Tag Archives: Know Your Food

Petite Kitchen’s Zesty Apricot Balls

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It’s no secret that I (and I’m guessing a lot of you) have those days (every day) where all you want in life is an enormous piece of cake. Like as big as your head. Preferably with chocolate involved somewhere in the process. I have a big sweet tooth. Last week Row brought home a 2 kilo bag of Fruit Bursts to send out with his orders (he sells mountain bike parts if that’s of interest to you). 2 kilos of Fruit Bursts just casually chillin’ in our living room. So. Much. Self. Control. Required. Anyway, this has a point. As much as I love (and need) cake I also know that I can’t have cake frequently (sorry to break it to you). This year I have enjoyed so much finding new recipes to satisfy the chronic-snacker and sweet tooth in me,

In the weekend I made Petite Kitchen’s Zesty Apricot, Pumpkin Seed and Lemon Fudge Balls. These balls didn’t last for too long because despite them being refined sugar free, they were delicious and made for excellent snackage. I would even go as far as saying they are healthy on account of the nuts and seeds. So that’s cool right? Almost as good as cake. No sugar high. No guilt. I’m still going to have my cake on occasion (it’s a coping mechanism) but its great to be able to replace some of the cake indulgences with healthier snacks (that are yum too). DSC_2551

In case you aren’t acquainted with Petite Kitchen here is a lowdown: Petite Kitchen was born out of the need to create a better diet for Eleanor’s very ill daughter. Eleanor’s daughter was diagnosed with Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) by a Naturopath, an imbalance of bad gut bacteria causing toxins. This was causing terrible eczema and extreme mood fluctuations. Eleanor eliminated grains, sugar, additives and preservatives from their diets and her daughter returned to full health. Now Eleanor focuses on creating simple recipes and sharing them on the blog and in her cookbook (which is the best!). I really recommend checking out Petite Kitchen if you’re gluten free or just looking for a fresh way of cooking and eating.

I forgot to mention something else about these balls: they’re a doddle to make and require no cooking! How great is that. Excellent for a take-along or for your afternoon snack. Enjoy! And have a great week.

Let’s Talk Sesame Seeds

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One of the things I’ve learnt this year (among many, many things) is the surprising nutritional benefits of sesame seeds. Yeah, those little specks haphazardly arranged on your burger pack a punch!

For starters, sesame seeds are really high in calcium. There is 88mg of calcium in one tablespoon of sesame seeds. That means that a few tablespoons of sesame seeds are similar to a glass of milk, calcium wise. Great if you are dairy-free!

Sesame seeds also contain copper, magnesium, zinc, selenium and iron. Yay! All good things. You can read more about sesame seeds here and here.

Here are some ideas for using tahini and here are some more ideas and info on tahini!

Some ways that I use sesame seeds in every day situations:

– In crumbs. Making a dish with a bread crumb top like mac ‘n’ cheese or tuna bake? Swap out 14 – 12 cup of crumbs for sesame seeds. Also try my cauli cheese with seedy top!

– Buy things with sesame already starring. For example burger buns with sesame seed tops or crackers, like Ryvitas, with sesame seeds.

– Add them to the mix when you make muesli.

– Add a splash to the top of your next bacon and egg (or other) pie.

– Add them to slices and other baking. Try my chocolate nut balls.

– Something different…try Bonnie Delicious’ sesame seed milk.

– Make hummus!

Here is a tutorial on making tahini.

Something I haven’t tried yet is just having sesame seeds on hand to throw into stir-frys and salads. Sounds like a good idea, yes? Do you use sesame seeds or tahini lots? How do you use them? Have a great week!

 

Four Ways I’m Inspired by Spring

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It’s well and truly almost summer here. The days are still sporadic, wind is still tormenting my broccoli plants and rain clouds loom in the afternoons, but its 10 a.m and I think I would almost get a tan if I was outside (if I could tan, which I can’t). This, and autumn, are two times of the year when I feel most inspired about food.

– I’m inspired by my garden constantly. Yesterday we finally ate something from this springs crops. Lettuce doesn’t usually ignite my passion for cooking, but picking it from my own garden – all covered in dirt and slightly nibbled on – inspiration, unlocked! Its not too late to plant something. I’m yet to plant tomatoes. You can always grown in buckets on your sunny porch, if nothing else.

