6. July 2014

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Gluten Free Meals that are Seriously Inventive

I’ve started eating significantly less gluten since Gina moved in. She’s gluten intolerant and it’s just easier than preparing two different meals at night. These are the sacrifices we make for love I guess. Lunch of course, when I’m at work is a different story and I am actually pretty happy eating a bit differently.

gluten-free-meals

She has been ordering meals from Dineamic for a long time and I love the convenience and creativity of their dishes. Often dietary considerations can be an opportunity to think a little outside the square. After a long day of work I’m happy for Dineamic to do that thinking for us and for us to just reap the benefits. It’s just so handy for busy people!

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4. June 2014

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Catering to Melbourne

Catering in Melbourne is particularly challenging because of the top quality food available on every street in and around the city. It used to be you would have to be a member of some exclusive club to get a really exceptional meal around town but these days people are disinclined to settle for anything less.

catering-melbourne

We actually used to run a catering business but as things grew more and more competitive it became much harder to deliver. We always had a good relationship with The Food Agency and I still admire their work. I’ve never seen a company that handles catering in Melbourne quite so well, whatever the event or budget. Sometimes it takes an industry professional to recognise the real quality of an operator, The Food Agency are one of the best I’ve seen.

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1. April 2014

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Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives

chicken

Whole chicken legs (drumsticks + thighs) are so inexpensive, but I don’t know too many ways to prepare them that don’t involve breading and frying. There’s always braising, which is more time consuming, and is so rich that it reminds me too much that I’m not eating a healthier all-white-meat chicken breast. This recipe, adapted from January 2014 Gourmet magazine, is the best of both worlds: crispy skin with juicy meat (but from roasting instead of frying), and the rich, complex, salty flavour typical of braising, from the pancetta, olives and roasted garlic. I should also mention – it took less than an hour to make, start to finish.

Grocery list (note that the original calls for 2 whole chickens; instead I halved the recipe and used only leg pieces): 3 pounds whole chicken legs, 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, 5-10 peeled garlic cloves (how much do you like roasted garlic?), 1 cup white wine, 1 thick slice pancetta, about a dozen black olives.

chicken1Preheat the oven to 450. Chop the thyme, cube the pancetta, and chop the olives into big pieces. Continue reading “Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives” »

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17. February 2014

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Green walls will make a giant impact on your small space

We have such a tiny courtyard outside that filling it up with plants would leave us with no room at all. However, I really love nature and greenery and didn’t want to compromise on having it as part of our home.  Our solution was a luscious and lively green wall from O2 Plant Walls. Continue reading “Green walls will make a giant impact on your small space” »

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1. September 2013

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Quinoa Italian Bites

Yes, as I told you all, I have another Italian recipe for you this week. Sorry for the Italian over-kill, but it’s what  I was cravin’, so it’s what I was makin’. Anyone else feel like they were in the mood for Italian in particular this week? No these aren’t crazy cravings like I am pregnant, they are just cravings. Don’t get any ideas! Although Joe and I are coming up on our first wedding anniversary on September 17, 2012. I was asked what we were doing and honestly, I don’t think Joe has any tricks up his sleeve. I really don’t get that feeling. We shall see, maybe it will be a relaxing weekend at home and I’m ok with that, too! Back to the Quinoa Italian Bites, these little babies really stayed together when being baked. I was uber happy about this and think the 2 eggs in the recipe really helped with that…

q1

These Quinoa Italian Bites were supposed to taste like pizza but overall just reminded Joe and me of a mini Italian meatball. These would be perfect for taking to a party and putting a toothpick in them. They were perfect alongside some grilled veggies and a salad. They would be perfect when you have 30 minutes and need to make something stay like I did before running out the door to take Luna (our rescue pup) to the vet. That’s all these little diddies took – 30 minutes.

q2

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8. June 2013

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Coffee Roasting And Cooking

I often incorporate coffee into my recipes because I absolutely love the smell, taste and added edge it gives to dishes. I add it into both sweet and savoury dishes. Finding the right beans for my recipes has led me to research into the art of coffee roasting.

I’m a Melbourne based chef and avid coffee drinker and a favourite of mine is Cisco’s Coffee in Melbourne. I would definitely recommend their coffee blends to any coffee drinkers out there. They sell their beans so you can stock up at home, much like I have.

I love their Columbian blend for my sweet desserts! Try some – you won’t be disappointed.

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14. May 2013

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All is Well and Good for everyone!

