2012

You are currently browsing the yearly archive for 2012.

One year ago I mustered up the strength, vague coding skills and whatever cutsey thread of illustrator I had left in me to start this blog.

DID YOU KNOW? I only learnt to cook a few years ago. Living with my family I found little reason to as the food that pours from my mum’s kitchen, and extended family’s too, is close to perfection. I began fending for myself out of necessity when I moved out of home and soon learnt that preparing an honest meal for my friends and neighbours was one of the most humbling and enjoyable things to do. I began cooking more and more, documenting everything I did along the way so I wouldn’t forget. Eventually the scraps of paper and my poor memory weren’t cutting it and I’m certain the flood of ~food pics~ in my friends’ Facebook feed was becoming more of an irritation than some quirky fun; it was around this time I decided to create a delicious outlet of my own. The Sydney food blog scene at the time seemed a curious thing, however; super cliquey and with more emphasis on outings than to meals itself, or so I thought. I wanted to contribute to the pool with some dishes and stories of typical things I prepare at home for myself and treats I create for the special people in my life. Couple this with a drastic yearning for a career change, bringing my yuppie, inner-west lifestyle to a screeching halt in order to return to university to study something that actually resonated with me and hopefully assist in finding myself a job that didn’t have me questioning my life anytime the morning alarm tore me from my bed, so relentlessly, each and every day. Throw in a new found appreciation for digital photography and bam. Hello alanabread.

Since a year ago my photography has improved immensely. I no longer identify myself as a cupcake/macaron girl as my savoury repertoire is ever expanding. I’m working on a little book and have even submitted food photography as fine art prints for my final year of university. I occasionally intern as a café photographer for a Sydney magazine and here and there I receive little jobs to bake a box of treats for a special somebody’s event. Hey, I’ve even written a little book review. A couple of posts have won some prizes. It’s snowballing, and that’s awesome. Combined with my studies this is a great foundation of skills I’ve managed to piece together from this little blog. The above image is a chronological excerpt of every post thus far, it’s like a crazy gradient of memories and self-improvement.

The point I’m trying to make here is that putting yourself out there, especially on the internet, is hard. Weird and hard. And although I am passionate about so many things I barely possesses the ability to act on them these days, unfortunately ambition doesn’t rank too highly in my skillset (I can say the same for drive and confidence) due to a number of stupid reasons I am trying so desperately to change, so this is kind of a big deal to me (it’s been a difficult year). I’m clearly getting a little sentimental over here however I cannot end this longwinded sentiment without thanking all of my super friends, new and old, for their immense encouragement. So, thank you!! I appreciate you guys so much it makes my heart explode.

Anyway. This is getting a little too real, all I wanted to do was post some pretty pictures! Hahahahaha… ahh. Anyway, I’m going to shove my emotions aside for a moment with this small list of a things I’ve discovered and learnt as a “food blogger” over the year. They may or may not be relevant to you but I felt compelled to share nonetheless:

  • The term “foodie” isn’t a swear. It’s ok. Embrace it! Don’t shudder.
  • Did Foodgawker or Tastespotting just decline your photo? Who cares. This has no bearing on your amazing skills; they are but a couple of people with opinions. These kind of foodporn sites may attract pageviews but statistically these guys only stick around for a few seconds; true fans will visit your site over and over.
  • There’s no shame in mentioning and crediting your inspiration; don’t be that guy who rips off others! Bad reps spread like wildfire. If somebody does rip off your stuff however then try to take it as a compliment. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, etc etc.
  • Ignore the haters. For every good thing you do there’ll be somebody to try and drag you down. Whatevz! Jealousy is a horrible thing and it’s a big, big shame what it can do to people.
  • Shaking your head at Tumblr idiots who never credit your images, no matter how hard you shake, won’t make them go away.
  • Take a break if you’re too flustered to take photos after cooking! Have a rest, make some coffee, come back to it a little later. You’ll end up with a an uneditable, subpar image (and probably a sticky camera).
  • Lightroom, guys. PHOTOSHOP. Adjustment layers and all that. Post-processing is just as important as hitting the shutter on your camera. Don’t just throw a filter over all your images, zoom in and have fun emphasising all the best aspects of your images.
  • It’s better to over-cook than under-cook (I’m talking quantities here).
  • Second hand stores have the best styling props.
  • If you’re into sugar then kitchen thermometers are a must have (sugar is a harsh mistress with no time for those of us who attempt to wing it).
  • Cream cheese filling in a macaron is a no-no.
  • Salt works in everything, especially chocolate.
  • If an experimental recipe doesn’t work out then try it again some other time. Never dismiss anything even if it takes a few months to get back to that recipe.
  • If you feel as though favourite cuisine or baked good has been over-saturated or played out try and re-invent it! Make it bigger, better, tastier, cuter.

