Monthly Archives: October 2012

Quinoa and Pumpkin Salad (or: Summer’s here. Let’s eat salad.)

Just a quick post because I instagrammed a picture of last night’s dinner and have never felt more popular with calls for the recipe. We weren’t planning on doing another goat’s cheese recipe so close on the other one but you have to give the people what they want.

This is a super simple salad but so tasty. Also, this basic concept has been changed numerous times depending on the season/what’s in the fridge/what looks good at the shops.

Quinoa & Pumpkin Salad

Serves 3 HUNGRY adults who enjoy eating as a main, would probably serve 4 or 5 less greedy adults as a main. Would serve MANY as a side.

  • 1/2 a butternut pumpkin, cubed
  • oil (I used vegie as we were out of olive oil)
  • paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, well rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp ‘chicken’ stock powder (Even though I eat meat now, I tend to use the Massel stocks which are animal free and the actual tastiest.) (I also know this is more stock than the side of the tin tells you to use. Sue me, I like things extra tasty.)
  • 2 cobs corn, sliced off the actual cob bit (or use a can’s worth. We aren’t fussy around here.)
  • spring onion (we used one because we were harvesting from our small spring onion crop in the garden. Use as much as you enjoy. Or sub in onion or leek.)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • a couple of sprigs of thyme
  • chèvre or goat’s cheese of your choosing

Preheat oven to 180C and start cutting the skin of your pumpkin and cubing it up. Place it in a roasting dish and glug some oil over it and then sprinkle it with as much paprika as you desire. Toss everything so it get all covered in the oil and paprika. If you feel like it, some honey on the pumpkin could also be a taste sensation. (I forgot to do this.) Pop this is the oven and roast until soft i.e. however long it take you to do the rest of things. Check on it occasionally but it will be pretty happy to do its own thing.

Rinse the quinoa. I put mine in a fine sieve and run it under water for a couple of minutes. I know other people rinse their again and again but I find that one rinse is enough. Put the rinsed quinoa, water and stock in a medium saucepan over high heat. When it starts to boil, turn it all the way down to low and put the lid on. Leave for approx 20 minutes. (Quinoa can be fickle and you’ll need to check it — with your mouth — to make sure it isn’t messing you around.) When most of the water has been absorbed, turn off the heat, leave the lid on and put to one side until the rest of your salad is ready.

CHECK YOUR PUMPKIN. You can probably turn it off about now but you might as well leave it in the oven so you have more bench space until you need it.

Heat a smidge of oil and butter in a small saucepan and sauté the spring onion, corn and thyme whilst you get to work on your asparagus. Break off the woody ends (literally snap it at the bottom; it knows where to break) and throw them away, chop off the leafy end bits and then slice the rest of the stalks. Put the leafy end bits and the sliced stalk in with the corn and cook for a couple of minutes.

Now to assemble:

Find yourself a large bowl. If you are at our house, this is difficult as the usual one is full of lollies for trick or treaters tonight.

Put the quinoa and pumpkin in the bowl and mix the pumpkin through. It’ll break up as you do this so there with be some nice chunks of pumpkin but also smooshy pumpkin through the whole thing. Pour in your corn and stuff and mix that thorough.

Crumble as much chèvre as you desire on top.

Eat with abandon.

(Look, if you roasted some almonds and then chopped them roughly and sprinkled them over the top, I would totally be into that. In fact, see you at your place for dinner.)

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Goats Cheese Pastries (Or: cheese makes everything better, so three cheeses must mean excellence)

Cheese is delicious, and pastry makes everything better. I don’t need to convince you of this. So without further ado, recipe time!

Goats Cheese Pastries

Time: 10 minutes prep, 20 minutes cooking

Yield: nibbles for 10 as part of a spread

4 sheets puff pastry (store bought, or knock yourself out and make your own)
150 gms goats cheese
50 gms parmesan (grated)
50 gms cheddar (grated)
4 teaspoons of honey
2 tbsp chives (chopped in short lengths)
1 tbsp thyme (finely chopped, woody stalks removed)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 egg

Line two baking trays with baking paper. Preheat oven to 220C.

Prepping the pastry

Lay your four squares of pastry out on the bench while you prep the filling. Spread 1 tsp of honey onto each sheet, spread to the edge.

Cheese filling

In a small bowl, break the goats cheese up into smaller chunks, add parmesan and cheddar and pop in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds.

Remove from microwave and add paprika, garlic, salt and pepper, chives and thyme. Mix really well, making sure the herbs are evenly through the mixture.

Assemble

Divide the cheese mixture between two of the sheets of pastry. Spread out to 1 cm before the edge.

