Carob-Tahini Spread (liquid amazingness)

Carob-tahini spread, or known by its other name, liquid amazingness, is one of the things that I Would Not Have Tried without prompting from a review site or friend. I first tried it in a lebanese brunch place somewhere in Melbourne, where before tasting it, I bellyached about paying $7 for bread with spread on it.

Having tried it, I dreamt about this stuff until the day I recreated it and kept it in a jar in my cupboard, so I’d have it premixed ready for amazingness cravings at any time of the day.

Don’t even try to tell me about peanut butter-jam/jelly. I laugh in your inexperienced face (which was also my inexperienced face a couple of weeks ago, though my poison of choice is peanut butter with kraft cheese slices. Then the obsession took over).

You must try liquid amazingness. It is really easy to make. Please try. You will be surprised. You might binge and eat nothing else except bread dipped in liquid amazingness for breakfast for a whole week or two *cough cough*

Also I’m certain it’s kinda healthy… I hope given the quantities I’ve been eating

Photo 22-12-2013 11 45 23

Carob Tahini Spread, otherwise known as Liquid Amazingness

1 tablesp carob molasses
2 tablesp tahini
Some bread

  1. Mix the carob and tahini. Spread thickly on a slice of bread. Put it in your face hole. Swoon.
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Christmas leftovers: Eggnog Panettone french toast

When people think of Christmas leftovers, I suspect there is always an image of leftover turkey and baked potatoes, etc.

However, I don’t really eat those things over Christmas. If you knew what I had for Christmas dinner, you’d understand why there are no leftovers of any sort.

A hint: it’s called Crabsmas in my house. And our mascot is Father Crustaceous. Imagine a crab in a santa hat, if you will.

Apart from crabs and gingerbread, nothing is sacred. So, being in a Christmas-celebrating country for once, I took the opportunity to try a few things for the first time ever: namely supermarket eggnog and panettone.

Panettone is nice when it’s fancy, but I can’t say much for the supermarket version. Cardboard is a word that comes to mind. Also, eggnog – rather rich? Nice but I generally can’t drink more than half a cup of custard at a time.

All these things came together in a blast of inspiration one morning. Inspired by Father Crustaceous, and a disappointing brunch out the previous day, I exclaimed: “I shall make panettone eggnog french toast! I am a culinary pioneer!”

Photo 29-12-2013 10 54 26

Turns out that other people had thought of both panettone and eggnog french toast, separately and together. But whatever, I thought of it all on my ownsome first.

Eggnog Panettone French Toast 

2 eggs
~1 cup eggnog
1/2 a small panettone, cut into wedges

  1. Whisk the egg and eggnog together
  2. Dip the panettone slices in the eggnog until they are sopping wet
  3. Fry off in a hot grill pan, as you do for french toast

Things I never thought I’d do: homemade museli

Never in my life did I think I’d ever bother making home made muesli. I don’t even like muesli, usually. Toasted is okay.

But this one day I ran out of breakfast cereal and gave it a go (having too much free time on my hands on that particular, unusual day. Let me say this is not a regular occurance). From that point it sort of escalated out of control and I have decided that the best way to manage the process is to just teach other people how to make their own muesli so I don’t have to do it.

My mother in particular (who doesn’t even cook, ever!) made approx 2 kilos of toasted trail mix using this method and proceeded to eat them in a week. She said it was okay because I said it was healthy (and by healthy, I meant low sugar/salt + copious amounts of oats…all of which I suspect were disregarded).

With less sugar, low salt, and much more oats (!) I guess it is pretty healthy. And not thaat hard.

Anyway, so here we go. Learn because I will only make it for you once. Or twice if you ask nicely. Or if you are planning to pay me.

*sniff* I feel so pro

Homemade toasted muesli

Adapted from various other sources on the web – there were quite a number, but special mention to the first one I found on My New Roots which provided inspiration. 

The proportions of everything are pretty fluid so change as you will. The picture above had hazelnuts, cinnamon, figs, and coconut mixed in.

2 cups rolled oats
2 tablesp honey
2 tablesp olive oil
A pinch of salt (optional)

A handful of nuts – I’ve tried hazelnut, almond, and macadamia so far.

