Hello 2015!

Hello 2015!

I hope you’ve had a brilliant tasty start to the new year. I hope you partied hard, rested, celebrated with loved ones and ate much delicious food.

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It’s been (quietly) busy here as we begin the inevitable pack up of our home.

My little sister was in town and she was a superstar in helping me to pack. We came across many forgotten memories speaking of which, look at these happy kids!

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(You’ll be pleased to know my gap tooth got sorted with a ton of orthodontics, whew!)

It makes me look forward to creating great memories like this with my own little one soon, (3 months & counting now.) Third Trimester, here we come!

Moving is definitely a big enough change in itself. Yet to be moving cities & interstate and birth hospitals too… Let’s just say there’s a lot of paperwork! ;)

I still look forward to a fresh start though, which is exactly what the new year is about!

To make this year even sweeter…..

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…We got engaged!

I met the love of my life eight years ago and I feel so blessed to still be continuing the journey today.

I met you dear readers three years ago and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my stories, the journey & most importantly the food in 2015!

Speaking of food, here’s my take on the New Power Lunch, (aka) a tasty, yet simple Rice & Lentil pilaf.

Though it mightn’t be a #foodporn alert, I guarantee it’s still mighty tasty #food!

Rice & Lentil pilaf.
Serves 1, (20-25mins)

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Ingredients:
1/3 cup basmati rice
1/3 cup pre soaked Puy lentils (or used canned)
1/3 cup water
1-2 tbsp butter
1/4 brown onion diced
1 clove garlic
1 whole egg
Salt & pepper to taste.
Greens to garnish, I’ve used coriander

Method:

Melt the butter in a medium pot, over a medium heat.

Add the diced onion, along with a generous pinch of salt

Add the basmati rice, garlic clove

Sauté until fragrant.

Tip in the lentils & the 1/3 cup of water.

Cover pot with a lid and cook for 15 mins over a medium heat.

Set rice aside and cover with a tea towel to rest.

Pan fry the egg until golden & crispy.

Fluff pilaf rice with a fork, season to taste with salt & pepper.

Serve egg on top, with the greens for garnish & (devour!)

Casarecce pasta recipe for Barilla

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Sometimes we just need a quick & easy meal.

This tasty Casarecce pasta recipe for Barilla, is filled with Mushrooms & Pine nuts. Also made extra delicious with these Parmesan crisps! Luckily, it’s a great pantry meal too.

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Nothing says comfort me more, than a bowl of beautiful Pasta.

None more so, than the delicious range of pasta from Barilla Australia

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Opening my goodie hamper, I’m struck by the incredible variety of delicious options & possibilities. Looking at this array, I can feel my inner carboholic kicking in.

At the end of a busy week, pasta is such a perfect solution to a easy night in.

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So what makes this particular Casarecce Siciliane Pasta, dish, special to me?

Feeding my inner mushroom lover, I love my pasta with some butter, good olive oil and more goodness. This time round, with the addition of toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley & some parmesan crisps.

The textures of silky mushrooms contrast so delicately, with the al dente goodness of the Casarecce.

It’s so simple & nourishing.

What’s your favourite Pasta night stand-by meal? Leave a comment below!

Casarecce Pasta with Mushrooms & Pine nuts:

Ingredients:

500g Barilla Casarecce pasta

500g Mushrooms assorted, button, enoki & shimeji

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese-

Clove of garlic-chopped

Olive oil

Butter-50g

Salt & pepper to taste,

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Garnish

100g Toasted Pine nuts.

Handful chopped Parsley,

Parmesan wafer-

Preheat oven to 220C/428F,

Sprinkle the parmesan evenly onto a clean baking sheet.

Bake in oven & check after 3 mins.

If the cheese has bubbled, turn off the oven & leave wafer inside to dry out.

