Tag Archives: food

Winter Warmer : Pear Mint and Ginger Crumble

Image 2This is a recipe from one of my favourite food blogs “Finger Fork & Knife”, which is a real inspiration to my own aspirations of becoming a food stylist / food photographer / food designer, if not only just as a hobby. I’m not quitting my day job any time soon – I have a mortgage!

Warm pear and ginger are some of my favourite flavours, coupled with the sweet and crunchy oat and nutty topping – with little bursts of saltiness dotted throughout – contrasted with the freshness of mint and zestiness of lemon, balanced with cold creamy vanilla icecream atop, makes this dessert a winter winner in my book. Pears are in season now too which is perfect as I’m a big fan of cooking seasonally and using produce at its optimum quality and availability.

I made a few ingredient substitutions in order to reduce the guilt when seeking comfort in this treat, but all in all this crumble is pretty wholesome (in terms of desserts), so don’t feel too bad.

Pear Mint and Ginger Crumble*

Serves 4-6

For the fruit

  • 4 large pears, peeled, cored, sliced – I actually forgot to peel mine. The skin has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory flavonoids and heaps of dietary fibre, so feel free to leave it on for added nutritional benefit.
  • 2-3 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped – I used 3
  • 2 pieces stem ginger, chopped – I couldn’t find any so I used glace ginger and halved the amount of sugar used in the crumble topping to compensate
  • zest of 1 lemon – when zesting the lemon, do so over the pan, so that you capture all those flavoursome oils from the rind that splutter everywhere
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

For the crumble topping

  • 1/2 wholemeal flour – I used wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats – next time I’ll try rolled spelt oats to reduce gluten
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar – I used 2 tbs to reduce the sweetness since I used glace ginger, and also to make it a tad healthier
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped – hazelnuts would be yummy too
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 60g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes – sorry, but butter makes everything better! Use organic grass-fed if you can.
  • Himalayan rock salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180C.

Put the sliced pear, dates, stem ginger, lemon juice and zest into a saucepan. Add a splash of water and bring to the boil. Reduce hear and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the pear has softened slightly. Remove from the heat and add in the chopped mint leaves. Stir gently to mix through mint then spoon into an oven-proof dish or divide between individual ramekins.

To make the crumble topping, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs – this can also be done in a food processor. Stir in oats, brown sugar, almonds and sunflower seeds. Scatter the crumble over the fruit in an even layer and pop into the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned on top. Serve warm, with a big dollop of natural yoghurt, custard, cream or (my choice) vanilla icecream.

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IMG_2209*Recipe credit to Finger Fork & Knife: http://fingerforkknife.com/2013/06/30/pear-mint-ginger-crumble/

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Mexican Beef Tacos with Chimichurri Corn and Green Goddess Slaw

IMG_2154On the weekend my girlfriends and I had a takeaway picnic lunch in the park – to take advantage of the beautiful winter’s day, and really so we could all be selfish and have whatever flavours we felt like that day. I opted for Chinese (steamed chicken with rice and greens and lots of chilli) and my friend had Mexican. The few bites I snuck in were yummo and thus became my inspiration for tonight’s dinner.

This is a mix and match of a few recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good”. I took a few liberties and improvised a little with what I had in my fridge. Next time I may be a little lighter-handed on the oil and salt, but that’s my personal preference (and it’s a little healthier), though my dinner amigo thought it was just delicioso as is.

Mexican Beef Tacos with Chimichurri Corn and Green Goddess Slaw

Serves 4 hungry fiesta guests

Mexican Beef

Rub some rump steaks with olive oil and Mexican seasoning (cumin, oregano, garlic, paprika, chilli, pepper) then BBQ for a few minutes on each side. Remove from heat, cover and leave to rest whilst you make the sides.

Chimichuirri Corn

  • 4 fresh ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan rock salt
  • 2 tbs Chimichurri (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Remove the kernels from the corncobs. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat and immediately add the corn kernels and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the corn is softened and takes on a bit of char around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the Chimichurri and chilli flakes. Season to taste.

