Beetroot Cured Salmon with Finger Lime, Horseradish Labna and Buckwheat Lavosh

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The last few months haven’t been easy for me. All of a sudden I had found myself in a completely new living environment, new job (that I didn’t really like), missing my mates and social life back in Newcastle, and feeling overall, a little bewildered at the huge changes. It was weird considering I find it so easy to travel to remote countries alone, meet new people and seek out new experiences. I think it was because I knew deep down that this is going to be my life for a good while now, not just a stepping stone to the next overseas adventure.
I’ve now come to realise that this IS a new adventure, it just doesn’t involve as many plane trips or passport stamps. I’m finally starting to gain the courage to admit what I really want. And I think this place may just help me to accomplish my goals.
With an open heart and mind I have now found myself in a new job, with beautiful, encouraging, and motivating people, who, after only one week, I feel so grateful to be a part of their business and excited for their future and mine.
I love the focus on local produce up here and the sense of sharing. Last Friday two people came in with gifts from their farms, including some beautiful finger limes. My mind immediately started racing with what I could do with them. Not surprisingly, after another 38 degree day, I firstly thought of an icy cold gin and tonic, topped with the little bursting finger lime vesicles and some juniper berries. After daydreaming about that for a while I then remembered this salmon dish that I made at Christmas, a recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver. The flavours worked perfectly together and I was also so happy with how the labna and lavosh turned out. It all looks very fancy and complicated but in fact is very easy, especially if you skip making your own lavosh and just buy some.
There were Hot Cross Buns in the supermarket the other day, so let’s just say I’m getting in here early with the perfect Easter recipe for you all.dsc_1454 dsc_1531 dsc_1537

Recipe

You will need to start this recipe 48hrs in advance

Serves 6 as an entree

Ingredients

Salmon

800g side salmon, pin boned, skin off

2 fresh beetroot, peeled and chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 lemons

3 juniper berries, bashed

5 tbs rock salt

2 tbs raw sugar

50ml gin

Labna

500g natural, thick greek yoghurt

1 tsp salt

1 clove garlic, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish

Buckwheat Lavosh

1 tbs raw sugar

100g buckwheat

300g plain flour

30g butter, cubed

1 tsp salt plus extra

2 tsp fennel seeds

150g water

2 egg whites

To serve

3 finger limes, vesicles removed

4 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced

Bunch baby radishes, finely sliced

Baby herbs

Method

Start the labna 48hrs prior to serving.

To make the labna, in a large bowl, combine the yoghurt, salt, garlic and horseradish and stir well to combine. Place in a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, over a large bowl. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together and twist to wrap the yoghurt tightly. Place 2 or 3 tins of beans (or whatever) on top and place in the fridge to set.

Start curing the salmon 24hrs prior to serving.

To cure the salmon, place all the ingredients, except the salmon, in a food processor and process until smooth.

Place the salmon in a baking dish and pour over the beetroot cure. Spread it evenly to coat both sides of the salmon.

Place a piece of baking paper over the salmon and tuck in snuggly around the salmon. Cover tightly with a double layer of cling wrap and place in the fridge for 24hours. No longer.

For the buckwheat lavosh, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius  and line 3 to 4 baking trays with baking paper.

Combine the flours, sugar, salt and fennel seeds in a bowl. Add the butter and use finger tips to rub into the flour.

Add the water and 1 of the egg whites and stir to bring together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces and use a pasta machine to roll until 2mm thick (or use a rolling pin).

Place on to prepared trays and brush with the remaining egg white and sprinkle with a little cracked salt.

Bake, in batches, for about 20mins, or until golden and crisp (keep and eye on it!)

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When ready to serve, remove the salmon from the cure and gently wash off any excess with as little water as possible.

Remove the labna from the cheesecloth and put into a serving bowl.

Thinly slice the salmon across the grain and arrange on a serving platter along with the radish, cucumber, baby herbs and finger lime vesicles. Serve alongside the lavosh and labna.

Enjoy!

 

 

Tempeh Burgers with Chilli Beetroot Relish, Tahini Sauce, Salad and Seeds on Pumpkin Bread

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Tempeh is possibly one of the best things on the face of this earth. It is so damn tasty and so damn good for you (except for maybe when you fry it up all crispy in oil….)

