Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Almond Meal Blueberry Pancakes and some Exciting News!

After many failed attempts, I have finally created the perfect almond meal pancake. My first attempts saw my poor little pancakes crumble, fall apart and succumb to softness. The key to success turned out to be in the correct ratio of ingredients and the small size of the pancakes. Because they do not contain gluten they don't hold together very well, so they need to be kept as dollar size pancakes, about 6-7cm in diameter (2.5 inch). Also the blueberries need to be diced, which helps keep these pancakes intact and also adds a beautiful blue colour to them. Finally the pan needs to be quite hot when you initially put the pancakes in, and then lowered in temperature after they have been spread out to size.

Now on to the exciting news. I HAVE BOUGHT MYSELF MY FIRST SLR CAMERA. Yes wonderful people of the internet. Be prepared for amazing high quality photos and beautiful compositions with perfect white balance. It should arrive in a week or so and I am so very excited to take better quality photos of my food that an Iphone just can't compete with. I will also begin to take photos of the food preparation and steps so I can give a better idea of how the recipe comes together.

But for now I hope my in vain attempts of photographing my food will satisfy your taste buds, and if it does not, simply cook the food, because I know that will :)

The best thing about these pancakes is that they are low carb, gluten free, refined sugar free, high in protein, dairy free (unless you eat them with yoghurt like I did), grain-free and most importantly fluffy morsels of yumminess.




Almond Meal Blueberry Pancakes
Makes 4 small pancakes that serves 2 (or 1 very hungry person)

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 egg
3 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey (or more depending on how sweet you would like it)
1/4 cup frozen blueberries, diced
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions

1. Place all ingredients except the coconut oil in a bowl. Mix until combined and then let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a good quality large fry-pan over medium-high heat. Place 4 heaped spoonfuls of the mixture (this should use all of the mixture) into the frypan, spreading the mixture out until its about 1cm thick (1/3 inch). Reduce the heat to medium-low and fry for about 2 minutes, making sure to check that the bottoms are not burning. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook for a further 2 minutes.

3. Remove the pancakes from the pan, onto serving plates, and top with yoghurt (or coconut cream for a dairy free option), scatter with some extra blueberries and drizzle with a little honey. Eat while hot. Enjoy!



Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Layer Cake

Ok, the post title is just an abbreviation of what the correct name of this cake should be. In essence it is a sweet potato layer cake, with toasted marshmallow buttercream, brown sugar and cinnamon swiss meringue buttercream and candied walnuts. 

Yes wow, a mouthful! And I am not going to lie, a cake with that many components does take a while. But my oh my was it worth it!

This cake was made for my boyfriend's sisters birthday and I believe she loved it as much as we did. The sweet potato makes for a dense yet fluffy cake, complimented perfectly by the toasted marshmallow buttercream. The walnuts add another texture to the cake, a very satisfying crunch and the warming spices in the Swiss meringue buttercream perfectly finish the cake off. 



Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Layer Cake
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Serves at least 10

Ingredients 

For the Cake Layers:
3 large sweet potatoes (about 900 g)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp white port (you could also use brandy)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup non-crystallized ginger, chopped finely

For the Filling:
16 large marshmallows (The pink and white variety)
1 cup icing sugar
230g butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 jar (213 g) Marshmallow Fluff (For Australians, Thomas Dux sells this)

For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
340g butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 tbsp cinnamon

For the Walnuts
30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups walnuts, broken into small pieces

Instructions 

For the Cake Layers:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350F). Grease two 8-inch round springform pans and line the bottoms with baking papaer

2. Place the sweet potatoes on a microwave-safe plate and pierce them with a fork. Microwave until they are tender (about 7-8 minutes each side). Carefully remove the skin when cool enough to touch, and mash the flesh into a coarse puree.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and beat on medium until combined. Add the cooled sweet potato puree and mix until combined.

4. Sift dry ingredients together (flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and ground ginger) and then add to sweet potato mixture. Mix on the lowest speed of your electric mixture until just combined. Add the white port, vanilla and non-crystalised ginger, again mixing on the lowest speed until just combined.

5. Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale to make sure the mixture is equally shared), smooth with a spatula and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 40 minues or until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and leave until they have cooled completely.

For the Marshmallow Filling:

6. Place marshmallows on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place the marshmallows under the grill until nice and brown on top, between 30-60 seconds. Remove pan and gently turn the marshmallows over, and grill until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them--they burn very quickly.)

7. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on med-high for about 3 minutes. Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute. Spoon mixture into another bowl until needed. 