A teaspoon of spice – I like cinnamon but anything goes. Ginger might be nice.

A handful of mix ins – I’ve tried desiccated coconut, raisins, dates, and figs to date.

Oven temperature: around 180 degrees

  1. Pour the honey into a large flat dish and melt in the oven while it is heating up. Once runny, remove from the oven and mix in the oil. If your honey is already runny then you can probably omit this step.
  2. Pour in the oats, salt, nuts, and spices and mix until well combined.
  3. Now you start your toasting: depending on how fast the mixture browns, I start by toasting it for 15 minutes and removing it to stir. I then toast for another 5-10 minutes and stir. For a large bowl you might do 15 minutes +2x 5-10 minutes
  4. Once the oats are nice and golden all over, throw in the mix ins. These go in late because they can dry out or burn easily. Stir in and toast for another 5 minutes.
  5. Wait until it cools thoroughly before storing in an airtight container.

Cheesy Muffins with Balsamic Onions

Looks good yes? Nice pictures for once? I cleverly lost the recipe for these. Very well done, Lea.

Finally figured out how they do those paper wrappers

Ready to bake
Can you smell the cheesiness

I do this a lot, and recipe loss is probably the primary reason why I blog. This is the reason why I can write so much rubbish online – since I’m technically blogging to prevent recipe loss and don’t expect readers, any readers that do read are a bonus. Hence, I can write whatever garble I choose.

But, I had these pretty pictures and thought perhaps it might serve to remind myself to finally go look for the recipe again one of these days.

Will update when I find it.


A prettier pie than previously anticipated

Or is it a galette? I don’t know what the rules are for naming pies. It is in a pastry. Therefore, it is a pie. Feel free to elucidate if you know the pie-rules. Don’t report me to the pielice (get it, pie-lice/po-lice?) Let’s leave it on that terribly embarrassing note and proceed to the recipe, shall we?

This is a pretty flexible recipe. The only requirement is that the filling is dry and solid enough that it is able to stand by itself in the centre of the puff pastry and not leak out. And the smoked cheese really adds something. By adding something, I mean in the sense of fancy food bloggers “oh my goodness, it really adds a special something!!!” as opposed to the view that, of course, if you add cheese then you are adding ‘something’, i.e. cheese, to the pie.

I think this is one of the tastiest pies I’ve made so far, and it tasted awesome over the next 4 days as cold lunch. If you want to crisp up the pastry again, reheat it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Soon to be pie See ugly folding - but it didn't fall apart! Isn't it pretty

Seafood Leek Smoked Cheese Galette 

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
2 handfuls of grated smoked cheese – I only had enough for 1 handful, so I used a second handful of cheddar
1 handfuls mixed seafood
2 small fillets of fish
3 large leeks
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablesp sugar
1-2 teasp black pepper
A pinch of salt
A dash of chilli flakes

1 egg + a splash of milk for the eggwash

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Slice the leeks and fry over medium heat with a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to heat until the leeks caramelise slightly on the edges.
  2. Mix the egg, cheese, leek, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes – reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for later. Add the mixed seafood.
  3. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper, and scoop the pie filling into the centre of the sheet of pastry. Leave around 2 inch clearance on each side of the filling.
  4. Cut the fillets into strips, and place on top of the filling, skin up (if the fillets have skin).
  5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry into a pie shape, starting with one corner and working around until all sides are folded up. Take a look at the picture above for an idea of how to fold it up.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the assembled pie. Rub a little eggwash (egg mixed with milk) on the exposed puff pastry.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pie is a nice golden colour.

Ode to pie

Everyone likes pie. Do you like pie? I like pie.

Far too cutesy pie beads

Pie is not really a thing that one can say no to. And today, in the silence of the still morning, amongst the clackings of my keyboard, I suddenly decided: I want pie.

Why? Does pie need a why? One can never deny the pie.

* end of self indulgent poorly written rhyming *

Pre-caramelised leek Post-caramelised leek

Also, I work from home at present and so I can do these odd things like make pie in the middle of the day. Of course, that means I am back here at the computer working at midnight. Very clever. The sacrifices we make for pie, sigh. (Pie? Sigh? Geddit? snigger snigger)

Hello pie!

