Maple Roasted Pumpkin, Kale, Blue Vein and Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

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How awesome are vegetables! They are so versatile, exciting, colourful, textural, interesting, and above all, nourishing. I love treating my vegetables as the main point of a meal, all you need is a bit of love and a few extra touches, and the next thing you know you’ll be turning your humble piece of pumpkin thats been hiding at the bottom of your veggie draw, into a beautiful, shining, and delicious star!

I came across this Naranka Gold Pumpkin at the markets here, I’ve never seen it before, but, as I love to roast pumpkin with its skin on, I thought the look of this pumpkin’s golden skin was very enticing. Roasted to perfection with a hint of sweetness and citrus, it was absolutely delicious. Not to mention the nutty wild rice, the bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate, the earthiness of the kale and the strong scent of the blue vein. It is perfectly satisfying as a main meal but would also be great as part of a feast, along with roasted meats, spreads, other salads and breads. You could also replace the rice with quinoa and the blue vein with goats cheese or feta.

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups blended black, red and brown rice

1/2 a small naranka gold pumpkin, about 800g-1kg, cut into thick 5cm wedges, seeds scraped out

1 tbs golden syrup

1 tbs lemon infused olive oil

1/2 cup mixed seeds, such as pepitas, sunflower and pine nuts, toasted

4 large kale leaves, about 120g, stems cut out and leaves finely shredded

Small red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

Handful of fresh parsley and mint, roughly chopped

120g blue vein cheese. crumbled

Fruit from 1 fresh pomegranate

2 tbs pomegranate molasses

Splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin with the lemon infused olive oil, maple syrup and some salt and pepper.

Lay the pieces of pumpkin in a single layer on the lined baking tray. Place in the oven and cook for about 45 mins, turning halfway, until golden and tender, crisp edges are good. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Boil the rice until tender. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft, about 5mins. Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and kale, and continue to sauté for another 5mins. Add to the bowl with the rice, along with half of the toasted seeds, half of the pomegranate, the fresh herbs, a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Mix well.

Empty the rice mixture out onto a large serving plate. Top with the pumpkin, the rest of the seeds, the rest of the pomegranate, the blue vein, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Spiced Lamb Kofta

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This is just a quick mid-week post for these delicious and easy to make kofta. I took the photos only at the last minute, as I decided they were too good not to share. However, with a million other things going on at the moment I didn’t get any particular amazing shots. But that doesn’t change how delicious thy are!

You can dress them up or down however you please. Serve them with a tabouli salad and some tatziki for a simple dinner, or add them to your mezze platter for your next get together. We had them with some hummus, spiced olives, roasted capsicum, minted yoghurt and toasted walnut bread. We actually packed it all in a basket and took it down to the beach to watch the sunset on Valentine’s Day. Ultra romance!

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a light meal, with accompaniments

Ingredients

500g lamb mince

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1 large spring onion, white and green part, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp sumac

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

pinch of chilli flakes (or more if you like)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped, plus extra for serving

1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

2 tbs pomegranate mollasses, plus extra for drizzling

salt and pepper

lemon wedges, for serving

olive oil, for cooking

Method

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and use hands to combine. Cover and leave in the fridge for about an hour.

Remove from fridge and divide mixture into about 8 pieces (or 12 if you want to make them smaller for a mezze platter). Shape each piece into a short sausage shape and push onto or around skewers (or you can just leave the skewer out if you like).

Return to the fridge for another half an hour to firm up, this will prevent them falling apart while coking.

Heat a hot plate or griddle pan to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and cook the kofta, in batches if necessary, turning every couple of minutes, until nicely browned on the outside and just cooked on the inside. About 10 mins.

Place on a serving platter, drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses, sprinkle with extra parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Enjoy!

 

Sticky Spiced Apricot Chicken with Quinoa and Stone Fruit and Feta Salad

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Who doesn’t love sticky, finger-lickin good, chicken wings? This is a versatile recipe, as you could serve it as a weeknight meal with the family or you could cut the wings into thirds, adjust the cooking time to a bit less and serve them as a yummy finger food at your next barbecue. I love the stone fruit, feta and red onion combination too, it’s punchy and exciting. This is a great summer time recipe, bright and cheerful!

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Ingredients

12 whole chicken wings

2 tbs fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 tbs worcestershire sauce

3 tbs oyster sauce

4 tbs soy sauce (use gluten free soy or tamari if necessary)

1/2 cup apricot jam

2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 tsp pepper

A few good handfuls of mixed mesculin leaves

2 apricot

1 peach

1 nectarine

1 plum

Handful each of parsley and mint leaves, roughly torn

100g firm feta

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

light olive oil

white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Cooked quinoa and lemon wedges to serve

Method

In a large non-reactive dish (glass is good), combine the ginger, garlic, worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, apricot jam, chinese 5 spice, chilli flakes and pepper. Add the chicken and use hands to thoroughly cover with the marinade. Cover with cling wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hrs, but overnight is much better.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Arrange the chicken in a single layer and cover with foil. Bake for half an hour. Remove from oven, remove the foil and drain any liquid from the tray. Brush the chicken with some of the liquid and return to the oven without the foil. Cook for another 20-30mins, brushing with the liquid every 5mins.

