gluten free

moonlighting

Whole Spice Cola

With the very first Full Moon Farm Gate happening this Saturday night under not just a full moon, but a super full moon, I figured it would be especially good timing for my buddy Ben to share one of the most amazing recipes that will sit trestle-top on the night. Superfood cola. I can’t be entirely sure my earliest taste of this wasn’t the driving force to create the Full Moon Farm Gate in the first place. Thanks so, so much for sharing Ben, and even more for making this, it’ll be the coolest thing to be sipping on this Saturday night. After reading the epic ingredients list for this, all those heading to Langmeil on the 25th may well want to genuflect at the Moonlight Cola stall prior to purchase.

 

Beautiful pics, witty narration and epic recipe by Ben…

Cola Ingredients bottle and glass

 

 

So, this is a recipe for making cola syrup at home. I can’t remember exactly what started this little project – I suspect there may have been rum involved – but it’s developed into a series of still-running, sticky experiments which take over our kitchen for days at a time. Thankfully, it makes the house smell amazing throughout the process, otherwise I think I’d be making it in the garden shed by now.

A funny thing about cola is that it’s a wholly modern invention – well, late 1800’s anyway – and was made from the start with a lot of chemistry, using essential oils for flavour. Unlike a lot of recipes that are now mass-produced, there’s no ‘original homemade version’ we can go back to if we want the real thing (pun absolutely not intended). The name ‘cola’ comes from the Kola nut used in the original recipes, but Kola nut doesn’t really taste of much on its own – vaguely woody, and a bit bitter – it’s just there to provide caffeine. The real flavours that make something taste cola-ish are vanilla and sour citrus to offset the sweetness.

Anyway, the idea behind my tinkering is to make something that’s definitely cola, but by using real ingredients: whole spices, fresh zest and unprocessed sugars for sweetness. Really, it’s just a big, involved pot of some sort of mutant chai tea, with sugar added to turn it into a concentrated syrup. It keeps forever in the fridge – just add sparkling water whenever you fancy something sweet (yes, you can add rum if you’re a grown-up and/or a pirate).

 

Pestling

 

Whole Spice Cola

 1l water

Round one

3 whole vanilla beans

10 star anise nibs (1-and-a-bit whole stars)

10 green cardamom pods

10g coffee beans

10g cacao nibs or whole beans

5g cinnamon stick

2g long pepper

2g black peppercorns

4 cloves

10g dried açaí berry

 

Round two

24g tamarind pulp

20g fresh ginger

5g fresh turmeric

5g fresh galangal

pinch of saffron

2g lavender flowers

 

Round three

10g whole, fresh citrus leaves (lime, lemon, orange, cumquat are all good)

15g lemon zest

15g lime zest

15g orange zest

 

Round four

75g rapadura sugar

50g raw caster sugar

25g dark muscavado sugar

A pinch of sea salt

2tsp of citric or tartaric acid (taste!)

 

Take all the whole, woody spices (that’s all of round one, except the cinnamon, vanilla and açaí) and gently crack them in a mortar and pestle – we’re just trying to open the pods and seeds, without making any fine dusty bits. Dust is our nemesis, as you’re about to find out! Split the vanilla pods with a sharp knife – don’t worry about doing the famous ‘seed scrape’, for once we don’t need the floaty little specks. 

Starting cold, add the water and all the round one ingredients to a pot, and bring it to just under simmering. We’re really just making our giant pot of tea at this point, so we don’t need to see any bubbles. Keep it at this temperature for 30 minutes, stirring whenever you feel like it.

Lime and cinnamon

Add all the round two ingredients to the pot and give it a good stir. Keep it at the tea-brewing temperature for another 10 minutes, then go fishing for the tamarind pulp with your wooden spoon – it’ll be sitting in soft-ish lumps at the bottom of the pot. Either with the back of the spoon, or with your fingers if you’re feeling heatproof, break up the lumps so they dissolve nicely. Once that’s done, give everything a big stir, and let it keep brewing for another 30 minutes. 

Turn off the heat, then add the round three ingredients. Stir the pot well, cover it tightly, and let it cool completely. Adding the citrus ingredients last, and letting them infuse in the cooling liquid keeps the raw, zesty flavours better intact.