And, most importantly…

  • Don’t cook for your blog. Cook for yourself, your family and your friends, then blog about it.

Thank you for reading and thank you so much for visiting my humble blog. I mean that with my entire essence and every thread of all that is me. :’)

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Cravings are weird, right?

Majority of my friends are travelling, or will be travelling in the coming weeks, so to curb my fuming jealously I’ve turned to thoughts of some past adventures yonder seas. In 2008/2009 I hung out in Europe for a couple of months as most 20 year olds do; a few memories of a brief stint in Paris include being rained on tremendously, being kicked out of a souveigner store when I asked the owner for directions, trying to hit on a cab driver with a little help from the ‘romance’ section of my French translation app, seeing many, many boobies at the Moulin Rouge, and, as terribly cliché as it may sound, enjoying a really fantastic French onion soup, or rather, soupe a l’oignon, in a little café.

Since that fleeting thought I hadn’t the will-power to force it out of my mind. MUST HAVE FRENCH ONION SOUP! In a huge coincidence my prayers were answered at dinner at El Circo a couple of weeks ago; an amazing blended soup with a dash of port graced our degustation menu. Mind blowing stuff. And since then it seemed anytime I turned on the TV this soup has been everywhere. Food Safari. MasterChef masterclass. Some other show I can’t remember. The pressure was building up behind my tastebuds; It was time to prepare a soupe a l’oignon of my own.

I began trawling through old photos after making this, and check it out, I found a photo of that soup I ordered in that little Parisian café almost four years ago! Mind you I wasn’t much of a photographer back then with my little Canon snapshot (other photos in this album include me posing idiotically before landmarks, flipping off the Mona Lisa and getting craycray in da club). Hahaha… ahh. Gross.

This recipe is rather rich (beef stock + alcohol + cheese!) and will serve 2 for main or 4 for a little entree. I’ve thrown everything into this one, large pot for all to share at the dinner table but serving them up individually is great for dinner parties too.

Soupe a l’Oignon
(an original recipe)

600g onion (around 4 medium-large), finely sliced
50g butter
2tbs flour
250ml beef stock
500ml water
2 sprigs thyme
Salt
60ml port
60g gruyère, grated
2 slices bread

1. In a large, heavy-based saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and stir until softened. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for around an hour or until beginning to caramelise and brown.
2. Add flour to the onions and stir to cook for a few minutes. Add the stock, water and thyme and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, adding salt to taste.
3. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place your bread under a grill to toast lightly.
4. Once the soup is ready add the port then carefully ladle into an oven-proof bowl. Add a third of the cheese, then the toasted bread, then top with the remainder of the cheese. Place in the oven for around 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and is deliciously blistered. Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!

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So I’ve been massively ill since Tuesday. Everything was prepped and organised for a little shoot that day however, and most unfortunately, I only managed a few minutes of snapping before collapsing in bed. I’ve been drowning in blankets since and last night was the first time I was able to leave the house without crying like a total manbaby. The number of cool and important thing I’ve had to cancel this this week is super disappointing and even as I type this I should actually be attending a friend’s BBQ (pray for Mojo).