For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream

8. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar to a heavy based saucepan and heat over very low heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot to touch.

9. Transfer the mixture to a stand alone electric mixture. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if the mixture separates like it can easily do, refer to the bottom of this post for a solution). Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Add cinnamon to taste and blend.

For the Walnuts

10. Melt the butter in a small pan. Mix in brown sugar, and add the walnuts. Toss to coat.
Cook on low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be sure to watch carefully so they don’t burn.

11. Turn out onto baking paper and let cool. Once cool separate the mixture in half. Place one half in a ziplock bag, removing the air, and crushing gently with a mallet until they become a fine crumb. Set this bag aside as it is for outside decoration of the cake. 

To Assemble

12. Slice both cake layers in half horizontally, so you have 4 cake layers. Place the first layer on a plate, pedestal or cake board cut side up (so bottom of the cake layer is touching plate), and spread 3/4 cup of Toasted Marshmallow Filling over it. Sprinkle with a handful of candied pecans pieces.
Repeat previous step until you get to the final cake layer. 

13. Frost the outside of the cake with the Brown Sugar Buttercream. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes so the icing can harden up. Once the buttercream is harder and not too soft, use your hands to press the finely crumbed walnuts around the sides of the cake to decorate. Finish the cake by piling some of the non-crystallized ginger on top of the cake.

Say happy birthday and devour.





Katie and William embracing their sibling love


Notes: Finished cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Keep refrigerated if longer than 8 hours, but always serve at room temperature (Swiss Buttercream should never be served cold, as it goes back to a cold-butter texture). This cake will take about 4 hours to come to room temperature once taken out of the fridge.

If your Swiss Meringue Buttercream separates when adding the butter don't fret. Simply remove about a third of the mixture into a microwave safe bowl, and zap in the microwave until smooth and melted- about 30 seconds. With the electric mixture on medium, slowly add the melted buttercream to the bowl, as you would oil to a mayonnaise mixture. Sure enough your buttercream will come back together and form the luscious divinity that it is.

Sweet Potato and Salmon Cakes

I must confess something. I did not cook these. I bought all the ingredients with the intention of coming home to make these after I got home from work but by 2pm on a Friday afternoon, I was over it. I was grumpy and hungry and completely stressed out by all the assessments I need to complete over the next few weeks, including an International Law assessment due in a few days which I have yet to begin writing because I have yet to come to a complete understanding on what to write. Yes. I am very much over it.

So I decided I did not want to cook when I got home. Lucky for me my boyfriend was working from home that day so I decided he was going to cook me my salmon cakes. So I sent him the recipe and off to cook he went.... and oh my, he did it well too! These salmon cakes tasted liked little bites of heaven that danced on my tongue and made all my upcoming deadlines go away, at least for a while. 

I complimented these salmon cakes with a light garden salad with the lettuce coming straight from my garden! It was a very exciting meal for a meal that was so simple.

 
Sweet Potato and Salmon Cakes
Adapted from EveryDayMaven
Serves 4 as a light meal

Ingredients

1 small sweet potato
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 brown onion onion, finely chopped
10 or so drops Tabasco (depending on your taste)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to season
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 large eggs
1 can (415g) Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
Coconut oil to fry with (you could also use olive oil)
 
Instructions

1. Wash sweet potato and use a fork to poke several fork-holes in it. Wrap in a paper towel, place on a microwave safe plate and microwave until soft- about 8 to 9 minutes however check every couple minutes so you don’t overcook it. Let cool for a few minutes, remove potato flesh from skin and mash with a fork until the lumps are mostly gone. Toss into a large mixing bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

2. Add almond meal, chopped parsley, onion, Tabasco, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika and eggs. Open the Salmon can and drain most of the liquid out. Using your hands, crush the canned salmon through your fingers into the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.Stir until well combined.

3. Line a baking sheet or large plate (that will fit in your fridge) with baking paper. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out evenly sized salmon cakes (flatten bottoms) until you have 8 patties. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until needed (they can last in the fridge for up to 24 hours).

4. When ready to cook, grease and heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add patties and cook for 4 minutes (if your pan is not big enough you will probably need to cook the salmon patties in two batches). After they have been cooking for 4 minutes on one side, gently flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes on the other side. Serve hot and enjoy with a simple side salad.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Grilled Asparagus with Caesar Aioli

Because nothing celebrates a beautiful sunny day like a light lunch of vivaciously green asparagus



Grilled Asparagus with Caesar Aioli
Adapted from Taste
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 anchovy fillet
1 egg yolk
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs hot water
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Olive oil, to grease
Shaved parmesan and Salt and Pepper, to serve


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Healthy Anzac Biscuits

Tomorrow is Anzac Day and a time to reflect. It is also a day to eat one of my favourite childhood treats, Anzac Biscuits. This history behind the biscuit is that during WWI there was an egg shortage, so the Australian women created this egg-less biscuit that they could send to their loved ones overseas.