For the salad, on a large platter, arrange the lettuce, fruit, herbs and onion and crumble over the feta. Drizzle with a little of the light olive oil and white wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken with the salad, cooked quinoa, lemon wedges and any leftover sauces from the cooked chicken.

Enjoy!

 

Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomato, Basil and Balsamic or Marinated Zucchini, Goats Cheese and Mint.

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We just spent nearly a week in Cairns, I didn’t really want to leave! Life there is so focused on being outdoors, there is a fantastic energy in the city centre, as well as a beautiful relaxed vibe just a few minutes down the road in the smaller, beach side suburbs. We spent days lying in the sun, reading, fishing and putting some final touches on the 4WD.
We have four storage drawers under the bed; one entirely dedicated to spices, as well as a set of shelves on one side, holding all my oils and sauces. A bit ridiculous I know but I’m so inspired by all the beautiful ingredients I’ve been getting that I just have to keep cooking! And considering I had to say goodbye to eighty percent of my cooking equipment and ingredients when we decided to live out of our car, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve still been managing to come up with.
We stopped in beautiful Port Douglas yesterday to meet up with some friends for a picnic. I had been to the farmers’ markets in Cairns the day before and had bought some beautiful produce, including these unbelievably sweet heirloom tomatoes, huge zucchinis and big bunches of fresh herbs.
These bruschettas are so simple, and could easily be jazzed up with some extras like bocconcini or anchovies on the tomato ones and some pine nuts on the zucchini ones. I love the freshness of the quickly marinated vegetables though, i find them so much more delicious than the oily marinated ones you find in delis and from the jar. The key here is good, fresh ingredients, nice bread, well toasted and definitely don’t forget to rub it with the cut garlic clove while it’s still hot; the taste is superb and not to mention the smell!

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Recipe

Serves 6 as a starter

Ingredients
1 long baguette
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half

Tomato Bruschetta
A few handfuls of heirloom tomatoes, sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 spanish onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn, small leaves reserved for presentation
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Zucchini and Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup goats cheese
1 long red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, torn
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Method
Combine the zucchini, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl or jar and toss well to combine. Leave for at least 30 mins to marinate.
Combine the tomatoes, onion, olives, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper and toss to combine. Leave for about 10 mins.
For he baguette, slice into pieces as big as you would like. Toast under a grill, on a bbq, in a toaster, etc. Once golden brown, rub well with the cut side of the garlic clove, you will be able to smell the aroma of the garlic as long as the bread is still hot.
For the tomato bruschettas, top half of the toasts with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with the reserved basil leaves.
For the zucchini bruschettas, spread the toasts with the goats cheese. Top with the zucchini, layered with the mint leaves. Sprinkle with the chilli and drizzle with lemon when ready to serve.

Lemon Friands

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Last week I was given bags of beautiful homegrown lemons by three different people! I love lemons and would take 300 bags if they were offered to me! It was interesting to notice the difference between the 3 batches, different thicknesses in skin, different colours and different strengths of sourness. I’m so used to the lemons from the supermarket, I never realised how many different types of lemons there must be!

Some of the lemons were from my Mum’s backyard, I picked them one afternoon as a storm was approaching, it was windy and difficult to get a clear photo, but I love the ones I got! I threw in a couple of photos of her mandarins as well, just because I love how they grow on such a long thin stem. These pictures would have gone well with my last post!

I plan on making some preserved lemons soon which will be great with all the Middle Eastern food I’ve been cooking lately. I’m thinking fish kofta with tabouli, homemade pita and preserved lemon. Yum!

With some of the sweeter lemons I made some classic Lemon Friands. I’ve made so many friands this past year that I think I have come up with a pretty good recipe. I use this base recipe and change it with whatever is in season or in my fridge. I think my favourite combination is pear and vanilla. I love how easy these friands are to make and they look so pretty. The oven in my new house is so old and is not fan-forced so everything I bake goes quite dark on the outside but luckily stays lovely and moist on the inside. I always make my friands with gluten-free flour but you can replace it with plain flour.

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The day I made the friands I was due to look after my nephew for the afternoon. He arrived just as I was cleaning up and taking some photos of the lemons in the backyard. He decided that banging lemons together was a really fun game! I’m sure he was really confused as to why I was standing on a chair taking photos of lemons! To him lemons come from Nana’s backyard and they are great for throwing at the cats!

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Recipe

Ingredients

180g butter melted, plus extra for greasing

Zest of 2 or 3 lemons, depending on size

200g pure icing sugar

80g plain gluten-free flour

125g almond meal

5 egg whites, lightly whisked

Handful of flaked almonds

Method

Pre-heat oven to 165 Degrees Celcius for fan forced, or about 180 for non fan-forced. Grease a 12 hole friand tin with melted butter.

In a large bowl combine the butter and lemon zest (make sure to only use the yellow part of the skin as the white part can be very bitter)

Sift in the icing sugar, flour and almond meal. Add the egg whites and stir with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the holes of the tin and top with a sprinkling of the flaked almonds.

Bake for about 25-30mins, turning the tray halfway through if your oven is old (like mine 😦 )

Cool in the tray and use a small knife to gently ease the friends out of the tin. Enjoy!!