Upon reviewing my very few recipe photos from Tuesday I began thinking… my intention of starting this blog 11 months was not just to publish original recipes but also to celebrate the occasionan of food, since it’s such an huge element that brings us all together. The last (and might I add FIRST) time I posted about such an occasion was Julie’s baby shower in July of last year. So, Until my body drags itself out of its present, feverish daze I thought I’d share some photos from a few weeks ago, a little picnic at Sydney’s Hyde Park with the greatest of friends… and some new ones too. Amazing eats should go without saying because these guys are the greatest in the kitchen. Oh and see if you can spot my Jasmine + Pandan Macarons!
























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I’m terrible with anecdotes so to spare everyone a long-winded and poorly written story here’s a super condensed version; I was hanging with my friend Mel last week at one of our favourite establishments when I received a text message from home explaining a bag of fresh papaya was just delivered. I’m one of those annoying people who read text messages aloud and Mel must’ve seen the question marks pouring out of my ears so she began to explain all the wonderful benefits of papaya, saying she’d read somewhere its seeds are apparently peppery and delicious. Cool, right?

Thanks to my clever friend and a little dehydration action I’ve come up with this Papaya Pepper Sorbet. It’s times like these I wished I owned a little café or restaurant (my ~FOOD DREAM~) because this is one killer palette cleanser. And shout outs to my vegan pals ‘cos this is one for you! So long as you have some waiting time on your hands this is one of the easiest desserts to create; all you need is some papaya purée, coconut milk, sugar syrup and a spritz of lime. Throw in some ground papaya pepper too for a little something-something, too. It’s pretty great. And can also be made with pawpaw, or a mix of both fruits!

This makes around 8 palette-cleansing serves of papaya sorbet. If you’d prefer to serve this as a full blown dessert dish then I humbly suggest you double the recipe.

Papaya Pepper Sorbet
(an original recipe)

500g papaya, including seeds
65g (1/3 cup) sugar
80ml (1/3 cup) water
60ml (1/4 cup) coconut milk
30ml (1 shot) Malibu, or coconut rum
1 lime

For the papaya pepper
1. Preheat oven to 80°C. Halve the papaya and scoop out seeds. Spread evenly on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and dehydrate for an hour, or until the seeds are dried. Once cooled blitz them in a spice grinder.

For the papaya pepper sorbet
1. Purée papaya flesh in a food processor. Remove and place into a bowl and combine with coconut milk and coconut rum.
2. Prepare sugar syrup by combining sugar, water and juice of half a lime over medium heat until dissolved. Simmer for a few minutes until thickened slightly. Add to papaya mixture along with a squeeze of the remaining lime half. Place in the fridge for a few hours to cool completely, but ideally leave overnight.
3. Add 2 heaped teaspoons of ground papaya pepper into the sorbet mixture and prepare in ice cream maker, as per instructions. Serve immediately, garnishing with a few whole peppercorns.

Thanks to Impact Communications and Australian Papaya for the papaya and pawpaw! You guys are rad!

PS. I’ve been typing this up over the last few incredibly rainy days; the sun has finally decided to show itself today which makes me feel a little less weird about posting a sorbet. AND SPEAKING OF RAIN (clever segue), has anybody managed to get along to Vivid Sydney? Every single evening I’ve been free it has absolutely poured, last night included, but since yesterday was the finale of the festival I threw on many, many layers and braved the cold to enjoy the lights. Lovely stuff (and I’ll take any excuse to throw up a gif).

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Apple Caramel Cupcakes

It’s 2am. I’m perched before my computer in the shadows, my face illuminated only by the sickly glow of the monitor. My eyes, heavy like a million suns, desperately struggle to remain alert. Amongst piles of notes, papers (and at least 40 tabs open in Safari) sits a solitary tub of Nutella. From my mouth hangs a chocolate-stained spoon. Sanity in a jar. Sweet, hazelnutty stress relief.