Mothers Day lunch at our household was a site to behold after we had 20 family members pack into our small, but comfortable dining room. We had a huge spread on for all the kids and the grandparents complimented with a few champagnes and some wine.

Unfortunately, my daughter suffers from celiac disease and is gluten free. It always tends to be a problem when we’re having a big family dinner/lunch because she is the only one who needs meals that have gluten free recipes.

To rectify this problem, we searched gluten free bread and gluten free cake on Google and looked for the most impressive company. We clicked through a few websites and after maybe looking at 5, we came across Well and Good for both of those keyword searches. I rang them up personally and spoke to one of the ladies who worked there and explained to her the situation I have with my daughter. She was so aware of what I was saying and she said she dealt with these situations all the time and knew exactly the best products to give us for my daughter. After a while, I agreed to subscribe monthly to them in exchange for a bit of a discount on all the products. I was happy to buy my daughter her monthly dose of gluten free products if it meant spending a bit more. Obviously her health to me is imperative so it didn’t bother me.

So we ended up having all the family over on Mothers Day and we feasted in all the breads and cakes while my daughter was able to enjoy her customised meals.

Thank you Well and Good for helping my daughter and making her feel Well and Good :)!

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15. April 2013

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Chocolate Almond Toffee – In my brand new kitchen!

Growing up, my dad would always bring home a tin of the most delicious toffee in the week before Christmas, I think it was a gift from a vendor. At the time I thought it was a sign of how important my dad must be at work – they were kissing up to him, with the best tasting dessert in the world! I was really excited to see a recipe for something similar in the December 2009 Food & Wine. I made a double batch of it to give to friends, family, and of course dear-old-dad, this holiday season.

I have now attempted again, in my gorgeous brand new kitchen!! Firstly I need to tell you about it. I love cooking and I love spending time in my kitchen, and so when I was finally able to renovate it, I was so happy. I searched high and low for kitchens Donvale designers. And found a company called Perennial Kitchens.

I asked around for a cabinet maker in Melbourne, and I heard off a few people, how great Perennial Kitchens are. So I called them up and chatted to them about what I wanted – space and storage! It wasn’t long before I decided on them, with their friendly and professional attitude and the amazing display of fabulous kitchen cabinets in their showrooms. So it is now complete and I am now in there baking away! Look how beautiful it is!

kitchen-cabinet-melbourne

 

Enjoying myself immensely. So please check out one of the most delicious sweet treats ever- easy to make too. Try enjoy baking and eating these as much as I did!

Chocolate-almond-toffee

Ingredients (for a single batch, makes 2 pounds): 2 sticks butter, 1.5 cups sugar, 2 Tablespoons water, 1 cup slivered almonds, 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract, 1.5 teaspoons coarse sea salt, 1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate pieces.

 ingredients-donvale

Line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil, then brush with vegetable oil. The oil is important – you’ll be able to peel the foil off much easier later when the toffee cools.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Stir in the sugar and water. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved.

Keep stirring regularly, scraping down the sides of the pan. The mixture will start to darken as it heats up. Use a candy thermometer, and cook until the caramel is 300 degrees (about 15 minutes).

almond-toffee

Quickly stir in 3/4 cup of the almonds, vanilla and a pinch of sea salt. (You might want to wear an oven mitt so you can stir vigorously without worrying about the hot caramel splattering onto your arm.)

Spread the toffee flat in the baking sheet.

almond-toffee

Sprinkle half of the chocolate pieces over the toffee. The toffee will still be quite warm, so it will melt the chocolate in a few minutes.

Once the chocolate is melted, you can spread it with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle half of the remaining almonds over top. Place the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes, or until it is hardened and cool to the touch.

Line a second baking sheet with foil. Flip the toffee over and place it in the other baking sheet upside-down – then peel away the aluminum foil. Melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave, then spread over the “naked” side of the toffee. Sprinkle with the rest of the almonds and a pinch of salt. Refrigerate until completely solid, at least a couple of hours, then break apart into pieces. Keeps in the fridge for several weeks.

Kitchens-Donvale-Almond-Toffee

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2. April 2013

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homemade oreos

oreo1

Yes, it has been months since my last post.  And no, the bear hasn’t starved…  I have been busy moving from Atlanta to San Francisco, starting an exciting new job, and planning for my family’s visit in April!  I’ll apologize for the long absence without a new recipe by sharing one of my favorites – a classic Martha Stewart recipe for homemade oreo’s.

oreo2

Ingredients: (for cookies) 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 5 Tablespoons melted butter, 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar, 1 large egg; (for filling) 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) room temperature butter, 1.5 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

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