Caramelised Leek and Feta Pie with Zaatar Crust

I had leeks in the fridge so cobbled something together. I didn’t like the pie crust I used, and will update the recipe when I find one that I do like.

3 leeks
2 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp sugar
Approx 1/2 cup feta, cut into small cubes
3 eggs
150ml milk
Black pepper

1 portion of your favourite savoury pie dough + 1 tablespoon zaatar

  1. When you make your pie dough, add the zaatar to the flour and then continue to prepare the pie crust as per normal. 
  2. Slice the leeks so they are approx 3cm long each. Stand them all up in a frying pan. Pour over a little oil and fry them standing up that way for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  3. Slosh the vinegar into the pan, and wait for a couple of minutes so it drys a little. Then sprinkle in the salt.
  4. If you want, gently flip all the little leek cylinders upside down, so both sides char. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of chopsticks, in my opinion
  5. When cooked (and the pie crust is ready to be filled), arrange in the pie crust and place cubes of feta between the bits of leek.
  6. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Pour over the leeks into the pie crust.
  7. Bake for around 15-20 minutes until browned. Use the same temperature as required by your pie crust.

The Scrooge’s Brunch: Avocado and Feta Sourdough Toast, with Pomegranate Seeds et al.

Hello hello, and welcome to The Scrooge’s Brunch.

The aim of the game is to have a sublime and divine (and other posh words) brunch, without having to spend upwards of $20 (AUD!!) for a single plate of wholesome, tasty, real (i.e., recognisable components) food.

The good thing about wholesome “real” food is that it isn’t so hugely extraordinarily hard to figure out what went into the meal. If you can figure out what went in and approximately how to make it, then technically, a Melbourne style brunch should be within your grasp every weekend (twice!). And by you, I mean me, because I have unfortunately been seduced by Melbourne cafe culture, and eat brunch out far too often.

Inspiring stuff, no? I’ll at least attempt to plate everything in a nice cafe-ish way. And I’ll obviously only try to recreate dishes that I thought kicked some serious coffee cup.

Also, I promise not to ask any of cafes in question about how they make their food. That’s cheating, plus they will probably look at me weirdly/hipster snub me. The point of the exercise is independent recreation at home, not the copying  of a cafe recipe to a T.

First up is a variation on the infamous Avocado and Feta Sourdough Toast. I decided to start with a relatively easy one.

The original:

The original

The Scrooge’s Brunch: 

Pomegranate thievery!I overmixed a littletwo orders of avo-feta sourdough coming up!

Avocado and Feta Sourdough Toast, with Pomegranate Seeds + Other Fun Stuff

Fresh and crunchy and yum, this is a refreshing and satisfying brunch for relatively little effort. 

1 large ripe avocado
1/3 cup feta – I used about half the amount of feta to avocado, it isn’t an exact science here
1/2 cup cooked, drained, cooled chickpeas
2 – 3 radishes
1/2 a pomegranate
1/4 cup toasted pistachios – I used cashews because I didn’t have pistachios
1/8 cup fresh coriander leaves

Loaf of sourdough

  1. Ingredient preparation:
    • Avocado: peel and chop roughly in cubes, at least 1.5 cm long
    • Feta: crumble
    • Chickpeas: if tinned, drain, rinse, and set aside. If you cook them yourself you need a bit more prep time – use a water ratio of 1:4, and stick them in a slow cooker for 2-3 hours the night before. Drain, and leave to cool in the fridge overnight. If you pop the little skins off the texture will be better, do this by gently rubbing them against each other in a metal sieve.
    • Radishes: clean and slice into little sticks that look like toothpicks. Mine as pictured are a little thick.
    • Pomegranate: as carefully as possible, extract all the little pretty seeds.
    • Nuts: toast your nuts briefly and allow to cool
    • Sourdough bread: toast this!
  2. Now, in a big bowl, gently mix all the toppings together. You don’t want to mash it. As you can see above, I mixed a little too enthusiastically.
  3. Just before serving, artfully (yeah right) scoop it onto the toasted bread. Hooray, you saved $20!

