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Kale, glorious kale!

Man I love kale!!! Don’t you?
I know it’s not as trendy as it was a couple of years back, but this leafy green gets my vote every time! I love it finely chopped in a salad or roasted until crispy in the oven!

I know some people who put it in smoothies daily and readily use it in stir-fries. So versatile and actually one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. Jam packed with b vitamins and iron (just eat some vitamin C alongside to get the full potential). high in fibre means that it’s filling, but it’s low in calories so ideal for people who want nutrient density.

Kale crisps (chips)

Call them what you want, thee lightly charred pieces of heaven rarely make it onto our dinner table – they are devoured in the kitchen before we even plate up! For 2 people as a side

300g Curly kale
1-2 tbsp Olive oil
Generous pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Chop the kale into evenly sized pieces – about 1-2 cm square, removing the stem. Place onto an oven tray in a single layer. Drizzle over the oil and then massage the oil into the leaves for even coating. Sprinkle evenly with the salt. Pop in the oven for 8-10 minutes or as needed to achieve lightly charred and crispy chips. The kale will shrivel up as it cooks, so it’s a good idea to stir once in a while for even cooking. Pay close attention at the end so that they don’t burn, and remove them from the oven in batches as they cook.

Kale slaw

A nice and simple slaw with a stunning dressing!
For 2 people as a side

For the dressing:
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp lemon zest
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise (optional)
Pinch of salt and pepper
For the slaw:
300g kale (curly or other), chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 carrot, grated
1 red apple, grated or finely chopped
30g pumpkin seeds

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a large salad bowl. Taste and season as desired. Tip: make the dressing ahead of time to allow the flavours to marry. On a chopping board, chop the kale finely, removing the stem. For a sweet and easy to chew slaw, keep chopping for 1-2 minutes. Finely slice the red onion. For a sweeter onion, submerge sliced onion in white vinegar for 30 minutes before using in the salad, then drain well before eating. Coarsely grate the carrot and apple, alternatively chop the apple very finely. Add to the dressing in the salad bowl and turn through, coating well. Sprinkle in the pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.
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Free Recipe Friday: Giant Yorkshire pudding with pan-roasted rump steak and gravy

Sometimes, not too often, I just want some real traditional cooking put in front of me! My husband could eat this sort of food on the daily, so he obviously rejoices! My grandmother always maintained you couldn’t whisk the pudding mix too much. She also made it the day before and put it in the fridge overnight to ensure the mix had a lot of air in!

For the Yorkshire pudding:

4 tbsp Rice bran oil 300 g Self-raising flour ½ tsp Salt ¼ tsp Black pepper 2 Egg 200 ml Whole milk ½ cup Water

For the steak:

600 g Rump steak Rice bran oil for frying Salt and pepper to taste

For the vegetables:

2 Carrot, sliced 1 head Broccoli, cut into florets

For the gravy:

1 Beef stock cube 1½ cup Vegetable water 1 tbsp Cornflour Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. Add the oil for the Yorkshire pudding to an oven dish and place on the top rack in the oven. For the Yorkshire pudding, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Break the eggs into the well and begin to whisk them, using a hand-held or electric whisk. Incorporate the flour from the sides slowly to prevent lumps forming. When the mixture becomes firm, start adding all the milk and water gradually, whisking constantly. Set aside in the fridge until the oven pan is heated. Remove the pre-heated pan with the oil from the oven (or carefully slide out the top oven rack partially). The oil should be smoking hot at this point and you will need to work quickly to prevent it from cooling. Pour the batter evenly into the oven tray. Place high up in the oven and cook pudding for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, crisp and puffed up. The cooking time will depend on your oven, as well as the size of your oven pan, so keep a close eye on it from 15 minutes onwards. Use a skewer or toothpick to check if it’s cooked – the skewer will come out clean when it’s done. Cook the steak while the Yorkshire pudding is in the oven. Heat an oven-proof frying pan to a medium-high heat on the stove top. Rub the steak with a little oil and season generously with sea salt and coarsely ground pepper. Once the pan is very hot, add the beef and sear for 2 minutes on each side. Cover pan loosely with foil, pop in the bottom of the oven and cook for 10 minutes for medium rare or longer for more well done. Bring a small pot of water to the boil while cutting the carrot into half-moon shapes and the broccoli into florets. Once the water is boiling, add veg to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. Reserve some cooking water before draining the vegetables. Cover with a lid to keep warm. Once the steak is cooked, remove from the oven and the pan and rest under tinfoil for 5 minutes while making the gravy. Place the pan back on the stove top and bring to a medium heat. Crumble in stock cube and 1 cup of vegetable water and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add cornflour to a further ½ cup of vegetable water and mix into a paste. Add to the gravy and allow to thicken for 1-2 minutes. Incorporate the juices from the resting steak to give the gravy extra flavour. Taste and season, adding more vegetable water if needed. To serve, remove Yorkshire pudding from the oven and slide onto a large board (or serve straight from the oven pan). Slice the steak into thin pieces and load into the middle along with veges. Drizzle the gravy over it all just before serving and tuck in.
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Meatball vs frikadelle