Ive been baking regular Anzac biscuits since I was young. This evening I thought I would try to make a healthier version of my favourite cookie that does not have all the white flour, golden syrup, sugar and butter that regular Anzac biscuits have.

While I think taste wise real Anzac biscuits will always win, from a healthy treat perspective these turned out great! Each biscuit contains 120 calories, 12g carbs (with only 1g being sugar!!), 8g fat and 4 g protein. A regular Anzac biscuit has at least 7g of sugar and no protein making these are far better alternative.



Healthy Anzac Biscuits
Adapted from 180 Nutrition
Makes 16

Ingredients

50g melted butter
3/4 cup boiling water
1 heaped tsp bicarb soda
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup vanilla or unflavoured protein powder
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1/3 cup Xylitol
20 drops liquid stevia

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (350F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

2. Mix the melted butter, water and liquid stevia together in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix until thoroughly until combined.

3. Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking tray, leaving at least 1 cm between each cookie. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 5 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Paleo Fig Crumbles



Paleo Fig Crumbles
Adapted from Sarah Lynn Smile
Serves 2

Ingredients

Fig Base
4-5 medium sized fresh figs, diced into small
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon 
10 drops liquid stevia

The Crumble:
2 tbsp flaxmeal
2 tbsp almond meal
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp water
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp xylitol or granulated stevia

Coconut oil to spray

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius (350F). Lightly spray two small ramekins with coconut oil.

2. Combine the figs, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamon and stevia in a bowl, stir to combined. Divide the fig mixture between the two ramekins.

3. Combine the flaxseed, almond meal, coconut flour, coconut oil, water, cinnamon and xylitol in a bowl (You can reuse the previous bowl to save on washing up). Stir until it becomes a crumbly mixture.

4. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the figs, dividing the mixture between the two ramekins. Place them on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and serve while nice and warm. Tastes very good with a dollop of yoghurt!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Healthier Carrot Cake with Lime Cream Cheese Icing

Carrot cake is amazing. Cream cheese icing is amazing. But don't let the vegetable in the title fool you into thinking that this cake is a healthier choice! The normal ingredients for carrot cake include a lot of white refined flour, loads of refined sugar, vegetable oil, full fat cream cheese and butter.

My version of carrot cake is gluten free, uses no oil or butter, low fat cream cheese and a small amount of refined sugar in the icing. While it does not taste as indulgent as regular carrot cake, everyone who tried this cake thoroughly enjoyed it and some preferred the lightness of it. Without all the fat and sugar the spices in the cake shine through and the perfectly small amount of low fat cream cheese icing compliments the cake perfectly without leaving a sickening feel in your tummy the way most buttercreams and icings do.



Healthier Carrot Cake with Lime Cream Cheese Icing
Inspired by Delicieux

Ingredients

For The Cake
2 medium sized carrots, tops removed
1 small zucchini, top removed
½ cup of walnuts
5 large eggs
1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 cups almond meal
1/3 cup coconut Flour
1 cup granulated stevia (I used Nativa for Baking)
2 tsps of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
2 tsps of ground ginger
1/2 tsp all spice
1/4 cup milk of choice
1 tsp vanilla essence

Icing
250g (9 oz) low fat cream cheese (you can use full fat, if you prefer to eat fat over starches and for a more indulgent icing)
3/4 cup icing sugar
Juice of half a lime
2 tsps lime zest

Optional: Walnuts and shredded coconut to decorate

Instructions

1. Grease two 20cm springform pans and preheat the oven to 180 Celsius (350F).

2. Grate the carrots and zucchini using a food processor. Remove the grated carrots from the processor and into a large bowl. Remove the grater attachment from the food processor and switch to the chopping attachment, adding the walnuts and pulse until roughly chopped. Place into the bowl with the carrots.

3. Add the remaining cake ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.

4. Divide the batter between the prepared springform pans and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the tin before removing.

5. To make the icing, beat the cream cheese, lime juice, zest and icing sugar with electric beaters until smooth and creamy.