The flavour of tempeh on it’s own is delicious already, but, teamed with a few spices and some sweet and salty sauces, it is next level. All shoved in a dripping burger full of fresh salad, spicy beetroot relish and nutty tahini sauce, you definitely won’t be missing meat after this meal.

I love how readily available and cheap the tempeh is here in Bali. I’ll definitely be missing that back in Aus. I need to get into making myself. We bought the beautiful pumpkin bread and fresh produce from the organic markets here in Canggu on the weekend, always a treat!

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Recipe

Ingredients

4 pumpkin bread rolls (or whatever type you prefer)

1/4 cup coconut oil (or other cooking oil)

4 pieces tempeh, halved horizontally

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp ground turmeric

Lettuce leaves

Tomatoes, sliced

Red onion, thinly siced

Bean sprouts

Cucumber, sliced

Toasted sunflower seeds

Fresh coriander

Chilli Beetroot Relish

Ingredients

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp crushed black pepper

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbs olive oil

1 red onion, finely diced

6 cloves garlic, crushed

Thumb side piece of ginger, grated

5 birdseye chillies, finely chopped

3 fresh beetroot (small fist sized), peeled and grated

2 cups white vinegar

2 litres water

salt to taste

Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tbs tahini

1 tbs coconut syrup (or maple syrup/golden syrup/honey)

3 tbs lemon juice

water

salt and pepper

Method

To make the beetroot relish, first, toast the cumin, coriander, pepper and dried chilli in a dry frying pan for about 1min, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring, for about 3mins, or until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies, and cook, stirring, for a further 1min. Add the toasted spices, beetroot, vinegar, some salt and 2 cups of the water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding a cup of water at a time as it reduces. Continue this for about nd hour and a half until beetroot is very soft and liquid is mostly absorbed. Spoon hot relish into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge after opening. Makes about 3 cups.

Meanwhile, to marinate the tempeh, in a shallow dish sprinkle the tempeh with the soy sauce and turmeric. Rub to coat evenly and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

To make the tahini sauce, combine the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.

To make the burgers, heat the coconut oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium to high heat. Cook the tempeh, about 2 mins each side, until browned and crispy.

Toast the buns if you wish. Assemble the burgers with as little or as much ingredients as you want!

Enjoy with a side of potato wedges and cold beer!

 

 

Smokey Pulled Jackfruit Burgers with Rainbow Slaw and Cashew Mayo

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After a few big months of work, parties, events, weddings and catering jobs, life is finally starting to slow down for the year. I have no more major events scheduled in for the rest of the year, apart from going to Indonesia over July and August (where I will be turning 30!), and am looking forward to a couple of months of slower/healthier living and creating lots more recipes.

I cooked this dish a couple of weeks ago as a trial dish for an upcoming wedding. The main for the wedding was to be three taco stands, a pulled pork, a fish, and this pulled jackfruit. It went down a treat and people were shocked when I told them it wasn’t meat. The texture is so similar, I actually prefer it to pork. It soaks in the flavours really well without all the fat of pork (which I know some people love).

The jackfruit is so versatile, you could match it with any flavours, I think next time I’d like to try it in a green curry.

You could also serve it with this smokey sauce in a jacket potato, on rice, in a burrito, enchiladas, or, like at the wedding, on tacos.

Any good Indian or Asian grocer should stock the tinned jackfruit in water or brine.

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Recipe

(Serves about 6-10)

Ingredients

Pulled Jackfruit

1/4 cup rice bran oil

2 brown onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbs smoked paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tbs dried oregano

4 tins jackfruit in water or brine, drained

2 tins kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup bbq sauce

salt and pepper

Cashew Mayo

2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight, or boiled for an hour, drained

1 cup water

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs mustard

salt and pepper

Rainbow Slaw

1/2 white cabbage, shredded

1/2 red cabbage, shredded

3 stalks celery, finely sliced

2 small or 1 large carrot, grated

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 long red chillies, finely sliced

Bunch parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

To serve

Soft bread rolls (white or brown)

Store bought sweet potato and potato chips

Siracha chilli sauce (optional)

Method

For the jackfruit, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5mins until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the spices, jackfruit, kidney beans and bbq sauce. Being to the simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 1 hour. Use the back of a wooden spoon to squash the pieces of jackfruit against the sides of the pot to shred them apart. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to suit.