As you know all to well by now, I grew up in Sweden. My Mama is as Swedish as can be and as a result i basically have meatballs running through my veins… I think meatballs are not only delicious to eat, but als o super therapeutic to make. There’s just something about rolling something in your hand repeatedly while gazing out the window…

Ok that sounded weird, but I’m gonna put it out there.

This recipe that I am about to share with you is not technically a meatball, but a frikadelle. So what the frik is the difference? (pause for laughter).

To my knowledge from my upbringing the Danish word for meatball is frikadell, and traditionally these are cooked by steaming or boiling as opposed to frying, which is customary for the Swedish meatball köttbulle (kött= meat bulle = ball or roll).

Upon googling frikadelle, a bunch of Belgian and Dutch recipes show up, so it’s no coincidence that the recipe I am about to share with you comes from South Africa, where the Dutch have a big influence over both language and cuisine. Debby, who used to work in the recipe development team, is a passionate South African, so I 100% credit this recipe to her. The only slight change I have made is to add a couple of extra servings of vegetables on the side, because that is how I roll (see what I did there?!)

Next week this recipe features on the Family Menu, because every time it does, it gets a 5-star review.

South African frikadelle with marble mash and onion gravy

For the frikadelles:

500 g Beef mince and beef sausage meat (can be pork sausage meat, but this week is a pork free week in the family bag)
2 tsp Frikadelle spice mix (see below)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup Breadcrumbs
1 small Brown onion, grated
2 clove Garlic, crushed
1 Egg, beaten
2 tbsp Rice bran oil for frying

For the onion gravy:

1 large Brown onion, sliced
2 cup Beef stock
Black pepper to taste

For the marble mash:

400 g Orange kumara, diced
600 g Red kumara, diced
4 tbsp Butter, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

For the vegetables:

1 head Broccoli, chopped
½ head Cauliflower, chopped
Butter (optional)

For the spice mix:

1 tsp Ground coriander
½ tsp Ground nutmeg
½ tsp Allspice powder


For the frikadelles, mince mixture in a large mixing bowl. Chop the onion for the frikadelle very finely, or grate coarsely, and finely slice the onion for the gravy – keep separate. Add spice mix, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic and egg to the mince, and mix together with your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll into golf ball sized meatballs and set aside.
  Handy hint: Keep hands wet when rolling meatballs to stop the mixture sticking to your hands.   Get started on the marble mash. Scrub the kumara, then dice into 2-3 cm pieces. Place in a large pot, just covered with water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain the water from the pot and mash until smooth. Add the butter and salt and pepper to taste, then mix for another minute. Cover with a lid and set aside until the meatballs and gravy are ready to serve.

  Fry the frikadelles while the kumara is cooking. Heat oil to a medium-high heat in a large heavy based pan. Add the meatballs and fry all over until golden brown and cooked through – about 6-8 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm. If you don’t have a large enough pan to fit the meatballs comfortably, fry in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Retain the juices in the pan for the gravy.

  For the vegetables, bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into small florets, and chop some of the stem. Add to the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, then drain and toss with butter if desired.

