Asparagus, Goats Fetta & Beetroot Tart

Asparagus, Goats Fetta & Beetroot Tart

‘She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.’
(Can you name that movie quote?)

Usually I’m one for following a recipe, finding the most recommended recipe, double checking which flavours go together – especially when cooking for other people. But I totally winged this tart which I cooked for a family Christmas nibble, and, I must say, it was delicious and I was pretty pleased with myself ;-)

I made it again just to check it wasn’t a fluke, and I’m relieved to say that it was still a success the second time ’round.

You could serve this tart in larger slices with a salad as a vegetarian main, but I prefer it in smaller squares as a pre-dinner nibble.

In the spirit of winging it, this recipe doesn’t contain exact measurements – just go with the flow, make it to your tastes!

Asparagus, Goats Fetta & Beetroot Tart

Preheat oven to 200°C and take 2 Pampas Butter Puff Pastry sheets out of the freezer. Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter until it melts and foams. Add 1 leek, sliced, 1/2 red onion, sliced and 4 cloves crushed garlic, cracked pepper and sea salt flakes – cook for around 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, line two baking trays with baking paper. Fold the edges of each pastry sheet over to form a 1.5cm border. Lightly beat 1 egg with a tablespoon of water and use a pastry brush to brush egg wash over the edges of pastry. Place one pastry sheet onto each prepared tray. Bake for 5 minutes or until starting to puff. Remove from oven and prick centres lightly with a fork.

Spread Beerenberg Balsamic Beetroot Relish over the centre of each pastry. Spoon over the leek, onion and garlic mixture. Top with crumbled non-animal rennet goats fetta, 2 bunches of trimmed raw asparagus spears and a handful of pine nuts. 

Return trays to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden. Slice and serve!

Asparagus, Goats Fetta & Beetroot Tart

Note: this is not an ad for any of these brands, they’re just the products I liked and used!

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Filed under Easy, Quick, Recipes, Vegetarian

A Gingerbread Decorating Class + a Gingerbread Recipe, Brasserie Bread

Brasserie Bread

Chanel attended Brasserie Bread’s Gingerbread Decorating Class as a guest of Brasserie Bread.

On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of returning to Brasserie Bread’s training room, this time for a night of fun gingerbread decorating with my fellow bloggers: Dining with a Stud, Corridor Kitchen, VegeTARAian, Cooking Crusade, and Love Swah.

Brasserie Bread’s popular baking class program includes Kid’s Gingerbread Decorating Classes this Christmas, and we were here for a taster.

Brasserie Bread

Our evening started as all good evenings should – with food. Brasserie Bread’s fruit mince pies, with a rich, fragrant and spicy filling encased in flaky pastry, are the first fruit mine pies I’ve tasted and liked. Michael explains that their fruit mince pies are on the higher end of the scale – at $3.50 per pie, compared to $1.59 for a 6-pack of Coles fruit mince pies, they’re not cheap. However, after taste testing and glancing at their ingredients lists the price difference is justified.

Brasserie Bread

Onto the main event now: GINGERBREAD DECORATING!

We were each given a slab of gingerbread dough to practice pinning (‘pinning’ is the fancy term for ‘rolling out the dough’) and cutting an assortment of shapes – from festive Christmas trees, baubles and gingerbread men to dinosaurs, rabbits, and cats (yes, I brought my own cat cookie cutter).

Brasserie Bread

Brasserie Bread

With our gingerbread shapes in the oven, it was time to decorate our ‘here’s some I prepared earlier’ gingerbread. This is what the kids get to enjoy during Brasserie Bread’s 30-minute ‘Gingerbread Decorating Class’ sessions being held on 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th December.

Each child is given a box of five gingerbread shapes, bowls of chocolate drops, M&Ms and lollies, and bags of coloured royal icing – coloured naturally with spinach juice (green icing) and beetroot juice (red icing), then let loose to create a fun, crazy, artistic mess on their gingerbreads!