– I’ve been reading Peppermint Magazine, and this issue (spring 2014) is right up my alley. It features interviews with a whole range of different foodies. So far, I love the emphasis, on real, from-the-earth food. I was pleasantly surprised by the interview with Sarah Wilson – she wrote the ‘I Quit Sugar’ books – she writes here about sustainability and food wastage. Definitely get your hands on this issue!

– Every year, when my garden starts to belt out food, I get out Annabel Langbein’s book Eat Fresh. It’s the one cook book you should have over spring and summer. It capitalises on fresh food from the garden in stunning, simple, delicious recipes. I love it! (I can’t seem to find a link to this online unfortunately. It was published in 2007, see if your library has it, or try one of her other books).

– Tonight we are having this for dinner. I’m very inspired by all of the fresh veg available at the moment. Cheap avocados. Tomatoes have come down to $3.99kg (this will drop rapidly over the next few weeks and then my own will start producing tomatoes like crazy). And I feel like piling my plate high with different veg. I’m dreaming up some new quesadilla recipes to make the most of the good food available. If you want inspiration, head to your veggie shop and check out the new season produce!

Pesto: Five Recipes I Can’t Wait to Try

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I can’t say summer is rolling in on the next sunrise. Most of New Zealand is being ransacked by wind, rain and snow (I’m snuggled up with a woolly jumper and a blanket as I write this) but despite this chilly start to spring, I’m already seeking out recipes for summers bounty. I think months and months of the cold does that to you. To me, there is nothing more summery than the combo of basil and tomatoes – fresh from the garden (for a while they were the only things I knew how to grow). My favourite version of the two is bruschetta, but now that I’m lucky enough to a own a food processor, I’m getting pretty excited about making a cuss of a lot of pesto.

As yet, I have no basil and tomatoes are still $7.99kg at the veg store, but a lady can dream. Also, I’ve found some pretty spiffy recipes that use parsley and other greens. (And I’ve thought broadly and included a vegan version and Jamie’s ‘manual’ version). Yay! So, over the next few weeks and months I’ll be putting some (hopefully all) of these to the test. Will you join in?

Watercress and Walnut Pesto. Last time I was at the veggie store, watercress was going cheap, so I think I’ll try this one first!

Classic pesto made with a pestle and mortar. I love the step by step photos: such photogenic ingredients in ye old pesto! Thanks Jamie.

Roasted Pepper Pesto. Well, this looks delicious. I really love Annabel Langbein’s recipes: she has a way of bringing out the best in seasonal ingredients. (No cheese in this one).

Mint and Parsley Pesto. See what I mean? Another great recipe from Annabel. (No cheese here either).

Vegan pesto from Bonnie Delicious (made with parsley). OK, you must know how much of a cheese freak I am. Like, I really love cheese. But lets be honest, its not exactly cheap is it. So as much as I simply adore pesto in its original state, I’m quite keen to try these cheeseless types. Now, since we’re talking as friends, I’ll confess, I’ve never ever used ‘savoury yeast flakes’. Never even heard of it till recently. But I’ve combed the web and reached a conclusion: its great in lots of ways. So, I think despite the cheese lover in me, I have to try this vegan recipe and these intriguing flakes. I also must say that I’m a BIG fan of Kelly over at Bonnie Delicious, so I have a lot of faith in this recipe! I’ll report back. (And maybe in the meantime you could tell me about your experience with savoury yeast?). Note: I actually have no idea how much the yeast costs or where I can buy it so I might be making a hasty beeline for the dairy section of the supermarket. Food is a constant learning curve, for me that’s the best part.

Are you a big pesto fan like me? Do you get terrified of buying it because IT IS SO EXPENSIVE? Pesto is definitely a treat in our house and that is why I want to must learn to make it myself. I want to learn many recipes that cater to different seasons and budgets even though the classic version will always have a safe spot in my heart. Are you a seasoned pesto whipper-upper? Ready to try some new curly recipes? Let me know!