  Cook the gravy once the frikadelle are out of the pan, add the finely sliced onion. On a medium heat sauté the onion for about 3-4 minutes or until soft and a little browned around the edges. Add the stock to the pan, simmer steadily for 5-8 minutes or until the gravy reduces and thickens. Taste and season with black pepper as desired.

  To serve, place the frikadelles on top of the marbled mash and pour gravy over the top. Season with salt and black pepper at the table and tuck into this hearty South African dish.  
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Take it slow this winter – my top tips for using a slow cooker!

Use all the kit.

Our slow cooker menu is designed with optimal convenience and flavour in mind. We recommend that you have some other kitchen appliances on hand – such as a blender or food processor, as these may be handy for some recipes.

Safety first!

Place the cooker on a flat surface. My suggestion is to always use your slow cooker on a flat, heat-safe surface — like your kitchen countertop! — away from piles of loose papers or random kitchen towels, or where puddles of water might form (in other words, away from the sink or an open window).

Vintage style cooker?

So you’ve pulled out old aunt Berta’s cooker from the shed? That’s awesome! Please do me a favour and stay present for the first cooking session (after giving it a real good clean!). You don’t know what might happen. You can also check the heating element and calibration. Fill the slow cooker 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with tap water (tepid, not too hot or cold), set it to the low setting, and then check with a food thermometer after eight hours. The thermometer should read at least 85°C. Personally I don’t believe in buying new stuff if it can be avoided so we have a hand-me-down from my mother in law and it’s great! Of course I have had to send some time getting to know the machine, and now we have a relationship for life.

Prepare in advance.

If you’re short on time in the morning, prepare everything you need for your slow-cooked meal the night before, put it into the slow-cooker dish, cover and store in the fridge overnight. Ideally the dish should be as close to room temperature as possible, so get it out of the fridge when you wake up and leave it for 20 minutes before turning the cooker on. If you need to heat your dish beforehand, then put the ingredients in a different container and transfer them in the morning.

Size matters.

Sorry lads, but it does… In the test kitchen we have found that using the right size slow cooker is pivotal to ensuring the cooking time is correct. If you slow cooker is a rather large one, it’s probably suited to 6-8 serves, where as a smaller one is suited to 4 servings. This makes a difference in that the surface area in a larger cooker will mean that a smaller portion will cook too quick, and may even end up drying out. Conversely, jamming too much food into a smaller cooker will likely slow down the cooking time because the poor thing will be overloaded.

To brownor not to brown?

We definitively recommend that you brown the meat (or other ingredients) when it gives the option to. It might not seem like a necessity but it’s well worth spending a few minutes at the start of the recipe to optimise flavour in your dinner. You’ll thank us later!

Low fat – full of flavour.

You don’t need to add a lot of oil to a slow cooker, the contents won’t catch as long as there’s enough moisture in there. You don’t need a lot of fat on your meat either. Normally when you fry meat, a lot of the fat drains away, this won’t happen in a slow cooker so trim it off, otherwise you might find you have pools of oil in your stew. This will give you a healthier result and it’ll still be tasty.

Leave it alone

Once cooking, leave the slow cooker alone. I mean seriously! Step away! Fiddling and stirring will only increase the cooking time and could possibly affect the end result. Slow cookers are designed to do their own thing so you don’t need to keep checking the contents. Every time you take the lid off it will release some of the heat, so if you keep doing this you’ll have to increase the cooking time.
Root vegetables that take longer to cook will need to go at the bottom of the pot – closer to the heat element, whereas softer ingredients such as capsicums can go at the top, so that they don’t end up cooking to mush.
If you are going to cook frozen food in the slow cooker, such as a frozen piece of meat, it is recommended by the appliance manufacturers that it is first defrosted, and that the rest of the ingredients you add into the pot are room temperature (stock, canned tomatoes, etc.) or slightly warmed. This is to ensure that all the food reaches the proper cooking temperature within a safe cooking time, as designed.
To ensure your food is cooked safely, the contents of the slow cooker all need to reach 60-70°C within two hours of operation. The newer slow cookers on the market do this fairly reliably because the sides and the bottom both have heating elements; older slow cookers usually just heat from the bottom, which can make them less reliable for cooking frozen foods. As with all appliances, refer to the enclosed manufacturer instruction booklet for clarity regarding your specific cooker.