Infusing

Alright – what we’re dealing with now is the base flavour for our cola. Taste it: you should get sourness from the zest and tamarind, big earthy dark flavours from all the woody spices, and some sweetness and a big dose of vanilla perfume. It will taste bitter, too – just like you’d expect an hours-long-brewed tea to. That’s fine, even desirable. The real challenge now is our nemesis – the floatie. I’m going to digress on a little bit of science here (if I don’t bring science to a guest-post on the Scullery blog, I’ve failed) – but if you want to skip this part, be warned. There is filtering in your future. Lots of it.

So, the science. It’s about bubbles. Bubbles belong in cola like, well, like they belong in champagne. The problem with our lovely home-infused concoction is that it’s full of all the little floaty particles that separated from our delicious whole ingredients. Bubbles and floaty-particles are really, really good friends – as soon as sparkling water touches a floaty-particle, a big new bubble springs into being (bonus nerd points – every particle is a potential nucleation site). If there are thousands of floaty-particles in your syrup, then you get thousands of bubbles all at once – which gives your glass a head like badly homebrewed beer, and you a flat drink about 30 seconds later. Incidentally, I imagine this is why the original and ‘clone’ recipes you see floating around for the famous, mass-produced colas all call for essential oils of orange, lemon, neroli – you get some of the flavour without any floaties).

Anyway, presuming you’re going to mix your cola syrup with some lightly sparkling water we need to get our syrup as clear and free of floaty bits as we practically can. Let’s get started:

First, slowly pour off the liquid, through a colander and into a bowl. If you’ve got a fancy conical one, use that. That removes the bits bigger than 5mm or so. Save the vanilla beans, and throw the rest in the compost. Clean your pot, then pour the liquid back into it, this time through a fine mesh sieve. Pour slowly (you don’t want to push bits through the mesh with the force of the liquid), and tap gently on the side of the sieve to encourage things if you like. Definitely don’t rub spoons or anything around inside the sieve – let gravity do its thing. We’re down to soft pieces smaller than about 1mm now, which are still plenty big enough for bad nucleation to happen – we’ve got to keep going!

Set yourself up a clear glass bottle, funnel, and the clean mesh sieve. Pour the liquid gently through the sieve again to fill the bottle. Cap the bottle, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Decanting

The next day, you should find a layer of sediment has settled to the bottom of the bottle. Gently, gently take the bottle and pour off the clear liquid on top, back into the pot. Stop before you hit the goo in the bottom. If you want to save every last drop, pour the goo layer back through the sieve, and into a paper coffee filter. You might also see some yellowish solidified oils around the neck of the bottle – don’t worry, they’re there as evidence we’ve used real, proper ingredients, and they’ll reincorporate once you add the sugar.

Now, if you want super-crystal-clear syrup, you can paper-coffee-filter the liquid at this point. Be warned though – filtering through paper takes hours (or days, as I found out while experimenting). If you’re going to do it, set up lots of funnels and lots of filter papers, to spread the load out as much as you can. If you can’t be bothered with this step, just be gentle when you pour the finished syrup – the last little bits tend to settle out in the fridge over time.

When you’re happy with the amount and clarity of the liquid, gently warm it in the pot, just enough to take the chill off. Pour all the sugar into a clean bottle, add the liquid, and shake and stir until everything’s dissolved (you can be rough with it, it’s cool!). Now’s the time to have a taste test as you add the final two ingredients: the sea salt and the acid. The salt is a funny thing – you definitely won’t taste anything salty, but it really brings out the flavours of everything else. The acid is perhaps a debatable point: with everything else being completely whole and natural, it seems a shame to add it, but it gives the finished drink a sourness and ‘rightness’ that I just haven’t been able to get with any other ingredient. Tartaric acid is my pick – it has the handy benefit of preventing the syrup crystalizing in the fridge, and seems to help the mixed drink hold onto its bubbles better. In any case, both acids are naturally found in fruit: citric in citruses, tartaric in grapes (amongst other things), and if you use baking powder in a cake, you’re using tartaric acid anyway. You can easily, easily overdo the acid, though, so add a little bit, mix up a mouthful with water, then adjust until you have it as sour as you like. My syrup usually has about 3 teaspoons per litre, but you’ll need to adjust depending on all your other ingredients. 