Okay, I’m not the most poetic of writers so I’ll just draw the scene for you instead.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

So amongst the chaos that have been the past three weeks (taking photos, essay writing, picture editing, interning, event snapping, illustrating, etc etc!) my dad asked yesterday if I could make something for his fundraising morning tea at work for tomorrow. WHERE WILL I FIND THE TIME TO DO THIS?! Oh dad, it’s lucky this is for a charity event and there’s no way I could possibly say no to you, lord knows how much I love to bake for a good cause and help you out.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

I remember seeing this style of decorating around the internet, I’m sure if you google “apple cupcakes” some similar looking treats will appear. I just winged it (this is the first time I’ve ever used fondant, ahh) but if anybody knows the original instructions to transforming the humble cupcake into a sparkling faux-apple please let me know so I can link it!

I Instagramed this earlier today as I didn’t think I’d have the time (or daylight, rather) to photograph + blog which explains why I have no detailed/photographed instructions re: the assembly so I drew something stupid for your viewing pleasure instead. This recipe makes 12 adorable cupcakes.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Apple Caramel Cupcakes
(an original recipe)

Caramel apple
1 large apple, chopped into small pieces
20g butter
30g brown sugar

Cake batter
100g butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
30g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
170g (1 1/2 cups) flour
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon

Buttercream
150g butter, room temperature
350g (3 cups) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs milk
Red and green food colouring (I used gel)

Assembly
Red and green sanding sugar
1 Flake
Fondant
Green food colouring

For the caramel apple
1. In a small frying pan melt butter and sugar over medium heat. Add chopped apples and stir until sauce has reduced and caramelised nicely. The apples should just be beginning to tender. Remove from heat and place in a heatproof bowl to cool.

For the cake batter
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Beat butter until it begins to cream and pale. Add the sugars and continue to beat until combined and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating and incorporating well after each addition. Add the flour, milk, baking powder and cinnamon and once again beat until completely combined. Stir in the caramel apple pieces.
3. Spoon batter into a prepared cupcake tin with liners. Place in oven and bake for aound 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream
1. Beat butter until it begins to cream and pale. Add icing sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy. Add milk until an ideal consistency is reached; it should be firm yet spreadable. Divide buttercream in half and add red colouring to one portion and green to the other.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

For the assembly
1. Prepare fondant with green food colouring. Take a small piece and roll into a ball in the palm of your hand. Flatten into an oval shape and, with the back of a knife, score the piece vertically down the middle. Add a few additional, horizontal scores. Curl the leaf slightly, pinch its edges and allow to sit to return to room temperature.
2. Ice your cupcakes ensuring its entire surface is covered. Dip cupcakes into a bowl of sanding sugar ensuring the buttercream can no longer be seen. Gently break up the flake bar and insert a pice into each cupcake as the twig. Add the fondant leaves with a little buttercream to ensure they will stay put.

Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Okay, that was a nice distraction, I must now to finish this essay by midnight and it’s not going to write itself. Wish me luck!!

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Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + GingerCan we talk about cheesecake for a moment? Cool. Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, this may take a while.

Let’s talk dense, dry cheesecakes. Lingering in our cafés. Lurking beneath cake box lids. Taunting us with a seemingly inviting berry glaze until we discover that chalky mess upon our first bite. Such a shame. A dairy-riddled tragedy. Ordering cheesecake when I’m eating out is a risk I’m just not willing to take these days, it’s an extreme sport of the yuppie variety.

This cake was actually inspired by that girl who cries all the time on MasterChef. She made a messy, lemon cheesecake last week and although I try to sympathise with the pressures of cooking with a plethora of cameras in your face I couldn’t help but feel a little taken back. As soon as the episode finished I promptly began working on this silky wonder to right the wrongs of that young beanie-head. I’m a cheesecake snob, a real jerk I’ll admit, so if I’m into this recipe then I’m sure you’ll be too!

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger

While I’m at it let’s get a dialogue happening regarding ginger because it’s so disappointing when awesome spices have such exhausted connotations. In my day-to-day life ground ginger only makes a brief appearance in hot cross buns at Easter, when not being overpowered by it’s far more popular cousin cinnamon, and on occasion gingerbread makes a vague appearance down here in sunny Australia. Like salt to chocolate, ginger to mango is really special. It makes me all warm and fuzzy.