Leftovers? That’s a win!

For me the whole point of using a slow cooker is to get some leftovers for lunch or even another dinner. It’s a cook once eat twice type scenario, which is great for busy folk like me.
As with all food that gets stored in the refrigerator or freezer, leftovers from your slow cooker need to be cooled on the countertop to about room temperature before placing into the fridge or freezer for storage. Do this within two hours of finishing cooking. Do not put the hot slow-cooker insert directly into the fridge.
When it comes to reheating, do not reheat food in the slow cooker. Again, it can take too long for the food to come up to a safe temperature. Safety experts recommend reheating cooked food on the stove or by another quicker method, until steaming. After that you can place the food in a slow cooker to keep it warm for up to two hours.

Get creative!

For me slow cooking is about so much more than meat and three veg, although that’s nice too! I like to experiment with vegetarian dishes and different types of grains and even pasta!

Designed for ease.

We have designed most of our recipes to include as little hands on time as possible, as this is the beauty of slow cooking to me. That was you can enjoy a beautiful and flavourful meal which will fill your house with a stunning aroma, without being a slave to the stove for hours. So you can spend more time doing what you love. You’re welcome and enjoy!
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Seasonal eating in autumn and winter

Oh I just love this time of year! Anyone who knows me knows that I am a true autumn fanatic! The cold, chilly mornings and beautiful, sunny days. The rainy days when you don’t see the sun for a long time and the fire is constantly lit when someone is in the house. I love how relaxed this time of year can be and all the obligations seem to go away, I guess people become more recluse in winter. As much as I love to be social, this comes as a welcome break when there’s time for self-reflection and getting stuff done.

This time of year can be a hard time for people who like to eat seasonably, but I’m here to tell you it needn’t be! You might want to add a slice of tomato to your sandwich or some snow peas to your stir-fry, and capsicums grow all year around right?

Well, not quite. Sure, these days you can get more or less anything from the supermarket at any time of year, but that’s not the point.

Pumpkins – does it even get more autumnal?

For me, going to the Farmers’ Market, or connecting with some of our local growers is the best way to figure out what’s really in season. We do have some suppliers who continue to grow tomatoes and cucumbers all year around, and they use sustainable ways of heating a hot house so I don’t see a problem with sneaking the odd outlier into the menu (I’m no complete fanatic). However, I think it’s nice to make the most of what is grown within the seasonal window for many reasons.

A classic friend in the colder months – broccoli!

Here’s my top 5 reasons why seasonal eating rocks:

  1. The food is more likely to be locally sourced and thereby higher in nutritional content. No shipping around the country (or God forbid from abroad) equals less loss of nutrient. Bonus points for lower food mileage! Double bonus point! You’re supporting the local community at growers – you’re winning at life!
  2. All the colours of the rainbow are still there – just visit your local Farmer’s Market and you’ll find purple, green, orange, yellow, red and white. Including a bit of everything means you’re getting a varied nutrient profile. Win!
  3. You might get to try something new, how does a side of yakon, daikon, turnip or golden beetroot sound?
  4. Less sprays and nasties are used for seasonal growing. The produce that’s in season can handle the jandle of the weather’s antics so they don’t need a helping hand from artificial sprays. Whatever your thoughts are on organic eating, that has to make sense, right?
  5. It’s all about the taste. Ever eaten a tomato in the middle of winter? Does it actually taste like a tomato or do you have to use your imagination a lot?
Don’t disregard kale, it’s more versatile than you might think

Below is a list of simple substitutions for summer produce in winter.

Summer varieties of lettuces – kales and cabbages or winter lettuces (more hardy varieties)

Tomatoes – radishes and baby turnips, finely sliced

Cucumbers – fennel and sprouts

Capsicums – finely diced pumpkin or butternut, kohlrabi or turnips

Aubergines/eggplants – mushrooms

Courgettes – broccoli or broccolini

I encourage you to go out and find the most delicious, fresh seasonal produce and cook up a storm!