For the final drink, I usually use 6:1 sparkling water to syrup – roughly 1 shot in a tumbler of sparkling water – but this syrup isn’t very sweet, as far as these things go. You can personalise the flavour a lot with the blend of sugars you use: More muscovado will give you caramelly-molasses flavour, and the dark-brown colour people expect from cola. Panela or rapadura brings mellow honey flavours, and lighter sugars (raw or even white) are sweet but very neutral, which let more of the herbs and zests come through. 

All that’s left is to bottle it however you like. Depending on how assiduous your filtering is, you’ll get about 800ml of syrup, and it’ll keep for months in the fridge. Cheers!

Finished

time for the good stuff

Green House Salad

Life’s been a tad nuts out here on the hill over the last month. Well actually not much of it has been on the hill if I think about it because we haven’t been here much. All good stuff but just lots of it. At once. And then we decided to adopt a piglet. You know it goes. So it was really great to get back into the garden and literally ground things a bit after so much running around.

We had a whole afternoon following the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, just to spend any way we wished. Given the preciousness of such a notion it was an easy choice to pull on my old jeans and walk into the greenhouse without any plan but to hang out and see what needed attention first. I love days like that. Sidetracked from one thing to another in a circle of planting red kale seeds, drinking tea, making gravel paths, shovelling cow pats, patting cows, playing with pigs and picking roses for our bedroom.

Lunch was part of things too. Of course. And the greenhouse has become more like a private supermarket now, so sitting at my little potting up table became a chance to put a salad together in my head from what I could see. It might not be the world’s most incredible creation as just a salad, but somehow adding that elusive quality of just picked and hand tended made this salad seem way fancier than it might have seemed to anyone just passing by our kitchen table. Good stuff.

 

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Green House Salad

serves 4

 

1 large handful organic purple beans

1 large handful organic snowpeas

1 small handful organic pea tendrils

1 organic lebanese cucumber

8-10 fresh organic borage flowers

1 organic white witlof

1 cup organic raw walnuts

2 tbsp organic honey

1 tsp Himalayan salt

2 tbsp organic Dijon mustard

4 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup lemon extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp honey

salt and pepper to taste

 

For the honey salted walnuts, massage the honey into the walnuts and sprinkle with salt. Spread onto a baking paper lined tray and toast under the grill until caramelised, about 4-5 minutes. Cool.

Blanch the snowpeas in boiling water for no more than 1 minute and then plunge them into an ice bath to immediately cool them. Top and tail the purple beans but leave these raw to preserve their beautiful purple colour.

Cut rounds of cucumber and separate the leaves of the witlof.

Toss together with the pea tendrils.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and honey together and season to taste.

Put all the salad ingredients into a pretty bowl and gently mix through the vinaigrette. Top with the borage flowers and cooled walnuts and serve.

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rave synchronicity

Fig & Wild Almond Clafoutis

We had a meeting for The Breakfast Rave this week. Well, there’s something a little askew about calling what we do a ‘meeting’. A meeting would suggest minute taking and schedules. There’s none of that. There’s eating amazing food together and coming up with as many ideas to make the next Rave just that little bit cooler than the last.

We all bring a plate to each meeting. I’m not sure if that was ever a written rule or something unspoken that just came along as part of the Rave when it found us, but it’s a really good thing. None of us ever know what each other will turn up with and yet it always seems to have a theme. If we had to name it, it’d be synchronicity. For sure.

In keeping with that, I’d decided on a whim to go and wildcraft some almonds from the trees on the side of the road near us. They’re really old and gnarly. Some years there’s almonds, other years not so many. I was happy to pull up to trees laden with nuts. It’s a cute spot overlooking an old church, completely out in the middle of nowhere amongst vineyards and wheat paddocks. I love it.

A decent haul of almonds and some figs from a friend’s tree and clafoutis just about made itself. The coolest thing was, although I had everything ready to go to make an almond milk custard to go with it, I ran out of time before everyone arrived. Actually that wasn’t very cool at all, but, when everyone walked in, in walked a bowl of raw caramel too and the perfect team up to fig clafoutis happened. Just like that. Rave synchronicity. Again.

