This weekend I road tripped up to Byron Bay for the Splendour in the Grass music festival. It was a weekend of fun, friends, sunshine and a lot of mud. The music was fantastic and it was hard to keep from smiling. The mix included all that is cool from pop, rock, hip-hop and indie. I got to see some of my favourite bands such as, The National, Mumford and Sons, MS MR and Boy & Bear, and they did not disappoint.
Because we were camping that meant we had to eat either the chips and lollies we’d stocked up on from the supermarket or what was on offer from the food stands, and after five days of festival food my body was craving something light and fresh. That is not to say the food at Splendour was bad, in fact the burgers, fries, tacos, gourmet hot dogs and pasta were all delicious but not exactly great for the figure.
Feeling bloated and heavy I decided to make my go-to salad. It’s got everyone’s favourite superfood quinoa, a nutty grain-like seed that absorbs other flavours superbly. But the real superstar here is the pomegranate. Opening up one of these beauties is like discovering a treasure chest full of gloriously rich-coloured jewels. The little ruby red beads burst in your mouth, punching with a simultaneously sweet and tangy flavour. Combine this with a sprinkling of dukkah, an Egyptian nut, seed and spice mix, and you have a flavour combination that really will delight the senses. I know that’s cheesy but sometimes there’s no way around it. Sorry.
The added crunch that comes from the fresh, crispy veggies adds a great textural element to the dish and the big, zesty flavours from the chilli and lemon vinaigrette don’t leave your taste buds lacking in the flavour department. A few more meals like this and hopefully my Splendour belly will subside a little.
Middle Eastern Pomegranate Quinoa Salad
Serves 6 as a main or 10 as a side
- 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
- 1 bunch coriander chopped
- 1 bunch mint chopped
- 1 bunch parsley chopped
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers, quartered lengthways and diced
- 1 red capsicum diced
- 2 celery sticks finely sliced
- 6 sprigs shallot finely sliced
- Seeds of 2 pomegranates
- 3 tbs dukkah*
- 1 small red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
- Salt to season
- Juice of two lemons
- Equal amounts of olive oil
- Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and season generously with salt.
- Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a jar and shake until mixed together.
- Pour over the salad and toss through.
*Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix that is available at most grocers and delicatessens.
The weather in Sydney has been playing hard to get these past few weeks. One minute the sun is poking its beaming head out from behind the clouds, the next a sudden downpour appears out of nowhere. This leaves you cursing to yourself on the street for not bringing the umbrella you glanced at but decided you wouldn’t need because you were running late. Inevitably you arrive to work looking like a drowned rat. I know, because sadly this was the predicament I found myself in a few days ago. Traipsing into the office a sodden mess, I rushed myself off to the bathroom to find the emergency hairdryer a.k.a the hand dryer and stood with my head bent down awkwardly trying to dry my disheveled mane. Thankfully, I was not spotted. But such a traumatic start to the day did leave me feeling a little defeated and by the time I came home I was in need of something comforting. And that is where these delicious brownies came to my rescue.
These brownies are little pieces of heaven and the addition of goat’s cheese and raspberries makes for a slightly more grown up version of this perennial crowd pleaser. Many people are under the impression that brownies are essentially small chocolate cakes but they are most certainly not. Brownies are supposed to be gooey and fudgy, not light and airy. This is achieved by using a small amount of flour and a rather large amount of dark chocolate and butter – although this shouldn’t warrant too many complaints from the lucky few who get to be taste-testers.
If the idea of goat’s cheese makes you a little apprehensive, please hold your judgment until after you’ve had your first bite. The sharp edge of the goat’s cheese is softened by a healthy addition of cream cheese and icing sugar, and this in turn helps to cut through the rich, decadent brownie.
The scent of these wafting over as you loll on the couch has a very soothing effect. I can attest to this because that is precisely what I was doing. Once the brownies are cooked and out of the oven, try and leave them until the following day as the flavours develop and marry well into one another. I say ‘try’ because sometimes such self-control is beyond us, in which case eating them straight out of the pan is always a good option too.
Raspberry and Goat’s Cheese Ripple Brownies:
For the brownies:
- 200g 70% dark chocolate
- 200g unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups raw caster sugar
- ¾ cup wholemeal plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the goats cheese ripple:
- 130g cream cheese
- 40g goats cheese
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- ½ cup raspberries (frozen is fine)
- Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and flour a square cake tin.
- Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Set aside and leave to cool down.
- In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy using an electric mixer.
- Sift over the flour and baking powder and stir until just combined.
- Add the chocolate mixture and gently fold through.
- Pour into cake tin.
- To make the goats cheese swirl topping mix all the ingredients together (except the raspberries) in a bowl. If the mixture looks a little thick, add some milk to make it easier to work with.
- Using a teaspoon place little dollops all over the top of the brownie batter.
- With a knife or skewer run the knife through the batter in a straight line (echo the lines you would make when cutting cooked brownies).
- Keep making lines through the batter until the goat’s cheese is swirled all over the top.
- Finally, scatter over the raspberries.
- Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes (you want them to be set but still soft in the centre, otherwise they will be dry).
- Leave in the pan for 15 minutes then invert onto a wooden board or drying rack to cool completely.