Method:

Prepare Pasta & set aside,

Clean & chop the assorted mushrooms,

Roughly chop the garlic clove,

In a hot pan, saute the mushrooms in a generous knob of butter & olive oil.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute, or until fragrant

Season mushrooms well and toss with the Casarecce Pasta

Garnish with the pine nuts, parsley and finish with the parmesan crisps, Just before serving.

Bon Appetito!

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Disclaimer:

The Products showcased in this post were provided by Barilla Australia. Further details regarding this blog’s disclosure policy, can be found here.

Smashed Pea Crostini Recipe.

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Wholesome Bread, sliced.

Smashed Pea Crostini. I love it.

Fact: There are a variety of foods which always make an appearance on my foodie playlist. 1) Tin tomatoes. 2) Eggs. 3) Rice…and so on.

Frozen peas are on that playlist too. By playlist, I of course mean pantry list. Don’t you think playlist sounds so much better though!

I love beans on toast and I love beans in things; so I liken this version of crostini to a fresh light & zesty version of “greeny things on Toast.”

Only so much lighter, quicker and better for you… err yes, on my not so guilty days when I didn’t eat cake for lunch…. #foodblogger problems.

There have been a variety of no bake, no cook days recently. Sad to say and I know, this is a cooking blog.

Nonetheless sometimes there are just those days or weeks, or months, (you know exactly what I mean.) They’re the days when you have to drag yourself off to that next thing you have to do & a 10 minute quick fix lunch is all you have time for, aka what you need.

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Smashed Pea Crostini

Got a little more time? Then take this topping to the next level, or this Pea Pesto. It’s the best!  

It too can be made so very quickly and tastes damn fine with pasta, or runny eggs, *sigh.*

Is there no dish that can’t be elevated to rock star status, with a good runny egg! Sometimes you might like it cheesey, (parmesan, feta, brilliant!) Some days, you might want to go nuts! You decide.

Whatever the outcome, save those extra minutes in cooking time. Enjoy that time out of the kitchen and give yourself permission to say “Yes!” Sometimes it’s okay to just eat peas, but if you’re going to do it.

Do it with Style!

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Up close & personal, Smashed Pea Crostini

Ingredients:
Sliced Bread, toasted
1 cup of frozen peas
Freshly boiled water, to cover peas
Lemon zest & juice
Parmesan cheese (optional.)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

More delicious ideas for Crostini to be found here. Happy Cooking & Brunching.

Brunch crostini platter & frenzy free weekends!

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Happy Weekend everyone! Woke up this morning full of energy. A perfectly sunny day with not much to do. By this I mean no more moving, no cleaning or tidy ups of the old apartment and no boxes left to unpack hurrah!

So it’s time for a few favourite tunes in the background, a strong cup of tea and a cook-a-thon! To kick off a few of the recipe ideas in my head, I’ve decided on something quick and frenzy free for breakky today!

Even better, there are a few ingredients here which you probably already enjoy, but perhaps not in this combination. I’m hopeful that you’ll get to try these crostini soon and revel in these simple yet tasty flavours.

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Crostini:
You’ll need some olive oil and a nice crusty bread (or sourdough) for the crostini,

Drizzle the bread with olive oil before grilling or toasting, be as frugal or generous as you like. Toast until ultra crisp and golden brown, the firmer the better as it will hold the toppings without getting too soggy later on.

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1) Homemade Za’atar, greek yoghurt & olive oil crostini,

My version of the Home made za’atar mix includes Coriander seeds, Fennel seeds, Caraway seeds and Sesame seeds. Along with some good quality sea salt and cracked pepper you’ve got a pretty close substitute. Optional You can smash up the za’atar mix in a mortle & pestle or use as is, hint I find rubbing the mixture in a brown paper bag helps to release those aromas and break up the bigger spices.

Spread the Greek yoghurt generously onto the crostini and sprinkle lightly with the Za’atar mix and a drizzle of olive oil.