Of course we are only human and we do make the odd exception here and there…. Every now and then we throw in the odd tomato or cucumber, just to keep things interesting. Because that’s what we’re all about: interesting and delicious meals, with minimum fuss.

Have a great week and happy cooking!

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Getting kids to eat vegetables

If you’re a parent, you will know that getting kids to eat their vegetables can be somewhat anxiety-inducing… My daugther, who is three and a half, is just like your typical pre-schooler, and before that she was a typical toddler and baby. We’ve had some food fights, don’t get me wrong, but I would like to think that she is growing up to have a fairly balanced palate. As a nutritionist, it’s important to me that she has a healthy diet, so I have given this a lot of thought, and some research… Here’s my personal experience from being a mum, and previous to that a nanny, when it comes to getting young people to eat their vegetables.
Emma, Kenzie and a box of food
  1. Chill out
If the mama’s and daddy’s of the household are super tense about something, then of course the tiny people will sense that and instantly feel the need to rebel. If we approach vegetables with an air of “it doesn’t worry me if you eat your veges or not” then kids will be more likely to eventually experiment or give them a try. Remembering that kids are natural born scientists – they want to experience new things, it’s in their nature – if we just make the veges available to them then at some point the curiosity will take over. Sadly, you can’t fake this…. You need to genuinely work on your own attitude to your kids’ eating habits and know that you can’t control everything, and trust that everything will be ok in the end.

  1. Be a role model
If you don’t eat vegetables, try new foods and keep an open mind to new flavours, then why would you expect your kids to? Again, this can’t be faked. If you’re not excited about certain vegetables, and you’re not keen on passing on your own limitations to your children, then be brave and try some new ways of cooking them. You might still not like them but at least you tried. Have an honest and open chat to your kids about how you never used to like this food but now you’re trying some new recipes. Our kids are watching our every move, even when we think we’re being super sneaky…
  1. Hide them in plain sight
Sometimes I don’t want to fight, but I know she needs vegetables in her body. That’s when I start to get creative with hiding vegetables in the foods I know she will eat. Or blend them in a smoothie. But I will also (almost always) put whole unadulterated vegetables on the side. Just to keep her exposed to them…  I’ll also casually display vegetables and fruits where she can see them, like on the kitchen bench, so that if she comes into the kitchen looking for a snack, she might see a glass with a celery stalk in it and feel the need to chomp on that. That’s when I go outside and practice my evil-master-genius-laugh…
In spite of my best efforts, these were Kenzie’s least favourite. She refused carrots in any way, shape or from until very recently.
  1. Offer, offer, offer
Here’s a radical idea. If you don’t put a food in front of someone, then they can’t possibly try them. I remember the fist time I offered mushrooms to Kenzie. I thought, of well, she won’t eat them but at least she will see them (I based this assumption on what other people had told me “kids don’t like mushrooms”). She ate them all up and begged for more! Still to this day mushrooms are one of faves, and she almost always eats them. Imagine if I hadn’t put them in front of her on that day? Another important aspect of offering up foods is when they don’t seem to like a particular vegetable. My recommendation would be to still offer it. For the first three years of her life Kenzie wouldn’t eat lettuce or carrots. We kept putting them on her plate from time to time, just to normalise them and now she eats them (sometimes)
  1. Get them involved
I don’t know about your kids but once I started getting Kenzie involved in the kitchen, she became more and more excited about learning the names of vegetables and trying them (sometimes only by licking them, but hey…) When she first started asking to help cook dinner I was aware that I needed to allow the extra time and mess that it would mean to have her there… I didn’t want to discourage her even though I knew that it was going to slow the dinner making process down. Now I quite often set aside a simple task for her to do, but I make sure that it’s a meaningful one so that she really feels like shes contributed to the family dinner. Growing vegetables at home is another great way to do this. I feel like some days Kenzie gets 2-3 of her 5-a-day in the garden – cape gooseberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, apple cucumber and even kale…
In case you needed proof of that, here’s Kenzie at the age of 2… Eating kale with gusto.
And here’s the bonus tip: Make it fun! Everyone loves to have a good time, right? So why should eating vegetables be any different? The bonus there is that if you are relaxed and allowing some laughter into the kitchen or dinner table, then kids will sense that there is nothing to be worried about and instantly relax as well.
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Free recipe Friday – Hot, sweet and sour pork chops with vegetable stir-fried rice

The title says hot, but you can make it as spicy or mild as you like by adding chilli flakes or fresh chilli. So why not skip the take away and finish off the week in style with this take on a takeout.