Chimichurri

  • 1 packed cup Italian parsley
  • 1/2 packed cup coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Pulse everything together in a food processor (I use a powerful blender like a Vitamix). Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

  • 2/3 cup Greek yoghurt – I use Chobani No Fat. It’s got heaps of protein, zero fat and low in sugar (and non of the yucky added sugars)
  • 1/4 cup coriander
  • 2 scallions, which and light green parts only
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 jalapeno – I used a whole one, I like spicy
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Combine all the ingredients in a powerful blender and blitz until completely smooth. This makes a lot of dressing. If you don’t use it all, it will keep well in a jar for up to a week.

Slaw

  • 1/2 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 green cabbage, finely shredded

Combine in a large bowl and top with Green Goddess Dressing. Keep some dressing to the side for your hombres who like a creamier salad.

Now assemble! Layer all ingredients onto heated tortillas. Top with salsa, Tabasco, chopped chillies, extra coriander, big squeeze of lime.. whatever you like! That’s what makes Mexican so much fun to eat!

¡Buen provecho!

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Protein Power Balls

IMG_2147I’m a huge fan of Teresa Cutter (aka “The Healthy Chef”) and her approach to food – she creates delicious functional foods for optimum health and wellbeing.

I have been meaning to give these protein balls a try forever but have never gotten around to it, so Friday night when my girlfriend came over for healthy fish and veggies (and wine – what? It’s the weekend, plus isn’t a glass of wine good for you?!), we gave them a whirl. They turned out absolutely dangerously delicious!! Let’s just say we couldn’t stop at one..

Ingredients

  • 330g raw whole almonds or walnuts – I didn’t have quite that many almonds so made up about 50g of the difference with pistachios
  • 60g protein powder – I use ezyprotein (vanilla) which is an Australian certified organic, sprouted, bio-fermented, raw, wholegrain brown rice protein powder
  • 16 fresh dates, pitted
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder – I used raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbs natural vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • desiccated coconut, goji berries, cocoa, nuts for rolling

Method

  • Throw almonds, cinnamon, protein powder and cocoa into a food processor and process until the mix looks crumbly – Vitamix won’t work, I found this out the hard way.. but you can blitz the nuts in a Vitamix, chop up the dates and moosh all ingredients together with your hands in a big bowl. Get dirrrrty!
  • Add dates and vanilla extract and process again until the mix starts to come together
  • Add a splash of water if you need to so that the mixture is soft and forms a soft ball
  • Form into 14 decent sized balls
  • Roll in coconut or other suggested coatings and store in the fridge (up for 4 weeks, if they last that long!)

Nutritional Info (per ball)

  • Protein 8.2g
  • Carbs 7.6g
  • Total fat 12g
  • Saturated fat 0.9g
  • Fibre 2.8g
  • Kilojoules 703
  • Calories 168
Picture of Protien Power Balls

After-dinner treat

Recipe from: The Healthy Chef http://www.thehealthychef.com/2011/09/protein-power-balls/

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We Be MasterCheffin’

Picture of Kale Avocado and Walnut Salad, Gluten-Free Vegetarian Lasagne & Grilled Corn and Haloumi Salad

Lunch is served!

As I recall, our MasterChef dinners were the brainchild of:

  1. An attempt to pinch pennies in the midst of the GFC, rather than squandering our hard-earned cash on lavish dinners out (tsk tsk, how irresponsible.. as if we would!!)
  2. Our regard for ourselves as quite the culinarians (or at least an attempt to foster our budding interest in cooking, inspired by the at-the-time-popular TV show “MasterChef”)
  3. A great way for all the girls to catch up mid-week (the dinners were usually a Thursday night affair), eating healthy home-cooked meals, without the temptation of wine and cocktail menus.

What really happened was:

  1. We spent more money on the actual ingredients for our dishes than if we had just gone out to our favourite local $10-a-dish Japanese eatery
  2. We each ended up BYO’ing a bottle of wine, which made for a pretty dismal Friday at work and lead-in to the weekend
  3. We all overate until we felt sick (but of course still had room for the selection of desserts – what? It’s a different stomach!).

All in all, a recipe for a fantastic time!

The rules were simple: Bring a dish from our nominated food-destination. During our journey, we visited France, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Christmas-in-July, to name a few..

It’s been a while since our last MasterChef, so when our friend offered to host us for a luncheon for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, we all leapt at the opportunity.

The theme this time was “BBQ Potluck”.