The base of this cheesecake is wonderfully spiced and the cheese filling bakes to the texture of a firm custard. Add a little more chocolate on top, and… ahh. Hello, lover. I’ve used a combination of biscuits readily available in Australian supermarkets but of course you can use whatever you please so long as they’re crunchy. If you’re reading this out-of-peak mango season then using the tinned stuff is fine as well, the flavour will be a little more subutle.

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger

On another related note, I’ve been spending my free time (or what little of it I have left these days) interning at a really cool magazine here in Sydney taking snaps in cafés and learning heaps along the way from some incredibly talented people. For these shots I mustered everything I had learnt over the week and tried to apply them here; natural lighting, tripod skills and remaining calm. I threw open my blinds and took many deep breaths. Coincidentally they required the least amount of editing of any set of photos I’ve taken. I’m fairly pleased with the results but as always do tell me what you think! This will serve 10-12 people.

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger
(an original recipe)

125g ginger nut biscuits
125g chocolate ripple biscuits
70g butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Flesh of 1 large mango (around 200g)
250g cream cheese
250g mascarpone
100g sour cream
120g caster sugar
40g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
40g cream
1 tsp glucose / corn syrup
Cocoa, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 150°C and grease/line a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan.
2. Prepare biscuits in a food processor until ground. Add 1 tsp of ground ginger and stir in melted butter. Press into base of springform pan until flat and firm. Chill in refrigterator.
3. Prepare mango flesh in food processor until beginning to puree. Add cream cheese, mascarpone, sour cream, caster sugar and brown sugar and process until combined. Add the eggs and egg yolk and once again process until combined. Remove base from fridge and pour filling into springform pan. Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours. The edges should be fairly firm with a bit of wobble towards the centre. Remove cheesecake from pan once cooled and place in the fridge to chill completely.
4. In a small saucepan (or microwave) warm cream until almost boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and stir until mostly melted and combined. Add 1/2 tsp of ground ginger and glucose and again stir to combine. Remove cheesecake from fridge and place on serving platter. Drizzle chocolate sauce over the top, Pollock style. Sprinkle a little cocoa and serve.

NOTE: You can also bake these as cupcakes if you like, I’d suggest baking them for around 25 minutes.

Mango Cheesecake with Chocolate + Ginger

Let’s dedicate this post to all the lost causes out there. Bad cheesecakes, my heart weeps for you. My heart weeps for this too but in a different way. It’s so naughty yet I feel no remorse. None, whatsoever.

 

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Welcome friends to my Middle Eastern and completely photo-heavy extravaganza of a post! The very nice people at Essential Cuisine were kind enough to send me a wonderful basket of goodies last week to participate in a little friendly cooking competition to put their new range of gourmet stocks to good use. Although I completely and utterly dig making stock from scratch when I have the time the reality is sometimes we’ve all just got too much on and unfortunately a lot of supermarket substitutes just won’t suffice. I think these guys have tapped into a much desired and appreciated niche of the home cooking world.

My food genre of choice for this challenge is Middle Eastern since 50% of my genes hail from Egypt. Obviously these dishes aren’t strictly Egyptian but our general mentality has something to do with a lot of spice, sweetness and FLAVOUR. How awesome is flavour?! Prettyyyyy, pretty good.

The original plan was to have four recipes up for you all to try however, most unfortunately, this crazy week involving too much work and a computer crash (!!!) has contributed to the demise of a few folders of images, mystery dish included. It’s a massive shame because it’s mighty fine! I promise to re-shoot and get it up as soon as possible because I’m sure you’re going to love it. And if you don’t… come at me bro. So in lieu of my disasterously hectic week I’ve come up with three publishable dishes! Firstly is a Lamb, Fig and Date Pizza. Oh my gosh. Since this challenge was about being creative I thought “why not throw a tagine on a pizza?!” Genius. You don’t even need to make, or add, pizza sauce. When I made it for my family the other night their faces literlly melted off… really truly. I had some for lunch and dinner and my brother polished off the leftovers for breakfast the following day. It’s seriously good. I also have a couple of sides; Buttery Pomegranate Couscous and Spiced, Roasted Chickpeas, they’re like ethnic wasabi peas! The couscous would have made a little more sense with the other dish I was going to post, but, yeah. Massive apologies again. :(

And, as always, I am always photographing for my book project so without further adieu, here’s a whole lot of photos!