Meanwhile, for the cashew mayo, put all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until a smooth paste. If your food processor doesn’t produce a smooth enough consistency you can transfer the mix to a bowl and finish it with a stick blender. If it is too thick add a little more water. Keep in the fridge until needed.

For the coleslaw, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To serve, fill a bread roll with the warm jackfruit, the coleslaw, the cashew mayo, the chips and a drizzle of chilli sauce if using.

Enjoy!

 

 

Panzanella Salad with Haloumi and Pomegranate Molasses

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Hello again. It’s been a long time between posts! Over 6 months I think! But don’t mistake this to mean that I haven’t been cooking, in fact, I’ve been cooking so much that I just haven’t had time to write down recipes or take photos of everything I’ve been doing. The best I’ve been able to manage lately is a quick snap on my phone and an upload to instagram (which I kinda love).
So much has happened over these last six months, the last time I posted was from a friends apartment in Amsterdam, just a couple of days before I flew to Mykonos to work for a month as a private chef in a Villa there. Oh how I wish I had sufficient words to describe that month. To keep it brief, it was one of the most challenging months of my life, physically, mentally and emotionally. I was struggling to figure out why life had sent me there, apart from learning that I never EVER want to be rich. It was an amazing (if not soul destroying) experience and I wouldn’t take back a second of it.

Then it was on to Turkey, one of my most favourite and cherished countries. The food, the people, the landscape, it’s incredible. I spent a couple of months slowly roaming around, a large chunk of which was spent in the crystal clear waters of the mediterranean sea, free diving with turtles and lying on the pebbly beaches. I met some beautiful people and had a beautiful time. I love that place.

After that came Indonesia, where I met up with some friends and also showed my Mum around Bali for her first ever trip overseas. We ate, drank, lay on the beach and hooned around on a scooter, she loved it.
Finally, after being away from my home town for over 12 months, it was time to head back. Fortunately I had already been contacted by a friend here in Aus that owns the cutest little fish restaurant right on the beach about doing some work for them upon my return. I took the job and we haven’t looked back! it’s been an amazing experience and I feel so fortunate to be working with such kind and generous people. I’m learning a lot and have the freedom to be as creative as I like.
This summer has been a total whirlwind of work, parties and beach time. It’s been totally amazing. I could go on and on about all that has happened over the last six months, but, I highly doubt anyone wants to know every detail, and to be honest I can’t even remember half of them. I just know that I’m happier than ever and so excited for everything to come.
Anyway, here is a quick and easy recipe for one of my most favourite types of salads, I absolutely love the way the bread soaks up the dressing, along with the pops of sweetness from the pomegranate, the saltiness of the haloumi and the freshness of the herbs. It’s perfect on it’s own or you could serve it alongside some grilled seafood or meat. The recipe simply lists the ingredients I used, without amounts, so you can adjust it to however many people you are catering for (and also because I can’t find the piece of paper I wrote the actual recipe down on….)DSC_0030DSC_0028DSC_0026DSC_0003

Recipe

Ingredients

Wholemeal sourdough, toasted and cut or torn into pieces

Heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved

Baby cucumbers, sliced

Red and green capsicum, sliced

Red onion, finely sliced

Kalamata olives

Rocket

Mint, leaves picked

Pomegranate seeds

Haloumi, sliced 1cm thick

Olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Pomegranate molasses

Method

In a large bowl, gently toss together the sourdough, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, onion, olives, rocket, mint and half of the pomegranate seeds with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Leave to marinate and for the flavours to develop for about 15mins, tossing gently every 5mins.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan or frying pan to medium/hot with a little olive oil. Fry the haloumi until golden. Set aside and keep warm.