Portion control: makes enough for 4 regular portions or 2-3 “Melbourne brunch” portions

Do aheads: you can do the chickpeas, radishes, pomegranate, and nuts ahead. Then just toast the bread and mix everything up with the feta, avocado, and coriander before brunch.

Verdict: 70% likeness, because I swapped the pistachios for cashews. I’m also pretty convinced they candied their pistachios, Bigfoot claims otherwise – this dispute requires another brunch visit to settle it. Also, my radish slices were too thick.

A note on attribution: I have left the name of the cafe in question off the post, as I thought it was better not to publically identify how to make specific dishes at specific cafes (even though this is a re-creation rather than the actual recipe) – though in my view, a huge part of Melbourne brunch culture is the cafe atmosphere, for which, of course, there is no recipe. If this isn’t correct attribution, please let me know and I’ll happily fix it. 

Warm Stomach Hugs and Dessert for Breakfast

Don't you feel healthier just looking at this

A rather healthy recipe for this blog. Let’s discuss how this came to be.

  1. Christmas + trip to Thailand + Chinese New Year in quick succession = constant, consistant overeating since mid December. Yeah right, I’m not the type to diet. But I am the type to eat lots and lots of heavy tasty healthy things to prevent myself from eating cookies / cake.
  2. I have been working from home for the last month and working at home means that I take a trip to the fridge every hour. At least. Last week I restless-ate a whole box of cereal in 3 days. Granted, it was Special K (with berries!) so supposedly “healthy” but seriously, have you ever looked at the sugar content in that stuff? Also, polishing off 2 boxes of cereal per week is a rather expensive habit. That’s by calculation, FYI. I didn’t actually eat 2 boxes of cereal.

This necessitated the creation of a heavy and hearty (yet still tasty) breakfast to keep me super duper full, that doesn’t cost loads. I also need to be able to munch on it throughout the day without getting bored and switching to cereal / gingerbread / chocolate chip cookies.

On a side note, how is anyone able to keep such a large stash of biscuits in the house uneaten for so long??? Bigfoot will soon learn of my biscuit-munching ways, to his peril.

I never knew the difference a good peeler made

Enter baked oatmeal.

My house smelled amazing for the one hour this was in the toaster oven. Yes, I just moved house, and haven’t figured out how to work the proper oven yet. No cakes from me for a bit.

*hugs*

It's what's on the inside that counts

No beauty queen, I’ll admit. I should have covered it with foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

But, it tastes like an apple pie and feels like a big warm hug to the stomach.

Dessert for breakfast and warm stomach hugs, what more do you need to ease yourself into the cruel early light of each morning?

Update: I’ve already eaten 1/8 of this over the course of the evening… suffice to say it is super filling, I’m truly stuffed.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins

Inspired by the recipes of Brown Eyed Baker, Eat-Yourself-Skinny, and Chocolate Covered Katie. I didn’t follow any of their recipes, mine is a much-streamlined version of theirs. But they gave me the right idea. 

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups milk
2.5 tablesp brown sugar
1 egg
3 red apples, diced – can be substituted for pretty much any fruit, except super watery ones
1/2 cup raisins – or nuts, or other types of dried fruit, or chocolate chips….endless possibilities
1/2 teasp baking soda

  1. Mix everything up in a big bowl.
  2. I baked mine in the toaster oven: 200 degrees C for around an hour (mine took an hour + 5 minutes). Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes or so once the desired charred-ness is achieved.

Reheat for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven at 200 degrees C to crisp up before eating.

A note on toaster ovens: apparently, toaster ovens lose heat faster than normal ovens so when making this in a regular oven, try 190 degrees C for 45 minutes to start with. Will test and update when I get the oven working!

Cake Addiction Centre: Patient “Gingerbread”

Welcome to the Cake Addiction Centre (CAC). My name is Lea and my weakness is gingerbread.

As you roam these halls you will see many victims of Cake Addiction. CAC takes care of them all – chocolate fudge, orange, berry, banana choc chip, double chocolate, peanut butter, red velvet, coconut cream, apple, custard, dark chocolate, coffee, pineapple upside down, even carrot cake addicts.

Chocolate cake takes a good many of our people. Good people. Our biggest threats are dark chocolate ganache, and cream cheese icing.

