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Fennel & Orange Roasted Chicken – Video Blog

31 Mar

The union of fennel with orange is one of my favourites. Thanks to Diego Bonetto’s foraging tour I learnt how to identify edible plants growing wild in my backyard including fennel.

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Toasted Spiced Muesli – Video Blog

29 Mar

A delicious way to start the day and use up ingredients in the pantry.

Chilli & Cinnamon Chocolate – Video Blog

24 Mar

A recipe for rich chocolate that will not only satisfy your cravings but you need never feel naughty about eating!

Mushroom Foraging – Video Blog

18 Mar

Find out about my Mushroom Foraging adventure with Diego Bonetto from Weedy Connection.

Forest bus Forest Mushroom Mushrooms bag Mushroom large Chestnuts

Have You Seen My Chia Seeds?

29 Apr

When I first saw this video I couldn’t breathe because I was laughing so hard and today I had flash backs! I was searching through the cupboards for my chia seeds and was so frustrated that they were nowhere to be seen until I thought of the scenes in this video.

Of course the packet has just fallen to the back of the cupboard… so I continued to make a late Sunday breakfast with quinoa and chia seeds. I can hardly write the words chia seeds now without bursting into laughter!!!

1 cup of White Quinoa, uncooked

3 cups of Water

1 teaspoon of Coconut Sugar

1 teaspoon of Virgin Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon of Chia Seeds

Sprinkle of Himalayan Pink Salt

Sprinkle of Cinnamon Powder

Organic Milk

6 Whole Hazelnuts, roasted

Put the quinoa and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Strain any excess liquid. Transfer about 4 heaped tablespoons of cooked quinoa to a breakfast bowl and mix in the salt, sugar, coconut oil, chia seeds, cinnamon and hazelnuts. Now add enough milk to suit your taste depending on whether you want a thick porridge like consistency or runnier.

I made up this recipe as I went along so you can simply adapt it to your taste. Try dried or poached fruit, slivered almonds, honey, shredded coconut, cocoa powder or nibs or freshly sliced banana – not necessarily all together!

I have a chia plant growing in the backyard and I’m looking forward to experimenting with more recipes soon.

Considering how much of my life revolves around passion for food, most people would be surprised to learn that I have a habit of skipping breakfast even when I wake up before dawn to do yoga. So I made a promise to myself last week that I would try to get back into a good routine. I used to make fresh juice every morning or have something healthy to start the day so I’ve taken on the challenge to get back to eating breakfast.

Anyway, I’m going to put some eyeshadow on my 3rd eye so until the next post… watch this and laugh.

Fig and Hazelnut Salad with Vincotto

2 Apr

I’ve been shopping for fresh produce this weekend so I was due to start cooking! Considering how fresh the figs were I decided to let them shine through with minimal fuss. This simple salad was the perfect accompaniment to lamb cutlets that were tossed in EVOO, salt, lemon juice and a diced clove of garlic before being panfried until crispy and brown on both sides while still juicy in the centre.

Fresh figs

Green leafy mix (I used rocket and spinach)

Rosted hazelnuts

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Vincotto

Salt

To make the salad, put the leaves in a large bowl, drizzle with EVOO and vincotto (just enough to lightly coat the leaves, you can add more if it’s not enough) and a pinch of salt. Gently toss with your finger tips to spread the dressing and place it in the middle of a plate. Cut the fig into 4 segments and place over the leaves and sprinkle with hazelnuts.  Just use your instinct to make it to your taste. More fig, less hazelnuts, it’s up to you. Drizzle the salad with a little more EVOO to serve.

The potatoes I picked up at Eveleigh Markets were like little golden nuggets.

I put them in a pot of water, brought it to the boil and simmered for about 5 minutes before draining. I sliced them in half and put them in a baking tray with rosemary I picked from the garden, salt, EVOO and whole peeled cloves of garlic. They roasted at 200ºc for about 1 hour but you may need to remove the garlic earlier so it doesn’t get too brown and taste bitter.

This was the perfect dinner to end a beautiful weekend.

It’s Fig Season!

1 Apr

As someone passionately announced last week over a plate of fresh figs – it’s fig season! If you’ve been following my blog then you’ll remember my trip to the markets last year that lead me to a tray of figs. To me, they truly are a fruit of the gods with their sweet, luscious, juicy texture that are divine to cook with but I can just as easily eat several at a time in their natural glory. There is no other fruit like it.

I was at Eveleigh Markets yesterday and met Rocco from Leppington Valley Farm where they grow… fresh figs.

So today I decided to visit the farm and the weather was perfect. I met Rocco’s dad Victor who gave me a tour of the farm.

Victor’s brother used to own a fruit shop in Edgecliff and since retiring he likes to help out on the farm by serving customers in the old fashioned way. There was a very homely feel and everyone who stopped to make a purchase started talking to each other like old friends even though they’d never met.

I had such a nice time hearing about the farm’s history and I felt like I was back in Italy enjoying the trademark warmth and hospitality that flows effortlessly. I could have stayed and prepared lunch for everyone to eat under the big Mulberry tree (another one of my favourite fruits) that offers shady relief from the midday sun.

It has been my dream for a long time to one day cook for my own family and have Sunday lunch in a big backyard with a long wooden table spread with homemade food. I pictured it just standing on the farm today, kids screaming with laughter while family and friends are enjoying a glass of wine and discussions over a meal made with love.

I know why these feelings were stirred today – the farm is maintained with love too and I could sense it in the air and the way the family spoke about their produce and products. It’s people with this kind of passion that I love to buy produce from. It’s not just food, it has a story behind it and I feel so privileged to be able to buy directly from a farm like this. With the busy lifestyles we lead, we often rely on the convenience of supermarkets but I always have much more appreciation for my food when I see first hand the work that has gone into the end product.