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2) Smashed peas with lemon zest & Fetta crostini,

Take a handful of frozen peas blanched in hot water and drained. Add some salt & pepper, mix in and using a fork, mash with some grated lemon zest. Lastly spread on the crostini and serve with the crumbled Fetta.

3) Glorious fluffy clouds of Ricotta spread thick on the crostini, topped with a generous drizzle of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Hopefully all breakfast cravings have been cured…till next time!

A recipe for Ribollita, alongside some Pretty things and lovely moments…

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Ever have those dulls days when you visit the postbox only to discover with glee, a surprise parcel!!!

It was one of those day and I got somewhat excited to see my belated present from my little sister after her travels abroad to Europe, (Rome, Turkey, London, anyone…?)

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I love a good souvenir…Better yet when it comes via someone else. It’s like having a little bit of their holiday in your hand!

Confession, I have a passion for vintage-esque tea towels and as you can see below, I’m now the proud recipient of many others too,

Queue happy dance!

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Of the other pretty things decorating the Giaff home at this time, is a gorgeous Paris Metro clock, (in a ring-top pull can no less) and this current favourite read by Skye Gyngell formorly of Petersham Nurseries

It’s all about healthy food…it’s about simple food and it’s about comfort food… I heart Skye Gyngell.

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Ribollita, (adapted from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell)

Adapted from one of my new favourite reads, is this beautiful Tuscan bean stew which is perfect for the in between weather days, we’re currently experiencing in Australia. Not quite warm, not quite hot, it heralds the soon-to-be arrival of spring.

Time: 1hr 45 mins (resting time if preferred)

Ingredients:
1 cup or thereabouts of white beans soaked overnight, (the original recipe suggests cannelloni beans, but I’ve substituted for something similar,)
3L of water or thereabouts,
3 tbsp of olive oil,
1/2 leek chopped (originally calls for 2 onions, use whichever you prefer. I love leeks and just happened to have half in the fridge.)
1 dried red chilli crumbled,
2 celery sticks, chopped roughly,
2 carrots, peeled and also chopped,
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & smashed.
Small bunch of sage, (this is heavenly…whatever else you sub, don’t skip the sage!)
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
Day old bread for soaking up the soup, (farro is suggested in the original recipe, alternatively pasta, Fregola or barley would work well. I’ve simply used the day old bread here.)
400g tinned tomatoes,
1 bunch Cavalo Nero Chopped,
Salt & Pepper to season,

Extra virgin olive oil to serve, best quality you can find and some toasted pine nuts & freshly grated parmesan (a nice little addition I’m adding to mine)

You’ll also need a large 3L pot, a chopping board, knife, vegetable peelers and serving bowls of course.

Method:

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Soak the white beans overnight in some boiling water, I’ve used just over a cup. Heat the olive oil over a low heat in the soup pot. Add the chopped leeks, chilli and a decent pinch of salt. Sweat gently to release the aromas.

Add the chopped celery, carrot, garlic, potatoes, & sage. You may also add the Fargo or Fregola, or Bread at this stage is using too. Sauté everything for a few minutes and then add the tinned tomatoes, cover and simmer for 20 mins.

Stir in the cooked beans and add some boiling water, approx 1L. Cook until the vegetables soften and switch off the heat. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste and add the Cavalo Nero. (In the original recipe the Cavolo Nero is added just after the water, I wanted to keep some freshness of the greens so I added it in raw the very latter stages.)

Ideally you could leave the soup to cool completely and allow the flavours to infuse (as suggested by Gyngell in her book,) 

Before serving, reheat gently with some generous lashings of olive oil and serve soaked with the bread and (my addition) of some toasted Pinenuts & grated Parmesan too.

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Eat your greens!

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Today is a Springlike day! It’s the kind of day which reminds me of warmer weather, fresh produce and bright, fresh greens. Silverbeet to be exact. There’s something quite wonderful about walking home from the shops with a large bouquet of fresh greens tucked under your arm…Like you’ve been off to a fabulous market, half way around the world…(daydreamer...)