Gingerbread? No, gingerbread isn’t one of our most common addictions here at CAC. I may well be the only gingerbread inmate here at the moment. They usually allow us to conduct the guided tours because we are the most peaceful addicts. Some of them like to fight, especially those addicted to peanut butter or pineapple upside down cake.

What am I doing here, you might ask?

I ate a quarter of a sheet cake in one afternoon. Another sixth after dinner. And another quarter at breakfast the next day. After less than 24 hours, this is what was left of the cake. Suffice to say this cake did not see a second sunrise.

Oops..

I don’t have a picture of the whole cake. I could not control myself. I feel so ashamed.

Gingerbread

Adapted from the Be-Ro Flour Cookbook, 37th edition. Spicy spicy gingerbread and gingerbread people are some of my favourite things about Christmas (apart from mince pies, and crab. Yes, crab). You know how I feel about chilli. Don’t say you haven’t been warned about the possible level of spiciness. I might try adding fresh ginger, if so I’ll update the recipe.

300g flour
6 teasp ginger powder
3 teasp mixed spice powder
1 teasp cinnamon
1 1/2 teasp bicarb of soda
75g brown sugar
150g margarine – softened
225g black treacle
75g golden syrup
190ml milk
3 eggs
75g raisins / sultanas / currents

Oven temperature: 150 degrees C, for 1 1/4 hours. This is 1.5x the original recipe because I like my gingerbread thick and moist, so you might even need a little longer in the oven.

  1. Sift flour, ginger, spice, cinnamon, bicarb of soda, and sugar together. Throw the raisins in here too.
  2. Whisk together the margarine, treacle, and golden syrup.
  3. Add the milk and whisk again.
  4. Beat the eggs into the liquids.
  5. Mix the liquids into the flour.
  6. Pour it into a square cake tin, and bake for around 1 1/4 hours.

Possible pairings: orange honey cream cheese icing (if you insist on icing – I’ll post this recipe in a bit). Totally not necessary, I’m a purist and would be very unlikely to ice my gingerbread.

To try next time:

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of fresh grated ginger
  • Perhaps a teaspoon of black pepper?

Boilin’ Bomlea and the Pufftastic Tuna Puffs

Bigfoot found a fictional name generator and apparently my chef name is Boilin’ Bomlea. Go figure, I burn stuff sometimes. His was much more boring, after a few attempts he got BBQ’in Bigfoot, which isn’t anything to do with kitchen explosions at all. I like to think that I have a flamboyant style, rather than posing a threat to anyone else in a 10m radius of the stove.

He made these puffs, but doesn’t seem keen to guestpost. But, unless I write down the recipe, I’m pretty sure he will forget exactly how they’re made and then I’ll never get to try them. This would make me sad, because they look pretty tasty. And also, they appear to present the perfect laziness:impressiveness ratio that I do love so. Hence, I could not let such a snack be relegated to the depths of “some random yummy puff I ate that day”.

Wriggle wriggle wriggle wriggle wriggle wriggle yeaPuffy bellied puff

He also takes much better iPhone pictures than me. Though I suspect everyone takes better iPhone pictures than me. Cry cry. I shall never be a photographer.

Cheesy Curry Tuna Puffs

Inspired by Sweet Whisk.

2 sheets puff pastry
2 cans tuna in tomato sauce
1 red onion
2 tablesp fish curry powder
1 teasp chilli flakes – or to taste
1/2 to 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated – or more, to taste
1 egg, beaten

Oven temperature – follow the instructions on the puff pastry, ours was 180 degrees fan forced

  1. Fry onions until they brown a bit, then throw in the tuna.
  2. Mix in the chilli flakes and curry powder. Keep frying until the mixture is a bit dry.
  3. Let the mixture cool down. Meanwhile, defrost the puff pastry and cut it into squares.
  4. Put a spoonful of tuna mixture into the centre of each little square, followed by a spoonful of cheese.
  5. Roll up the puffs, and dunk them in the beaten egg.
  6. Bake according to the puff pastry instructions, ours took 18 minutes.

To try next time – add chives / spring onions, or cubed bits of potato