Friday, 28 November 2014

A project built upon Kindness & Gratitude

Last night I had the pleasure of attending my very first Thanksgiving event.
It was really a celebration of the beginning of a beautiful project by Winnie & Co- The Bakers Drawer.

The makers describe it as such : "simply a movement of kindness, based on gatherings around a kitchen table."
You know my love of the Kitchen table,  so this project was always on my radar.

It is about showing Random acts of Kindness.  Filling the drawer with love- of your own making and then sharing it with someone.  So beautiful.
Last night Kate & Kylie gathered with the owners of the first batch of Bakers Drawer owners to share stories of Kindness & gratitude. It was beautiful & an absolute pleasure to be part of it.

Each drawer is named after the person who inspires you to bake.
Mine is named MAGGIE.  She is named after Maggie Beer- my inspiration and mentor as a self-taught cook & lover of life & giver of love & joie de vive.

Last night I filled Maggie with a Nectarine & Pistachio Galette made with it's namesakes Sour Cream pastry. It seemed fitting that it's first offering contained a little bit of her.

I am so thankful that there are people who invest in love & the sharing of it.
May Kindness never go out of fashion.

You can find out more about The Bakers Drawer here (including details of how to purchase your very own). 

EGGPLANT & HALOUMI GALETTE with Tahini Sauce:

I only used half the batch of pastry last night to make the sweet galette & so I used the remainder to make this.
Really anything wrapped in this pastry is AMAZING but adding the Nigella seeds into the dough is so perfect for this Middle Eastern flavoured tart. And I will have to work very hard NOT to drizzle the Tahini sauce over EVERYTHING. it is incredible- but especially delicious with caramelised Eggplant I think. 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:


  • 1 eggplant cut into 1cm slices
  • 1/4 cup grated Haloumi
  • 2 teaspoons Nigella seeds
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, finely crushed
  • 3-4 tablespoons white vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt
  • 1/2 batch sour cream pastry (recipe here)
  • paprika for dusting
  • olive oil
METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 190.
Fry the sliced eggplant in olive oil until caramelised on both sides.
Set aside to cool while you roll the pastry.
Dust the bench well with flour & sprinkle a layer of Nigella seeds directly on top.
Now place your pastry onto this and roll it out so the Nigella seeds embed into the pastry like so....

Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Carefully roll the pastry onto the rolling pin and roll it out onto the tray.
Now add the sliced eggplant and the grated Haloumi. Fold over the edges of the Galette roughly 


and place into pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until pastry is brown.



Make the Tahini sauce while it is baking by adding together the Tahini, vinegar, cumin, lemon juice and garlic. Stir well and add salt if necessary.

Remove Galette from oven and serve immediately drizzled with Tahini sauce, freshly chopped Coriander & a dusting of Paprika.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hola! It's a giveaway

One of the luckiest things about being a blogger is that I sometimes get an opportunity to share really GREAT stuff that I get sent with YOU- my readers!

This week I am sharing with you a gorgeous new publication by Phaidon press  thanks to the ace peeps at Small Talk PR.

When this arrived and I opened it, I literally gasped at it's beauty.

Mexico - the Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte is one of the loveliest books I have had the pleasure of looking through in along while.

I had the good fortune of my sister & her husband living in Mexico in San Cristobel de las casas (in the state of Chiapas) in the 90's to help open my eyes to the joys and freshness of authentic Mexican food. It is far more complex and varied than the food we seem to equate it with.
Mexican food is seeing a  bit of a renaissance in Australia, ably helped along by some of the food trucks who are opening our eyes to Mexican food being more than stodgy Chilli Con Carne.
It reminds me of what happened with Thai and Indian (and now Vietnamese food) - as it's popularity surged so did the availability of more authentic recipes.

This book is divided into sections- street food & snacks, salads and starters, eggs, soups, fish & seafood, meat, vegetables, sauces, rice & beans, breads and pastries, drinks & desserts and the FAB section of Guest Chefs- including Andrew Logan from Melbourne's Mamasita .