6. Spread half the icing on top of one of the cakes, place the other cake on top and then spread with the remaining icing. If desired, sprinkle the cake with coconut and decorate with walnuts. Enjoy!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Transitions- An easy painting tutorial

Despite studying law, Visual Arts was my best subject in high school. Although I no longer have the time to spend months on detailed oil paintings, I still love during my uni breaks, to whip out the old easel and palette, and tune into my inner artist, allowing the minds inner turbulence to break free in the form of exuberant brush strokes on canvas (yes now I sound like a visual arts student).

Taking a page out of Frieda Kahlo's books, art and other creative outlets are my catharsis and a way to cope when the mundane world and legal theory all gets too much.

I painted this picture of William and I last uni break. It makes me happy. I love colour and my artworks have always been centered around the meanings that colour evokes.



This was a small A4 size quick oil painting. I know the there are technical flaws but whatever. The colours make me happy.

Painting can be whatever you want it to be. Find your own style and just work with it. I will never perfectly replicate a human face but that does not mean I can't make beautiful works of art that can be enjoyed by many.

Anyone can blend colours and colours will always be pretty. So moving on to an artwork I did today and which anyone can do. It is so easy.

I called this painting Transitions and is an easy artwork that anyone can replicate

You will need:
  • A large canvas (mine was 24 by 30 inches),   
  • oil paints (you could use acrylic but the result would not be as good), 
  • thin tape, 
  • ruler, 
  • pen,  
  • large wide paintbrush  
  • palette.

Step 1.
Using the tape, create whatever pattern takes your fancy. I did diagonal lines spaced evenly at 4cm and then created a warped organic structure.


Step 2.
Paint over tape however you wish. I used bright colours which I transitioned and blended into other colours




Step 3.
Remove tape, revealing your impressive artwork.You can leave it like this or blur some of the lines as I did in the red sections to add more depth and dimension to the composition. Place the painting somewhere to dry (or just hang up wet as I did). Once the paint is dry you can then go around and paint the border.



 This painting is just what my boring dining room wall needed!!




Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Paleo Turkey Meatloaf with a Spiced Cranberry Glaze

 Comfort food at its healthiest.


Paleo Turkey Meatloaf with a Spiced Cranberry Glaze
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Paleo Foodie Kitchen

Ingredients

500g Turkey Mince
200g Bacon, diced
3 stems celery, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 brown onion, diced
2 eggs
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (To ensure it is paleo friendly you can make your own here)
1/2 cup almond meal (or for the non-paleos you can use breadcrumbs)
Salt and pepper to season

For the glaze
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries although you could use fresh)
Juice from 1/2 and orange
2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius (350F). Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

2. Combine all ingredients for the meatloaf in a large bowl and mix well.

3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 min.

4. Meanwhile to make the cranberry glaze, combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and then lower the heat, simmering gently for 10 min. Using a hand held blender stick, blitz the mixture until it resembles a chunky glaze.

5. After the meatloaf has been in the oven for 50 min, remove and spread the glaze on top. Return to the oven for another 10 min. Once the glaze has warmed, remove the meatloaf from the oven, let rest for 10-15 minutes and then serve with accompanying vegetables.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Social Stigma Unwrapped and Three Ropes Espresso, Parramatta

This post is a little bit of a rant, the articulation of my minds inner dialogue and a review of a charming cafe called Three Ropes Espresso.


I hate to think of myself as spoilt but my life situation speaks for itself. I live in a beautiful and affluent city, in a privileged and safe country. As much as my teenage self would of been convinced I was hard done by with 'evil' strict parents who always insisted I could never be home late or have friends over, being older and 'wiser' has certainly changed my perspective on life.

Living in Sydney's North Shore, you are spoilt for choice; from specialty grocery stores to boutique bakeries run by ex French Patisserie Chefs, you are overwhelmed with fresh high quality food and produce. Moving to North Parramatta earlier this year, I was afraid I would be giving up my comfortable existence and entering a world completelty different from everything I had known... A little bit dramatic or what?

It is so easy to judge. Perhaps even easier when you consider yourself above that which you are judging. But I am sorry North Shore, your world is not much different from that of the West. Public transport to the city by train takes just as long as a train from Gordon. Parramatta Westfeild is on par if not better then Chatswoods shopping district. And as my experience over the past three months of Parramatta's food scene have shown me, fine dining and stylish food are just as existent here as they were in Lane Cove.

I no longer care about my postcode. Especially being someone of my young age. Do youths living in expensive suburbs not realise they have no bragging rights? It is your parents that are paying off that ridiculous mortgage, not you. Shut up, go to uni and actually make something of yourself, buy your own house and then you may brag.