On Making Dough

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Like most things, learning to cook well is all about practice. I love to share recipes on here but I don’t share the disasters, flops and disappointments (of which there are some). My hope is  that with time and perseverance these flops will turn into successes that I can later share (some of them just get banished from the kitchen for eternity). Dough makes a good metaphor for learning to cook. Most of the time it just works: its science. Sometimes for no reason its a flop: its science. And a good recipe makes a world of difference. I like making dough and I have a few favourite recipes that are bullet proof (or at least fool proof). I like how very unpretentious dough is. I like how its a series of simple ingredients and actions that create something wonderful, as if by miracle. I think making dough is a great way to learn more about cooking. It teaches you basic skills like patience. If you haven’t made bread before its worth trying, at least for the mere satisfaction of shaping a loaf of bread or a swag of bagels with your own hands. I’ll share three favourite dough recipes that might seem slightly random. You guys are cool with that, right?

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Bagels

Let me explain. Bagels might seem like a bizarre choice for a novice breadie but for some reason it was one of the first doughs I made. “I’m going to try that!” I exclaimed with reckless abandon. And I did. And it worked. And it has worked every single time in the years since. It sounds complex on first glance. Its not. There are a number of steps and its not something you’ll whip up late one evening to go with your reheated soup but it is simple and it will teach you some fundamentals of dough making. Pus, its bagels. Which are just ace. Ace!

Pizza dough

Now for some reason that took me much longer to get to. I don’t know why but I never made pizza dough. My father would not be impressed to hear that (he is the KING of pizza). But then I finally plucked up the courage and what do you know? Simple. Like stupidly simple. Next time you have a roast, dedicate the leftovers to make a stand up pizza with your own dough (or make some veg concoction with spinach and feta. Can I come for tea?).

Soda bread

OK, so I made you make bagels and pizza first because that involves making real dough and they’re awesome but lets face it, we don’t always have time to float around in our sun dresses kneading dough. This is where soda bread kindly steps up to the task. This is sort of a cheat’s bread, but you might recall me saying that if you can cheat in the kitchen you definitely should. Soda bread is not made with yeast, you don’t knead the dough and it doesn’t need to rise so it is really fast. Its fast enough to whip up to go with your soup or for lunch or any old time. The recipe calls for buttermilk which you can buy at the supermarket but you can also make buttermilk by adding a squeeze of lemon juice to milk and allowing it to sit for a minute or so. I also recommend using half white flour and half wholemeal flour. Enjoy!

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I Made Muesli

Day 32Hello! I wanted to share something I’ve been making. This month The Happy Pantry Challenge asks us to go local. I haven’t really done that yet. There are shops I want to investigate and chickens I want  to meet. But I realised that for me, the challenge was more about, going it alone. Making stuff myself, really really local, you could say. I think we’re so busy, as a society, that we forget so many skills. We forget that we can grow and cook and do so much for ourselves. So I’ve been weeding my garden and playing in the kitchen – ready for spring. Other than cornflakes and Weet-Bix, I never buy cereal. To me, its overpriced sugar. But I do like muesli. And because I’m doing this for breakfast, I decided to learn how to make it.MuesliI looked at lots of recipes. Lots! There were some very technical ones. There were some recipes with unpronounceable ingredients. And then, there was this recipe. Simple. I just really like simple. So, this is what I’ve been making and I really, really like it. I like watching the muesli turn golden. I love waiting for it to get crunchy. I love the first bowl full.Muesli2Have you made muesli? If not, give it a whirl! I want to do some maths (Ha! Never thought I’d say that!) and work out how much it costs to make this muesli. And if its cheaper than buying it. My hunch says it is, I could be wrong. I’d also like to scrutinize the nutritional information and see how mine stacks up, sugar-wise. But for now, I’m quite happy with just making and eating my muesli. Because its yum, that’s a good enough reason, right?DSC_0429

Some notes:

– I swapped the 12 cup of bran flakes for more oats, because I couldn’t find bran flakes.

– I used sliced almonds instead of pecans and I used more, probably 12 a cup. You could use any nuts. Even peanuts. Or more than one kind of nut.

– The same goes for dried fruit, use any you like.

– My secret ingredient (shhhhh) is to use mostly olive or other neutral oil and then a tiny bit of peanut oil. I love the flavour that adds.

– I didn’t add the fruit with everything else, it sounded weird to me. So I added it at the end once everything had cooled.

– The recipe makes about 900 grams.

– Its super delicious.