Place the salad into serving bowls, top with the remaining pomegranate seeds, drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and place the haloumi on top.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Creamy Champagne Prawns with Leek and Thyme

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IMG_4163 IMG_4238 IMG_4250I made this dish while we were staying in a cute little apartment in the middle of Paris. I started the day wanting to make Champagne Mussels, a popular French dish, but couldn’t find mussels anywhere. In the end I was glad I ended up with these beautiful tiger prawns instead. The flavours in this dish are really delicious, and made even more perfect when soaked up with some fresh buttered baguette. People in France really do buy baguettes every single day! I found a new appreciation for fresh white bread and butter while we were there, a treat I decided to leave in Paris as my shorts are starting to feel a little tight…

Warning, this meal can get a bit messy. Either have some good napkins on hand, or, peel the prawns, leaving the tail on, before you cook them.

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Recipe

Serves 4 as an entree

Ingredients

500g raw tiger prawns

2 tbs olive oil

1 leek, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tbs fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

500ml champagne

1/2 tsp curry powder

1 tbs dijon mustard

200ml cream

salt and pepper

Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

Fresh baguette and butter, to serve

Method

In a large, deep frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring, for 5-10mins, until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a further 2mins. Add the zest, juice, thyme, bay leaves, champagne, curry powder and mustard. Bring to the simmer and cook for about 10mins, or until thickened and reduced.

Add the prawns and cook, adding a little water if necessary, for about 3mins or until just cooked. Add the cream, salt, pepper and parsley and cook for a further 1min.

Serve with the baguette and butter.

Enjoy!

 

 

Baba Ghanoush with Pickled Apple, Walnuts, and Paprika Oil

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This weekend I am co-running a pop-up restaurant in Amsterdam! It’s going to be so much fun, I’m so excited to introduce some new flavours and concepts to the people of Amsterdam. We will be serving an eleven course, plant-based feast, with a little seafood and Kangaroo meat thrown in. We want to celebrate the vegetables though, using locally sourced, seasonal produce and some Australian bush spices. I can’t wait to start cooking!

In the meantime, here is a recipe for the most delicious babganoush you will ever taste. A result of some eggplant growing old on my friends sideboard, he told me to use them for something before they went bad. My specialty! I love having the skill to be able to use anything and make it into something, nothing ever gets wasted!

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Recipe

Ingredients

3 medium eggplants

1/2 cup tahini

1 tsp salt

Juice of 1 lemon

3 cloves garlic, finely grated

pinch chilli flakes, plus extra to serve

1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 green apple

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 cup roasted walnuts

Handful coriander leaves

Toasted pita bread to serve

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Use a fork to pierce the eggplant all over a few times. Using metal tongs, hold them over an open flame for around 10 minutes, turning constantly, until the skin is charred. Place them in a baking dish and continue to cook for a further 20-30mins, until they are very soft and collapsed. (if you don’t have an open flame to char them first, you can do it under a grill or just cook them completely in the oven. You just won’t get the smoky flavour). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Add the tahini, salt, lemon juice, garlic, chilli flakes, cumin and some cracked pepper and using a fork, combine and mash the eggplant until a stringy paste forms. (you can also use a blender but I prefer to keep the texture of the eggplant, I find it goes a bit gluey when processed)

Peel and grate the apple. In a small bowl, combine the grated apple with the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Stir well and allow to sit for at least 10mins, stirring every so often.

Combine the olive oil and the paprika in a small bowl and stir well to combine.

To serve, place the eggplant mixture in a large shallow dish. Drain the apple from any excess liquid and place on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with the walnuts, coriander leaves, and extra chilli flakes. Drizzle with the smoked paprika oil. Serve with some toasted bread and other mezze dishes if you wish.

 

Vegetarian Turkish Lahmacun. Spiced Lentil Flatbreads with Garlic Yoghurt and Pickles.

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I made this dish whilst we were back in Germany, staying with a friend who loves food and loves to eat. It was perfect for me! I had access to her awesome little kitchen the whole time we were there and I had the best time preparing breakfasts, snacks, afternoon teas and dinners for all of us, which, in turn, resulted in lots of lovely hours, sitting around, chatting, eating and drinking. Bliss!