My uninformed opinion regarding Parramatta before I moved here was that it was a place of centrelink bludgers, ethnic ghettos and bikie gangs. Again a little bit dramatic. After working in a medical center in Lane Cove, I can safely say that the people in Parramatta are just as diverse as the people living in a more wealthy area. Maybe growing up and attending good schools and socialising with a small group, I never opened my eyes to see the array of social problems that the North Shore contains.

After seeing all of this I wondered why the people of Parramatta have never opened their mouths and fought back against this ridiculous stereotype against them. But now I realise they just don't care. The people here are happy living with in their comfortable and abundant world without the rest of Sydney knowing about it. Perhaps they don't want to share their beautiful heritage building, bike and running trails along the river and trendy cafe's and restaurants.

This brings me to the real topic of this post- Three Ropes Espresso in Parramatta. Finding this place was exciting for me. Not only because of the challenge of locating its existence down a little ally way (think Melbourne ally way food scene), but because my experience there was one of pure delight.

Located in a clean and light filled ally, you are presented with two dark brick walls; one lined with cream pipes containing petite shrubs and the other containing the square hole that opens up the ally way to the delight of Three Ropes Espresso within. There are only 3 or so tables inside the cosy cafe, with another 5 or so outside along the ally. The crisp Autumn morning influenced us to sit outside; we were welcomed by small dainty stools and wooden tables with an Ace playing card as our table number. I ordered the poached eggs on sourdough with homemade pesto and a small skim cappuccino. The coffee was beautiful. Sweet without the need for sugar and smooth enough for generous sipping. My eggs were poached, nearly perfectly, and accompanied by a dense pesto with flavours that exploded in your mouth as only the freshest pesto can do. Although I am not a bread fan the sourdough was lovely and I thought it perfect that the meal only came with one slice, because honestly that was all you need. Rocket accompanied the eggs, finishing the perfect breakfast that I will no doubt be recreating at home. William ordered a regular cappuccino and the breakfast plate. The Breakfast Plate was served in a mini omelet pan, and contained spicy chorizo, tomatoes, two poached eggs and feta. He also enjoyed it, loving the flavours of the dish with his eggs poached to perfection. However the serving size was probably a little too small for him and his big appetite.


















Apart from the beautiful food and coffee the atmosphere was very welcoming and comforting. The barista's were charming and helpful; with the patrons exerting a proud little community feel about this hidden treasure. This appeared a real hotspot for an after gym coffee or a catch up breakie with the girls. This place is better suited for small groups of two or three due to the space constraints but this only adds to the intimate atmosphere that is so becoming of the place. I will hopefully be brunching here again soon for sure!

Three Ropes Espresso is located in 10a Darcy St, Parramatta and is open for Breakfast/Brunch and coffee.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Open Faced BLT's on Homemade Spelt Bread Rolls

I don't normally eat bread so I don't normally bake it. Bread does not normally agree with me however in small doses it's fine. Spelt flour is a lot easier for the body to digest then wheat flour so if eating bread this is the best type.

My boyfriend and I are participating in Tough Mudder tomorrow so we insisted we needed to carb load today. Thus these mini BLT's were born. The bread rolls are quite small but the perfect size to use so the fillings are allowed to shine. I used wholemeal spelt which is quite dense and thus resulted in a denser style bread roll. The surface was deliciously crusty and when paired with the toppings was the perfect compliment to the moist bacon and juicy tomato.



Homemade Wholemeal Spelt Bread Rolls
Recipe adapted from Happiness made from Scratch
Makes 8 Bread Rolls

Ingredients

500g (17.6oz) Wholemeal Spelt flour 
300ml (10.14 fl oz) warm water (not boiling)
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey or sugar 
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp milk
poppy seeds to sprinkle


Instructions

1. Place the yeast, warm water, olive oil and sugar/honey in the bowl of a stand up mixer (or bowl if you want to knead by hand). Mix thoroughly and let sit for 10min.

2. Add the flour and salt. Knead by hand or mix on a first speed (with a dough hook) in a mixer until ingredients are incorporated. Check a consistency of the dough -  add a little more water if the dough seems dry. Knead by hand for 10 min or mix on a medium speed for 5 min. The dough should be elastic and not stick too much to the bowl.
 

3. Cover the bowl with a cling film. Leave the bowl in warm place for 60-90mins. The dough should double in size.
 

4. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and form little balls. If the dough seems sticky resist the temptation to add more flour - lightly oil your hands instead. Place balls on sheets pans leaving about 10 cm between them (they will rise more). Cover with a slightly oil cling film and leave for half an hour - they should rise in size by half.
 

