“How can I use up this quinoa?” I asked my good friend. A bag of the stuff sat in my pantry, a brown paper reminder of a moment of inspired healthiness while browsing the health food shop. Weeks later, my good intentions still sat there, waiting for me to be re-inspired. And inspired I finally was, not by my friend’s suggestions but by the recipe book she bought me as a present.
I flicked through the recipes, salivating at the gorgeous food photography and mentally noting which ones I would try first. Then one caught my eye: Spiced Vegetable Couscous. I love roast vege salad and usually toss it with red wine vinegar. This recipe has the added fibre and flavour of chick peas, mint, coriander, tzatziki and a Moroccan spice mix called ras el hanout (paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, turmeric, fennel, allspice, cardamom, dill, galangal, nutmeg, caraway, black pepper, cloves, rose petals and much more) which I bought at Herbies, a dedicated spice shop, just up the road in Rozelle, Sydney.
It’s Boxing Day and I’m sitting on a picnic rug in the Botanic Gardens overlooking the beautiful Sydney Harbour. We’re here to catch a glimpse of the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race – one of the most dangerous yacht races in the world. Helicopters buzz overhead while a myriad of vessels laden with well-wishers swarm around the racing yachts as they sail up the harbour and out to sea. We’re also here for a picnic of Christmas leftovers – prawns, baguette, cherries, Christmas mince tarts, chocolates (Santa was overly generous with the chocolates this year), and terrine.
Terrines look like hard work but are really quite easy to make. You make it one or two days in advance and on the day, simply take it from the fridge, slice and serve – ideal for a warm southern hemisphere Christmas.
Last night I marinated some lean lamb back straps in caramelized balsamic vinegar and orange juice, then pan-fried them and served them over rocket leaves accompanied by hummus, tomato, cucumber and mint salsa, and flat bread.
It was my attempt to honor the night before Good Friday when the Jewish people celebrate Passover. Lamb, bitter greens (rocket), vinegar and flat bread (no yeast) are just some of the foods that remind the Jewish people of their miraculous escape from Egypt thousands of years ago.
It is also a significant meal for people who celebrate Easter because Jesus would have eaten similar foods as he celebrated Passover with his friends on the night before he was arrested and killed.
Religion aside, this Middle Eastern food combination is a lovely, relaxed way to start the Easter weekend. Enjoy!
2 lamb back straps
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup caramelized balsamic vinegar (If you use plain balsamic, add 1 tablespoon brown sugar)
Eating cake is naughty – right? Not always. To my mind there are varying degrees of naughtiness with cakes and to keep to the least naughty end of the spectrum I tend to make cakes that contain nutrient rich fruit, vegetables and nuts.
This carrot cake is one of my favourites. It is packed full of beta carotene rich carrots, and omega-3 rich walnuts and chia seed. The fat is mostly unsaturated from the nuts and canola oil, and the flour is wholemeal. Best of all it is easy to make – just throw all the ingredients in a food processor. Everyone who tastes it will want the recipe. Forget the heavy cream cheese icing; a dust of icing sugar is all it needs to make it look wonderful.
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2-3 carrots, grated
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2-3 tablespoons chia seed (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 small cup wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend for 3-4 minutes. Pour into cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake at 170-180C (350F) for 1 hour.