Moroccan fennel and orange salad and dinner party ‘formulas’

This rIMG_2211ecipe is inspired from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian with my own twists and variations. This salad is always a crowd pleaser at dinner parties because it’s so different and refreshing. With naturally sweet oranges and cinnamon, you could even serve this at the end of the meal almost in lieu of dessert.

For those who are a little more intimate with the way that I rock, you might have observed that my meals can be quite formulaic, even though the ingredients are diverse and varied. Why? Firstly, formulas take time and stress out of meal preparation  (because as much as I love cooking and crafting recipes, we all have better things to do than be in the kitchen for hours on end). And secondly, formulas ensure that you’ve got a good balance of macronutrients (fats, protein and carbs) in each and every meal and of course I’m assuming that within each macronutrient family the ingredients are micronutrient-rich, grown/reared the way nature intended with due regard to their source and processing. eg pastured versus confined meats and dairy, wild versus farmed seafood, pastured versus battery hens, traditional fats versus industrial seed oils, chemical-free fresh seasonal produce versus conventional, etc etc.

A typical summers dinner party ‘formula’ might look something like this:IMG_2207

  • pastured meat: typically long slow roasted. Casseroles, soups, and curries I tend to do more in colder months while roasts, BBQs and raw meats are favoured in warmer months
  • a couple of salads: if you can throw together one salad that’s a little more interesting or different than your garden-type variety salad (excuse the pun), then all the more power to you
  • a root veggie dish: For some of my other favourite root veggie dishes click here.
  • a cup of home-made broth: I try to match the broth with the meat that I am cooking ie either chicken, fish, pork or beef broth. Matching is by no means essential.
  • all finished off with some light dessert.

You might like to read one of my earlier posts on Entertaining Made Easy.

For last night’s dinner party the menu was:

  • my activated snack mix and Toscana olives for appetisers, with kombucha and vodka cocktails
  • a cup of pork broth
  • 9 hour slow cooked (90 degrees) pork shoulder with crispy crackling (to make crackling place heavily salted shoulder towards bottom of oven under heated grill element for 5 minutes or until the IMG_2214skin blisters and browns). To understand why I marinate the pork for 24 hours in apple cider vinegar then discard the vinegar before roasting read this
  • a garden salad with activated pepitas and avocado kindly brought by the gorgeous Sylvia- don’t be afraid to ask a guest to bring a garden salad (and wine) when they ask “What can I bring?” as a green salad is pretty easy to throw together for most people and one less thing you need to worry aboutIMG_2212
  • Moroccan fennel and orange salad
  • potato gratin
  • jellies for dessert (chocolate coconut panacotta plus a mint and ginger jelly. I will be writing up a separate blog post on jellies soon. One dessert would have been sufficient but I had a second jelly left over from a birthday party the night before).

It was more than enough food. So here’s the recipe for the Moroccan salad:

Ingredients:

2 large fennel bulbs, cut into paper thin rounds
2 oranges, peeling and cut into segments
6 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1 tsp unrefined salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped (optional)

IMG_2208 Directions:

Place all ingredients (other than mint) in a bowl and toss well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Add mint leaves just before serving.

I make this several hours before serving. This salad keeps in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours and in fact its flavours improve with time.

Serves 8

What are some of your favourite dinner-party salads? Please share.IMG_2187

 

sticky beef spare ribs

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Who doesn’t like sticky ribs? My kids and I devoured these for dinner tonight.The kids love gnawing on the rib bones and dipping the meat into the sticky sauce.

Super simple to make, ridiculously delicious and nutrient-dense (they are my 3 key cooking criteria). Here’s the recipe:

  1. 2 pastured beef spare ribs (I bought these from Kingsleys Meats)
  2. marinade ingredients:
    • 15g garlic
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (I like the Melrose brand as its the cleanest).
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Blend the marinade ingredients with ahand held (stick) blender well mixed. Pour over the ribs in an oven proof baking dish. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 2+ hours if time permits. Before popping into the oven, brush the ribs with the marinade mixture from the bottom of the dish with a cooking brush. Cook uncovered at 80 degrees Celsius for 3.5 hours (or higher temp for shorter time and vice versa. Don’t cook above 120 degrees as high temp cooking denatures fats and proteins and causes inflammation).

Once or twice while the ribs are cooking, baste them with the marinade mixture from the bottom of the dish. Baste again just before serving.

Serves 2-3 (2 ribs served me plus 2 kids with some left overs- the one I bought were HUGE).

I teamed this with some steamed Asian greens and a cup of home-made chicken broth.

For the greens I steamed boy choy until soft and dressed it with olive oil, a splash of tamari (wheat free soy sauce), a handful of roughly chopped mint and scattering of activated  sesame seeds.

If you try this, let me know what you think.

 

running another organ meats cooking class Thursday 23rd October 7:30pm

IMG_6963Due to a number of requests, I will be running another organ meats cooking class/workshop on Thursday 23rd October.

Organ meats from pastured animals are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Liver is loaded with fat soluble vitamins A and D, essentially fatty acids, highly absorbable iron, B12, protein, zinc and the richest source of folate. Organ meats should ideally be consumed at least once a week, if not more frequently. They are an especially important source of fuel and nourishment for athletes, children, those who are iron-deficient, those wishing to fall pregnant, as well as pregnant and lactating women. Organ meats were part of all traditional diets and were the most highly prized parts of the animal for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Most people in modern society simply don’t consume organ meats on a regular basis. Here’s your opportunity to build reserves of strength and vitality by learning how. 