5. In the meantime heat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius (392 F). 5 min before the end of rising time place a heatproof dish with approx 1 cup of boiling water on the bottom.

6. Brush rolls with milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds. After the water has been in the oven for 5 minutes open the oven door (be careful - there may be an outrush of hot steam) and place the pans in the oven making sure there is enough space around each pan for the steam to circulate. After 10 min. remove the dish with water wearing the oven mitts (once again be very careful - there will be an cloud of very hot steam). Bake for another 15 - 20 min. Remove from oven. The rolls should appear crusty and sound hollow when upturned and tapped. Let cool slightly on a wire rack  before eating


For the Toppings- BLT Style
Serves 2

Ingredients 

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tomatoes sliced
2 tbsp tomato chutney
1 cup shredded lettuce
4 slices shortcut bacon- rind removed
Salt and pepper to season

Instructions

1. Heat the oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until parts turn golden.

2. Slice the warm bread rolls in half. Spread each half with chutney, top with the tomato and then lettuce. Place the bacon on top and season. EAT.

Low Carb Lemon Cheesecake Tart

Why bake a cheesecake made with full fat cream cheese and refined sugar when you can bake cheesecake tart that tastes just as good?!

For each slice this tart only has 160 calories, 6.8g carbs, 9.4g protein and 11.1g fat.

It did not disappoint.



Low Carb Lemon Cheesecake Tart
Serves 8

Ingredients

250g 80% less fat light Philadelphia cream cheese (or use full fat for a more paleo version)
250g Natural or Greek yoghurt (the variety with no added sugar)
1/2 cup granulated stevia (or sweetener of choice)
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tbsp milk of choice
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp vanilla essence
Coconut oil to spray

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350F)

2. In a food processor, blend together the cream cheese, yoghurt, stevia, 3 eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla essence until creamy and smooth

3. In a bowl, mix together the remaining egg, coconut flour, almond meal and milk. Mix until it forms a dough.

4. Spray a loose bottomed tart tin with coconut oil to grease (I used a a circular 25cm pan). Using your hands, press the dough mixture into the pan so it forms a thin crust. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the pan.

5. Bake the tart for 30min, until the middle is wobbly but just set. Remove from oven

6. Let cool completely before removing the tart from the tin and slicing.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Seared Salmon Salad with Garden Vegetables


Healthy. Simple. Nutritious. Delicious. Enough said.




Seared Salmon Salad with Garden Vegetables
Adapted from Bev Cooks
Serves 2

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 large fresh salmon fillet
2 cups rocket (or any leaf mix you like)
4 baby beetroots, cooked, quartered (using canned is fine)
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chives, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
Goats cheese to crumble
Salt and pepper

Instructions

1. Heat 1/2 Tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add the zucchini and sauté until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add the salmon to the same pan. Season with salt and pepper and sear until cooked through but not overdone, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and let cool slightly.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil, dijon, chopped chives, mint and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the salmon to the bowl and tear it apart with your hands, coating with the dressing.

4. Arrange the rocket or salad leaves on a large plate. Loosely place the salmon pieces over the greens, along with zucchini. Top with the tomatoes, beetroot and finally with the goats cheese. Season if needed and eat!

Raspberry Amaretto Muffins

The best thing about these is they are gluten and sugar free but taste AMAZING. My boyfriend loved these and said they were possibly the best healthy muffins I have ever baked!!!

The nutritional information is also pretty amazing. Each muffin has only 83 calories, 5g carbs, 5 g fat and 5 g protein! The perfect sweet-tooth satisfying snack ;)




Raspberry Amaretto Muffins
Makes 10

Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup granulated stevia
1 cup milk of choice (I used soy and nutritional information is based on this)
3 eggs
1 cup frozen raspberries
2 tbsp Amaretto (could omit and sub 1 tbsp almond essence)
2 tsp baking powder
Coconut oil to spray

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350F). Grease 10 silicon muffin molds with coconut oil. Alternatively you could use a regular muffin tray.

2. Place the eggs, milk and amaretto in a large bowl. Mix to combine.

3. Add all the dry ingredients except the raspberries, mix thoroughly to combine. Fold in the raspberries.

4. Fill the muffin molds with the mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

5. Remove from the oven and eat! These are amazing fresh and hot but also store well in the fridge for a quick snack the following day.



Monday, 8 April 2013

Crock-Pot Blueberry Morning Oats

My obsession with the slow cooker continues. After coming home to a cooked meal the other night I thought why not wake up to a cooked breakfast also?!