 

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Fig & Wild Almond Clafoutis

 

2/3 cup organic GF flour mix

1/4 cup organic wild almond meal (make your own if you can)

3 tbsp flaxseed meal in 9 tbsp water

1/2 cup fresh organic almond milk

1/2 cup organic coconut cream

1/2 cup organic panela

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

10-12 organic figs

2 tbsp raw organic coconut oil

lemon zest from 1 organic lemon

 

Pre heat oven to 180C.

Butter a glass or pyrex flan dish with coconut oil.

Mix together the flour, almond meal, panela and spices in one bowl. In another bowl mix the coconut milk, almond milk, melted coconut oil, soaked flaxseed and lemon zest.

Cut the figs in halves and put them in the flan dish. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet and pour the batter over the figs.

Cook for 35-40 minutes until caramelised around the edges and all puffed up.

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what does one do with tomatillos?

Tomatillo & Cucumber Soup with Garlic Chives

More generosity from friend’s gardens this week. You can’t believe plants can grow at all in this heat, but nature has it sorted it seems. Little capes are the answer. Little tomatillo capes. The perfect cover all. I know it should be about the nutritional value of the tomatillo, or recipe ideas, but have you seen those little capes? They are so beautiful. Dainty and ethereal. Like a little Japanese wrapped package, perfect but not too much so. Wabi-sabi at its finest.

So, love at first sight when I was handed a brown paper package filled with these little green lanterns, but I’ve never used tomatillos before, so nothing really followed that initial thought of  ‘pretty, pretty, pretty’. I checked them out online and discovered lots of Mexican style salsa recipes, enchiladas and slow cooked chutneys etc, but it was so, so hot here on the weekend there was no chance of the oven going on, let alone lighting a gas flame on the stovetop.

I decided I’d just think about these little strangers in the same way I think about any other tomato. Only green. I have a favourite gazpacho recipe I love doing in Summer with fresh tomatoes – I’m sure we all do – so I went down the cold soup path and ended up with an icy fresh and bright green version of what normally turns out red any other time I’ve made gazpacho. The haul of gorgeous herbs from Thatch Organics prettied things up nicely, I’ve raved about the beauty of their produce before. I love the tang of the tomatillos too, it’s a little lemony with the cucumber, so it kind of felt like we had deconstructed a cucumber sandwich when we dipped slices of sourdough into this. It’s really green, but that’s always a good thing out here on the hill. I think it would make a really pretty amuse bouche if you were able to turn your oven on and cook other things to follow it for dinner. We just had two cups each and called it done.

I’ll have to come up with some other tomatillo ideas though because I have every intention of getting some of these going in the greenhouse next year. Too gorgeous not to.

 

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Tomatillo & Cucumber Soup with Garlic Chives

serves 4-6 as a small starter

 

3 organic Lebanese cucumbers, cold from the fridge

1 cup organic tomatillos, peeled and washed

1/2 loosely packed cup organic garlic chives, with flowers if possible

1/2 loosely packed cup organic tarragon leaves

1/2 organic avocado, cubed

juice of 2 organic lemons

‘agrumato’ lemon olive oil

Himalayan salt, to taste

Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

 

Juice the cucumbers and then transfer the liquid into a blender along with all other ingredients except the avocado, olive oil and seasoning. Blitz until super smooth. Season to taste.

Divide the cubed avocado between little bowls or cups and pour the soup over the top. Add the chive flowers and a sprig or two of fresh tarragon and finally drizzle with lemon olive oil. Serve immediately while the soup is lovely and cold. A few ice cubes would be good too, we did that in our second bowlful.

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flavour punch

Eggplant & Yellow Tomato Curry

So much of what has arrived on our plates of late has been homegrown in friends’ gardens. I know I tend to bang on about this, but it’s such an incredibly precious thing to me. If you gave me your new puppy that you just picked up, it would be on a par with how I feel about being handed brown paper bags full of hand nurtured cucumbers and tomatoes. We’re talking serious appreciation. This week eggplants arrived across the trestle at the Farmer’s Market – from the side that we are supposed to give to, there’s been a lot of receiving going on this Summer. We all get to play shops and everyone’s happy. These eggplants were the lovely long type, perfect to cut through into chunks and know they would still melt down beautifully when cooked. Add the yellow tomatoes that were on the stall behind us at this week’s market and it had to be curry.