I chose a simple side from Donna Hay’s “No Time To Cook” cookbook. It’s the perfect accompaniment to roasted meats, chicken or fish.

Onion & Garlic Butter Beans

Combine 40g butter and 1 tbs olive oil and cook over medium-high heat in a non-stick frying pan. Add 2 sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes until golden. Add 4 cloves sliced garlic and cook of 1 minute. Add a 400g can drained and rinsed white (cannellini) or butter beans and cook for 4 minutes or until heated through. Stir in 150g baby spinach leaves, salt and pepper and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

This recipe serves 4, so I doubled it. I was very generous with the Parmesan. Deliciously cheesey and garlicky! Next time I will add some dried chilli flakes for some colour and kick!

Picture of butter beans cooking

Simple one-pot side dish. The house was filled with the aromas of garlic – yum!

Picture of butter beans served

Onion & Garlic Butter Beans

Everyone did a great job and we had a splendid time! Now we just have to keep doing it and not leave it for another year! I just wish I got to wake up to a fridge full of leftovers!

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Home-grown lettuce from the garden

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Grilled corn and haloumi

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Grilled Corn and Haloumi Salad

Marinated drumsticks and steaks

Marinated drumsticks and steaks

We Aussies love a BBQ

We Aussies love a BBQ

Table is set

Table is set!

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Red roses, red wine & an array of condiments

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Kale Avocado and Walnut Salad & Gluten-Free Vegetarian Lasagne

My plate. First of three.

My plate. First of three servings.

Egg-Free Passionfruit Contintental Cheesecake to finish - delish!

Egg-Free Passionfruit Continental Cheesecake to finish – delish!

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Super Green Sprout Salad

Picture of a green salad with sproutsWell, mine is loosely interpreted and has added tuna (sorry to all strict greenies out there!)

Picture of super green sprout salad and tunaSome days you just don’t want to cook dinner. Especially when it’s late and you’ve just come home from a long day at the office. Long day or not, I’m a huge fan of the “assembled dinner”. Call me lazy.

That, coupled with my prerogative to use up what’s in my fridge (who can be bothered to go to the shops at 8pm, plus you save money and don’t waste produce), led me to try out this recipe I found on the Loving Earth website. I had radishes (which I rarely, but in this instance conveniently stocked), 2 yet-to-be opened containers of raw sprouts that needed to be consumed before they turned nasty (the longer you keep them the higher risk they become for E. coli and Salmonella), along with a very ripe avo that was begging to be used ASAP.

I followed the recipe as close as I could using whatever I had in my fridge and pantry.

For the Salad

  • A big handful of mesculin greens – I used oak lettuce
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can of chickpeas – I used the raw sprouts (crunchy combo including chickpeas, lentils, mung beans and other goodness)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley – I used mint instead
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 3 radishes
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs activated pumpkin seeds – I didn’t have any so left these out
  • 1 tbs activated buckwheat – I substituted with leftover grilled corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup activated almonds – I didn’t have any of these either so I left them out. I would use insecticide-free almonds soaked overnight. No need to dry before eating. Just rinse and pat dry
  • Fresh sprouts to garnish

Method

  1. Cut broccoli into florets and steam until just tender – I blanched, it’s so much easier and less clean-up! 
  2. Thinly slice radishes and cucumber and place in a large bowl
  3. Add leafy greens and chopped herbs along with chickpeas and broccoli
  4. Slice avocado into squares and carefully fold through the greens
  5. Roughly chop nuts and seeds

For the Dressing

  • 2 tbs tahini – I use Flannery’s own brand unhulled
  • 1 tbs white miso paste – I didn’t have any so substituted with tamari
  • 2 tbs water – I used 3 tbs hot water
  • pinch of salt – I omitted as tamari is already salty

Method

  1. Whisk all ingredients together, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly – I added cracked pepper, and next time would add some crushed ginger and garlic
  2. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix gently to coat
  3. Before serving, sprinkle the salad with the chopped seed mix, and add a good dose of sprouts to the side – I didn’t have any alfalfa but you can see from the picture what they mean. Next time I would also add a good squeeze of lemon at the end to bring out some freshness

This recipe is relatively high in fat (heart-healthy fats though), so feel free to reduce the amount of avo or dressing you use and substitute with some protein. If tuna doesn’t float your boat, try some grilled chicken or turkey breast, or tempeh if you are a herbivore. I used tuna as I already had it in my pantry. If you add all the nuts and dressing, canned chickpeas and buckwheat, you probably don’t need the extra protein. It’s very filling (and protein-ful) already. This recipe yielded two big salads.