Lamb + Fig + Date Pizza with Minted Yoghurt (makes 3 pizzas)
Lamb Tagine
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp crushed corriander seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp saffron powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 tsp cardamon pods, seeds removed
2 tsp peppercorns
1 cinnamon quill
2 onion
3 cloves garlic
30g fresh ginger, grated
1 kg diced lamb (I used leg)
250ml lamb stock
50g dried dates, chopped
80g dried figs, chopped
2 tbs (heaped) honey
Olive oil

Pizza Dough
14g (2 sachets) dry yest
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
60ml olive oil

Assembly
Truss of fresh cherry tomatoes
1 cup natural yoghurt
Handful of finely chopped mint
Handful of pinenuts

For the lamb tagine
1. In a mortar and pestle crush the fennel seeds, cardamon and peppercorns. Combine with the rest of the spices. Dice onion, finely slice the garlic and mince the fresh ginger.
2. Drizzle olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook through, continually stirring, until beginning to soften (around 5 minutes). Add the spices and cinnamon quill and, once fragrant, add the diced lamb. Once it is nicely browned pour in the lamb stock and add the dried dates and figs. Turn the heat down, cover and allow to simmer for an hour.
3. Remove the lid and add the honey. Bring heat up to a vigorous boil for a few minutes to reduce the liquid. It needs to be of a thick, stewy consistency as this will also double as the pizza sauce. Once ready, decant to a shallow bowl and break up the lamb pieces with two forks, roughly shredding.

For the pizza dough
1. Combine warm water with yeast, sugar and salt. Cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes in a warm area. If the mixture does not become frothy discard and start again.
2. Add yeast mixture to flour and knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes. Roll into a ball, cover with a damp towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. The dough should double in size.
3. Punch the dough to remove air and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide into thirds and roll out as pizza bases.

For the assembly
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place truss tomatoes on a baking try and roast for 20 minutes. Remove and turn up oven to 250°C.
2. Place pizza bases on a baking tray and divide the lamb tagine between them, leaving a border of a few centimetres. Sprinkle with pine nuts and dot with cherry tomatoes once removed from the truss. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until dough is browned and cooked through.
3. Combine yoghurt with mint and dollop in the centre of the pizzas.

Buttery Pomegranate Couscous
1 cup couscous
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground corriander seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tbs butter
1 pomegranate, deseeded
Chopped coriander (optional)

1. Heat chicken stock in a saucepan until just beginning to boil. Place couscous, spices and salt in a heatproof bowl and pour over the warmed stock. Cover immediately with plastic wrap for 5 minutes. Gently fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the butter. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and chopped coriander.

Roasted + Spiced Chickpeas
375g dried chickpeas
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground corriander seeds
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp sumac
2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
2 tsp salt
50ml olive oil

1. Pour dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with double the amount of water. Leave to soak overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Drain chickpeas into a large saucepan. Cover with water and boil for an hour or until beginning to tender.
3. Decant into a bowl and toss through spices, salt and olive oil. Move to a baking tray and bake for 1 hour, stirring the chickpeas occasionally to ensure they’re cooked consistently. Serve with a sprinkling of paprika.

Phew! I hope your monitors have survived this epic lamb pizza post. I promise to post up that mystery recipe soon as well with another Middle Eastern inspired dessert I prepared very soon. Thanks again to Essential Cuisine for allowing me to try their stock! You guys are just too cool for pushing me to create such tasty things for my family.