This is such a simple recipe, but man, it packs a flavour punch. As long as the produce is great to begin with. Broken record cliches of recipe writing I know, but it makes every difference. This curry had both Damien and I sitting in silence for a minute before we started eating, nothing planned or ritualistic, we were just stopped by the gratitude of beautiful people sharing incredible food.

I’m on a plane at the moment heading to Singapore to meet my brother for an awards dinner our restaurant has been nominated for. That’s a very cool thing. And I can’t wait to hang out with my big brother for a while. The reason I mention this though is because often when we have something delicious that we’ve cooked at home and it’s had that magical something about it, I’ll say “oh, I should do this at Eat Me”. The thing is without these eggplants and these tomatoes and this purple basil, it wouldn’t be a pinch on what landed on our table this week. That’s not to say we don’t get amazing produce in Thailand, we do. But there is something above and beyond about homegrown veggies. I guess that’s why so many restaurants are creating their own produce gardens. I guess that’s why I bang on about it so much. Right, might be time to turn the rooftop at Eat Me into a garden instead of a bar. Garden bar? Serving green smoothies instead of cocktails? And just picked eggplant and yellow tomato curry. Could be a thing.

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Eggplant & Yellow Tomato Curry

serves 4

 

4-5 small organic eggplant, cut into 2 cm rounds

2 tbsp organic coconut oil

1 tsp organic turmeric, freshly grated

4 cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

6 black peppercorns

2.5cm piece organic ginger, freshly grated

1/2 tsp paprika

handful of organic purple basil leaves, or fresh coriander

3 organic yellow tomatoes, and some baby toms too, roughly chopped

1 tsp Himalayan salt

juice of 1 organic lemon

 

Dry roast the cumin, coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns in a pan until they start dancing. Remove and grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Heat the coconut oil in a medium size saucepan and add the eggplant, tomatoes, ginger, turmeric and spices. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, until tender. This is somewhere round 15 minutes. You might need to add a bit of water to stop it sticking. When everything is cooked, remove from heat, season to taste and add the lemon juice and fresh purple basil. I added a few extra fresh tiny toms too

We ate ours with cucumber coconut raita and blackbean chapati while the sun went down. It was declared a good day.

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raw gratitude

Raw Plum & Raisin Choc Tops

The most amazing generosity happens at this time of year in the Valley. Orchards and veggie patches kindly offer their wares in brown paper bags, handed over with the care and reverence homegrown produce deserves, accompanied by a simple ‘thought you’d like these’ or ‘our peach tree’s having a good year’. Sometimes it’s just a smile as the package gets put down and conversation continues on easily because both parties are fully aware of the exchange – equal parts kindness and gratitude. I can’t tell you how much I love this unspoken, old school, country practise.

In the last fortnight we have had gifts of homegrown cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and asian greens (thanks Pete and Beck), just picked figs (thanks Ilona), peaches and plums from gnarly old trees that know exactly what flavour is (thanks Janelle and Paul) and the most beautiful little bean flowers (thanks Jenny). Any gardener knows the preciousness of bearing witness to food being created in amongst leaves and tendrils, which is probably the reason that any gardener also completely understands the joy in sharing it. It’s far from just a bag of peaches that gets placed in your hands.

So, this is the state of mind I was in when I received a handpicked bounty of lovely dark plums the other day and the shrine of plum appreciation began its construction. That’s my romantic take on ‘these-raw-plum-and-raisin-choctops-take-a-while-to-make’. Not as long as the tree took to create them though. The deal’s still well in our favour here.

 

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Raw Plum & Raisin Choc Tops

makes 4 – 6 

 

1 cup organic raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours

1 fresh organic drinking coconut

1 tablespoon organic coconut oil

1 tablespoon organic raw maca powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons organic coconut nectar

1 vanilla bean, stripped

8-10 organic dark red plums

1/2 cup organic raisins

batch of raw chocolate, for dipping

paddlepops sticks or similar for ‘handles’

bee pollen ‘sprinkles’

 

Start this ice cream the day before by dehydrating the plums until semi dried to really intensify the flavour. You can soak the cashews the day before too if that helps the flow of things. 

