Beetroot Hummus

beetroot hummus

Why change a traditional recipe that works so well and that tastes so delicious? You might be asking yourself that as you read the title of this recipe and I would understand. As a hummus lover myself, I just feel that the more hummus there is in the world, the happier a place it will be. I love hummus spiced with harissa, or with roasted garlic, but this variation with beetroot is so so delicious! The beautiful, vibrant pink colour provides instant happiness. It tastes heavenly with the subtle sweetness from the beetroot. It’s the perfect thing to keep in the fridge as a healthy snack, it goes nicely with celery sticks and crackers but is also amazing on toast with some avocado and sprinkled with chilli flakes. Enjoy :)

Beetroot Hummus 2

Beetroot Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

  • 450g can beetroot, chopped roughly and drained
  • 400g canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 ½ garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (adjust according to your preference)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method:
Place the beetroot, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and cumin in the bowl of a food processor and whiz to a coarse paste. With the motor running, slowly add the oil through the feed tube until mixture is thick and smooth. Season well and serve. Store covered in the fridge.

Lemon Meringue Bars

lemon meringue bars

The hint of some sunshine again after bouts of moody, rainy weather gave me the inspiration for this summery, citrusy dessert. Everyone loves lemon meringue pie; it’s got the perfect mix of sour, tangy lemon and sweet meringue. So, I thought why not turn it into a bar and make this decadent treat a bit more fun! I have decided to go for an Italian meringue here because I love the cloudy, air-like billowiness of it, and of course the fact that it leaves you with the opportunity to use the blow-torch to finish it off. Of course, you don’t have to torch the meringue, it will still taste delicious, I just love the thrill of it. Being the glutton that I am I sliced these bars up into 12 portions, but that is not to say you couldn’t slice them into smaller pieces to feed more people. They are very rich and a few mouthfuls would be enough for most, but again, I am not most. Hope you enjoy :)

lemon meringue bars2

Lemon Meringue Bars

Base and filling adapted from Donna Hay

Makes 12 bars

base

  • 1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 cup (80g) desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups (300g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 200g unsalted butter, melted

lemon filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, extra
  • 2 cups (440g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • ⅓ cup (50g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup (250ml) lemon juice (about 3 medium lemons)

Italian meringue

  • 175 gm caster sugar
  • 2 eggwhites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 60ml water

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Place the sugar, coconut, flour and butter in a bowl and stir until combined and mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. You can also do this by popping everything in a food processor and pulsing it a few times.

Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base of a lightly greased 20 x 30cm slice tin lined with non-stick baking paper. It’s important to press the base right into the edges and corners of the tin so the lemon filling can’t escape down any gaps.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the lemon filling, place the eggs and extra egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the sugar, flour, lemon rind and lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Carefully pour the filling over the cooked base and bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Meanwhile, for Italian meringue, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until sugar dissolves and brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar particles. Increase heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 121C on a sugar thermometer (6-9 minutes). Meanwhile, when syrup reaches 110C, start whisking eggwhites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually pour hot syrup over eggwhites in a thin stream, whisking continuously until cooled, thick and glossy (10-12 minutes).

Remove cooled lemon slice from tin and cut into 12 pieces. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe swirls on top of each piece. Brown with a blowtorch (optional) and serve.

Banana and Walnut Bread

Banana Bread2

I feel like banana bread is half the reasons bananas exist. It makes you feel like it’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast because of all that fruit, when we all know deep down it’s more of a dessert but hey, points for trying right? It gives you the perfect reason to use those sad, possibly overripe bananas and turn them into a moist, delicious loaf (made even more delicious when slathered with lashings of butter). Plus, it’s so easy to make that you can get it all together and in the oven within 15 minutes and just sit back and relax while the beautiful banana aromas waft through the house.

This recipe isn’t overly sweet – so if you want to add another ½ cup of sugar be my guest. Also, the addition of walnuts isn’t obligatory, I just added them because I like the texture and crunch it gives the bread but you can replace them with chocolate chips or just omit them entirely. Enjoy :)

Banana Bread3

Banana Bread

Makes 8 to 10 slices

Ingredients:

  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, banana, spices and vanilla.
  3. Sift dry ingredients and add to wet mixture along with walnuts, being careful not to over mix (over mixing results in a tough cake).
  4. Pour the batter into a non-stick, or lightly greased and floured, 19 x 11cm loaf tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve in thick slices with butter.

Quinoa Minestrone

Minestrone Soup

Soup is the ultimate winter warmer. I love to make a big pot of this comfort food. While I love a smooth, silky, pureed soup, there’s something satisfying about the chunkiness of minestrone where you get to experience different textures. This soup has all the flavours synonymous of your typical minestrone, but instead of adding unnecessary carbs in the form of pasta, I’ve replaced it with quinoa which fills you up but not out :) You can freeze this in portions if you’re not ready to use it all at once and just defrost after a long day at the office. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead when gobble this up!

Quinoa Minestrone

Serves 6

Ingredients :

  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 2 zucchini, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 350g butternut pumpkin, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 50g English spinach, leaves only and sliced
  • ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 750ml vegetable stock
  • 250ml water
  • 400g diced canned tomato
  • 1tbs tomato paste
  • Chervil, to garnish
  • Chilli flakes, to garnish

Method:

  1. Fill a medium sized pot with water and place over a high heat and bring to the boil. While waiting for the water to come to the boil, prepare an ice bath. Core the tomatoes and using a pairing knife make a small ‘X’ slit on the base of the tomato. Place the tomatoes in the water for about 30 seconds or until you can see the tomato skin slit all the way up the tomato, then put straight into a water bath. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then peel the skins off the tomato and dice the flesh. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until softened and translucent. Add the stock, water, canned tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a simmer. Reduce the temperature to medium, add the quinoa, carrots, zucchini, parsnip, pumpkin and tomato and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked. Remove from the heat and stir through the spinach. Divide into bowls and sprinkle with chilli flakes and chervil to serve.