Brasserie BreadMessy fun times!

Brasserie Bread
Decorating gingerbread is as fun as it looks. Harder than it looks, the room was silent as we concentrated intensely on our ‘designs’ – Michael told us that the kids classes are just as quiet with deep concentration.

For $20 per child, it’s a fun, budget-friendly activity for kids leading up to Christmas – and it gives parents 30 minutes to enjoy a coffee at Brasserie Bread’s adjoining café!  

So tell me, what are your favourite festive foods? Are you a fan of fruit mince pies and gingerbread?

Brasserie BreadMy baked gingerbread – they turned out well!

Brasserie Bread’s Gingerbread

  • 560g organic unbleached plain flour
  • 2.5g salt
  • 2.5g baking soda
  • 10g ground ginger
  • 2.5g ground cinnamon
  • 2.5g ground nutmeg
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 160g golden syrup
  • 30g whole egg
  • 40g egg yolk

Preheat oven to 160C. Sift flour, baking soda and spices together with salt. Cream butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and egg yolks slowly. Add the dry ingredients in batches. Mix thoroughly, then shape into a rectangle log. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

On a lightly floured bench, roll dough out to a 3-4mm thickness. Cut out shapes and place on baking paper (off cuts can be remoulded and used again). Bake for approximately 15 minutes until very light golden colour. Cool on trays, then store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Royal Icing Mixture

Mix together 20g egg whites with a squeeze of lemon juice. Gradually stir in 125g sifted sugar then whip until light and fluffy. Colours may be added and could include beetroot juice (for red) and spinach juice (for green).

Tip

If you want to hang your gingerbread as a decoration, use a piping nozzle to cut out a small circle at the top of your unbaked shape. Bake for 2/3 of the baking time, then lightly brush with egg and continue baking. When decorating, avoid decorating the top so space is left for tying ribbon.


Brasserie Bread

1300 966 845
1737 Botany Rd, Banksmeadow NSW 2019

Gingerbread Decorating Classes (suitable for ages 5-12):

Click here or phone 1300 966 845 for current availability.

Saturday 21 December, 9.00-9.30am
Sunday 22 December, 9.00-9.30am, 10.00-10.30am, 11.00-11.30am, 12.00-12.30pm, 1.00-1.30pm
Monday 23 December, 9.00-9.30M
Tuesday 24 December, 10.00-10.30am, 12.00-12.30pm, 1.00-1.30pm

Brasserie Bread

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Filed under Baking, Recipes

Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate & Popcorn Cupcakes

Banana, Peanut Butter & Popcorn Cupcakes

I know how this must look.

My last post was me stating my commitment to losing weight. This post is a delicious, sugary, buttery cupcake recipe.

But despite how this looks, my diet is actually going well! I have lost 11cm off my shoulders and waist, and 9cm off my hips. I’m loving this flexible IIFYM way of dieting. I haven’t felt a single moment of FOMO. I’d post more healthy recipes, but my day-to-day food isn’t particularly exciting, and definitely not worth blogging (good enough for Instagram though ;-) )

These cupcakes, however, are definitely worth sharing, and they’re worth the calories.

Last weekend I was having baking withdrawals. It had been so long since I’d baked a cake. I had some very ripe bananas on hand, and I immediately decided I should bake banana and peanut butter cupcakes. With chocolate bits. With peanut butter frosting. WITH POPCORN! Sweet, salty, and so, so good.

I’m pleased to say that these turned out very well, and they’re so easy to make! I shared them with friends and family, and the everyone said they were delicious (Paul even called them exceptional – he who doesn’t like sweet and salty combinations).

Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate & Popcorn Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes (adapted from 500 Cupcakes)

Cupcakes 

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 225g mashed ripe bananas
  • 100g Whittaker’s Peanut Butter Chocolate block, chopped

Icing

  • 60g smooth peanut butter
  • 50 unsalted butter, softened
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g icing sugar mixture, sifted
  • 2tbsp milk
  • Salted popcorn (I used microwave popcorn)

Method

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F. Place 18 paper baking cases in muffin tins*. Combine the butter, sugar, flour, and eggs in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mashed banana and chocolate and stir until combined. Spoon the batter into the cases. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out with crumbs clinging. Remove tins from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, combine the peanut butter, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the icing sugar mixture along with the milk, and beat until well combined. Pipe or spoon (if you’re lousy at piping, like me) the icing on the cooled cupcakes. Top with salted popcorn just before serving (the popcorn will lose its crunch if added too far in advance).

*I baked some in freestanding cupcake cases, and some in regular cupcakes cases/muffin tin. I also baked them in two batches. The freestanding cases aren’t bad, but I prefer the standard cupcakes cases that require a muffin tin. They’re easier to peel off!

Whittaker's Peanut Butter Chocolate BlockThis chocolate is THE BEST (not a sponsored post)!

Banana, Peanut Butter & Popcorn Cupcakes

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Dessert, Easy, Recipes

Healthy Pasta-Less Vegetarian Lasagne

In the words of Britney Spears… Oops! I did it again…

Britney SpearsCreditFun fact: I had this hairdo for my year 12 formal. I heart Britney.

In March last year I went on a diet because my jeans were too tight.

Now, I no longer wear jeans (I’m all about Black Milk leggings these days), but everything is too tight once again. I’ve regained the lost weight and more these past few months.

One reason for the gain is that I wasn’t clever about my change from meat eater to vegetarian. I simply replaced a lot of my previous protein-rich foods with carbs and fat (because bread and cheese ♥).

The big reason is emotional eating. Being made redundant in May, and subsequently searching for the right job, has had a bigger impact on my emotions than I realised. The past few months my emotions have been up, down, and flat. But mostly down. I stopped exercising. I started to become more hermit-like than usual. I recall a lot of chocolate being consumed during that time.

Of course, eating crap makes you feel crap, and eating crap when you’re already feeling crap is not ideal.

Satine Isis

Satine & Isis – good company

So here I am again, on a weight loss plan – because I’ve decided I want to get out of this sad funk, eat healthy but not boring, and even get a bit fit.

That last one will be hard, because I actually hate exercise that makes you sweat and your heart race.

This time I’m following my friend Amanda’s (Daily Dose Fitness) new lifestyle program using the flexible dieting, macro-controlled method, ‘if it fits your macros’. In a nutshell, you can eat anything as long as it fits within your day’s allowance of calories, carbs, protein, and fat.

It’s been one week so far and I’ve already lost some weight and centimetres! This recipe is one of my new favourites, a variation on one of the meals in Amanda’s program. It’s easy to make and has a good hit of protein for vegetarians. Even Paul liked it.

So tell me… What are your secrets for enjoying exercise? ;)

Healthy Vegetarian Lasagne

Healthy Pasta-Less Vegetarian Lasagne, or ‘Bake’

Serves 2.
Per serving: 366 calories, 48g protein, 27g carbs, 13g fat

  • 200g eggplant
  • 200g zucchini
  • Olive oil spray
  • 300g frozen quorn mince
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 200g tinned tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp each of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, chilli
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 50g parmesan, mozzarella, or cheddar cheese
  • A bunch of spinach
  • 250g light ricotta or cottage cheese
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • Fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Thinly slice the eggplant then place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking tray. Lightly spray with olive oil spray and bake for 20 minutes, turning once.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan to medium heat. Add the frozen quorn mince and crushed garlic, and cook for several minutes, stirring continuously so the quorn doesn’t stick. Add tinned tomatoes, thyme, oregano, marjoram, chilli, salt, pepper, and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Finely chop the parsley and add to a bowl with the cottage cheese or ricotta, the zest of 1 lemon. Finely grate 1/4 of nutmeg and combine well. Spoon half of the quorn and tomato sauce into a small rectangular baking dish, then half the spinach, all of the eggplant and zucchini, then the remaining quorn mix, spinach, and finally top with the ricotta. Grate over the parmesan/mozzarella/or cheddar, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Healthy Vegetarian Lasagne

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Filed under Easy, Healthy, Recipes, Vegetarian

Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen

It can be overwhelming, being presented with an 11-page menu. So many choices! How does one decide?? Such a wide variety of choice is the case at Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen in Sydney’s CBD.