Hot, sweet and sour pork chops with vegetable stir-fried rice Serves 4

For the pork:

½ cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp orange juice (1 orange)
2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
4 pork chops

For the stir-fried rice:

300 g long grain rice
1½ cups water
4 tbsp rice bran oil, for frying
1 tbsp ginger, chopped
4 eggs
4 cups green cabbage , shredded (½ small head)
4 small carrots, diced
4 spring onions, sliced
2 green capsicum, diced
4-6 tbsp soy sauce, to taste


Prepare in advance: For best results marinate pork chops in the fridge overnight. For an authentic fried rice dish, cook the rice the night before and store in the fridge, which will remove the moisture.

For the marinade, combine ingredients in a zip lock bag or bowl. Add pork and coat well in the mixture, set aside.

To cook the rice, place in a medium pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, then cover with a lid and reduce to a low, yet steady simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes, resisting the urge to lift the lid. Remove from the heat and rest with the lid on for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat the grill to high and line an oven tray with tin foil.

Prepare the vegetables while the rice is cooking. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Shred the cabbage finely. Peel and finely dice the carrot. Dice the capsicum very finely, discarding the core. Slice the spring onion on the diagonal, including most of the green part.

Place the marinated pork chops on a rack over the foil-lined oven tray and place under the grill. Grill on each side for 4-5 minutes, then remove from the oven and rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Handy hint: Don’t be tempted to remove the fat from the chops before cooking, as it will add flavour. Cut off fat just prior to serving if you don’t wish to eat it .

Stir-fry the rice once the pork chops are cooking. Heat a large pan or wok over a medium-high heat and add some of the rice bran oil. Add the ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds without burning. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, discard, and add the eggs. Beat the eggs in the pan as they scramble, then remove from the pan. Keep heat at medium-high and add more rice bran oil. Once hot, add the cabbage, carrot and capsicum and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes until vegetables are just tender. Bring heat up to high and stir in the rice. Let the rice heat through for 2-3 minutes, then place the scrambled eggs back in and stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes. Add half the spring onion (the white ends) and reserve the rest for garnish. Add soy sauce and cook out for another minute. Add more to taste if desired. Once the soy sauce is cooked out and the rice begins to dry out, remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately.

To serve, heap vegetable rice onto plates and top with pork chops. Garnish with the remaining spring onion.

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Quinoa – magical, wonderful super-seed

I love quinoa, don’t you?! If you don’t, chances are that you’ve done something wrong… no offence… My love for this superfood was recently re-ignited when we discovered a new quinoa grower, based right here in the North Island of New Zealand. With food miles of just over 200 km, it doesn’t quite qualify for our local badge (who is lovingly nicknamed Farmer Joe by team EFB) but it’s far more local than the previous supply, which was from South America. What’s more, the cool kids over at the Kiwi Quinoa Company grow their seeds without excess pesticides and sprays – far gentler on the environment. According to their website, Dan and Jacqui had the idea to grow quinoa in the Rangitikei after travelling through South America and noting the quinoa-growing regions of Peru bore quite a resemblance to home. And boy, am I glad they did! Thanks for the hard work team! It also makes me so happy to see that we can be part of making their family business a success, so I tell everyone about this! As a nutritionist, quinoa ticks so many boxes for me and as a foodie, just the same. There is just so much to love about this tiny power-house. So let me share with you:

My top four fun facts about quinoa:

It’s not a grain – it’s in fact a seed

You know the tiny spiral that appears when you cook quinoa? That’s the germ – i.e. the very inner of the seed. Although people often refer to quina as a grain  it’s botanically a seed of a plant that is closely related to spinach. This also means that quinoa is gluten free, making it a great alternative for couscous for coeliacs.