Now that my practical tests, theory papers and assignments are handed in at shcool, there’s going to be a lot more kitchen loving going on.

Better yet, when the sun is shining and those spring days keep warming up, I feel inspired to potter about, throw open those windows, put my favourite Sunday morning music on and cook something fantastic! Let us, eat our greens. Those Plentiful, leafy &wonderful greens.

Read on for Filo Scrolls, with Silverbeet, Fetta & Pinenuts!

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This looks deceptive in the fact that those flaky layers of pastry look so golden tucked amongst rounds of the tin. If you can use a pastry brush, you can assemble this scroll! If you can boil water, you can make the filling! If you can use a grater, you’re half way there, Happy Cooking!!!

I like to add sultanas for a sweet and salty flavour, the fruit mingles with the Fetta and rounds out the flavour. If the thought of adding sultanas (raisins) and Fetta to your Silverbeet pie freaks you out! don’t worry and simply omit them.

But hey if you’re feeling daring…

Time: 45mins.

3/4 bunch silverbeet
40g (small packet) of sultanas (raisins)
200g Fetta cheese,
Couple cloves of grated garlic
Salt & pepper to season,
1 whole egg,
Filo pastry sheets,
Clarified Butter for the Filo sheets -appox 125g (I melted mine in the microwave to save time and left the milk solids at the bottom of the jug)

Some suitable vegan substitutions would be firm tofu for the Fetta. Some egg replacer for the whole egg and some melted vegan margarine, or olive oil for basting the Filo sheets.

You’ll need a chopping board, mixing bowl, knife and round baking tin (I’ve used a 20cm cake tin) and a pastry brush. A kettle for some hot water, a sieve/colander and lastly a clean tea towel to lay over the Filo pastry too,

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Method:

Preheat oven 140-150C (284F.) Grease the circular tin with some of the butter and set aside.

Wash the silver beet and finely shred the leaves and stalks, I used 3/4 of a bunch to get enough to fill my mixing bowl.

Blanch the silverbeet in hot water and squeeze out the excess liquid over a sieve or colander.

In the mixing bowl, place the blanched greens and grate the garlic into the bowl.

Add the sultanas, pine nuts and crumble the Fetta in to the bowl. Season with some salt, pepper and add the whole egg. (be wary of how much salt you use as the Fetta is also salty.) Set the mixture aside.

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Lay out the Filo pastry and place a clean tea towel over the top (to prevent the Filo sheets from drying out)

Using two sheets at a time, butter the sheets with the pastry brush and clarified butter and lay the silverbeet & Fetta mix width ways. Roll up the Filo sheet into a cigar shape and tuck into the pre-greased baking tin,

Repeat until all the mixture is used up or the tin is filled. Brush the top generously with butter and bake for 20-25 mins or until the top is golden brown and crisp.

Once I’ve turned off the oven, I like to put a wooden spoon in the oven door and leave it ajar for about 20 mins. I find the excess steam is forced out of the pastry, the bottom firms up (ie, no soggy bottoms :)) and the top is super crunchy.

You could serve this silver beet & Fetta pie with some lemon wedges or plain yogurt but I like a slice on its own, with a cup of tea and not much else!

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Spicy Yellow Cauliflower Love…

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Confession, I profess to quite a bit of veggie love at the moment. I’m not sure what’s going on, but at our local supermarket and markets there’s been such an array of brightly colored heirloom veggies, that I’ve pretty much vowed to cook with every odd thing I find.

This might be to the behest of my sweetheart who doesn’t necessarily feel the same way about purple pickled cauliflower, as I do.

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So, when I saw this beautiful yellow cauliflower, I immediately began to wrack my brain and think of how to highlight & complement the incredible sunshine yellow of those florets. Sadly my first offer to make canary yellow Cauliflower & Cheese, was met by a little apprehension but I can now tell you that the final solution I came up with was a definite hit.