The result was the creamiest and smoothest bowl of oats I had ever eaten. Microwave oatmeal doesn't even compare to this. And who has time to cook oats in a saucepan during the hectic morning hustle? The slow cooker is the answer to saucepan quality oats but without the effort or time consumption.



Crock-Pot Blueberry Morning Oats

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quick cook oats
1 cup milk of choice
2 cups water
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/3 cup granulated stevia
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flaxmeal
Coconut oil to spray (could grease with any oil/butter)

Instructions

1. Grease the slow cooker basin with coconut oil. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Mix to ensure all the ingredients are submerged in the water. Cook on low for 8 hours. Eat.

Are you serious? Only one step? Waking up to a cooked breakfast? That s*** cray.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Minestrone Soup

There is nothing better then eagerly bursting through your front door after a long and tiring day, to a welcoming aroma of home cooked soup.

Everyone should make peace with their slow cooker. You will never look back. Especially with a recipe as easy as this. Just pop all the ingredients in the slow cooker before you head out in the morning and then voila! 8-10 hours later you will have a freshly cooked nutritious meal awaiting you to fill your hungry tummy. 



Slow Cooker Beef Minestrone Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients

600-700g beef chuck, fat trimmed, chopped into 2cm pieces
2 each carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp granulated stevia 
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
400g can diced tomatoes tomatoes
200g salt reduced red kidney beans
200g green beans, trimmed and sliced in half
3 cups salt reduced beef stock
1/2 cup Pearl Barley
Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

1. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker except for the parsley, kidney beans and barley. Stir to combine. 

2. Set slow cooker on low, and cook for 8-10 hours (or whenever you return home). 

3. After at least 8 hours has passed, turn the slow cooker to high and add the barley and kidney beans. Replace lid and cook for 40 minutes until the beans and barley are soft. Once done spoon into bowls, top with the fresh parsley and serve. This soup also stores very well and tastes even yummier the next day!

Healthier Coconut Rough Bars

These bars are an antidote for anyone addicted to coconut rough. Coconut rough could possible be one of the most addicting foods on this planted! However chocolate, oil, sugar and coconut are hardly a part of a healthy diet.

These bars help satisfy that itch and unlike coconut rough, contain fibre, which is filling so you wont go an eat the entire batch. These are also gluten and refined sugar free with healthy fats used.

You could also make them vegan by substituting the egg with a flax-egg.

These are a great pre-workout snack, giving you a boost of energy (without making your blood sugar levels go crazy). They certainly made my 10km run this morning that little bit easier.



Healthier Coconut Rough Bars

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup granulated stevia
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup rolled oats (to ensure GF make sure they are certified)
1 egg
desiccated coconut to sprinkle

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350F). Grease and line a square pan around 8 x 8 inches.

2. Place the coconut oil and the peanut butter in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds until the oil is melted and the peanut butter is soft.

3. Add the coconut and stevia, mixing till combined. Add the chia seeds, rolled oats and the egg, again mixing until combined.

4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Chicken, Date and Rosemary Meatballs on a Sweet Parsnip Purée

Tonight we had my boyfriends family over for dinner. I thought it was time to try something different, something new. Date and chicken, parsnip and pear, beautifully complimenting flavours of sweet and savoury finished off perfectly with tangy goats cheese. Simple yet impressive. A meal to make again for sure.


Chicken, Date and Rosemary Meatballs on a Sweet Parsnip Purée
Adapted from Finger Fork Knife
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the Meatballs
500g organic, free range minced chicken
2 eschalots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dried dates, finely chopped
1/4 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and Pepper

For the Puree
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
3 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 bosc pear, peeled and diced
3 tbsp crème fraiche
1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 cups baby spinach, washed
Good quality goat’s cheese, to sprinkle

Instructions

1. Fill a large pot with water, add the parsnip and the cauliflower. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Drain and keep warm.
 
2. Meanwhile, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a pan over low heat, add the eschalots, garlic and rosemary and cook until soft – about 2 minutes. Add the cashews and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken mince with the cooked onion and garlic mixture, dates, nutmeg, and a good pinch of sea salt. Mix using your hands until well combined. Roll into balls depending on the size you want but keep them on the small size to ensure even cooking

4. Heat some more olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat and add the chicken balls. Cook, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through – about 5-10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile. In a food processor, blend the pear until a fine puree. Add the parsnip, cauliflower, creme fraiche, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the food processor and blend again until smooth and silky.

