hannah x

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Almond Olive Oil Cake

Hello :) It has been too long since I have baked a cake. Have you noticed? I have! Too long I say! So when today decided to be all cold and rainy, it was a sign that I should really stay home and do just that. I was simply browsing food blogs, which I often tend to do and came across this recipe.

Almond Olive Oil Cake (link). I adapted the recipe, using spelt flour and instead of sugar I used 1/2 cup rice syrup and 1/4 cup maple syrup. I also added an extra 1/4 cup spelt flour, as the syrups made the mixture more liquid-y than using regular sugar.

The cake turned out beautifully! I wasn't sure how it would turn out, replacing the sugar with the syrup but it had a lovely texture, perfectly light and with that hint of olive oil. I found there was certainly enough sweetness from the orange juice and syrup, and I didn't need icing either for that matter. I've never been big on icing. Maybe next time I'll add some flaked almonds on top, but I find it usually doesn't need that extra sweet coating. 

Reading + cake = good times. 

Enjoy your week! I'm helping out at a vegan cooking class tomorrow evening. Excitement!

Hannah x

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Beauty: Copper & Red

Hello :) I don't wear much makeup, and when I do it is pretty simple indeed! I think I must own 1 eyeshadow, lipstick, blush etc so it's kind of the same look every time, but that's ok. If I buy something, I make sure I'm going to use it! Here are just two products I wear sometimes in the day, or evening.

Coppery Eyeshadow. I bought this not so long ago, just wanting a nice shade to wear during the day or night. This shu uemura one is a little shimmery, but not too intense. 

I also do use an eye shadow primer, which helps (a lot!) to hold the eyeshadow in place. If I don't use it, I notice it comes off a lot sooner and smudges in the creases. This nars one looks just like a lipgloss, and you simply swipe it across your lid, blending with your fingertips.

Red Lipstick. Instant fancy pants! I use this laura mercier tinted lip stain which is excellent. I just apply it like a lipbalm, and build up the colour. And it really lasts! Seriously, I am impressed! 

Just so you get the jist, here I am with a wash of the eyeshadow and lipstick. I may have been studying at the time, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun (read: procrastinate). And on a side note I love the pretty artwork that comes with the Frankie calendars... as you can see the dainty tea cups in the background.

If I wanted to be super fancy, I might add some peach blush. Or some black liquid liner. But usually there is no need to wear makeup whilst staying in to catch up on Downton Abbey or Offspring. Patrickkkkkk!!

Do you wear or not wear makeup? What does your routine look like? 

Hannah x

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lentil Shephard's Pie

Hello :) Do you like lentils? Do you like pie? What about shephard's? Good. Because I have the meal for you. It's rustic and hearty: Lentil Shephard's Pie. I seem to have a thing with pies lately, I know! The recipe was given to me by a friend (hello Sue!), after I wanted more vegetarian recipes a few years ago. I tend to make this quite a few times ('s a staple) in the colder weather, so I'm not sure why it's taken so long for me to post the recipe! You probably already have most of the ingredients too, which is always handy. No fancy stuff required here.

Recipe: Lentil Shephard Pie (courtesy of Sue)
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 cup frozen peas
500g jar tomato pasta sauce or can crushed tomatoes
1 can brown lentils or 1 cup dry brown lentils, cooked*
1 kg potatoes/sweet potatoes, peeled and evenly chopped
Butter, salt and pepper
1. Heat oil in medium saucepan and saute onion, celery and carrot until soft. Add curry powder (more to taste) and saute further for one minute.
2. Add sauce or can of tomatoes, lentils and peas, bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. *If using dry lentils, pre cook until tender.
3. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with hot water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender.
4. Drain potatoes and add butter and milk to taste. Mash until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spoon lentil mix into an ovenproof dish, or 4 times 1 cup ovenproof dishes. Top with mashed potatoes. Bake in a moderate oven at 180 degrees celsius for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Sure, our mixture of potato and sweet potato could have been mashed more, but it's just one of those great throw together meals, that fills you up and is super comforting :)

Have a lovely weekend :)

Hannah x

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beetroot Chips & Raw Superfood Bars

Hello :) Today was a happy day indeed. I am done with exams (for now) and will now proceed on a little longer than one month holiday. Hooray! Fun times. Now, here's a few yummy snacks I've been enjoying amidst studying and such. I do love making simple snacks such as the haloumi and apple combination, a definite favourite at the moment, or these oatcakes. I made them yesterday, added in less sugar, more flaxseeds and some chia as well.

Oh, where was I? Yes. Here's two snacks I've been buying regularly, which are just so yummy and healthy and delicious and get the idea.