Spicy Yellow Cauliflower Fritters, tinged with Saffron, Curry Powder and a whole lotta crunchy bits. They’re tasty, very moreish and bound to get a lot of action in your recipe repertoire once you take that first bite!

Time: 35 mins

Ingredients:
Yellow cauliflower head, small
Saffron threads soaked in water
1 & 1/2 tbsp of curry powder, extra to dust later on,
1/2 tsp Crushed coriander seeds, , all spice
3/4 cup mix of cornflour/plain flour,
4 x egg whites,
Good pinch of salt for seasoning
1 sliced onion,
Splash of milk,
Vegetable oil to fry,

To serve, chopped coriander and chili *optional* & perhaps some yoghurt too, I served mine with a squeeze of lemon.

You’ll also need a mixing bowl, whisk, tongs, mortar & pestle, or bottom of a strong jar (to crush the coriander seeds) chopping boards, knives etc, small pot for frying etc and paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Method:

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Measure out the flour and set aside. Chop the onion into rough slices and the cauliflower into small florets. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, add the saffron and spices into egg white mixture and lastly add the flour.

Next step, add the florets & sliced onion and fold into the egg whites, (don’t worry if there are lumpy bits because later they’ll become crunchy bits.) Season the batter, with some salt & pepper. Fry each until golden brown, drain on paper towel

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Optional: serve with chilli and coriander, a dusting of curry powder and a side of lemon cheeks.

Eat the Rainbow!

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Eat the rainbow, fresh and vibrant hue’s of veg to keep you happy!

Just a bit of veggie love today. Here are some of my favourite ways with veg, some of which you’ll be familiar, others which you might not. I’ll admit that not every meal is perfectly balanced in the giaff household but I will promise that I’m constantly looking for new & varied ways for us to enjoy bucket loads of veg!

Either way, I love these fresh and vibrant greens, pinks & purples. So let’s eat ourselves a rainbow today!

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pink radishes

1. Pink Radish carpaccio style.
I love radishes. I love them sliced thin and simply finished with salt, pepper and some lemon zest. No cook, no fuss and you get to practice those knife skills.

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pink radish carpaccio style

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Rocket & Almond Pesto

2. Vegan Rocket Pesto with almonds & lemon
Got a box of salad greens you want to use quickly! Blitz a few handfuls of rocket (or watercress or spinach.) Add a couple of garlic cloves, some salt and almonds. With a good glug of olive oil, squeeze of lemon and lemon zest, you have an instant topping for pasta,
some spuds or even roasted tommy’s!

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Purple Pickled Cauliflower

3. Overnight Cauliflower pickle,
I’ve found some amazing varieties of veggies of late, (purple carrots) and it seems Purple Cauliflower is the next giaff trend. A quick overnight pickle with some coriander seeds, peppercorns, some salt & sugar to taste. With one part vinegar and one part water to cover, the next day they look a lot more like this!

want to know more about these varieties, see Cauliflower on the wiki

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purple pickled cauliflower in brining solution

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Zesty Lemon, chilli & garlic

4. Pack a punch sauce,
Not a true peri-peri or a Chimichurra, simply a few basic ingredients which pack a punch. You already know I’m a chilli fiend, you probably know I’m a bit in love with coriander. With the addition of lemon zest, bucket loads of garlic and some olive oil, I have a sauce which can be used on most seafood, red meats, chicken. I might even toss it through hokkien noodles with fried eggs (Chinese style)

It’s not really a secret ingredient, just good cooking!

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zesty sauce with coriander

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tomatoes

5. Roasted Tomatoes
I just had to include these favourites. Oven roasted tommy’s with a bit of salt, pepper and a teeny bit of sugar. There’s nothing nicer than the sweet taste of good tomatoes, standard yes…boring, never!

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roasted tomatoes