Thursday, August 20, 2015

Recipe Time: Boston Baked Beans

Today was a funny day, one of those "I don't really have much planned except I should go and get bits to make dinner" type of deals. I went for a wander to the market, with plans to just pick up some smokey Speck to make Boston Baked Beans, and ended up coming home with not only dinner ingredients, but some rye sourdough, Egyptian dukkah and a piece of local jerky the size of my head. Oops!

Lunch time! Egyptian dukkah is delicious served with some crusty bread dipped in olive oil & Balsamic vinegar.

As I would have expected, the sound of smokey speck incorporated into a home-y, hearty dish piqued the interest of a few friends so I thought I'd put the recipe up for everyone to use. It's a delicious, tangy dish with a kick of chilli, a punch of mustard and of course the gorgeous combination of tomatoey-smokey-sugary sauce. I'm sure you'll see with the list of ingredients, this is by NO MEANS a healthy, every day dish. But there's nothing stopping you from whipping this up when you need some comforting food to pick you up & treat yourself to this super easy, practically two step recipe :)

Boston Baked Beans

- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large brown onion
- 300g piece of speck (I like smoked speck for this!) rind removed, chopped finely
- 1/4 cup golden syrup (or treacle)
- 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot chilli sauce
- 410g canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 400g canned cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
- 400g canned butter beans, rinsed & drained
- 400g canned borlotti beans, rinsed & drained
- 1 1/2 cups salt reduced chicken stock

To prep: Chop onion and speck, and set aside. Drain and rinse your beans in a colander over the sink, and prepare the stock if you're using a stock cube or powder.

From there, it's super easy! Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, cook onion and speck, stirring, for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add syrup, sugar, mustard, sauces, tomatoes, paste, beans and stock; bring to the boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes or untul sauce thickens. 

Serve with crusty bread & baby spinach. Or, if you're feeling super cheeky and decadent, I've heard these are exceptionally good served on a hotdog ;)

Let me know how you go with it, I hope you dig it!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Blogger Resurrection, and some coffee scrub goodness!

Well, well, well, it's been a long time hasn't it! A lot has happened in a year- I found my passion, overcame personal demons and even had my jaw reconstructed (FINALLY! Don't worry, there's a post to come aaalll about that fun time!) I've been meditating about posting on here again, let's try and make this a more regular thing?

So. Hi! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Skincare Regime!

I have honestly promised to make this post for over a year now, so over a cup of Spearmint & Chamomile tea with Sex and The City reruns on in the background, now is the time to knuckle down and just belt this one out.
Some people might call my ritual obsessive, but the way I look at it, there is nothing on your body that is more visible and, well, in for the long run as your skin, so it's worth looking looking after it and treating it the best you can. The first & most important thing to do is get your skin mapped & skin type figured out. It can be as simple as a google search, but for more finicky skin it's worth going to a dermatologist, or even a Dermalogica/Clinique counter to find out what type of skin you have & what needs you have to be addressed. I have normal skin, which can be prone to a bit of dryness & oiliness on my nose/hairline.

So, that in mind, this is what I do to keep my skin in the best condition I can. I figure a step by step, morning to night, would be most coherent. Bear with me!

I start the day with facial dry brushing. I know there's a lot of noise on the blogosphere as to whether you should or shouldn't do this, so it's best to just go with your instincts (and skin types should be noted, obviously exfoliation with a brush isn't going to be very beneficial for super sensitive skin, but that being said, dry brushes are much more gentle than acid/bead exfoliations as you can control the pressure and strength.)
I purchased my small facial dry brush from Karma Living, but a quick search online will yield great results; aim for natural fibres, they're way less harsh on the face.
Brush from the center of your face, outwards and upwards, using gentle, brisk strokes. Your skin should tingle, but not burn, and as you get used to brush exfoliation, you can start using more pressure in your brush, but gentle and easy does it for the first few weeks!
I jump in the shower, and use Neutrogena's Deep Clean foam cleanser, it has this menthol feeling which is perfect for waking skin up in the morning, with the added bonus of being a super gentle foam; there's no lathering or rubbing required, you simply smooth it on, wait a few seconds & wash it off. It leaves my skin super clean, without feeling tight or over exfoliated, which is fab!

I follow cleansing with my favourite moisturiser, I've been using this for years & there's nothing that comes close to it, in my opinion; organic cold pressed Rosehip oil. It's super light, super nourishing, absorbed quickly without any residue or grease, and is packed full of goodies like scar & wrinkle fighting essential fatty acids, vitamins & antioxidants to encourage a natural glow. It's suitable for all skin types and when it's organically sourced & raw processed, contains no nasty chemicals or additives. Hooray!
Massage 3-4 drops into freshly cleansed face, neck & décolletage, and you're good to go!

I follow moisturising with potentially one of the most overlooked components of healthy skin care; a good sunscreen! It's so important to protect your skin from UV rays, sun damage contributes to premature ageing & deterioration of the general well being of your skin, a good sunscreen should be a part of every person's regime! I have had a lot of problems with sunscreens making me break out, but have had no problems with Dermaveen's colloidal oatmeal SPF30+ moisturising sunscreen. Apply liberally to your face, neck, & décolletage, it's a great base for mineral make up!