Germany is renowned for it’s Doner Kebabs and there are many (MANY) turkish restaurants. It got me thinking about a dish I had seen, a kind of turkish pizza. I mentioned it to our friend and she said, yes, it’s called Lahmucan, but, she had never been able to try it because it is only ever made with lamb mince and she is a vegetarian. So, I decided to try and make a meatless version of Lahmucan. And, boy did I nail it! The dough was amazingly soft and beautiful to work with, and turned out perfect when baked. The topping was spicy and tasty, especially with a drizzle of lemon and the garlic yoghurt, and the freshness of the parsley and pickles. You have to give this a try!

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Recipe

Ingredients

Dough
7g sachet of yeast
1 egg
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch salt
Olive oil
Spiced Lentil Sauce
Olive oil
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
250g swiss brown or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
400g can brown lentils, rinsed and well drained
1 brown onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp sumac
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
Yoghurt Sauce
1 cup plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 tbs lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pickled Radishes
Bunch radishes, thinly sliced on a mandolin
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbs sugar
Pinch of salt
To Serve
20g walnuts, roughly chopped
Bunch of parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced on a mandolin
Lemon wedges
Pickled peppers

Method

For the dough, combine the yeast with 1/3 cup warm water and allow to stand for 10mins, until bubbles have formed on top.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the olive oil. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the egg mixture and the yeast mixture to the flour. Stir briefly, until just combined. Cover with a towel and rest for 10mins.
Use olive oil to lightly oil a clean work surface and your hands. Turn dough out onto work surface and knead for 10secs, gently pushing it away form yourself and folding it back over. Return to the bowl and cover with the towel. Leave to rest for 15mins. Repeat this process twice more at 15min intervals. After the last kneading, cover again and leave to rise for an hour.
After an hour, divide the dough into four equal portions. Dust a clean work surface with flour and line two large baking trays with baking paper. With a rolling pin, roll the portions out into 30cm by 20cm rectangles (or whatever shape you manage). Place on the trays and cover with tea towels. Leave to rise for another 45mins.
Meanwhile, make the spiced lentil sauce.
Add the walnuts, the lentils, the mushrooms and some salt to a large food processor. Using the pulse action, process until just finely chopped, try not to turn it into a paste. In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, add a tbs of olive oil and add the lentil mixture. Cook, stirring, for about 10mins. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add another tbs of olive oil. Cook the onion, stirring, over medium heat, for 5 mins or until soft. Add the garlic and the chilli and cook, stirring, for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, sugar, and some salt and pepper. Bring to the simmer, turn heat to low, and cook, stirring often, for about 10mins, or until thick and fragrant. Add the lentil mixture and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the yoghurt with the garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir well to combine. Leave in the fridge until needed.
In a medium bowl, combine the radishes with the vinegar, sugar and some salt. Using your hands, massage the radishes with the vinegar. Allow to sit, stirring every so often, for at least 30mins before serving (you can also make these up to 1 day ahead, stored in the fridge).
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Drizzle the 4 dough rectangles with a little olive oil. Spread with the lentil sauce, leaving about 2cm around the edges. Place in the oven and cook, for about 45mins, or until lentil sauce is dry on top and the edges of the dough are nice and golden brown.
To serve, top with the pickled radishes, sliced onion, parsley, walnuts, a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of the yoghurt and the pickled peppers on the side. (I like to just put everything in the middle of the table and let people top their own)
Enjoy!









Strawberry, White Asparagus and Chèvre Bruschetta with Balsamic, Black Pepper and Basil

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After spending a week at our friend’s house here, in Germany, with a big comfy bed to sleep in, a kitchen to cook in, beautiful forest trails to explore, access to fresh, local produce and, of course, the amazing company, I’m not sure how I’m going to feel when we hit the road with our backpacks again. I could really get used to this life. Seriously, I’m typing this as I lay in the best bed I’ve slept in in nine months, sipping a coffee and waiting for the others to wake up so that we can jump in the car and head over to France…for lunch….

The bakeries here are amazing too. They don’t even sell white bread. Just brown, or dark brown, or dark brown with seeds, etc. The spelt and linseed bread I used for this bruschetta worked perfectly with the sweetness of the strawberries. Beautiful strawberries and asparagus from a farm down the road, and basil from the garden. JOY!

We ate this bruschetta for brunch, but you could also serve it as an appetiser on smaller pieces of bread. If you can’t find white asparagus, I wouldn’t recommend using green, just omit it and use more strawberries. Some walnuts sprinkled on top would also be nice.