Persimmon, Pomegranate and Farro Salad

salad3

This salad came about because I was recently at Kitchen by Mike’s in Rosebery and I tried something similar. Regretfully, I didn’t take a photo on the day, so this salad is my recreation of what I can remember. Persimmon are the main feature in this salad and they are so delicious. I don’t eat them often, nor are they featured in menu items often but they should be. They have a delicate, sweet flavour which pairs beautifully with the tang of the pomegranate. The crunch from the nutty farro and walnuts rounds out the salad nicely. For people who are skeptical of eating salad as a main dish, make this for them. It’s packed with flavour, fills you up and there’s not a lettuce leaf in sight. Enjoy :)

salad 2

Persimmon, Pomegranate and Farro Salad

Serves 4 as a main or 6-8 as a side

 Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups farro, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 1 persimmon, finely sliced (mandolin is perfect)
  • Seeds of ½ pomegranate, juice reserved
  • 6 sprigs mint, leaves torn
  • 1 ½ tbs chopped chervil
  • 1 ¼ cups walnuts
  • 1 tbs maple syrup, plus 2 teaspoons
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Sea salt to season

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Scatter walnuts on tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Bake in the oven for about 4 minutes or until just golden. Set aside to cool.
  2. To make the dressing, use the reserved juice from the pomegranates and mix it in a small bowl with the olive oil, remaining maple syrup, lemon juice and zest and season with salt.
  3. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl with the walnuts and pour over the dressing. Taste for seasoning and serve.

*To get the seeds out of a pomegranate, cut the pomegranate in half. Over a bowl, hold the pomegranate in your hand with the cut side facing your palm and using the back of a spoon bang it against the pomegranate. The seeds will fall out and with it some juice. Your hand should act as a barrier so that the white pith doesn’t go in the bowl.

Spiced Chocolate Granola

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I try and whip up a batch of granola every week or two. It’s ridiculously easy to make and it ends up being a lot healthier and a lot cheaper to do it yourself. The store bought varieties are often laden with sugar and can cost $15 for one packet! There are countless combinations and variations to try for granola. This recipe is my go-to standby because I love the chocolatey hit of the cacao and the extra sweetness you get from the spices, which also provide a delicious aroma throughout the house while its baking. Feel free to play around with spices, different nuts and seeds though – whatever mix is your favourite really. You can also sweeten with honey or maple syrup if you can’t find rice malt syrup, I just like the flavour of the rice malt because it’s a bit milder than honey. Once you’ve baked the granola and cooled it, it should last about two weeks in a sealed jar, which makes deciding what to eat for breakfast super easy! Try this and let me know how you go :) Do you have any other granola combinations you love? Izzy

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Spiced Chocolate Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped natural almonds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup chopped cashews
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 1 tbs pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbs sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbs cacao nibs
  • ¾ cup natural oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbs rice malt syrup

Method:

Preheat oven to 200C. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine, making sure that the coconut oil and rice malt syrup evenly coat all the dry ingredients. Place the mix onto two trays lined with baking paper and spread evenly over the trays. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool, this will allow all the ingredients to crisp up and form clusters. Store in a sealed jar for up to two weeks. Serve with fresh berries, milk or yoghurt.

*N.B. To make this gluten free, omit the oats and add some extra nuts and seeds :)

The Best Mac and Cheese

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Mac and Cheese is my ultimate comfort food. Like, ULTIMATE. My nana first made this for me when I was little and she would always add bacon to her dish, hence why I have to have it in mine. I have made countless variations of this dish but this version here is seriously the best. It is everything you always hoped mac and cheese would be. It has a creamy, cheesy macaroni filling thanks to not one, not two, but three types of cheese. It’s scattered with little crunchy salty hits of bacon. You also get the subtle hint of the truffle oil, and then you have the topping, with even more bacon, more cheese and the super crunchy and delicious panko crumbs. This is a hangover cure in food form. It’s also the best dish to make when you’re feeling a bit sloth-like, you want to stay in your pyjamas all day and you are definitely not expecting visitors, because while this creamy delight can seemingly serve 4 people it can also serve one person straight from this dish. Let’s be honest, when this is the sort of food you’re craving you don’t care who’s judging you.

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The Best Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 300g rindless bacon, roughly diced
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs

Cheesy Béchamel Sauce:

  • 3 tsp truffle oil
  • 2 heaped tbs plain flour
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • ½ cup gruyere cheese
  • ½ cups vintage cheddar
  • ¾ cup good quality parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method

Bring a medium sized pot of water to the boil. Once boiled, add the macaroni and cook about a minute less than the packet instructions suggest as it will cook further in the oven later.

Heat a medium sized fry pan with the olive oil, and then add the bacon. Cook the bacon until cooked through and well coloured.

For the béchamel sauce, place the butter and flour in a medium sized pot over a medium-high heat and cook for about 2 minutes, so that the flour cooks out (this is called a roux). Add a little bit of the milk and using a whisk, beat it quickly and well so that there are no lumps, then add the rest of the milk still beating quickly. Keep stirring the mixture until it starts to thicken, this can take up to ten minutes. Once the mixture has boiled, coats the back of a spoon and is thick, add the gruyere, cheddar, ½ cup of the parmesan, truffle oil and season well, then take off heat.

Add the cooked macaroni and half the bacon to the béchamel mixture and mix through. Check again to see if it needs more seasoning. Pour the mixture into a 1.5 litre baking dish, then sprinkle over the remaining bacon and parmesan and then top with the panko crumbs. Place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the panko crumbs are nice and golden. Serve straight away.