I will be showcasing ways in which you can easily incorporate (and sometimes disguise!) nutrient-dense organ meats into meals including:IMG_9214

(a) black pudding (blood sausage)
(b) chicken livers (in the form of pâté and as chopped liver and bacon stir fry)
(c) lambs brains (via omelette)
(d) lamb sweetbreads (in a creamy mushroom sauce)
(e) bone marrow (via custard)
(f) veal livers (via shepherds pie)

 Cost is $66 (incl GST) per person and includes:

  • theory discussion on the nutritional benefits of organ meats
  • detailed handout including information on where to purchase organ meats with prices, and step by step recipes
  • practical demonstrations
  • hands-on experience
  • food tasting
  • opportunity to ask questions

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When: 7:30-10pm (ish) Thursday 23rd Oct 2014
Where: 23 Kent Street, Waverley.

 Spaces limited

RSVP:  To secure your spot you will need to:

  1. text me on 0407 871 884 to confirm that there are spaces available. Spots can only be reserved for 24 hours; and
    2. transfer $66 (referencing your name and ‘organs’) into my bank account:

Account name: star anise organic wholefoods (aust) pty ltd
BSB: 062 000
Account no: 15110110

————————————–

Please feel free to forward to any friends or family members.
Cancellation policy: once funds are deposited into my bank account they are non-refundable but can be transferred to another cooking class/workshop upon 48 hours notice.

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Creamy mushrooms and zucchini side dish

IMG_1376Who doesn’t like creamy mushrooms? My kids love them so much that I thought that this would be a great way to disguise green veggies that kids otherwise struggle to eat. Zucchinis being the case in point. This side dish is super simple to make with only a few ingredients. Tonight I served this with roasted lamb shanks but it would also make a great weekend brekky served with eggs and avocado. My kids ate the whole serving of this and asked for more.

Ingredients:

1 punnet (150g) mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini (or other greens of choice eg spinach), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cream (I like the thick mud cream)
unrefined salt
cracked pepper

Directions:

Melt butter in frying pan. Add mushrooms and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat stirring occasionally until veggies are cooked through and soft. Stir through the cream and gently heat covered for a few minutes before serving (do not allow cream to boil).

Variations:

  • omit greens entirely if you want unadulterated creamy mushrooms.
  • add a splash of white wine after adding in mushrooms for extra flavour and oomph!
  • add a sprinkle of fresh or dried thyme after adding in mushrooms for extra seasoning.

 

 

 

“So How Was School Today?”

Kid_drawingI recently read this article from my son’s school newsletter and thought I would share it. It is written by the Assistant Head of Junior Preparatory Years 2 – 4 of The Scots College and the idea behind it is to ask more specific questions about your child’s school day rather than simply, “How was school today?” which often results in a response of “good” and not much more.  

25 Ways to Ask Your Kids “So How Was School Today?”

1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?) [I often play this game of highs and lows with my kids: What was your high today? What was your low?]

2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.

3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)

4. Where is the coolest place at the school?

5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)

6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?

7. How did you help somebody today?

8. How did somebody help you today?

9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.

10. When were you the happiest today?

11. When were you bored today?

12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?

13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

14. Tell me something good that happened today.

15. What word did your teacher say most today?

16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?

17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?

18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

19. Where do you play the most at recess?

20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?

21. What was your favourite part of lunch?

22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?

23. Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out?

24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?

25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.

You can see how these may be useful in opening up more meaningful dialogue between yourself and your child. I’m going to give them a try to curb groundhog dog questions and answers. Hey, with a bit of modification, what not try some out on your partner?!? Could provide for some humorous or creative responses…

OMEIO – the latest new online organic deli for Sydney-siders

star_anise-omeio-high_resOmeio is Sydney’s newest online store that provides fine, organic, artisan food delivered to your door.  It was founded by a gorgeous young couple with Greek background- Niko and Klara- both passionate about organic products and wholesome foods.  Klara’s background is in psychology and she works as a bilingual counsellor with migrant communities. Niko currently works as a chef in an organic restaurant in Surry Hills.  

Following a two year venture sourcing the finest organic products, they have just launched this week their online deli which offers a unique shopping experience to all Sydney siders. 

What sets Omeio  apart from all other on-line stores is that they have chosen, and work exclusively with, ONE artisan for each product category in order to limit the choice to only the highest quality goods.  They have chosen to stock my activated nuts, muesli, chocolate, power bars, and date coconut balls. Ovvio Organic spices were chosen for the spice category, Pepe Saya for the dairy category,  Miellerie from Tassie for honey and The Big Marquee for coffee. All the food items available on their online store are handpicked, handmade and packaged by the artisans themselves.  I am also impressed by their range of local and International print books and magazines on offer including Gather, Modern Farmer and Kinfolk. 

They are currently offering free delivery to the entire Sydney metro area until Thursday 11th September

You might be interested to know that the name Omeio comes from the Greek word “Ομειος”, which means the same or similar. It represents the idea that all we need to be healthy can be found in nature, and the more similar our lifestyle and diet are to the elements we can find in nature, the better our lives will be. 

Check them out here and happy online shopping!Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.14.12 pmScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.28.46 pm Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.29.00 pmScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.29.18 pm

My interview with A Wholefood Lover’s Guide to Sydney

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.21.03 pm“A Wholefood Lover’s Guide to Sydney” is a new online guide to living a wholefoods lifestyle in Sydney. It’s basically the who’s who, the what’s what and the what’s on of the Sydney wholefoods movement. It was founded by writer and public relations consultant Ilona Marchetta in July this year. Ilona has made it her mission to bring you the latest and most trusted information about the people, places and products on Sydney’s wholefoods scene. I think the online guide is shaping up to be a wonderful resource for Sydney-siders and those visiting Sydney.

I was recently interviewed by Ilona about my wholefoods journey and lifestyle, my greatest influencers, and the ins and outs of my day.  Check out the interview and the online guide here.

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