Entries in Animal Free (14)

Sunday
May042014

roast garlic and kalonji seed spaghetti

It's been a while since my last post, sorry folks! I've been super busy (day job), so much so that I actually had to schedule in 3 and a half minutes to catch up on the latest internet video sensations. Here's a brief of what you've missed over the last few days:

1) I've been suffering with a very unhappy tummy (which a quick trip to the Dr revealed to be a stomach bug, not just the need to fart, but thanks for the mis-diagnosis co-workers);

2) Held a high tea at a jewellery store, followed that evening by co-hosting a double house party complete with kitchen DJ setup with smoke AND laser machines (yes, it was awesome);

3) Watched a very cute video of a hamster eating several tiny burritos.

Anyway, I am completely exhausted but one needs to eat, so here's a half-arsed meal I threw together in between Game of Thrones marathon with THBBF. Miraculously, it was quite good.

roast garlic and kalonji seed spaghetti
Serves 4

500g spaghetti
2 heads of garlic, outer skin removed so individual cloves are exposed
1 cup rocket
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp kalonji (nigella) seeds
3 small escallots, finely chopped
30g butter
3 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180ºC. Cut the tops off garlic so that the cloves are exposed. Drizzle each bulb with 1 tbsp oil, then wrap in foil and bake for 30-35 mins until golden and soft.

Meanwhile, heat a small frypan over low heat. Dry toast kalonji seeds for 1 min or until fragrant. Remove from pan. Add remaining oil to pan, saute escallot until softened. Add chilli flakes and kalonji seeds then remove from heat.

Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. Drain, then add butter and allow to melt through the spaghetti. Add escallot mixture and rocket, toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully squeeze baked garlic cloves from the shells and toss through pasta.

Saturday
Apr192014

herbed clafoutis with vine-wrapped goat's cheese

I love my dog. I mean, I really, really, REALLY love my dog. I love my dog so much, last week when I was meeting lovely Mummy bloggers at Kidspot workshop I had a hard time not comparing their graphic accounts of childbearing with getting a new puppy. I resisted as I could still hear my Mother cackling like a crazed hyena when I told her that raising a baby dog was just as difficult as raising a baby human. Of course I would know, from all my experience of raising a child (none. OK, I once carried a raw egg around with me for an entire week to prove I could be responsible. I was 8).

From watching movies, I know there is a lightbulb moment in every parent's life where they look at their children (usually in slow motion) and feel immense pride - perhaps it is because they came first in the school sports carnival, or perhaps it was because their incredibly unco child managed to carry a raw egg around for a whole week without breaking it. The thing is, people have these feelings for their pets too.

Just like a real parent, I have always hidden vegetables in our dog's food. I wouldn't have gone to all the trouble had I know that our dog actually LOVES vegetables. This evening when I dropped parsley on the floor our dog appeared from nowhere and hoovered it up, looking up me with those huge, dinner-plate eyes "Please Sir, can I have some more?". I couldn't believe what I had witnessed so I tested this theory further with the baby spinach I used to garnish my dinner plate but really didn't want to eat. She happily devoured it and sat patiently, waiting for more. This is a game changer for me. All my life I had wished for a dog I could feed my vegetables to. Now, at 30 years of age, my childhood dreams have come true and I couldn't be a prouder parent.

herbed clafoutis with vine-wrapped goat's cheese
Serves 4

6 eggs
375ml milk
75g plain flour
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 tbsp finely chopped dill
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
2 spring onions, whole, roots removed
Zest of 1 lemon
6 preserved vine leaves
100g matured goat's cheese (I like La Luna for this recipe)
60g grated tasty cheese
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200ºC.

Whisk together eggs, milk, lemon zest and flour. Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped herbs and whisk well to combine. Pour into a 26cm round, ovenproof dish (I used a deep, coated cast iron frypan). Bake for 15 mins.

Remove from oven, arrange spring onions on top of egg, pushing down gently into the mixture. Divide goat's cheese into 6 equal portions. Wrap each portion roughly in a vine leaf, then push the wrapped cheese into the egg mixture, spacing out evenly over the clafoutis. Sprinkle with tasty cheese, then return to oven bake for a further 10-15 mins or until golden on top and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Wednesday
Mar262014

roast vanilla pumpkin and heirloom tomato soup with hand cut fries

It was flight of the bumblebees (literally) in my kitchen today.

I am currently gearing up for two weeks off (yes, things are going to be a bit quiet around here for a while) and I absolutely busting to get up to Queensland to visit the fams. Unfortunately, due to a heavy workload, THBBF won’t be joining me for the entire trip so I’ve been working hard to prepare care-meals for him so that I don’t come home to a skeleton. My man does not share my love of cooking, you see.

I had left our bi-fold doors open for ease of access to our resident tradies, who have been working away at the pile of rubble that is slowly resembling a shower again. Unfortunately a very large swarm of hungry bees also took advantage of this easy access when a saucepan of warm honey on my stove enticed them in (I was making honey soy for sticky chicken wings, in case you were wondering). At first I did not give it much thought as we are prone to the odd fly here and there. It wasn’t until our dog started going mental that I realized something wasn’t right (either that or another tradie had arrived), which prompted me to look up and be met with the sight of about 100 ravenous bees.