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Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

A few weeks ago I received the sweetest delivery; some darling Pink Ladies from Aussie Apples! So this is a somewhat delayed post due to the unfortunate demise of my mandolin. RIP, old, orange friend! I’ve had to wait a couple of weeks to acquire a new one. It’s so super fancy, so fancy in fact that it nearly cut my finger off. Awww yeah.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

Resisting the urge to transform these apples into some kind of dessert (because I really ought to grow up and get my savoury on a little more often) I thought… h’ordeuvres are cool, right? Wonderfully miniature food you can knock back in one mouthful. So, what pairs well with apple? Pork! Ohh, but the whole pulled pork thing is so overdone these days. Why don’t I throw some roasted apple in there to mix it up a bit? Hmm. No. WAIT! I’ll place the pork ON THE APPLE AS LITTLE, EDIBLE PLATES AND IT WILL BE GREAT! And lord knows I love making fruity crisps. And so it was done. Well, the pork was… then my mandolin broke… so I had to wait, my mind heavy with h’ordeuvre love for a few weeks.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

Last time I prepared pulled pork I doused my slow-cooker with beer, which was awesome, but incredibly rich. I considered a 50/50 combination of beer and apple juice until I realised cider would be a much better idea. Thankfully I have a few bottles of homebrewed cider sitting in my room. It’s… not the greatest tasting beverage (why did I use a dry wine yeast to make a fruity cider?!) but it’s ultra-tang makes it very special for cooking. Salty, cidery pork with a sweet, crunchy, apple aftertaste is my idea of fantastic treat.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

I can’t wait to make this for a super funtime party soon. This should make around 60 pieces.

Slow Cooked Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps
(an original recipe)

Apple crisp
3 apples

Cider pulled pork
600g pork chops or shoulder
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs paprika
2 tbs cumin
2 tbs crushed coriander seeds
1 diced onion
1 cup apple cider
1 tbs mustard
2 tbs chili flakes (optional)
1 tsp dried thyme
Splash of worcestershire sauce
Splash of soy sauce
Salt
Olive oil

Assembly
A few spinach leaves
Dried thyme
Chili flakes (optional)

For the apple crisp
1. Slice apples on the thinest setting on a mandolin. Preheat oven to 80°C. Lay slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and allow to dehydrate in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, turning once halfway through. Once ready, remove from trays and allow to cool on wire racks.

NOTE: This can be done a day ahead. If you find the crisps a little on the limp side the following day you can always re-crisp them in the oven for a few minutes.

For the slow cooked cider pulled pork
1. Combine spices with a little salt and rub into pork pieces. Prepare your slow cooker with a splash of olive oil, and it if has a browning option, add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add pork pieces to brown. Add the cider and other ingredients, turn on the slow cooker option and leave to cook for 6 hours. Check every 1 1/2 hours to turn the pork.

2. Once the pork is tender and cooked through remove pork onto a chopping board and decant juices into a saucepan. Discard any bones. Place over medium-high heat and reduce until halved. Meanwhile, gently break up the pork with two forks (you don’t need to be too thorough) and place into the saucepan of reduced pork juice. Continue to stir and break up the meat until it has reduced a little more; you want the pork to be moist but not too soupy. Remove from heat.

NOTE: This can also be done a day ahead; once prepared from the slow cooker you can separate both meat and juice and refrigerate (or even freeze) for a couple of days until you’re ready. This also provides an opportunity to skim off any fat that may solidify on the surface.

For the assembly
1. Because the apple will curl slightly in the oven, place the crisps the right way up so they stand like a little bowl. Place a small, or a piece of, spinach leaf over the crisp to cover the gap where the core and seeds once were. Top with a generous pinch of pork followed by a sprinkling of dried thyme and chili flakes.

Cider Pulled Pork on Apple Crisps

Mouthfuls of pure happy, these are. I do hope you’re able to try them! GET SOME PORK ON YOUR FORK! And thank you again to Bite Communications and Aussie Apples for the apples. Support your local growers!

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No Churn Iced VoVo Ice Cream

Making a no-churn ice cream has been on my to-do list since the dawn of time so I’ve decided to go out on a limb and dedicate this frozen experiment of convenience to some delicious Australiana. Enter: the Iced VoVo. It’s proper grouse. Ace. A real corker. ONYAAAAAA MATES.