Take each of the two sheets of pastry with only honey on them, and place one on top of each cheese covered sheet. Push down firmly and evenly to make a kind of pastry sandwich. Pop in the fridge for 10 minutes or so if you have time.

Egg wash

In a small bowl (I used the cheese mixture bowl, and I didn’t even wash it out – REBEL), whisk the egg with a little salt and pepper until the yolk and white are all combined.

For straws

Using one of the pastry “sandwiches”, take a sharp knife and cut long strips about 1 cm wide. hold firmly at the top and bottom of the strip and twist, being careful to keep the mixture between the sheets of pastry as you twist.

Lay twisted pastry onto baking sheet pressing each end down onto the tray slightly (to stop them from untwisting). Leave at least 1 cm between each stick and using a pastry brush, cover with egg wash. Repeat until the tray is full, bake in 220C oven for 15 – 20 minutes, keeping an eye on them. When they are golden brown and crisp, remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.

For scrolls

With the other pastry sandwich, cover the top with egg wash using your pastry brush. Starting with the side closest to you, roll away from yourself, gently keeping the roll quite tight. press the end down firmly. Place roll in fridge for 15 minutes to firm up if you have time, or live life on the edge and cut it into 1 cm thick slices and lay flat on the other baking tray. Leave about 2 cms between each round to allow for puffing. Repeat until the tray is full, bake in 220C oven for 15 – 20 minutes, keeping an eye on them. When they are golden brown and crisp, remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.

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Review: Pearl Oyster, Preston (Or: the day that S-J had two breakfasts. For the good of the blog! Honest! Part Two.)

And here is the thrilling conclusion to me eating two breakfasts!

So, post-Lowlands, I immediately toddled off down the road to Pearl Oyster. It is safe to say that Pearl Oyster is our local. I would say, on average, I drop in at least once a week and Esther and Arty are probably there more than that. I have explored that menu thoroughly and I reckon I could offer a fairly elaborate review of all of them.

However, this day I did try something I had never had before. Behold the Date and Walnut Loaf!

Delicious Loaf. (With some sort of orange flavoured creamy spread.) (I’m a details person, obviously.)

Now in what is another example of truly dreadful blogging practice, I cannot remember if it was a mascarpone-based spread or a ricotta. It was orangey and complimented the loaf perfectly.

I don’t often go the sweet breakfast but this was an excellent choice as it wasn’t too sweet but was very satisfying. (In case you were wondering: my recommendation for savoury breakfast is the Sambal Omelette with Smoked Tofu.)

I could tell you more about the wonders of Pearl Oyster but I’d say the proof is in the eating i.e. I am there all the time.

Pearl Oyster

114 Miller Street, Preston

Open 7 Days, Mondays are meat-free

Breakfasts average about $16

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Apple and Cherry Crumble

Apples and cherries should just get married, they’re so perfect together. I enjoy eating this crumble so much, and have been making it fairly regularly through Winter and into Spring. It is friendly to variations like subbing out either of the fruits for apricots/blueberries/rhubarb (with extra sugar)/plums/peaches but the cherry and apple combo is my favourite.

You can leave the apple peel on if you like (as I’ve done here), but if you’re being fancy, or like me you enjoy it when the fruit collapses all willy-nilly into itself, then peeling the apples is your best bet.

Apple and Cherry Crumble

Time: 20 mins prep, plus 35 cooking time
Yield: Serves 4 – 6 with cream/icecream

1 kg apples (I like Granny Smith’s)
500g box  frozen cherries (or about 700 grams of fresh cherries, which you’ll need to pit)
1 lemon (or 1 tsp lemon juice)
3 tbsps brown sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tablespoon cornflour

for the crumble topping:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
100gms butter, cubed

Do ahead

Grab a large pie dish, using one of the cubes of butter, rub all over the inside of the pie dish and lick your buttery fingers.

Preheat your oven to 190C (fan forced)

Prep the fruit

In a small bowl mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cornflour, using a fork to break up any lumps.

Peel, core and chop the apples into about a 1 inch dice (or the size of your cherries). Squeeze half of the lemon over the apples to stop them from browning.

If you are using fresh cherries, wash and pit them. If you are using frozen cherries, give each of them a quick squeeze as you drop them into the bowl to make sure the pit has been removed.

In a large bowl, combine the lemony apples, cherries, and the sugary spiced mixture. Using your hands, mix gently to coat the fruit.

Pour the fruit ino the buttered pie dish. Push it down so that there is a small lip around the edge for the crumble to sit in and then you really want the fruit to sit up above the lip  a little in the middle, so mound it up, as it will collapse a bit during cooking.