To make the ice cream, crack open the young coconut and scoop out the flesh being carefully not to bring any husky bits with you. Put into a food processor or Vitamix, along with the coconut oil, maca, 1 tbsp coconut nectar and vanilla seeds. Blitz until really smooth. Drink the coconut water while you wait.

Once the mixture is thick and creamy, stir in the raisins and put aside in a jug ready to pour into the moulds or cups that you have chosen to set the ice creams in.

To make the raw plum ripple, simply blitz the semi dry plums, cinnamon, cloves and remaining coconut nectar in the processor until smooth.

Have your sticks and ice cream moulds ready. I used vine cuttings because I didn’t have paddlepop sticks and I think I’ll do this every time now because they looked pretty cute. Just make sure if you head into nature for your sticks that they haven’t been sprayed.

To assemble the ice creams, fill about 1/6 of the mould with the raisin/coconut ice cream mix, then add a dollop of plum jam, and continue layering like this until the mould is full. Push your ice cream stick into the mix and stir it around no more than twice before positioning it in the middle of the mould. Repeat with all moulds until full and place into the freezer to set.

When the ice cream is really solid, you’re ready to dip into the raw chocolate. Remove the ice creams from the moulds by setting the moulds into hot water for a few seconds and then slide the ice creams out by gently pulling on the sticks. Set the ice creams on a piece of baking paper back into the freezer to harden again while you make the raw chocolate.

While the chocolate is still runny, dip each ice cream into it to coat and sprinkle bee pollen over the chocolate as you turn the ice cream round in your fingers. Place back into the freezer to harden once the chocolate has lost its shine and you know it has set.

You will probably need to take these out of the freezer for 5 minutes before you want to eat them as they are solid ice cream. But so creamy. And good for you. Done and done.

farmer’s market coleslaw

Purple Carrot & Basil Coleslaw

I love how a quick trip around the Farmer’s Market can pretty much put a dish together just by the order of how things go into your basket. It started with purple carrots, then beetroot, some gnarly organic apples and the most beautiful purple basil you ever did see. I’d put my name on a bunch of basil after seeing it the night before on Thatch’s facebook page. These guys grow seriously good herbs, and they happened to be a trestle away from us this week, so when the basil was hand delivered, wrapped in a little origami newspaper pocket, it felt more like a florist had visited the stall when I wasn’t looking. Beautiful.

A group of us went to see ‘Shakespeare in the Vines’ that night, so a quick picnic was assembled to share, and what’s a picnic without coleslaw? Especially on Australia Day. Along with the array of goodies everyone else brought to share after a morning at the market and a run through home veggie patches, it was the most amazing spread of good health on a blanket I think I’ve ever experienced. And not a lamb in sight. Although as my friend said, she’d hugged her lambs that day, so we figured that fulfilled the ‘traditional’ quota of Australia Day. I guess the bottles of kombucha could’ve passed for beer too. Done and done.

 

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Purple Carrot & Basil Coleslaw

 

I’m sure everyone has their own way of making coleslaw so this is a rough guide more than an exact recipe…

 

1 organic beetroot

3 organic purple carrots,

2 organic apples

wedge organic cabbage

handful fresh organic purple basil

lemon extra virgin olive oil

organic coconut yoghurt or cream

organic apple cider vinegar

juice of 2 organic oranges

himalayan salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp each organic sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

 

With the grater attachment on, run all the veggies and apples through your food processor. Mix together in a large bowl. 

Toast the seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop.

Mix equal parts olive oil, vinegar and coconut yoghurt with the orange juice and season to taste.

Pour over coleslaw and mix through. Add the basil leaves just before serving and sprinkle the toasted seeds on top.

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fruit appreciation

Apricot and Orange Earl Hempseed Ice Cream

We picked the last of the apricots from our old tree this week. I really love this tree. It sits right outside the back door in a place strategic to spotting, both from the kitchen window, and from the shower, so we have the chance to watch it pass through its cycle of small miracles throughout the year; ballet pink blossom, lush green foliage with orange polka dots, golden leaves like Post-It notes and gnarly bare branches. So beautiful. It’s a level of appreciation that has led to quite a few conversations between me and our apricot tree.