Cleansing at night is just as important as cleansing in the morning, and to keep your skin fresh & happy, it's SO important to let it breathe and regenerate overnight, and it simply cannot do that if you sleep with make up on! We've all been guilty of this time to time, but it's really something that should be avoided, cleansing your face at night clears all the debris from your pores, stimulates the circulation in your skin and leaves it fresh for healing & regenerating while you sleep.
I don't wear too much make up on my eyes, so I find Neutrogena's Oil Free Makeup Remover to be quite enough for me, but when I did wear a bit more eyeshadow, I found that micellular waters (Avene's in particular, I found to be an excellent product) made the removal of stubborn mascara much easier. It's definitely worth investing in sealed edge cotton wads that "leave no messy fibres" as fishing cotton fibres off eyelashes is a real pain!

Okay, I need to gush about this product, it's a recent discovery and it's fast become my favourite! I had really been struggling with finding a facial cleanser to use without having to hop in the shower, or splash water every where in the sink like a lunatic. Face cleansing wipes just didn't feel like they were cutting it, I was waking up with grimy feeling skin & the cream cleanser I purchased from Lush left my skin feeling oily & made me break out like crazy.
Then this little miracle comes along, and I cannot stop singing it's praises! It's a gorgeous organic cream cleanser, applied to dry skin and massaged with circular motion upwards and outwards towards the jaw & hairline, and is then wiped off with a warm washcloth. The texture is dreamy without being heavy & greasy, the cleansing is gentle without being fruitless & removal with a warm washcloth leaves pores open to nourishment (some Rosehip oil, naturally!)

I mean, what is not to love about this cleanser? It gets a gold star from me!

Finally, I follow with a dab of this product, on my forehead and eye contours. It's a bit pricey, but super luxurious and creamy, and you only need a blob about the size of half a tictac. Call me crazy, but anti ageing skincare should start as soon as you're in your twenties, why end up having to spend thousands of dollars down the track in reversing what could be prevented?

I hope this was helpful and even gave you some new ideas & products to try. Do you have any staples you swear by? Drop me a line in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Creamy Butternut Pumpkin "Carbonara" from Cookie and Kate

In all honesty, I promised myself my next blog post on here would have been about my birthday, my amazing family & partner and how they went out of their way to make my day super special, but then I made this and I decided that people needed to know about this witchcraft first!
Is it pumpkin soup? Is it pasta? It's creamy pumpkin "carbonara" with smoky fried sage!

For the new players, I am one of the basquillion people on earth who are lactose intolerant. Unfortunately for me, being vegan didn't work out so well in the end, and while I lead a mainly dairy free life (being able to tolerate small amounts of some cheeses), I do find myself pining over gorgeous, comforting creamy pastas even though they make my belly grumble in rebellion and have me balled up in farty agony hours after eating.
I love soy milk, but I really just don't like cream/cheese alternatives (and neither does Alex, for that matter) so I just avoid the whole shebang and miss out on fun on both sides of the fence. So you can imagine, when I stumbled across this recipe, featured on the Vegan Foody's tumblr (well worth a peruse if you're on that site and keen for some dinner ideas) I couldn't BELIEVE there was not a drop of cream or cheese used in this beautiful, creamy, glossy sauce. No cream, no alternatives, it's pure vegetable power!

All credit to Cookie and Kate for this recipe, it's so amazing, I just had to share with y'all!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 pound butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (up to ¼ teaspoon for spicier pasta sauce)
  • Sea salt and/or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 12 ounces whole grain linguine or fettucine (Z: all I had in the house was spaghetti, whoops!)
  • Optional additional garnishes: shaved Parmesan or Pecorino or goats cheese and/or smoked salt
  1. Heat oil in a large (read: 12 inch) pan over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sage and toss to coat. Let the sage get crispy before transferring it to a small bowl. Sprinkle it lightly with sea salt and set the bowl aside.
  2. Add squash, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  4. Once the squash mixture is done cooking, remove it from heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender. Reserve the pan. Purée the mixture until smooth (beware of hot steam escaping from the top of the blender), then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine pasta, squash purée and ¼ cup cooking liquid in reserved pan and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Serve pasta topped with fried sage, more black pepper and shaved Parmesan/Pecorino and/or smoked salt, if desired.
  • Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage (February 2014).
  • Recipe yields 4 large servings.
  • The squash purée is a killer bisque, which you could thin with vegetable broth if you’d like. You could also stir it into risotto at the end of cooking.
  • Make it gluten-free: use gluten-free pasta.