I was trying to be fancy and cut the fruit into thin slices, don’t be like me, it went to mush. Boo.

Making the Crumble

Add the flour, sugars, cinnamon and butter to a bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until you have a sort of rubble texture.

Carefully pour/plop/pat this on top of the fruit mixture. Pat down firmly.

Set pie dish on a tray/cookie sheet covered in baking paper and put into the middle of your preheated over for 25 – 40 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, remove the crumble from the oven, break the topping up a little and then place back into the oven (this lets ALL of the crumble bits have a chance to brown).

Serve with cream or icecream.

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Review: Lowlands, Thornbury (Or: the day that S-J had two breakfasts. For the good of the blog! Honest! Part One.)

A couple of weeks ago, I set up a breakfast date with my friend Steph (more on that in a later post). Little did I know, my lady friend was setting up a breakfast date with another friend. Instead of missing out on one, I decided that it was my blogging duty to have two breakfasts. I did it for you!

Breakfast one was at Lowlands, one of our local cafes, that we go to semi-regularly. It is a lovely space but my favourite spot is outside in the garden — it is light, airy and there is plenty of space. We’ve sat out there in the rain and cold before and felt very cosy (but quite guilty about the staff coming out to visit us).

I had “two baked eggs on creamy leek and fennel with apple cider chorizo” and it was delicious. Let’s face it – in my opinion the chorizo was the star of the show. The eggs were a bit too creamy for what I felt like and that is totally on me. It is right there on the menu! What was I thinking? That said, the fennel flavour was excellent and not too overwhelming.

Something that I really appreciate about Lowlands is that the serving sizes are sensible. So sensible that I could totally have another breakfast.

 

 

 

 

 
 This picture, however, makes me look like a liar but this was also sensibly sized!

Esther had the “french toast with whipped ricotta, candied pistachios and sour cherry compote” and says that it was delicious and that our 8 month old also enjoyed the cherries.

The only thing that isn’t to my taste at Lowlands is the element of coffee snobbery. I enjoy the coffee, it is very tasty, I don’t need the history of each individual bean. I know, however, that some people are into that so if you like single origin cold-drip so on so on, Lowlands can do that for you. They also do a good trade in tea snobbery too.

In conclusion, Lowlands = totally worth your time! Decent amount of vego and vegan options! Great coffee! Walkable from my house!

Lowlands

923 High Street, Thornbury

Open 7 Days, 8am – 4pm (kitchen closes at 3pm)

Breakfasts average about $15

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Fancy French Toast (Or: Remember that time we made challah and I froze some?)

Long time readers (like, since August), might remember the successful Challah making that took place at New Fat Ladies headquarters (there was dancing, and celebrating). I am only one person and could not quite manage to eat a whole loaf of delicious challah in one go, so I sliced up a few very serious sized slices and sealed them in zip lock bags and tossed them in the freezer ready for a future brunch adventure. That adventure turned out to be brown sugar-y french toast!

Fancy French Toast

Time: 20 minutes, 2 minutes bread prep the night before
Yield: 2 serves

5 – 6 thick slices of challah (or brioche, or any decent sturdy bread)

6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
butter (for frying)

2 large ripe bananas
Maple Syrup for drizzling (or, um, drowning in if you’re me)
1/2 cup whipped cream

Note: If your bread is frozen, leave it out to thaw overnight so it’s ready for the morning. If using fresh, slice and leave it out overnight so it gets slightly stale. French toast is always better when made with slightly stale bread.

In a dish that will comfortably fit half of your bread, use a fork to whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Lay 3 slices in the eggy mixture and leave for 3 – 5 minutes. Carefully turn slices over and soak the other side.

In a large frying pan, gently melt a knob of butter (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) until it bubbles a little. Drain the excess eggy mixture off and add the slices to pan. Fry over a medium/low heat until it is deep gold and caramelises a little, turn and do the same with the other side. Remove cooked bread to a plate to keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the other slices of bread.

Timing tip: When you remove the first batch of bread, add the remaining slices to the eggy mixture, turn those when you turn the ones frying.

Pile the bread up on a plate, cover with banana slices, a dollop of whipped cream and drizzle maple syrup all over the pile. Share with someone else if you like, or shovel it into your mouth until you explode. Your call.

I think you know which decision I made.

p.s. you’ll probably have leftover eggy mixture at the end, you can just discard it, or if you whisk in some flour and a little baking powder and a splash more milk to get it to pancake batter consistency, you can whip up a few pancakes and make a brunch buffet 😀

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