The last of the fruit had a tad too much sun to hold very long past picking, but the flavour was stunning, a concentrated version of itself after all the hot weather we’ve had. It had to be ice cream. Good and creamy hempseed ice cream with apricots and Orange Earl tea.

I ended up adding a drizzle of orange infused yacon syrup, just to ramp up the citrus a smidge more. That’s completely optional, but I figured if I was doing an ice cream that was going to give us a a perfect and natural blend of easily digested proteins, essential fatty acids (Omega 3 & 6), Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), antioxidants, amino acids, fiber, iron, zinc, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and enzymes, it seemed only fair that there should be a bundle of prebiotic goodness in the ‘sauce’.

Only a quantum leap from the ice cream of my childhood. The apricots tasted just like my 8 year old mind remembered though. Good news on both fronts.

If you’d like more info on hemp I have some links with my Hempseed Bircher Muesli recipe. It’s seriously good stuff.

 

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Apricot and Orange Earl Hempseed Ice Cream

 

1 cup organic raw hulled hempseeds

1 cup filtered rainwater 

1 cup strong Orange Earl tea

8-10 ripe organic apricots, seeds removed

1 heaped tablespoon organic raw coconut oil

1 vanilla bean, scraped

3-4 tablespoons organic maple syrup or agave

 

Organic yacon syrup infused with orange zest, optional

 

To make the ice cream, blitz the hempseeds and water in a food processor or Vitamix. When you have a very smooth paste, add the remaining ingredients and blitz again until everything has been incorporated into a silky puree.

Pour into an ice cream machine if you have one and follow your normal routine, or if you’d like to cut into ‘blocks’ then set in a low flat dish or pan.

Cover with baking paper to avoid oxidisation and put into the freezer until ready to serve.

 Drizzle the orange infused yacon syrup over the ice cream to serve. We had ours with a pot of Orange Earl too. Kind of a given.

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coconut yoghurt you say?

Coconut Yoghurt

It may have taken me a while but I’ve well and truly fallen in love with this whole coconut yoghurt thing. So good. And far more creamier than I imagined. There’s lots of great recipes online for coconut yoghurt but my interest was piqued again when we went to Mexico, and not because there are ‘cocos frios’ everywhere, but because of the pre-flight food pack I put together before we left.

I came across dehydrated coconut water, in its raw powdered form, and thought it would be a perfect flight buddy to add to water along the way for a decent electrolyte fix over the nearly 30 hours of flying we had ahead of us. It worked a treat. Once we were airborne, I started thinking of all the other things I could add it to (that daydream helped to fill in at least, oh, 30 minutes out of the 30 hours) and along with smoothies, dips, soups etc, coconut yoghurt popped into the part of my brain where I do my taste testing.

Not that the idea is to make the yoghurt from the dehydrated coconut water, but I found out that if you add it to your fresh coconut yoghurt it makes it thicker without losing that lovely creaminess. Bingo. I’m sure you could go ahead and flavour the yoghurt too but the coconut flavour it pretty big on its own, so I’ve just been enjoying adding it to things rather than adding things to it. So far, coconut yoghurt had been dolloped onto raw granola, mixed with chia seeds and fresh apricots for a take in the jar kind of breakfast, dipped into with chapati to have with dahl, swirled through gazpacho and spooned through grated cucumber with toasted cumin seeds. It’s good stuff.

 

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Coconut Yoghurt

makes 2 cups

 

3 fresh whole organic drinking coconuts

2 capsules dairy free acidophilus probiotic powder

1 heaped tablespoon organic dehydrated coconut water (optional)

 

The trickiest part about this recipe is getting into the coconuts! I have a cleaver that I bought especially for this in Thailand, but if you don’t have a heavy cleaver, use the heaviest knife you have in your collection. I have been known to use a screwdriver and hammer before too!

Start by chopping into one side of the top of the coconut using repeated strikes until you feel the knife break through the shell. Then move onto the other three sides of the square you’ll eventually be able to pull open to access the coconut water and flesh.

