Pop Up Zumbo

Ok, so I’ve had a few naughty treats over the silly season, and this is yet another.

Adriano Zumbo is famous for his macarons. He is a national patissier treasure.  When I was shopping in the Melbourne Emporium, I couldn’t resist visiting his new pop up store.

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I ate a Peach Melba macaron, and I can report it was everything that a macaron should be. It was crunchy and crisp on the outside, while being soft and velvety on the inside. The peach flavour was strong, with a hint of raspberry jelly in the creamy filling.

It was a little cloud of heaven on a Christmas-crazed shopping night. Cheers, Zumbo!

macarons

An Adventure: Code Black

There is a small, ambiguous building in Brunswick. The shop front is dark, pertaining to its namesake- Code Black.

Intrigued, Regan and I entered to find a world of caffeinated heaven. A cafe, coffee roaster and ultimate hipster hangout: Codeblack is impressive. With a breakfast and lunch menu to suit a variety of tastes and dietary requirements, Codeblack specializes in the humble toastie. Gluten free was an option, and I was so excited.

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The walls were black. The menu was black and white. It included single origin and house blend coffees, with a focus on brunch type meals and some rustic platters for good measure.
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Honestly, it was fabulous. Regan had a Pastrami toastie with pickles, a house made dipping sauce and leafy greens.

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I had a gluten free chicken and bacon toastie, which was amazing. My only complaint was that it wasn’t cut in half… which made it more difficult to eat.

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The coffee was the first I had in a looong time, and it was delicious.

No complaints here, Code Black- we will be back.

Cacao and Peanut Butter Slice

This is another guest post, by my gorgeous friend Kathryn, you will have seen her pop up in other posts from time to time. She is a wellness warrior; a lover of health foods and Cross Fit. A knowledgeable almost Chiropractor and all round awesome gal. Already, she has blogged about her healthy Christmas cake. I didn’t think it could get any better, but this next one looks to die for! Here, Kathryn shares her delectable Cacao and Peanut butter slice recipe.

I spend a lot of time (probably more than I would like to admit!) trawling through Instagram looking at all the yummy food people make, Cafe’s they go to and places they visit! It is an excellent place for sourcing recipes – and here is a little beauty I have whipped up as a treat this Christmas! It’s a Cacao & Peanut Butter Slice. It’s gluten free and dairy free – but you wouldn’t guess it!

Cacao & Peanut Butter Slice

Ingredients

Base
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1/4 cup rice malt syrup

Middle
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup 100% peanut butter (I make my own by processing raw peanuts which I lightly toast first in the oven)
1/4 cup rice malt syrup

Topping
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/3 cup rice malt syrup

Instructions

Step 1: Blend all the base ingredients in a food processor until it resembles a biscuit dough.

Step 2: Press into a lined baking tin and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Step 3: In a saucepan over a low heat mix all the middle ingredients until combined and pour onto the base. Allow to set in the fridge for an hour, or pop it in the freezer if you’re in a hurry.
Step 4: In a saucepan over a low heat mix all the topping ingredients until combined and pour over the middle layer. Set in the fridge or freezer.

Step 5: Top with cacao nibs or crushed peanuts for a crunchy finish!

Note: feel free to adjust the amount of sweetener and also the type. I actually find the flavour of rice malt syrup a little sickly, honey or maple syrup is nicer. I also found this to be a little too sweet for my tastebuds – so adjust accordingly!
Enjoy 🙂

cacao and peanut butter slice

Paleo Christmas Cake

This is a guest post, by my gorgeous friend Kathryn, you will have seen her pop up in other posts from time to time. She is a wellness warrior; a lover of health foods and Cross Fit. A knowledgeable almost Chiropractor and all round awesome gal.

And so here begins my first ‘Paleo’ Christmas – take that with a grain of salt as I am rather lenient on the dairy side of things as it tends to get a bit tricky! Nonetheless, here is a recipe for a Healthy Christmas Cake from thehealthychef.com – it is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free!

Happy Christmas Baking 🙂

Healthy Christmas Cake

Ingredients

600g mixed dried fruit (I used apple, apricot & sultanas)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract or paste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Zest & juice from 1 orange
3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter if not dairy free
3 eggs
200g (2 cups) ground almonds
50g walnuts roughly chopped

Instructions

Step 1: Line a small square baking tin with baking paper.
Step 2: Combine the mixed dried fruit, spices, orange zest and juice in a bowl. Add to this the ground almonds and walnuts.
Step 3: Beat the eggs with a fork and stir in the melted coconut oil/butter and vanilla.
Step 4: Mix the wet & dry ingredients together.
Step 5: Pour into the lined baking tin & bake at 150°C for an hour and a half. Check after an hour (I ended up baking mine for 1 hr and 20 minutes).

Optional Fancy Extra:
If you’re feeling fancy, put holes in once it has finished with a skewer and drizzle over with some Cointreau!

Thanks Kat! I’m so excited to share this on my blog and to try this recipe out xx

Melbourne Adventure: Short Stop

Ok, there is nothing clean or green to see here. If you are avoiding temptation at the moment- probably best to move along.

It was my birthday, so Regan took me into the city for some fun. We all deserve a treat or two on our birthday, right?

Short stop is a local donut boutique in the Melbourne CBD. All they sell is is donuts, in exotic flavours.

We have heard raving reviews about it, and after following them on Instagram we couldn’t resist it any longer.

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I asked for a gluten free option, but they are ‘working on it’ after high demand.