Of course I came away with a tray of figs and some products that Rocco’s mum makes including chocolate coated figs, fig and nut wraps (you can purchase them from Grower 2 U) and also prickly pears (I’ll be sharing another post about these). If you love figs then I highly recommend visiting Leppington Valley Farm

Fruitful Eating

27 Dec

It’s so easy, especially during the Christmas and new year holiday period, to eat without putting much attention on the experience. I have often finished eating something and wondered why I ate so much or why I chose to eat something I didn’t really feel like in the first place. But when I make a conscious decision to slow down and engage my senses, the entire experience changes from a basic instinct to fuel and nourish my body, to an intriguing and sensual journey.

For example, I had some beautiful, ripe cherries yesterday and after eating a few, I stopped and put all my attention on the next cherry. I held the plump cherry by it’s stem and dangled it in front of my lips. I felt it’s cool, moist, smooth skin as it passed my teeth and landed on my tongue. I felt it’s weight as it rolled around in my mouth warming up to body temperature and as my teeth slowly pressed down, the crimson coloured skin burst open releasing a stream of sweet juice and flesh. Finally, I was left with the seed coated in a fine layer of fruit. It was the best cherry I’ve ever eaten!

I had a mango this morning and one of my favourite ways to savour this exotic fruit is to simply eat it out of the skin leaning over the sink as the juices run down my hands. It doesn’t taste the same cut into little cubes and served in a bowl with a fork. I bite into the juicy flesh and scrape every last bit of the cheeks off with my teeth and then make my way to the seed which always leaves fibres behind for flossing!

After watching Eat Pray Love (for the sixth time) a few days ago, the scene where Liz is indulging in a plate of spaghetti, stirred memories. I remember eating a plate of spaghetti in Rome a few years ago with my mum and it was one of the best meals of our lives. It was a simple dish and if I ate it now there would probably be many meals I could recall as being far more attractive and flavourful. The reason it was so amazing was because we were in Italy after dreaming about it for years and we were sharing the moment together.

Have you ever taken time out to slow down and really experience the smell, taste, textures, sounds, colours, temperatures and shapes of your food? Do you know what a blueberry looks like inside? Try peeling off the skin or delicately biting it in half to see what it looks like up close. Does it taste different after spending time up close and personal? Have you noticed how a cashew nut turns from hard and crunchy to creamy with eat bite? How about the difference between a tomato that has been in cold storage at a supermarket to one that was grown without pesticides and picked straight from the plant?

(These tomatoes and chillies have been freshly picked from mum’s garden)

Now try a tomato with a sprinkle of sea salt or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Do you have a new appreciation for these simple seasonings that are often taken for granted? 

If you’re a chilli lover like me, have you noticed the sensations in your mouth as the burning spreads across your tongue from mild to intense depending on how hot the seeds are? Is your face heating up as well. Is it painful or pleasurable or a combination of both? Does it make you feel excited and alive? Do you have an urge to push yourself further and try something even more intense with your next meal? Can you detect any flavour from the chillies you’re eating or are they so hot that your senses are overwhelmed?

(I drew a few sketches of chillies, mango and cherries for this post)

I invite you to take just a few minutes to really be with your food and notice if your relationship with it changes. The aim is not to label anything as positive or negative, simply open up to being curious and see where it takes you.

Buon appetito, bon appétit, buen provecho!

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shanks with Fragrant Turmeric Couscous

20 May

This recipe is incredibly easy to make yet it bursts with flavour and is a delight to the senses, visually and texturally. The deep, rich, spicy melt-in-your-mouth lamb is a perfect match with the slightly sweet, refreshingly tangy and occasionally crunchy, fragrant couscous. Try to pack all the elements into one mouthful and you’ll see what I mean when the pomegranate seeds pop!

My tastebuds are on an amazing journey as I eat my way through the David Bitton range of gourmet products. For more recipes and inspiration, don’t forget to bid on the David Bitton A French Inspired Cafe Cookbook gift pack to help raise money for OzHarvest!

4 lamb shanks

1 medium onion diced

David Bitton Moroccan Spice

Extra virgin olive oil

Water

Natural yoghurt

Fry the lamb shanks on high heat in a deep saucepan with some olive oil until they become golden brown on all sides. Add the onion and fry until golden, stir through 3 heaped tablespoons of David Bitton Moroccan Spice and fry until fragrant.

Add enough water to loosen the paste so that it coats the lamb shanks. Stir well, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 2 hours with the lid on. Check occasionally, stir to prevent the paste sticking to the saucepan and add more water as needed. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt and couscous.

Pomegranate seeds

Fresh mint leaves

Sultanas

Pistachios

1/2 a heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder

1 cup of couscous

1 cup of water

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

Extra virgin olive oil

Pour the water into a saucepan, add the salt and turmeric and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir through the couscous and sultanas, cover with a lid and leave for 2 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Fluff up with a fork, add a splash of olive oil and more water if needed and return to a low heat. Stir with a fork to separate the grains.

Serve topped with pomegranate seeds, fresh mint leaves and pistachios.

My Article & Spanish Omelette Recipe In Living Now Magazine

19 May

My latest article ‘Waiting On My Family’ is out now in the Living Now Magazine wellness ebook. Simply visit the Living Now website, select the wellness ebook, enter your details and it will be sent straight to your inbox! I’m very excited about my image making it onto the front cover again and if you look closely next to the white bowl, you will see my cat Truffles posing in the background. 

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