The year 2013 was officially the year of quinoa

That’s right. In 2013 the UN deemed that quinoa would solve so many of the world’s economic, cultural nutritional and food supply related issues that it gave the super food it’s very own year of distinction. The UN regognised quinoa as a potential tool for empowering farmers in underdeveloped areas, primarily in South America, to produce this adaptable crop for the local community, providing empowerment and good nutrition.

It’s a complete protein

Not many vegetarian proteins can boast this fact. Without boring you all with a full biochemistry lesson, it basically means that the protein is complete with all nine essential amino acids. Essential means that the human body can’t make them for themselves, so we need them from the foods we eat. Incomplete proteins need to be consumed alongside other foods (within a 24 hour period) that have the particular amino acids that are absent in that food – these are known as the limiting amino acids. Foods such as quinoa that have a complete set of essential amino acids will act as a valid protein component of a meal and don’t need to be combined with other grains or pulses.

If it’s bitter, it’s your own fault

Each quinoa seed is coated with a bitter, waxy substance called saponin, which needs to be rinsed off before cooking. Simply place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under a cold tap for a minute, then place ain in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil.

We have featured many quinoa recipes on our menus in the last five years and most of them have been delicious! I’d love to hear which one you loved the most!
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How to assemble spring rolls

1. Place filling in middle of the wrap and brush all edges with a bit of water.
2-4. Pick up the corner of wrap closest to you, fold over filling, and tuck in.
5-6. Fold over left side and right side of wrap tightly.
7. Roll up spring roll; make sure it’s relatively tight.
8. Your spring roll is ready to be fried!
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From Italy to Hawaii, with a quick stop in Sweden

Love fusing various nationalities together on a plate? Come here then….

This week we feature Hawaiian pizzas on wholemeal base with Swedish pizza salad on the Express and Family Menu (5 meals).
Hawaiian pizzas are a classic, a real favourite for the little kids in the house especially. You might not find it in your most authentic Italian restaurant though. My foodie father informs me that it was invented by a man of Greek origin, who lived in Ontario, Canada! There’s a fun foodie fact for you! Traditionally it’s made with tinned pineapple, but we like to freshen things up, so we use a real fresh pineapple.

On the side of this hammy, cheesy fruity-liciousness we provide our customers with the ingredients and recipe for a Swedish classic side dish. Where ever you go in Sweden – order a pizza and you get a pizza salad on the side. You would just never eat pizza without it. (Well, perhaps in the most authentic Italian restaurant.) I remember going to Italy as a child and being appalled at the lack of pizza salad on the side of my pizza. It’s basically cabbage and onion in a vinaigrette, with some local variations of course. I would recommend making it earlier in the day or even the night before, because the flavours develop as time goes.
For the Swedish pizza salad:
3 cups cabbage, shredded ½ cabbage
1 spring onion, sliced
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pizzas:
4 wholemeal pizza bases
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil
150 g champagne ham, sliced
100 g cheese, grated
1 crown pineapple, sliced
Pinch of dried oregano (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
Slice ham into thin strips. Grate the cheese, removing the rind; trim, core and slice the pineapple into rings.
Spread tomato paste onto the pizza bases then place the bases in the oven and pre-bake for 5-6 minutes until a little golden and crisped up.
While the bases are in the oven, fry the pineapple rings. Add oil to a large frying pan or griddle pan and once the oil is shimmering, add the pineapple rings and char for 2 minutes per side. Meanwhile make the Swedish pizza salad. Slice the spring onion and finely shred the cabbage using a sharp knife, mandolin or cheese slicer. Place in a large salad bowl and mix in vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the pre-baked pizza bases from the oven and top with the cheese, ham and charred pineapple rings in that order.  Pop the bases back into the oven for 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and browned a little.
To serve, place pizzas onto a large board and cut into slices. Sprinkle with dried oregano to taste. Serve at the table with the pizza salad. I hope you give this a go, and enjoy the culinary trip around the world.