Mother Chu’s has been serving vegetarian and vegan Taiwanese food for 21 years. They use seitan, aka mock meat, which is made from wheat gluten. I’ve always been a fan of seitan. I have no issue with mock meat, as in it being a vegetarian food that is made to mimic meat. “But why would a vegetarian want to eat something that has a similar texture and look as meat??”, some cry. Because my reason for not eating meat isn’t because I don’t like it.

So, what to order?

I’ve been eating at Mother Chu’s for almost 15 years now, and we usually order the same dishes every time, because tradition…

Here are four of my must-have favourites.

How do you feel about mock meat?

Mother Chu's

We always begin with an alcohol-free beer.

Mother Chu's

Followed by piping-hot crunchy vegetarian spring rolls with their house-made chilli sauce (you have to ask for the chilli sauce).

Mother Chu'sCrispy bean curd (1D), $17.80.

The bean curd isn’t crispy, but that doesn’t detract from this dish. I love these ‘meaty’ shiitake mushrooms with large pieces of lightly fried and soft inside bean curd. Order a side of rice to soak up the rich, glossy sauce.

Mother Chu'sSoft rice noodles with vegetables, gluten, and mushrooms (2J), $8.80.

These fat, slippery, slightly charred noodles are incredibly moreish. The pieces of mock meat mimic duck, I think. Or maybe chicken… Either way, they’re excellent.

Mother Chu'sCrispy gluten with tasty light miso, chilli, and sour sauce (1E), $17.80.

‘Crispy gluten’ might sound weird, but try these crunchy fried gluten pieces coated in a thick, sweet, salty sauce and you’ll understand why we order this every. single. time.

Mother Chu'sMother Chu herself is always seated at the far right table at the back

Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen
http://www.motherchusvegetarian.com.au
367 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
02 9283 2828
Monday to Saturday: Lunch: 12pm – 3pm | Dinner: 5pm – 10pm

Mother Chu's Vegetarian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Budget, Eating Out, Vegetarian

Simple Butter Cake with Caramel Sauce

Butter Cake with Caramel Sauce

Last week I realised it had been seven weeks since I’d last baked a cake, and even longer since I’d blogged a cake recipe (almost a year?!). Far too long.

Our friend’s birthday on the weekend broke my baking drought. I asked if I could bake him a cake and his request of ‘something plain and simple, like vanilla cake, or maybe a bit of caramel’ was too easy. I find baking so relaxing and enjoyable, and simple homemade cake stall-type cakes are my favourite to bake – and to eat!

I’ve used this AWW butter cake recipe a few times now. It’s one of the easiest cakes you can make, as all ingredients are mixed in one bowl, poured into a pan, then baked. Plus it’s versatile too. I’ve used this recipe to create giant cupcakes, I’ve covered it in fresh whipped cream and strawberries, and this time I decided to just pour over caramel sauce.

On that note, this is the first time I’ve made caramel sauce. Um. Crazy!

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Cookbook Author, Donna Hay, Easy, Recipes, The Australian Women's Weekly

The Sweet Swap

The Sweet Swap

There is one thing guaranteed to conquer my nerves of cooking for people outside my immediate friends and family: the promise of homemade sweets delivered to me in exchange!

This month I participated in the inaugural The Sweet Swap, along with 54 other Australian food and lifestyle bloggers. Each blogger was matched with three other bloggers, to send and receive parcels of homemade sweets. The registration fees were donated to The Sweet Swap’s charity partner, ChildFund Australia, to help improve nutrition for children and their families in Uganda.

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Filed under Dessert, Easy, Quick, Recipes