Saturday, 30 August 2014

Superfood Cooking Class

I'd always been meaning to take some classes at my local cooking school, Orange Regional Cooking School. Recently I finally got organised and got myself along to two classes. Both were great.  The first class was a soup night, and the second of these classes was a superfood cooking class. While I generally think that superfood is an overused term, I get that it's being used to encourage people to eat nourishing natural foods, and that's a good thing.

A demonstration class, we have a lovely glass of wine, and sit back to watch someone else do all the work. And then we eat the spoils. For the superfood class Lesley Russell was joined by Lindl Taylor. Lindl used to run the fantastic Energize Cafe, sadly missed by all who ever went there.

There were many courses this night, all delicious.

Kale Chips
Mojito Smoothie, sadly without rum
Cauliflower, kale, anchovy and garlic

Freekah pilaf

Quinoa salad with roast sweet potato and orange vinaigrette
topped with lamb

Chia and coconut pudding

There was a soup as well- Roast garlic, faro and chicken soup- but I must have been in a frenzy and forgot to photograph it. It was a fantastic evening. I learnt so much. 

Even really simple things that I haven't done before
like chopping an orange- not in quarters
I've cooked quinoa before, and use it quite regularly, but learnt some new tips to try next time I prepare it. I've never cooked freekah, farro or kale before, and I felt empowered to give it a go at the end of the class. I was thrilled to learn how to make and cook cauliflower rice.

I've already cooked two of the recipes at home. I've made the chia and coconut pudding twice now- it's very delicious. And tonight I made the cauliflower and kale- I made a vegetarian version topped with tofu for Master Adventures and I- he rated it 7/10! A major victory.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking
a fabulous weekly meme at BethFishReads

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cinnamon Pumpkin with Chickpeas, Tahini and Candied Pumpkin Seeds

Sometimes inspiration comes in the most unexpected places. Like the Sunday papers. I found this recipe back in May in the Sunday Telegraph Body and Soul section. There was an excerpt of several recipes from a book called Community. I'd never heard of Community before I made this recipe- after I made this recipe I made sure to track it down at my local bookshop- it's chock full of delicious sounding recipes.

This is the best thing I've cooked this year.

My effort

1 large butternut pumpkin/squash (about 1 kg), peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1 red onion, cut into 5mm wedges
1 head of garlic
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
sea salt and black pepper
2-3 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tblsp tahini paste
3 tblsp Greek yoghurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tblsp low GI sugar
1 large eggwhite, beaten
1/4 tsp ground allspice
sea salt

Preheat oven to 220C. Toss pumpkin, onion, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper with oil.

Spread on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes or until golden. You may need to remove the onion first as it cooks faster.

To make the candied pumpkin seeds, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Spread on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10-20 minutes or until seeds are golden and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and season with salt. Stir gently, leaving some clumps. Allow the mixture to cool completely (it can be stored in an airtight jar for 3-4 weeks).

Whisk together the tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt.

To serve, gently toss pumpkin, chickpeas, roasted garlic and coriander together. Place on a serve plate, spoon over tahini sauce and scatter over the candied pumpkin seeds.

Naturally I tinkered with the recipe.

Cook the onion separately it cooks much too quickly, and even keeping an eye on it it's quite easy to burn it before the pumpkin is done.

I don't like tahini all that much, so changed the ratios to suit. The original recipe had
4 tblsp tahini paste
3 tblsp Greek yoghurt
and the sauce was thinned with with 4 tblsp water- I can't remember if I did that or not.

I added a roasted a head of garlic with the other veggies as I had one in the cupboard.

I substituted coriander/cilantro for parsley, as I love, love, love coriander and find parsley a bit meh.

I found the candied pumpkin seeds a little troublesome, although I cut down the amount of sugar because it seemed too much. I will have to try that again.

Boiled butternut pumpkin/squash has a low GI rating of 51.
Tinned chickpeas are low GI at 40, while home cooked chickpeas are even lower 28 (and more delicious, but I used tinned for this).

How it looked in the paper

Monday, 6 August 2012

Vogel's Golden Baked Cluster Crunch

It only occurred to me quite recently that I had never mentioned my absolute favourite Low Gi cereal. This has been my go to cereal for several years. Indeed since I first tried it. I happily eat this cereal most of the year round. There's always a box in the cupboard. Of course in the winter I take a break and eat some fabulous porridge. Sometimes I make my own muesli. But I go back to eating Cluster Crunch.

There are a range of flavours but we only get the
Classic Cluster Crunch locally
It is crunchy and fabulous. Recently I went to buy some and they'd moved it on the shelf at the supermarket and I must admit to a bit of a panic until I found it. Hoping that it hadn't been discontinued, or just not being sold a my local supermarket. Happily I found it again. Crisis averted.

It's great plain, I try not to eat it straight from the box,
but it does make a nice snack

I often add seasonal fruit

Or some of my fabulous baked rhubarb with yoghurt and almonds

Friday, 16 March 2012

Spiced Quinoa Pilaf with Corn and Broccoli

I was inspired by this recipe in the Sunday paper recently. I've been buying sandwiches for my work lunch instead of making things. This one got me back in the low GI lunchtime groove. I really enjoyed it, although I was a tiny bit sick of it by day 5.

Quinoa is a low GI superfood. Gi 51. Corn and broccoli are both good for us of course. I eat a reasonable amount of corn, but don't usually search out broccoli, it was good to highlight it here. And I found a beautiful head of broccoli and two gorgeous cobs of corn at my local farmers market on the very day I was making this.