Quick, simple, lean and green! Bon appetit!

Feature salad image credit to: https://lovingearth.net/recipes/super-green-salad-sprouts
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It’s All Good

I suppose when I look back at it, I have always had an interest in food, with the curiosity and focus on nutrition developing as I got into my late 20’s. Perhaps it’s the Asian in me (the Chinese love food) or maybe it runs in my family (I still remember as if it were yesterday, the summers I used to spend with my family in Sydney when I was very young. My mom would spend countless hours looking at produce, and my dad and I used to laugh at how she could be fascinated by the dead fish out on display at the Fish Market). Little did I know that I too would develop the same fascination!

So, after much encouragement from my friends (thank you!!), I have finally stopped procrastinating and have started this blog. I hope that it will help me explore and develop my passion for food styling, and that it will inspire you to get into the kitchen, try new things, eat and live healthily and happily.

I tossed up whether my first post should be based on someone else’s work, namely Gwyneth Paltrow’s newly released cookbook “It’s All Good”, but given that my philosophy about food (there’s a brief explanation in the About section) is very much aligned to that of her’s and that the book was delivered to my desk just in the nick of time for the weekend (gotta love online shopping), it seemed only fitting (and practical) that I road-test some of the recipes.

It's All Good Cover

Things I like about the cookbook:-

  1. Her philosophy on food – simple, clean, healthy.. delicious!
  2. That it is beautifully printed in hardback and on scrumptious paper delightful to touch
  3. Most recipes are pictured – I like to see what the end result is supposed to look like
  4. The menu plans included in the back – body builder, detox, family-friendly, vegan, everyday – making easy, healthy and delicious food accessible to everyone
  5. The explanations accompanying the recipes – tells us why the recipe has been included, why it’s good for us and little tips for the cook

A slight inconvenience in the book is use of Imperial measurements but I found this was easily overcome with Convert Units (free iPhone app) and the use of my probably not-so-finely-attuned guesstimation skills, but that’s okay, it’s all part of the fun.

Lamb Tagine with Squash & Chickpeas

(that’s Lamb Tagine with Pumpkin & Chickpeas for us in the Southern Hemisphere)

There were a few reasons for choosing this dish:-

  1. It’s getting colder which invites the coziness of warming and heartier meals
  2. The man in my life loves lamb
  3. I was given a tagine at Christmas two years ago and I haven’t had the chance to use it (I swear I’m not lazy, we just haven’t had the correct stove until recently!)
  4. The recipe calls for a marinade that needs to be prepared in a powerful blender which is something I’ve been wanting to try

There’s only two of us and the recipe feeds 4 to 6, plus my tagine is quite small, so I halved the ingredients and scaled down the cooking time (75% should do it).

I also took some liberties with the ingredients and made substitutions with whatever I had in my pantry. Also, the cookbook calls for a crockpot in the oven to slow-cook this meal. I have used a stove-top tagine instead.

Let's get started!

Let’s get started!

The marinade

Blend the marinade ingredients

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Green gorgeousness

Get your hands dirty!

Moosh in the marinade – get your hands dirty! Cover and set in the fridge for at least 6 hours

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Tagine essentials

Take the lamb out to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Brown the meat for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour

Add in the chickpeas and pumpkin

Add chickpeas and pumpkin. Simmer for 1.5 hours

Bon appetit!

Et voila! Delicious, melt in your mouth lamb. Top with coriander and preserved lemon. Bon appetit!

Gwyn's version

Gwyn’s version – and the ingredients list (click to enlarge)

Traditionally, tagines are served with cous cous. I served mine with white quinoa – a gluten free alternative, together with an Israeli salad (cucumber, tomato, red onion, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil), but you can use anything you like:- millet, brown rice or even some warm crusty bread.

A delicious success! We had no leftovers to pack for lunch.

Stay tuned for more recipe reviews!

Book cover image credit to:
The Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.com/Its-All-Good-Gwyneth-Paltrow/9780349400839
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