I love cookbooks that really give you a deeper insight into the culture behind the cuisine & teach us more about the foods that we eat.

Did you know that the mexicans use Tortillas- their flatbread made of maize corn flour- in HUNDREDS of ways, not just to wrap tacos? And that it has been a staple in their cuisine since Ancient times.
And did you know there are around THREE HUNDRED varieties of Chillies- and not just the red & green ones that many of us are familiar with?
Some of the cultures that have influenced Mexican food are Spanish, Mediterranean & Jewish.

So interesting huh?! Reading cookbooks can teach you so much about our interesting and delicious world!

the best news is.........

I have a copy of this EXQUISITE publication to give away to on of you LUCKY readers, thanks to Small Talk PR.

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you would love this book to join your others in your cookbook shelf. Be creative with your answers!

Terms & Conditions are available to view HERE.

Buen Provecho!








Images courtesy of SmallTalk PR

Friday, 14 November 2014

30 minute Vegetarian Burritos with Home made flat bread.

Tomorrow my eldest lad heads off into the Wilderness for a week.

All week he has been sitting exams & in between study breaks he has been preparing for a 7 day self catered hike through the Victorian Alps.

The kids will be carrying their own food, tents, and clothing & be led by nothing more than a compass and a map and the glorious wilderness of the High country.
They have had to design their own menu, shop together for ingredients and work out who is carrying what. They will cook on little Trangia each night surrounded by nothing but the Wilderness.

These kinds of experiences are so so great. And the timing is perfect.
Right after a very stressful time where the culmination of the year's work comes down to a test in a weird silent environment, so different to their every day, they head off to clear their heads and take part in an activity that takes them back to the basics of being alive.

It will take most of the kids right out of their comfort zone.  From what my lad tells me most are really NOT looking forward to it at all.
My lad really really is & I love that.
He knows it won't be easy but he is still looking forward to it.
Hard stuff isn't always bad. I love that he understands that challenges aren't always insurmountable, even the ones that really do seem to be at the time.

From past experience we know that for lots of the kids that take part in this it can be a life changing experience.  It will help them muster inner strength they never knew they had.  Some will experience the beauty and solitude of the Wilderness for the first time in their life. These things stay with you forever. A reminder of the things that matter.

I love that he knows how much nature has to offer.
I love how he gets that being away from all the devices and day to day comforts is not really about taking away but adding to their life.
I love that he is excited about cooking outside every day- one of our family's very favourite things to do.

There were times this week I looked at him and just had tears. I was both proud and incredulous at how lucky I am.

I wish I was going too........
Gosh I will miss him. But I am so grateful that he is doing this and happy to know he will be sucking every ounce of the experience into his very being.


30 minute VEGETARIAN BURRITOS with Homemade Flatbread:
This is a 30 minute recipe from scratch! TRUE story.
This is what my lad is cooking for the first night's dinner (the breads will be pre-made).
So easy and incredibly nutritious and high in protein & low in cost. Perfect everyday food but especially perfect for hiking energy!
I promise even you die-hard meat eaters will love these and not miss the meat. They are super tasty and filling.
My flatbreads are based on the trusty River Cottage recipe  (but mine use no yeast) but LunchLady has a gorgeous one using Sourdough starter if you have some of that!

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:


  • 1kg Red Kidney beans (presoaked- or use good quality tinned ones)
  • 2 onions chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a bunch of fresh coriander - roots to add to the beans & save the tops to add to Burritos as you wrap them
  • a little extra water
  • salt
  • 500g flour
  • 300g lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
METHOD:
for the flatbread ~

Combine the flour, water and oil and knead for 5 minutes until well combined & elastic.
Let rest, covered for 15 minutes (you can start the Beans while it is resting).

Once it has rested, roll it into a sausage and divide into about 10 portions.

Roll out each portion and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Heat a heavy pan (no oil!) to high. Once pan is hot reduce the heat and dry pan fry the breads on either side until they brown.  The bread puffs up beautifully as it cooks.