Firstly, may I just say that bi-fold doors are not something you ever want to have to try and operate in an emergency. After about 10 mins of adrenalin-fuelled fumbling, I finally managed to close them, sealing in about 30 bees.

I then ran around with a Tupperware container and a sheet of paper, trying unsuccessfully (but bravely) to trap them against the wall and slide the paper underneath before releasing them outside. After about 5 mins I realized that this was, in fact, the spider-capturing method and that it didn’t work as effectively on flying creatures, so I had to resort to the good old-fashioned fly spray. Common sense would dictate that this would have been the best method to begin with, however unfortunately I take product names a bit too literally (man brain, woman’s body) so it took a while.

I stood back and admired the Great Bee Massacre of 2014 that had just taken place in my kitchen. I then took a picture as evidence as I knew nobody would believe this story (after all, it has been a very long and stressful week. Hell, even I began to question if this ridiculous event had actually just happened). Luckily (or unluckily, depending on which way you choose to see it) the film of fly spray all over my house was proof that I wasn’t going crazy after all.

roast vanilla pumpkin and heirloom tomato soup with hand cut fries
Serves 2-3

800g butternut pumpkin flesh, cut into large wedges (from 1 medium sized pumpkin)
400g heirloom cherry tomatoes
4 tbsp light olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 potatoes, washed
400ml vegetable stock
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Whisk together olive oil and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, toss pumpkin with vanilla oil. Spread pumpkin on prepared tray, sprinkle generously with sea salt and bake for 40-50 mins or until soft when poked with a fork (but not golden). Pour tomatoes onto tray and return to oven for a further 20 mins.

Preheat a deep fryer on the highest setting. To prepare fries, julienne the potato. Lay fries between two sheets of paper towel and press down gently so that the moisture is absorbed. Dry potato = crispy fries (nobody likes a soggy fry!). Deep fry fries until golden and crispy (about 5 mins). Drain on paper towel.

Allow roast veggies to cool slightly before blitzing in a blender (or use a stick blender if you enjoy cleaning your roof) with vegetable stock until thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a medium saucepan and heat over a low heat until warmed through.

To serve, pour soup into bowl and top with a little bundle of fries. Season with sea salt flakes, serve immediately.

Tuesday
Mar252014

gado gado

This week it's Meat Free Week but we're upping the ante in the Babushka household as for us it's also Shower Free Week. I know what you're thinking, and yes, it is as bad as it sounds so hold your nose.

You see last Friday we learnt that the shower in our new home, our pride and joy of just one month, was leaking. Well not really leaking, more like flooding our entire house. As our bathroom has been reduced to rubble, THBBF and I have been left to co-ordinate our timetables for our nightly bathe at our local gym (hellooo communal showering!). On a positive note, at least that 12 months gym membership (the one that also prompted me to go out and spend a weeks salary at Lorna Jane while visualising myself working out on the cross trainer EVERY DAY) wasn't a complete waste.

gado gado
Serves 2

6 chat potatoes, washed
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 bunch asparagus, shaved
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
1 large handful of baby spinach leaves
2 eggs
1 cup frozen broad beans
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
20g bagel toasts

SATAY
100g peanut butter
1/2 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 long red chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp sunflower oil

Place potatoes in a small saucepan. Fill with cold water until potatoes are covered, season with salt. Boil for 20-25 mins or until potatoes are soft when poked with a skewer. Drain, set potatoes aside to cool.

Place broad beans in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water, set aside for 5 mins. Drain, then peel beans, discarding pods. Set aside beans.

Place eggs in small saucepan, fill with cold water until eggs are covered. Bring the water to the boil over a medium heat, then cook for 3-4 mins. Drain, then set aside eggs to cool. When cool, peel eggs then cut in half.

Arrange all of the salad ingredients on a platter.

To make sauce, heat oil in a frypan over low-medium heat. Add garlic and chilli and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add peanut butter, almond milk and kecap manis and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, stir to combine.

Serve salad with satay sauce on the side.

Tuesday
Mar182014

autumn pizza

I was feeling something a bit free-form tonight after I dedicated 3 hours of my life to trying to make a cottage pie in the shape of the Eiffel Tower last night. Don't ask.

With half of the world's-largest-zucchini from last week (zucchini has a long used-by date, right?) I was determined to use it up and reclaim the precious real estate that is fridge space in our house. Teamed up with sweet potato, nutty gruyere and pungent hazelnuts this is one pizza that will have you happy to say hello to Autumn.

autumn pizza
Makes 2 pizzas

2 pizza bases (yeah, yeah - cheating, I know. It's a midweek meal, shoot me)
1 zucchini, peeled into ribbons (use a vege peeler)
1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1cm-thick rounds
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp passata
40g hazelnuts, roughly crushed
100g gruyere, grated
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 tbsp thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200ºC. Lay sweet potato on a single layer on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, then sprinkle with thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 mins or until just soft when poked with a fork.

Place each pizza base on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Stir together tomato paste and passata. Spread evenly over the bases. When sweet potato is done, divide between two pizzas. Top with zucchini ribbons. Sprinkle with gruyere, hazelnuts then finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 10 mins (switching trays half way through so that each pizza has 5 mins on both the top and bottom shelves).