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Regan excited to eat his Peanut butter and Jam donut…

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It was amazing, but after being gluten free for such a long time it was a bit of a system overload- was it worth it? Totally. Would I do it again? Not anytime soon!

Please Short Stop, bring on your gluten free option!

 

Cherry Sauce – Slow Cooked

Our neighbour called us over to help her with a job in her yard, about a week ago. When we went out the back, we saw a huge tree, laden with cherries. She had pulled the protective net off, and told us to pick what we wanted because the birds would have the rest in the morning.

So, up the ladder we went, picking for about 2 hours. We filled bags and bags with red, juicy cherries and left the branches as bare as possible.

The cherries had never had pesticides, sprays or any other human intervention. The harvest was shared around with the other neighbours and we took a bag home for ourselves.

We spent the next night pitting cherries, and our kitchen looked like a crime scene. Juice splattered everywhere. But after a few more hours of labour, we had a crock pot full of pitted cherries.

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We cooked the cherries down for almost 2 days. A few flavour ’embellishments’ were added for enhancement.

We went with some festive and warming additions. Cinnamon, maple, and some lemon juice.

We had hoped to make jam, but the cherries were so juicy and already so sweet that condensing it down even further wouldn’t have done them justice. After 2 days, we blended it all together with the Bamix and turned it into a cherry sauce.

We bottled it up into sterilized jars and we have some gorgeous gifts for our friends!

 

Homemade Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Unfortunately for my ‘clean green’ reputation, I have had cravings for crispy fried chicken. However, it’s hard to satisfy them knowing that they can be laden with refined ingredients, gluten, preservatives and other nasties. So, what better excuse than to make some at home?!

I studied a few recipes online and made my own ‘swaps’ to make this recipe gluten free and a little healthier than some of the other options out there.

I’m sorry the photos for this particular recipe aren’t that great. It’s hard to get good photos of raw meat, and having hands covered in corn flour doesn’t help either.

pickledcabbage

We had a little picnic of chicken karaage, with warm pickled cabbage and apple, and steamed veg on the side.

Ingredients

1kg chicken thigh fillets

250mL Tamari

1-2 tablespoons crushed garlic

1-2 tablespoons crushed ginger

2 teaspoons raw sugar

1 cup of corn flour

Good quality oil for frying

 

Instructions

Step 1: Cut the chicken thighs into small, even chunks. Place the chicken in a bowl.

Step 2: Combine tamari, sugar, ginger and garlic and pour the mix over the chicken pieces. Make sure each piece is coated. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge to marinate for 1-2 hours at a minimum, but up to 48 hours for maximum flavour results.

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Step 3: After marinating time is up, place the corn flour in a shallow bowl.karaagechicken2

 

Step 4: Coat each piece of chicken individually in corn flour.karaagechicken3

Step 5: Heat the oil, and use a piece of ‘tester’ chicken to tell when the oil is hot enough- it will start bubbling, ‘popping’ and browning the meat.

Step 6: Fry the chicken in batches until the exterior is a medium brown and the chicken is cooked through. To make the chicken extra crispy, briefly lift it out of the oil after it is almost cooked and let it cool for a few seconds. Then place it back in the oil until completely cooked.

Step 7: Transfer the fried chicken to the paper towel lined rack/plate and try not to eat it all at once!

PS expect things to get messy if you drop the chicken into the flour too vigorously!

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Warm Balsamic Pickled Cabbage and Apple

This recipe is from Jamie Olivers Cracking Christmas Recipes 2014. You can see his original recipe here.

This would make an amazing side with your Christmas roast. Loaded with flavour and zing, it would go with any meat or without the bacon would even be the perfect vegetarian meal accompaniment.

We had this gorgeous dish with a picnic of homemade Karaage Chicken and vegetables. It would even be amazing to take to a BBQ.

pickledcabbage

Ingredients

Dash of Olive oil
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely sliced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, bashed
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 good eating apples, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm pieces
1 red cabbage, outer leaves and core removed, chopped into irregular chunks
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
150 ml balsamic vinegar

Instructions

Step 1: Pour a dash of olive oil into a saucepan, get it hot and add the bacon and fennel seeds.pickledcabbage2

 

Step 2: Cook until golden then add the onion and continue to cook, with the lid on, for a few more minutes until golden and sticky.pickledcabbage4

 

Step 3: Add the apple, followed by the cabbage chunks, salt and pepper and the vinegar, and stir everything together well.pickledcabbage3

 

Step 4: Put the lid back on and continue to cook on a low heat for an hour, checking and stirring every so often.pickledcabbage6

 

Step 5: You will end up with a gorgeously sticky-sweet cabbage dish that you’ll want to eat immediately, straight out of the pan!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

After an extended and unexpected hiatus, I am finally back. Just in time for Christmas- my favourite time of year!

The Christmas tree is up, presents are underneath and my sister has arrived from Queensland. This is our first Melbourne Christmas and we are so excited.

We have been working on our Christmas day menu for a while now. Cutting, adjusting, adding and changing- we are almost there. A baked ham, pavlova, rum balls, trifle and a toasted nut Cassata will all feature this year- and I am keen to try some raw and ‘healthified’ versions of our traditional Christmas favourites.

Our family has always been very festive this time of year. We hang up stockings, and read Christmas stories and of course watch the carols at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on TV. This year will be no different, apart from the fact that we will be actually attending the carols!

What an amazing time of year, we are so looking forward to what the next few weeks will bring.

Please send me through any Christmas recipes or gift ideas that you have. I always enjoy festive inspiration and would love to share them with you all.