6. While the meat balls are still cooking, wilt the spinach in a sauce pan over medium heat with a splash of water. 

7. Once meatballs are done, to serve, spoon the puree into four bowls, top with the wilted spinach and then the chicken. Scatter the goat’s cheese. Eat immediately.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Marinated Fig Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

I believe in love. And I LOVE this salad.

Ive eaten this twice over the past two days and believe I could continue eating it for the rest of my life... or at least until the figs go out of season again.




Marinated Fig Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Adapted from The Kitchen is my Playground
Serves 2

Ingredients

4 medium sized fresh figs, cut in half and then quartered
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar (Emphasis on good quality!)
1 tbsp granulated stevia (or sweetener of choice, honey would work too!)
Pinch sea salt
2 cups rocket
2 cups baby spinach
2 tbsp blue cheese crumbles (or more depending on taste)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped into crumbles

Instructions

1.  Place the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, stevia and salt in a large ziplock bag. Add figs and gently massage so to coat with the marinade. Set aside and let stand for at least 30 min

2.  Divide rocket and baby spinach and place on two salad plates/bowls. Divide the figs between the plates and drizzle with the marinade.  Top with blue cheese crumbles and chopped walnuts.

3. Eat and fall in love.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Healthy Mini Beetroot Cakes

As requested by my mother





Healthy Mini Beetroot Cakes
Adapted from the Saffron Girl
Makes 12 mini cakes

Ingredients

300g Beetroot
Coconut oil to spray
4 eggs
1/2 cup low fat natural yoghurt
3 tbsp Maple syrup
20 drops liquid stevia (or add more maple syrup)
3 tbsp granulated stevia (or granulated sweetener of choice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut flour

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper

2. Peel the beetroot and cut into fine slices/chunks and place on the baking tray. Spray lightly with the coconut oil and bake for 20min, turning once after 10 minutes.

3. Remove the beetroot from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 170 degrees celcius and grease a square cupcake pan (alternatively you could use a regular cupcake pan)

4. Place the beetroot in a food processor and blitz for a minute on high until finely chopped. Add the eggs and blend again until combined.

5. Add the maple syrup, both stevias, vanilla extract, baking soda, sea salt and spices, blending again.

6. Add the cocoa powder and coconut flour and blend for the final time until combined.

7. Spoon a few tablespoons of the mixture into each hole of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes until the center is set. Remove from the oven. This tastes great served warm straight from the oven and also cold. Enjoy!

Sweet and Crunchy Chicken Salad

This was the perfect lunch after having a pretty miserable day.

The terrible weather has caused the driver's of Sydney to drive like complete idiots. After several near death experiences on my drive home, one which involved a van pulling in front of me, resulting in me slamming on my breaks, causing my car to skid side ways across the road and slamming into the same van (miraculously neither vehicle was damaged), when I did arrive home I was shaken and felt like emotionally eating my fridge.

Lucky I decided I could not afford to do that and made this salad instead.





Sweet and Crunchy Chicken Salad
Adapted from A dash of cinnamon
Serves 2

Ingredients

200g cooked chicken, shredded
1 1/2 cups celery, diced finely
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened, dried cranberries (Craisins), chopped
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1/2 cup plain low fat natural yogurt (the variety with no added sugar)
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh dill, chopped finely
Pepper and salt to taste
A few drops liquid stevia (optional, use to really bring out the sweetness)

Instructions

1. Place the shredded chicken (I used one chicken thigh and half a breast and pan fried them in 1 tbsp olive oil), either hot or cold, in a medium sized bowl. Add the yoghurt, mustard, stevia, salt and pepper, dill and thyme, stirring to combine.

2. Add the chopped celery, walnuts and craisins to the bowl, again mixing until combined. Distribute salad between two serving bowls. Eat. 



Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Peri Peri Chicken Salad

A perfectly light, post-Easter meal 




Peri Peri Chicken Salad
Adapted from Taste
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 long fresh red chillies, halved , seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbs garlic infused extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh oregano
3 garlic cloves, crushed
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
12 (about 600g) chicken tenderloins  (I used chicken breast, cut into strips)
Olive oil spray
1 tbs lemon infused extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
80g baby spinach leaves
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
125g cherry tomatoes, halved

Instructions

1. Place the sliced chilli, lemon rind, olive oil, oregano, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl. Add chicken. Toss to coat. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.


2. Spray a chargrill with oil. Heat on medium-high. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes each side or until cooked through.

3. Whisk the lemon infused extra virgin olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the spinach, onion and tomato to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Divide the spinach mixture among serving plates, top with the cooked chicken and serve.