Also, sorry for the ridiculous amount of photos, too hard too choose.

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Recipe

Ingredients

200ml balsamic vinegar
2 tbs caster sugar
8 slices dark spelt and linseed bread (or other dark bread such as rye), halved
3 tbs olive oil
200g chèvre (goats cheese)
1 clove garlic, halved
2 cups fresh strawberries, tops trimmed off and quartered
1 cup peeled and cooked white asparagus, cut into 3cm lengths
1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, plus extra for sprinkling
Pinch salt

Method

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, bring to the simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 10mins, or until reduced by half and is thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10mins.
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray and spread with the slices of bread. Place in the oven and toast, for 5mins. Turn the slices and drizzle with 2 tbs of the olive oil. Return to the oven and toast for a further 5mins or until lightly browned. Remove form oven and rub the toast with the halved garlic. Divide the chèvre among the slices of toast and return to the oven for 3 mins, or until cheese is starting to melt. Remove from the oven.
In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, asparagus, 2 tbs of the balsamic reduction, pepper and salt. Gently stir to combine.
Top the slices of toast with the strawberry mixture, top with the basil and sprinkle with a little extra pepper and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.
Enjoy!

 

Banana, Coconut and Date Loaf, Banana, Carob and Walnut Muffins and Banana Jam (All Vegan. Yeah, we had a lot of bananas to use…)

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If you could see where I am sitting whilst writing this, you would surely laugh.

In two weeks time I’ll be swimming in the ocean and drinking ice cold Bintangs in Bali, but in the meantime, I’m sitting here, in my camping chair, in the searing heat, on the side of the free way, with a For Sale sign on the car. This better work….

Once this car is sold, my whole life will be back in my backpack, and man am I looking forward to that feeling! It’s been great having this big car, all equipped to live anywhere on this great brown land, but I’m ready for the backpacker life again! Beaches, jungles, hostels, beers, new friends, old friends, culture, food, art, adventure…the list is long!

Anyway, back to reality for a moment. We found ourselves with a huge bag of bananas last week, all going black very quickly. The chickens don’t seem to be laying as many eggs as they were a few months ago so I decided to try and make some vegan banana treats. They turned out so beautifully, I don’t think I will ever make a banana loaf with eggs again!

Not so sure about the banana jam though, it tastes a little (lot) like something you might feed your baby. But hey, why would you feed your baby something gross!

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Recipe

Vegan Banana Bread

Ingredients
3-4 over-ripe bananas, plus 1 to decorate
75g coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g raw sugar
125g white or wholemeal self-raising flour
100g wholemeal plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
50g shredded coconut
70g dates (or other dried fruit or nuts), chopped

Method
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees, celcius. Grease and line a loaf tin (banana leaves work great!)
In a large bowl, mash the bananas (reserving one to decorate). Add the coconut oil, vanilla and sugar, and mix well to combine.
Sift the flours, baking powder and cinnamon into the bowl with the banana. Add the coconut and dates and mix until all combined.
Pour into prepared loaf tin. Peel and cut the remaining banana in half, lengthways. Place, cut side up, on top of the batter and slightly press into the batter.
Bake for 40-50mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.
Serve warm with banana jam, or topping of choice.
Enjoy!

Variation
Vegan Banana, Carob and Walnut muffins.
Replace 50g of the wholemeal plain flour with 60g of carob powder. Omit the coconut and the dates and add 80g of chopped walnuts, reserving some to sprinkle on top. Bake in a muffin tin for about 20mins.

Banana Jam

Ingredients
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 cups bananas, diced
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup water

Method
Combine the diced banana in a bowl with the lime juice.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and the water over medium high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and bring to the simmer. Cover and let it simmer for 2mins.
Uncover and add the bananas with the lime. On medium heat, bring to the boil. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, for about 30mins. At this point, if you want a smooth jam, use a stick blender to blend until smooth, otherwise, just keep cooking.
Cook for another 20-30mins or until jam is nice and thick.
Pour hot jam into sterilised jars.
Allow to cool at room temperature, undisturbed for 24hours before using.