Lay on a plate and cover with a tea towel until ready to serve.

for the Beans ~ 

Add some oil to a pan on medium high heat.
Add onions and cook well until translucent and completely soft- about 10 minutes.
Now add the finely chopped coriander roots and the garlic and stir gently for a minute or two.
Add the spices and stir till the spices smell fragrant- about a minute.
Now add the pre-soaked Kidney beans and stir well.
Add a little water and cook for about 10 minutes so that all the lovely flavour has soaked into the beans and there is not much liquid in the pan.

Serve onto the flatbreads and add accompaniments of your choice.
We added Cheese, Sriracha chilli sauce, finely sliced Spanish Onion, fresh coriander, tomatoes & lemon juice.

I know I posted the LP version of this a few weeks ago but my kids and I CAN NOT get enough of this track.
TURN IT UP as you knead that dough people!
xx




Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wonky, Broken & Real

The internet is a funny place.

It brings a lot of joy.

Friendship.

Company.

Inspiration.

Beauty.

Yet alongside that is the not so awesome.

The viciousness.

The cowardice masked behind anonymity.

The 'Perfection'.

This morning I was in a hurry to bake something for someone special.

It took longer than usual to bake & so I turned it out in a hurry to have it cool.

I know better than to do that yet time..... stoopid time.

So I turned it out.

Then this.......


I posted it on my Instagram and my Facebook.

I wanted people to know that I too have failures in my kitchen.

That failing is normal.

Failing is ok.

See, I believe that failure is not really failure at all.

It's just a segue to getting where we were heading.

I wonder what people reading here imagine me to be sometimes.

I am not perfect.  At all.

Nor do I try to be.

This morning I looked at that cake & thought it looked like me.

A bit wonky & broken but full of love.

PS. It was the delicious Vegan Wacky Cake. (recipe here) 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

You are never fully dressed without a smile.

I posted this song on my Facebook page this morning.



I have been thinking about it since.
I feel as if it is really true you know. The idea that you are never fully dressed without a smile.

I think part of my desire to dress in colour is my outward expression of finding happiness.
Smiling and happiness kind of go hand in hand don't they.

People often say to me "You are always so happy, so relaxed".
I'm not. Just as I am sure you are not.
ALWAYS is a LONG time!
But I really really try to be both of those things.

I have had my fair deal of hardships.  Some crippling for a LONG time.
Some I still struggle with every single day and I have come to accept that they are part of me.
Part of a whole.
Some parts good, some not so good.
Some parts I am comfortable with , some that make me uneasy.
Some parts I feel I have achieved what I want,  some a work in progress.
I accept that every person is a work in progress, always doing their very best at any given point.
Everyone's reality is a very different thing on any given day.

One thing I try really really hard to do each day is to find joy.
Joy in small things.
Things that don't have quantifiable or monetary value as such but the small simple pleasures.

A smile is one of them.
A smile is not bound by language.
It is a communal and universal gesture of kindness.

Years ago I wrote this post about how we love to use our front yard and I  mentioned an elderly lady who lives in my street.
She has been walking up and down my street every day that we have lived here- I think we worked out the other day that it is SEVEN years!

Every time I saw her I would look at her, smile and say Hello. Every time for the first five years she would duck her head and keep walking.

Then one day she didn't duck her head.
That one day she looked me in the eyes and said in a very quiet & heavily accented voice "Hello" and nodded with a smile.
After she had walked past my fence a tear rolled down my cheek.
It all made sense.
She hadn't been saying 'Hello' or acknowledging me, not because she was grumpy or didn't want to interact but because she didn't speak a word of English & she was frightened to speak.
I felt overcome. It was such a big thing. And I am so so glad that I kept on saying 'Hello'.
Our communal language was a smile.
She smiles and says 'Hello' every day now. There is no need for more words than that one.
So much power in one word and one gesture.

I hope something or someone makes you smile today.
It feels so so good.
Both to receive and to give.