No Churn Iced VoVo Ice Cream

The Iced VoVo has been around for over 100 years (for a relatively new country like us I’m sure that’s some sort of historic achievement, right?). Breaking it down it’s basically a buttery biscuit topped with fondant, strawberry jam and coconut – naturally an inviting combination for the base of any ice cream. I never really liked them when I was younger (I had a thing with desiccated coconut) but obviously times and palettes change! This recipe is a bit ridiculous, but lots of fun. Be warned though it’s super creamy and really sweet so give your dentist a heads up before throwing this in your freezer.

No Churn Iced VoVo Ice Cream
 No Churn Iced VoVo Ice Cream
(an original recipe)

1 x 395ml can sweetened condensed milk
600ml thickened cream (around 2 cups)
300g Iced VoVo biscuits (1 1/2 packtes)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup strawberry jam
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold cream into the condensed milk. Crush Iced Vovo biscuits in food processor (or with a large, heavy kitchen utensil) and combine with cream mixture along with the coconut.
3. Place jam in a small heat proof bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Mash with fork to remove lumps (discard any large chunks of strawberry that do not budge). Drizzle over ice cream and gently swirl through. Freeze for a few hours, ideally overnight.

For those who don’t have access to these across the other side of the world I ask you, is there any sort of vague equivalent? Do tell!

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Chicken + Corn + Egg Soup

Back in July I posted this chicken, corn and egg soup recipe. LOLOL, right? Besides the obviously thoughtless styling please allow me to explain my revisiting of this post. I’m in my third year of university (Bachelor of Digital Media) and for my final project I’ve (foolishly?) proposed to design and photograph my very own cookbook. It’s pretty exciting. Here’s a working cover:

Playing the role of both chef, stylist and photographer really takes its toll to the point I’ve been flailing and shouting about never wanting to be a photographer anymore, ever. However I must always keep in mind this is all for the greater good despite the fact I’ll never be able to sit and enjoy my lunch without having spent an hour taking photos of it for the next seven months. Most entries you’ve seen this year will be compiled in my book so THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH to everybody who has offered kind and constructive words re: photography. Keep it coming. And don’t get afraid to get nasty; I’m used to getting my butt kicked at uni so if you see something you don’t like please go nuts with it.

Chicken + Corn + Egg Soup

On to the food; my prior entry explained this soup came about whilst I was very, very ill but this time around I’ve spared a little more effort to transform this into a more graceful dish (using real stock this time, not the supermarket type! Wow!); someone on Pinterest even mentioned I should probably have chicken pieces in here, so thanks for your feedback! I have delivered. This should serve around four friends.

Chicken + Corn + Egg Soup
(an original recipe)

1L chicken stock (please refer to this recipe)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs ginger, minced or finely grated
2x 420g cans creamed corn
1 tbs soy sauce
2 eggs
1 tbs corn flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped shallots, to serve

1. Prepare chicken stock as per these instructions. Once drained and cooled remove chicken from the bones, lightly shred and reserve for later.
2. In a medium-sized pot sizzle the ginger in sesame oil until fragrant. Add the stock, creamed corn and soy sauce and stir to combine.
3. In a small bowl combine cornflour with equal part water and stir until dissolved. Pour into soup and stir – this works as a thickening agent.
4. In another small bowl whisk the two eggs. Slowly pour in them in ensuring the soup is hot so they cook almost immediately. This will create a lovely, light weave of egg throughout your soup.
5. Ladle out in bowls and adorn with a generous pinch of shredded chicken reserved from earlier. Garnish with chopped shallots and cracked pepper.

Let’s get these bad boys side-by-side; here’s a comparative image from August 2011 to now illustrating a significant improvement of styling and photo editing. Funny how I used to think the photo on the left was the bees knees:

… and in another year’s time I’ll probably be looking back at these photos having a solid laugh too (in fact I’m already finding reasons to dislike them – I’m still clumsy with dark coloured backgrounds). At least it’s comforting to know there’s always room for growth and improvement, right?

PS. On a completely unrelated note – does anybody here use Instagram? Since it’s now available for Android I’ve completely jumped aboard, let’s be friends! My username is bananasoiree.

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