Once you have a 3 coconuts open, drain the water into a jug and sip away on that because you’ll only need about 1/4 cup or so in your yoghurt. Using a rounded soup spoon, scrape the flesh from the inside of the coconut and put into your blender. Don’t forget to get the flesh right at the top too. Pull off any bits of shell that come with the flesh, your blender won’t like these.

Once you have all the coconut flesh in your food processor, break the capsules apart and sprinkle in the acidophilus powder, add the dehydrated coconut water and blend to a smooth puree. If you are happy with the consistency as is, then there’s no need to add any fresh coconut water. I probably added a little less than 1/4 cup.

Put the coconut puree into a clean glass jar with a lid and leave the yoghurt in a warm place for 24hours to allow the culture to activate. Then pop it in the fridge. It will keep for about a week. You’ll have scraped the bottom of the jar well before then though I’d imagine!

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hola 2013!

Cacao Mole with Borlotti Beans & Charred Capsicum

I had a thought about jetlag when we arrived home from Mexico last week. Perhaps the icky feeling is because your heart isn’t quite ready to let go of the experience you’ve had on your adventure away, rather than the idea that sitting in plane for nearly 3o hours has anything to do with it. This is clearly not a logical explanation, but I ran with it regardless, and brought as much of the Yucatan to the farm as possible.

We have a new year’s tradition that involves spending the evening with some of our very favourite people, sharing beautiful food, watching the stars and being grateful for more things than I could possibly list. This tradition only started last year, but it feels like there is no other way to see in the new year now, like it’s what we have always done, so tradition it is, despite its infancy. I have always loved the ‘new’ part of new year’s eve; that feeling that anything is possible, a distinctive connection to now, in the shiniest way possible. Ambrosia. Or whatever the Mexican equivalent might be.

My heart was definitely not done with our time in Mexico, so to aid the ‘jetlag’ we filled our tummies with the smells and tastes of the Yucatan. It was a fragile thread to hold on to, but you can never underestimate the power of a good mole.

I hope 2013 is filled with every mystery and beauty for you, completely raw and real. Surrender to the ride! Feliz Año Nuevo!

 

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Cacao Mole with Borlotti Beans & Charred Capsicum

serves 6-8

 

375g dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight and cooked until only just tender

2 organic yellow capsicum

1 tsp organic cinnamon powder

1 tsp organic smoky paprika

1 tsp organic sweet paprika

3 black peppercorns

3 organic cloves

1 organic star anise

40g organic raw almonds

40g organic raw sesame seeds

3 – 4 organic dried chillies

1 organic red onion

2 cloves organic purple garlic

1 tbsp organic raw cacao

1 tbsp organic panela sugar

300-400ml organic vegetable stock

350g organic tomatoes, chopped

organic raw coconut oil

 

To char the capsicums, place them whole, without cutting, over a direct flame and continue rotating until all sides are evenly charred and the capsicum is cooked through. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Don’t worry about how blackened they get, you will be peeling the charred part off completely.

When cooked and thoroughly blackened, place in a paper bag and seal to let them sweat a little. This helps the skins to slip off far more easily. After 10-12 minutes in the paper bag, remove the capsicum and peel off the charred skin. Rinse under water and put aside while you make the mole.

To make the mole, dry roast the peppercorns, star anise, cloves and almonds in a frypan over high heat. Keep the spices and nuts moving in the pan so they don’t burn. After about 3-5 minutes add the sesame seeds and chillies and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes until the sesame seeds start to crackle. Remove from heat and either place into a mortar and pestle or a food processor, along with the smoky and sweet paprika, cinnamon, cacao and panela sugar. Grind to a fine powder.

Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic. Add a heaped tablespoon of coconut oil to a pan and fry the onions for about 10-15 minutes until caramelised. You will need to stir them occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and continue cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the spice mixture and stir to evenly distribute the onion, garlic and spices. Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes and the cooked borlotti beans and continue cooking over low heat for another 30-45 minutes to allow the flavours to really meld together.

Season to taste.

Serve with strips of the charred capsicum on top and lime wedges on the side. We had ours with corn and buckwheat polenta, tortillas and grilled corn on the cob. Oh, so good.

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