I actually cannot believe how gorgeous and creamy and thick and saucy and.. Perfect this sauce is! I served mine with a little crumbled goats cheese on top, it really brought out the subtle sweetness of the butternut, but omitting the cheese would make it a totally vegan recipe! If you were feeling ultra luxe, you could even stir some butter or cream into the sauce while combining it with the pasta, but I think the texture is luscious as is.
It would be delicious with vegetables added, like fresh peas, broccoli or mushrooms, but on its own its a perfectly satisfying meal, like a snuggly blanket for your tummy! Do have a look through Cookie & Kate's blog for more amazing recipes, and give this one a go; I promise it is as delicious as it looks!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My first traditional Phở Gà & a twist.

There are some things in life that you don't need to have experience in for them to just look appealing. Cupcakes, a nice icy drink, or for me, a good clear broth soup. I don't know what it is, but I've always just gone nuts for a good Miso or Tom Yum. For some bizarre reason, I had never ventured to try Vietnamese chicken soup (phở gà pronounced "Fuh Guh") I'm insane, I know!

I found an amazing comprehensive recipe on the Spicy Foodie, a food blog I have become very fond of, and while the list of ingredients and instructions may seem a little daunting, once you have a good read through and get your mind around it, you'll see it's not as scary as it looks, and once you get the hang of it, it'll be a walk in the park. I was determined to have the recipe turn out as right and best it could, so I made it my mission to get amongst the markets & source the freshest spices & herbs. It honestly made all the difference, I think!
Full credit of the following phở gà recipe to the Spicy Foodie, drop past their site & have a look at their amazing yums! The photos in this post are my own ^_^

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup: Pho Ga


Serves: 4
Broth Ingredients:
  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 2 chicken wings
  • 2 chicken breast, skinless
  • water
  • large pot
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and do not peel
  • 1 large piece of fresh ginger, do not peel
Broth Spices:
  • 1 tsp. coriander seed
  • 2 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
Additional Ingredients and Garnishes:
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • rice noodles cooked according to package instructions
  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • fresh mint leaves
  • scallions sliced
  • sliced chile
  • bean sprouts
Start the broth:
  1. Place chicken pieces and water in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Use a colander to drain the chicken and discard the broth. Set the chicken pieces aside. Rinse/wash the pot out or have a new clean pot ready to use. Next rinse off the chicken pieces then place back inside the pot.
Charring the onion and ginger:

  1. The ginger and onion need to be charred. Place them both over an open flame/gas stove flame, or on top of a very hot griddle, or they can also be charred under the broiler setting in the oven. Turn the onion and ginger to char evenly throughout. (I used an open flame and it took me about 8 minutes.) Set aside to cool down.(I used a hot griddle & wore an oven mitt to protect my hands from the high temperatures!)

Toast the spices:

  1. In a clean pan dry roast the spices to bring out the scents and flavors. Roast for 2 minutes stirring often to prevent burning. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
Now back to the charred ginger and onion.
  1. Peel the onions, and using a knife gently scrape away the charred ginger skin. Cut the ginger into 4 chunks and use the flat edge of the knife to bruise the ginger.
The final broth:
  1. Place the ginger, onions, cooled spices into the pot with the chicken pieces. (Alternatively the spices may be placed inside a spice bag before putting in pot.) Add 4 liters or 8 cups of water to the pot. Then add the 1 tsp granulated sugar and 2 tbsp. fish sauce. Cover and bring to a boil, once boiling reduce heat down to medium low and leave a small crack to allow steam to escape. Simmer the soup for at least an hour, longer if time allowed. I simmer my pho for about 2-3 hours. The longer the better.
Once the soup has finished simmering, strain and discard the spices and carcass — NOT THE BROTH. Thinly slice or shred the chicken breast. Add some cooked rice noodles to the soup bowls then ladle the chicken broth over the noodles. You can either serve the additional garnishes on the side so everyone can add their own or top the soup with them.

I made this for Alex and I with much success! We ate like kings and still had a good amount of broth leftover, so I placed it in an airtight container, in the fridge to be reheated the next day. I decided to put my own twist on this serving, and this is what I did:

- Pan fried a skinless, chicken thigh fillet off the bone, which was dusted slightly with Vegeta powdered chicken stock, just to really enhance the chickeny flavour. It really added to the flavour of the broth, which I reheated to a gentle simmer on the stovetop, rather than risk harming flavours with the microwave.
- Added some raw Enoki mushrooms, Boy Choy and crushed peanuts. It was delish!
- Pan fried a skinless, chicken thigh fillet off the bone, which was dusted slightly with Vegeta powdered chicken stock, just to really enhance the chickeny flavour. It really added to the flavour of the broth, which I reheated to a gentle simmer on the stovetop, rather than risk harming flavours with the microwave.
- Added some raw Enoki mushrooms, Boy Choy and crushed peanuts. It was delish!
Do you have a preferred twist on Pho? I'd love to hear it! This was my first ever experience with it, and I am very keen to make some more!
I hope this inspires you to go out and give making your own bone stock broth from scratch a go, if someone as kitchen illiterate as me managed okay, you'll be fine!

I've been cooking a lot with salmon, and even managed to convert Alex to eating it! I'll get around to posting the recipes, promise! 

Happy eating!