1. Organic Beetroot Chips. Ah, so addictive. How have I only kind of recently discovered these?! Crunchy, sweet, a tad salty and just so darn easy to eat. Nice way to get a vegetable boost as well, and you may get a free lip tint after eating them. Tried and tested.

2. Raw Superfood Bars. A newish product from Loving Earth, and I love them! This one has gubinge, camu camu, apricots, coconut and almonds etc. All organic too. There are 3 different superfood bars and 4 chocolate bars. They're little treats, which are packed full of superfood nutrients and the perfect size to take with you during the day, in case hunger strikes! Read about the flavours here

Are you a beetroot chip or raw superfood bar fan? 

Hannah x

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pumpkin Pie...without sugar!

Hello :) On Tuesday it was my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Rosie! Whilst she left the house early for school, I pondered what I'd bake for her. Birthdays naturally lead to baking, of course. Lately, I haven't had too much refined sugar, if any, so keeping with the theme I settled on making a sugar free pumpkin pie. I was a little hesitant at first, whisking up something that was sugar free for a birthday, but my sister has pretty awesome eating habits- so I figured she would be okay! I caught her adding a handful of spinach leaves into her omelette the other day. Oh I have taught her well ;)

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie (adapted from Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar Cookbook)
Ingredients: the crust
2 cups almond of hazelnut meal (or a combination of both, or you can use LSA)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
Ingredients: the filling
3 eggs
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1.5 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and cloves, ground
rind of 1 lemon
3/4 coconut cream
1-2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Combine melted butter, nut meal and salt in a bowl and mix well (the base holds better the more you work it, releasing the oils in the nuts). Also, mixing this in the actual pie dish works well- no need to use a separate bowl.

2. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie dish- the bottom and sides. If it isn't quite enough mixture, throw in a bit more of both butter and meal (directly into the dish if you like). Cook for 5-8 minutes until it starts to turn golden.

3. Let the crust cool fully (place in fridge or freezer if you have to). Cream eggs and syrup then blend in the rest of the ingredients. If it's a bit too runny, add extra arrowroot. It should be a thin custard consistency.

4. Gently pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 45-55 minutes or until the centre of the pie 'sets' (when it starts to crack away from the base a little is a good sign). Remove from the oven and cool completely before putting in the fridge.

A few notes...before I say the word "yummy and "scrumptious" in as many adjectives!
> Sarah has 3 versions of this pumpkin pie. So here are a few variations...
> Using cream instead of coconut cream
> Substituting butter for coconut butter

...Shall we look at the results?

That is one sweeeeeet pie :) 

Seriously, it is! Sure there's no added sugar, but there's plenty of sweetness from the pumpkin (which I steamed, then mashed), coconut cream and rice syrup. I could have left the crust in the oven for a little longer, but it was still very much enjoyed. I loved all the spices too, and the hint of the lemon really made it pop! I was still a little dubious of what my sister would think after it came out of the oven, thinking perhaps she would sprinkle it with sugar. But no, a squeeze of lemon was all that she added. Nice one, Rosie. You are certainly a sister of mine!

Now the exciting part. It just so happens that Sarah Wilson is running a competition for bloggers (like me!) to post her recipes and go in the running to give away 3 I Quit Sugar Cookbooks to their readers (like you!). This is fun, as I already purchased the book, and planned on making this recipe anyway. So wish me luck :)

Hannah x

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Toasted Brekky Baguette

Hello :) I'm on a breakfast kick! Being home, I am embracing the lingering, cosy mornings, pondering what I shall eat for breakfast. Or brunch. Yesterday morning I strolled up to the shops with my mum. She was off to yoga, but I had far my important things on my mind. Brekky! A baguette and some avocados were purchased, as well my usual soy latte. I felt like a walking cliche wearing my striped shirt, and baguette in tow. It was too rainy to ride my bicycle, OK!

So! Here's what I decided to make...

Toasted Brekky Baguette

I used a light sourdough baguette as well as eggs, goats cheese, tomatoes, avocado and parsley.

1. Spray some rice bran oil on a pan, or another oil, heat, then fry an egg per person, as well as the sliced tomatoes.
2. Spread some goats cheese (or feta) on a sliced baguette, top with avocado, tomato and fresh parsley. Use a griller (or sandwich press) to toast the baguette and add in the egg afterwards. I like my egg a little gooey, so that's why I added in at the end. I didn't want the yolk everywhere!

Of course, you might like to use some other herbs or be super fancy and roast your tomatoes, or add in some caramelised onion. But for a quick, delicious brekky, this is a winner!

Yummmmmmmmmmm. That is all.