Broccoli isn't a carbohydrate source, and so doesn't have a GI value. Corn on the cob has a low GI value of 48.

Spiced Quinoa Pilaf with Corn and Broccoli

1 tblsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
150gm (1 cup) quinoa
500 ml (2 cups) water
300gm broccoli, cut into florets
2 large corncobs,  husked removed
2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
Feta, crumbled

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Cook, stirring for 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in quinoa. Add water and stir. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and place broccoli on top. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil. Cook corn. Remove corn from water. Set aside to cool. Cut down the corncob to remove the kernels.

Add corn and chopped coriander to mixture. Top with feta.

Adapted from You Are What You Eat
Sunday Telegraph 28/2/12

The original recipe used yoghurt as a topping. I didn't have any this week, so used a bit of crumbled goat feta instead. It is accidentally vegan if you leave off the cheese.

It also grilled the corn on the cob rather than boiling it. It was easier for me to boil it that day, so I did.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

It has been a long slow cool start to summer in my part of Australia this year. The temperatures are starting to warm up finally and we can enjoy some salads, eaten outside in the evening. We enjoyed this one tonight. It went particularly well with a couple of glasses of champagne.

It's prepared in minutes, and totally non-cook. Always a bonus in the summer.

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

1/2 tsp low Gi sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1tblsp finely chopped chives
1 tblsp finely chopped dill
1/4 cup cream
1 piece hot smoked salmon, flaked
1/2 cos lettuce
1 telegraph (long) cucumber, thinly sliced

In a small bowl lend together the sugar, lemon juice, chives, dill and cream. Add the salmon. Toss to combine.

Arrange lettuce and cucumber on plates. Top with the salmon mixture.

Serves 2.

Adapted from a recipe in Marie Claire Fresh (Michele Cranston). The original recipe used smoked trout, which works very well too of course. The original recipe also salted the cucumbers, this step made them soggy in the final dish, and I preferred just using plain sliced cucumber to keep it crunchy. The original recipe called for watercress, but we couldn't find any this week so used cos lettuce instead. I imagine it would be very tasty.

Cream is of course relatively high in fat, so is low GI by definition. But there is only a small portion of cream per person here. You could substitute for it if you wanted to make it lower fat.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Beetroot and Goat Cheese Salad

Recently as I was eating yet another beetroot and goat cheese salad (this last one in Texas), I realised that I had eaten this salad, in multiple countries around the world. So I thought a compare and contrast would be fun.

Texas style, Kenny and Ziggy's, Houston Texas, September 2011 (in case there are any doubts, this was HUGE, more platter size than plate)

Slightly more refined in Dublin, Ireland, June 2010, Marco Pierre White's Steakhouse and Grill. The thinly sliced beetroot almost visible under the greenery. This was sensational.

I know I've eaten this in Australia and New Zealand too, but sadly can't find any photographic evidence.

Do you have any meals that you will eat wherever you see them in the world?

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Autumn Power Porridge in Spring

It's not autumn, well not in Australia at least, but there I was no way that I could wait 6 months til it was autumn here again to try this porridge. After all it has multiple ingredients that speak to me. Pumpkin. Porridge. Pumpkin pie spice. Delicious flavours at any time of year.

Australians love pumpkin. We have it available fresh year round. And we cook it and eat it year round. It's not available here canned, and the idea seems rather odd to us. Pumpkin soup. Roast pumpkin. On pizza. In salads. I make a particularly delicious pumpkin pasta sauce.  But I'd never heard of or thought about Pumpkin Porridge- til now.

It's difficult finding the GI rating for pumpkin. Butternut pumpkin is listed as 51 in my Low GI Diet Shoppers Guide, and pumpkin generally as 66 on GI news, which is a wonderful go to source for GI information.

Porridge made from Uncle Toby's traditional oats seems to have a GI of 58. The range for porridge is quite vast, but essentially for the lowest GI options you should use traditional rolled oats or steel cut oats (these are difficult to find in Australia). The quick cook/microwave sachets are best avoided as they don't taste nearly as good, and they are high GI.

Quinoa is a low GI (51), gluten free superfood. It's become very available in the past few years, and is a common supermarket item now. You don't need to go searching in dusty healthy food shops to find it anymore. It's available in a range of colours, I used the white one today.

Autumn Power Porridge

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tblsp agave syrup
Dried cranberries
Walnut pieces
Milk of your choosing, I've been using oat milk recently, but have just learnt that it is (high) medium GI of 69

Combine oats, quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Cook on stovetop over low to medium heat until cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Stir through pumpkin and spices.

Serve in bowls, add cranberries, walnuts, drizzle with agave syrup. Add milk.

Serves 2


I simplified the recipe, just cooking the pumpkin before hand, and then cooking the oats and quinoa together. I adjusted the quantities too, as there was noone else at home this day to help me eat it- well, Mr Adventures refused my generous offer to share.

I was anxious about the quinoa in the porridge. I've only made quinoa into a porridge once before, and it was an Abject Failure. Awful. And there was a tonne of it. I ended up feeding it to the dogs! It was much better here, but I'd probably increase the oats to quinoa ratio for my tastes next time.

You could easily put in more pumpkin, and spices- but then I am rather heavy handed with the spices, I'd already increased the quantity from the original recipe. I used some of the pumpkin pie spice I'd made recently.

To me this recipe is crying out for maple syrup instead of the agave, but somehow I had none in the fridge! This situation can not be allowed to continue.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.