Hannah x

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Winter Salad

Hello :) It's cold. And rainy! But I'm kinda glad, as I'm spending this week studying at home, like a smart lady. I thoroughly enjoy it though, not the studying part so much, but being a homebody. Wearing my PJs all day, taking several minutes to decide which tea to brew (decisions, decisions!), dreaming up my next meal and reading novels in between studying. Don't worry, I'm cooking a plenty too! Just like this Winter Salad. It's the most marvellous combination of flavours and is perfectly wholesome.

Recipe: A Winter Salad (adapted from Vegetarian, Alice Hart) This is a deeply gratifying dish for chilly months- it offers the fresh and lively flavours of a salad, but the comfort of a more substantial meal. Keep an eye on the nuts after adding them to the roast carrots and shallots- they will burn easily. 

300g small carrots
6 shallots, halved
75mL olive oil
150g walnuts, roughly chopped
150g prunes, stoned and halved
200g faro, spelt or barley
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley leaves chopped
175g goats cheese or Danish feta...or Sydney feta (ha ha!)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Halve or thickly slice the carrots depending on their size and toss with the shallots, 2 tablespoons olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for about 25 minutes until caramelised and soft. Add the walnuts and prunes on the tray, sprinkling them evenly over the veg, and return them to the oven to toast for a further 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cover the grains with 500mL cold water in a saucepan. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat, leaving the grains to simmer merrily for 25 minutes. Are my grains merry enough!? You must keep asking yourself this question. 

When your merry grains are cooked, drain off any remaining water then cover the pan and set the grains aside.

Make the dressing by whisking the remaining olive oil, vinegar, crushed garlic and mustard together with a little salt and pepper. It should be slightly sharp to counter the sweet carrots and prunes. Combine the grains, roast carrot mixture, half the parsley and half the dressing in a serving bowl. Crumble the goats or feta cheese over the grains and vegetables, drizzle with the remaining dressing and scatter with the rest of the parsley.

What do I like about this dish? Everything really. I've been using barley a lot in vegetable soups lately, so it was nice to emphasise it in this warm salad.Never added prunes to a salad before, but it certainly gave it a lovely sweetness. And my favourite part...the mixture of goats and danish feta cheese I used. Amazing. I used coriander instead of parsley too. Because that's all I had! 

Hannah x

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Brunch at Revolver

Hello :) For about a month now on Sundays, I've been running the Little China Tea stall at Marrickville markets, whilst Justin goes and samples at various health food shops. It's super fun- and I pretend to be the boss ;) I am, however, taking a few weeks break from the Sunday markets as I have exams, although this morning I did have a lovely time out. I went to have brunch at Revolver, in Annandale. It's such a buzzing, packed cafe. The building itself is a historic terrace and has a cosy ambience inside. We got there around 10 and waited for 15 minutes, but it was well worth it!

I had...scrambled eggs, roast tomato, avocado and danish feta with toast. Amazing! Eggs were perfectly cooked, feta was deliciously creamy. And it was so filling, definitely value for money.
Sue had...sumac cured bacon, parmesan scrambled eggs, fennel and rocket salsa. Such an interesting combination, she really enjoyed it.
I also had some ginger spice tea, which came in this awesome teapot and dainty tea cup. I wasn't really sure why an egg timer came with it, perhaps how long it should brew for? Hmmm...
Here we are! I went with my friends mum Sue (her daughter, my friend Tara is overseas and has been for several months-talk about being jealous!) 

What do you love ordering for brunch?

Hannah x

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Haloumi + Apple

Hello :) Unfortunately I'm sick at the moment, and am about to commence exams, which I realise is not the perfect combination for cooking or blogging. But I have a warming snack to share today. It's terribly simple! It's the first recipe I've tried from Sarah Wilson's Quit Sugar e-book, which I purchased a little while ago. It's actually the only recipe I've made so far- and plan to make a few more soonish.

Word of warning though: if you're not mad for coconut, do not buy the e-book. She loves using coconut flour, butter, cream, milk and water. Oh, and shredded coconut too. This is because coconut is naturally sweet as well as being super nutritious. Luckily, I'm a huge coconut fan. Cannot get enough. But back to this snack.

"salted caramel" haloumi + apple ...this is a great afternoon snack, or you can serve with some walnuts as a dessert. 

1 green apple
6 slices haloumi cheese (cut 5mm thick) ...(or 7mm, go on, rebel!)
sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Place the haloumi and apple slices in a hot non-stick pan. Jiggle around the pan a little so the haloumi oil spreads and coats the apple. Cook both sides (until both the apple and haloumi are a lovely caramel colour) Toss cinnamon and salt over the lot and serve.

Mmmmm! The apple could have done with more colour, so next time (read: tomorrow) I'll endeavour to caramelise it more. The apple and cinnamon combination is perfectly sweet and warming, whilst the salty haloumi is generally amazing and adds a punch of protein- great for snacking fun times. Who doesn't love snacking fun times?!

Hannah x